When the present Federal government was first organized in 1789, there were many active, able and talented members of Congress who are now very little known. William Smith, of South Carolina, was one of those members. He represented the District of Charleston from 1789 to 1797, in the House of Representatives, and there were few members of that body who took a more active and prominent part in the debates. In 1797 Mr. Smith was appointed by President Adams, Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Lisbon.
The family of William Smith were amongst the first settlers in Carolina. Thomas Smith, his ancestor, was made a Landgrave, and appointed Governor of the Province under the Proprietary government in 1694, twenty-four years after the first settlement made in the Province. Governor Archdale, in his "new description of that fertile and pleasant Province of Carolina," printed in London in 1787, says "Mr. Smith was a wise, sober, well-living man." He was a gentleman of large property before he was made a Landgrave. There was at the time Landgrave Smith was appointed Governor such confusion and dissension in Carolina, "that he grew so uneasy in the government," says Governor Archdale, "by reason he could not satisfy people in their demands, that he wrote over A. D. 1694, it was impossible to settle the country, except a Proprietary himself was sent thither with full power to hear their grievances." In consequence of this letter of Governor Smith, Mr. Archdale, one of the Proprietors, was made Governor and sent over to Carolina by the Proprietors.