William Loughton Smith
|3rd United States Minister to Portugal|
July 10, 1797 – September 9, 1801
|Preceded by||John Quincy Adams (1796)|
|Succeeded by||Thomas Sumter, Jr. (1809)|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from South Carolina's 1st district
March 4, 1789 – July 10, 1797
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Thomas Pinckney|
|2nd Chairman of the House Committee of Ways and Means|
December 21, 1795 – July 10, 1797
|Succeeded by||Robert Goodloe Harper|
March 26, 1794 – November 3, 1794
as Chairman of the Standing Committee of Ways and Means
|Preceded by||Thomas Fitzsimons|
Charles Town, Province of South Carolina, British America
|Died||December 19, 1812 (aged 53–54)|
Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
William Loughton Smith (1758 – December 19, 1812) was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat from Charleston, South Carolina. He represented South Carolina in the United States House of Representatives from 1789 until 1797, during which time he served as chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means.
Early life & legal career
Smith was born in Charles Town in the Province of South Carolina in 1758 to Benjamin Smith and Anne Loughton. His father earned his fortune as an importer of British luxury goods into Charleston. His father's considerable wealth allowed him to sit out the Revolutionary War while obtaining his education in Europe.
In 1774, Smith studied law at the Middle Temple in London, Great Britain and continued his studies in Geneva from 1774 to 1778. Smith remained in Europe for the remainder of the American Revolutionary War.
In 1783, Smith returned to South Carolina. He was admitted to the bar in 1784 and began practicing law in Charleston.
In 1784, Smith served as a member of the South Carolina privy council. In 1786, Smith was elected warden of the city of Charleston in 1786, equivalent to a city council member today. From 1787 to 1788, Smith served in the South Carolina House of Representatives.
Smith was elected as a Pro-Administration candidate to the First Congress in 1788 to South Carolina's 1st congressional district. His election was contested by his opponent David Ramsey, who claimed that, because Smith had only returned to the newly founded United States in 1783, he had not been a U.S. citizen for seven years, a constitutional requirement for election to the House. This was the first invocation of Congress's power, established under Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution, to serve as the "Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members"; the House found that Ramsey was qualified, with James Madison noting that "it is an established maxim, that birth is the criterion of allegiance."
Smith was subsequently reelected to the Second Congress and Third Congress. Smith later joined the Federalist Party and was reelected to the Fourth and Fifth Congress under that ticket. In the Third Congress, Smith served as chair of the Committee on Elections. In the Fourth and Fifth Congresses, Smith served as chair of the Committee on Ways and Means.
On July 10, 1797, Smith resigned from Congress to serve as United States Ambassador to Portugal. He held the position until September 9, 1801, when he was recalled and took a leave of absence. Smith returned to Charleston and ran for Congress again in 1804, 1806, and 1808, but lost all of those elections to the Democratic-Republican Party candidate Robert Marion.
In 1808, Smith was commissioned as a lieutenant in the South Carolina Militia. That same year, Smith was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives.
Later life & death
In a special session of United States Congress called by John Adams in 1797, Smith introduced ten resolutions calling for increased naval defense and shore fortifications in response to the growing crisis in Franco-American relations.
Smith was opposed to the emancipation of slaves, believing it would benefit neither whites nor blacks. As he explained on the floor of the House of Representatives on March 17, 1790:
"If the blacks did not intermarry with the whites, they would remain black until the end of time; for it was not contended that liberating them would whitewash them; if they did intermarry with the whites, then the white race would be extinct, and the American people would all be of mulatto breed. In whatever light, therefore, the subject was viewed, the folly of emancipation was manifest."
- Massey, Gregory D. "Smith, William Loughton". South Carolina Encyclopedia. University of South Carolina. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
- Pasley, Jeffrey L. (2013). The first presidential contest : 1796 and the founding of American democracy. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-7006-1907-8.
- "SMITH, William Loughton, (1758 - 1812)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
- DeConde, Alexander (1966). The Quasi-War: The Politics and Diplomacy of the Undeclared War with France, 1797-1801. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 31.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 1st congressional district
John Quincy Adams (1796)
| United States Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal
Thomas Sumter, Jr. (1809)