Overview of the Collection

Biographical Note

Scope and Content



Index Terms

Related Material

Administrative Information


Container List

Series 1. Personal and Political Papers 1811-2009

Series 2. Legislative Records 1836-1873

Series 3. Legal Papers 1871-1879

Series 4. Speeches 1848-1883

Series 5. Press Files 1874-1889

Series 6. Spiritual Writings 1879

Series 7. Duplicates 1850-1880


RG 069:150, Truman Smith Papers


Finding aid prepared by Allen Ramsey.

Copyright © 2010 by the Connecticut State Library

Overview of the Collection

Repository: Connecticut State Library
Creator: Smith, Truman, 1791-1884
Title: Truman Smith papers
Dates: 1811-2009
Dates: bulk 1811-1889
Quantity: 2.75 cubic feet
Abstract: Truman Smith was a lawyer, Connecticut Legislator (1831-1832, 1834), US Representative (1838-1843, 1845-1849), and US Senator (1849-1854) from Stamford, Connecticut. Included in his papers are correspondence, writings, publications, legal cases, speeches, and spiritual writings.
Identification: RG069_150
Accession: 2009-041
Language: The records are in English.

Biographical Note

Truman Smith was born on November 27, 1791 to Phineas Smith and Deborah Ann Judson in Roxbury, Connecticut. He was the nephew of US Senator Nathan Smith and US Representative Nathaniel Smith. Smith graduated from Yale in 1815 and then studied at Litchfield Law School. In 1818 he was admitted to the Litchfield Bar and then began practicing law. He married his first wife Maria Cook on June 2, 1832. Truman and Maria had a son and one or two daughters. Maria died in April 1849. On November 7, 1850, he married his second wife Mary Ann Dickinson. Truman and Mary had six sons. Truman Smith's daughter Jeannie Penniman was the second wife of U.S. Senator Orville Hitchcock Platt.

Truman Smith was elected to the Connecticut State legislature in 1831-1832 and 1834. In 1838 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a member of the Whig Party and served until 1843. Representative Smith served again in the United States Congress from 1845 to 1849. Smith in 1847 organized and was de-facto leader of a Whig national committee dedicated to organizing, fundraising, and managing General Zachary Taylor's campaign for president. In 1848, Truman Smith along with Alexander H. Stephens (Georgia), Robert Toombs (Georgia), Abraham Lincoln (Illinois), William Ballard Preston (Virginia), Thomas Flournoy (Virginia), and John S. Pendleton (Virginia) formed a pro-Zachary Taylor club referred to as "the Young Indians." The group of Congressmen early in the 1848 presidential campaign backed Taylor. At the June 1848 Whig nominating convention Smith played a pivotal role in the nomination of Zachary Taylor. On the third ballot the Connecticut delegation, having been instructed to vote for Henry Clay, led by Truman Smith along with two other delegates voted for Taylor out of six total delegates. The change in vote on the third ballot led other Whig Party delegates to change their vote on the fourth ballot. After the fourth ballot Zachary Taylor was nominated as the Whig Party's candidate for president.

On March 3, 1849 Representative Smith resigned from the United States House of Representatives and was elected to the United States Senate on March 4, 1849. Truman Smith, after working on getting Taylor elected, turned down a cabinet post in President Taylor's administration as the first Secretary of the Interior. Senator Smith resigned from the United States Senate on May 24, 1854. Several reasons are stated in various sources for Smith retiring from the US Senate including for financial reasons and his disgust over passage of the Nebraska-Kansas Act. He returned to practicing law by opening an office in New York but had few noteworthy court cases.

In July 1862, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Truman Smith to the Court of Arbitration in New York, established by a treaty with Great Britain, which was tasked with bringing to trial suspected American and British vessels engaged in the slave trade. In 1870 Congress terminated the Court of Arbitration and he returned back to private law practice. In 1873 he was the successful counsel for the defense in the US Supreme Court case New York Central Railroad v. Charles C. Lockwood in which the railroad argued it was not negligent for injuries sustained to Charles Lockwood during the transport of cattle from Buffalo to Albany, New York. Lockwood had signed an agreement with the railroad taking responsibility for any injury to him or the cattle in exchange for a free ticket. The court ruled for Smith's client, Charles Lockwood, finding the company was negligent and could not exempt itself from being liable for workers injured on the job. After the court case he retired from practicing law but remained active in local, state, and national politics. Truman Smith died in Stamford, Fairfield County, Connecticut on May 3, 1884.


Truman and Maria (Cook) Smith were married June 2, 1832 and according to several sources had at least one son and one or two daughters. The one daughter known of by Truman and Maria Smith was Jeannie Penniman Smith who was born in 1835 and married George Hoyt. Jeannie became a widow and in 1897 would marry US Senator Orville Hitchcock Platt who had lost his first wife in 1893.

Truman and Mary (Dickinson) Smith were married on November 7, 1850 and according to several sources had six sons. The sources consulted only provided the names of three sons: Truman H., Edmund D., and Robert Smith. Edmund D. Smith was born on September 25, 1857 in Stamford Connecticut to Truman and Mary Smith. Edmund graduated from West Point on June 13, 1879. Edmund married Mary Burkett Dewing on June 28, 1892. Edmund and Mary Burkett Dewing Smith had two children: Truman and Charlotte. Captain Edmund Dickinson Smith was killed in action on Cebu Island, Philippines during the Spanish American War on February 4, 1900. Truman Smith, the son of Edmund and Mary, was born on August 25, 1893 at West Point, New York. Truman graduated from Yale University in 1915 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and served in the United States Military from 1916 to 1948. Truman Smith married Katherine Alling Hollister on July 14, 1917 at Greenport, Long Island. Katharine Truman Smith Coley is the daughter of Truman and Katherine Alling (Hollister) Smith.

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Scope and Content

The papers were arranged into seven series which reflect Truman Smith's personal, political, legislative, and legal career in Connecticut, New York, and Washington, D.C. The series include Personal and Political Papers, Legislative Records, Legal Papers, Speeches, Press Files, Spiritual Writings, and Duplicates.

Series 1. Personal and Political Papers, 1811-2009, include biographical information, correspondence to and from Smith and his family and friends, job recommendation letters, an engraved print of Truman Smith, miscellaneous publications, and miscellaneous writings and manuscripts. The series also consists of two bound volumes of Smith's writings which contain printed speeches, court cases, and various writings on topics such as civil service reform, slavery, anesthesia, and temperance.

Series 2. Legislative Records, 1836-1872, include bill files on the boundaries of the Republic of Texas, Choctaw Indian Nation Treaty, crime and punishment, and an act pertaining to the licensing and sale of liquor in Connecticut. The records also contain a committee report and act regarding liquor sales, a state inebriate asylum, and the outlawing of the "trafficking of spirituous or intoxicating liquours" in Connecticut.

Series 3. Legal Papers, 1871-1879, consist of published and written documents on the court cases of Cothren v. Nathan Smith, Humaston v. American Telegraph Company, and New York Central Railroad v. Charles C. Lockwood. The series also includes two handwritten sheets of notes on the Hepburn v. Griswold, Knox v. Lee, and Parker v. Davis legal tender cases of 1870-1871.

Series 4. Speeches, 1848-1883, include speeches by Smith and a miscellaneous printed speech by Senator Morrill on a "bill proposing a reduction of internal taxes and of the tariff." The Smith speeches cover the following topics: physical character of the northern state of Mexico, removals and appointments to office, French spoliation claims, response to Senator Douglas proposal of levying a higher tonnage duty for the improvements of rivers and harbors, and the Nebraska question.

Series 5. Press Files, 1874-1889, contain newspaper clippings and editorials.

Series 6. Spiritual Writings, 1879, include a published sermon and handwritten Bible verses.

Series 7. Duplicates, 1850-1880, consist of duplicate printed court briefs, publications, sermons, and speeches already contained within the papers.

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Series 1. Personal and Political Papers, 1811-2009

Series 2. Legislative Records, 1836-1873

Series 3. Legal Papers, 1871-1879

Series 4. Speeches, 1848-1883

Series 5. Press Files, 1874-1889

Series 6. Spiritual Writings, 1879

Series 7. Duplicates, 1850-1880


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Restrictions on Access

The original correspondence of Sherman, William T. and Taylor, Zachary have been removed and are restricted. Use copies of the correspondence are located in the folders. See Series 1. Personal and Political Papers, 1811-2009.

See the Rules and Procedures for Researchers Using Archival Records and Secured Collections policy.

Restrictions on Use

See the Reproduction and Publications of State Library Collections policy.

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Related Material

RG 069:011, Orville H. Platt Papers, Connecticut State Library.

Truman Smith Papers (1893-1970), Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.

The Truman Smith Papers (1893-1970) document the life and military career of US Senator Truman Smith's (1791-1884) grandson.

Truman Smith Papers (1916-1991), Hoover Institution Library and Archives, Stanford University.

The Truman Smith Papers (1916-1991) document the life and military career of US Senator Truman Smith's (1791-1884) grandson.

Stamford Historical Society, Stamford, Connecticut

The Smith/Cruikshank collection, located at the Stamford Historical Society, consists of letters, diaries, account books, and other papers documenting the life of US Senator Truman Smith, his wife Mary Ann (Dickinson) Smith, and their children, including Captain Edmund Smith, who was killed in action in the Philippines in 1900.

Cephas Brainerd Papers (1865-1947). Kautz Family YMCA Archives. University of Minnesota.

Thomas Corwin Correspondence, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Abraham Lincoln Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Gideon Welles Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Connecticut Historical Society Research Center, Hartford, Connecticut

Litchfield Historical Soceity, Litchfield, Connecticut

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Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.


Connecticut -- Politics and government -- 1861-1865
Connecticut -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950
Legislators -- Connecticut
Legislators -- United States
Slavery -- United States -- Speeches in Congress
Speeches in Congress
United States -- Politics and government -- 1845-1849
United States -- Territorial expansion
United States. Congress. House
United States. Congress. Senate
United States. Kansas-Nebraska Act
Whig Party (U.S.)
Whig Party (U.S.). National Convention


Litchfield (Conn.)
Litchfield Law School
New York (N.Y.)
Roxbury (Conn. : Town)
Stamford (Conn.)
Stamford (Conn.) -- History
Yale College (1718-1887)


Brainerd, Cephas
Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885
Johnson, Reverdy, 1796-1876
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865
Platt, Orville Hitchcock, 1827-1905
Seward, William Henry, 1801-1872
Sherman, William T. (William Tecumseh), 1820-1891
Smith, Edmund Dickinson, 1857-1900
Smith, Maria Cook
Smith, Mary Ann Dickinson
Smith, Truman, 1791-1884
Smith, Truman, 1893-1970
Taylor, Zachary, 1784-1850
Weed, Thurlow, 1797-1882
Welles, Gideon, 1802-1878
Wentworth, John, 1815-1888

Document Types:


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Administrative Information


The Truman Smith papers were donated by Katharine Truman Smith Coley to the State Library in 2009.

Processing Information

Allen Ramsey processed the papers in March and April, 2010

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Cutter, William Richard, et al. Genealogical and Family History of the State of Connecticut: A Record of Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation. Vol. 2. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911.

Garraty, John A. and Mark C. Carnes, eds. American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Gienapp, William E. The Origins of the Republican Party, 1852-1856. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Holt, Michael F. The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Malone, Dumas, ed. Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1935.

McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.


Simon, John Y. “Lincoln and Truman Smith.” Lincoln Herald 67 (Fall 1965): 124-130.


Hartford Courant, 1764-1922.

New York Times, 1851-2006.


Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress. Smith, Truman, (1791-1884)

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Container List

Series 1. Personal and Political Papers, 1811-2009
Box Folder
Biographical file, 1811-2009, undated 1 1
Correspondence, 1848-1883 2-6
Correspondence - Federal Departments, 1873-1881 7
Correspondence - Smith, Mary, 1860-1866 8-9
Correspondence - Smith, Mary, 1868-1869 2 1-3
Correspondence - VIP
Grant, Ulysses, 1877 2 4
Lincoln, Abraham, 1862 5
Platt, Orville H., 1880-1881 6
Sherman, William T., 1879 7
Restricted: Original correspondence restricted but use copies of the correspondence are located in the folder.
Taylor, Zachary, 1848-1849 8
Restricted: Original correspondence restricted but use copies of the correspondence are located in the folder.
Weed, Thurlow, 1881 9
Wentworth, John, 1882, undated 10
Job recommendations, 1879-1882 11
Print, undated 12
Publications - miscellaneous, 1879, undated 13
Writings and manuscripts, 1862-1879, undated 3 1-3
Writings of Truman Smith, 1848-1879, 2 volumes
The two volumes contain printed publications of writings, speeches, and court cases.
Series 2. Legislative Records, 1836-1873
Box Folder
Bill files, 1836-1873, undated 4 1
Committee report, 1870-1871 2
Series 3. Legal Papers, 1871-1879
Box Folder
Cothren v. Nathan Smith, 1876-1879 4 3-4
Humaston v. American Telegraph Company, 1873-1874 5
New York Central Railroad Company v. Charles C. Lockwood, 1871-1873, undated 6
Notes, undated 7
Series 4. Speeches, 1848-1883
Box Folder
Speeches - miscellaneous, 1883 4 8
Speeches - Smith, Truman, 1848-1876 9
Speeches - Smith, Truman, undated 5 1
Series 5. Press Files, 1874-1889
Box Folder
Clippings, 1874-1889, undated 5 2
Editorials, 1880 3
Series 6. Spiritual Writings, 1879
Box Folder
Sermons and verses, 1879, undated 5 4
Series 7. Duplicates, 1850-1880
The series consists of duplicate legal papers, publications, sermons, and speeches already contained within the papers.
Box Folder
Duplicate legal papers, 1874, undated 5 5
Duplicate publications, 1862-1880 6-7
Duplicate sermons, 1879 8
Duplicate speeches, 1850-1852 9
The original correspondence is restricted. See Series 1. Personal and Political Papers, 1811-2009.
Box Folder
Correspondence - VIP
Sherman, William T., 1879 6 1
Taylor, Zachary, 1848-1849 2