Caleb Blood Smith

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Caleb Smith
Hon. Caleb B. Smith, Ind - NARA - 526254.jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Indiana
In office
December 22, 1862 – January 7, 1864
Appointed byAbraham Lincoln
Preceded byElisha Mills Huntington
Succeeded byAlbert Smith White
6th United States Secretary of the Interior
In office
March 5, 1861 – December 31, 1862
PresidentAbraham Lincoln
Preceded byJacob Thompson
Succeeded byJohn Palmer Usher
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 4th district
In office
March 4, 1843 – March 3, 1849
Preceded byJames H. Cravens
Succeeded byGeorge Julian
Personal details
Caleb Blood Smith

(1808-04-16)April 16, 1808
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedJanuary 7, 1864(1864-01-07) (aged 55)
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Political partyWhig (Before 1860)
Republican (1860–1864)
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Watton
EducationUniversity of Cincinnati
Miami University, Oxford

Caleb Blood Smith (April 16, 1808 – January 7, 1864) was an American journalist and politician, serving in the Cabinet of Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War.

Life and career[edit]

Caleb Blood Smith

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, he emigrated with his parents to Ohio in 1814, was educated at Cincinnati College and Miami University, studied law in Cincinnati and in Connersville, Indiana, and was admitted to the bar in 1828. He began practice at the latter place, established and edited the Sentinel in 1832, served several terms in the Indiana legislature, and was in the United States Congress in 1843–1849, having been elected as a Whig. During his congressional career, he was one of the Mexican claims commissioners. He returned to the practice of law in 1850, residing in Cincinnati and subsequently in Indianapolis. He was influential in securing the nomination of Abraham Lincoln for the presidency at the Chicago Republican National Convention in 1860.

Smith became a Freemason in Warren Lodge No. 15 at Connersville, Indiana in 1829. He would go on to serve as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Indiana in 1837.[1] Today, the highest award presented by the Grand Lodge of Indiana is the Caleb B. Smith Medal of Honor.[2]

Lincoln appointed Smith as the United States Secretary of the Interior in 1861 as a reward for his work in the presidential campaign. He was the first citizen of Indiana to hold a Presidential Cabinet position. However, Smith had little interest in the job [3] and, with declining health, delegated most of his responsibilities to Assistant Secretary of the Interior John Palmer Usher. In 1862, he was interested in the empty seat in the United States Supreme Court vacated by John Archibald Campbell's resignation the previous year. However, Lincoln nominated David Davis for the position instead. When Lincoln showed the draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet, the conservative Smith considered resignation upon its public announcement, but accepted the decision in the end.[3] After Smith resigned in December 1862 due to poor health,[3] Usher became Secretary. Smith went home to become the United States circuit judge for Indiana. He died January 7, 1864, from his ill health. President Lincoln ordered that government buildings be draped in black for two weeks in a sign of mourning for Smith's death.

Search for body[edit]

Elmhurst, Smith's Connersville home

It has been said that Caleb B. Smith's body is buried in a Connersville, Indiana cemetery. In 1978, Connersville resident John Walker received permission from the Smith family, Norvella Thomas Copes, and Nancy S. Hurley, and the city of Connersville to excavate the body of Caleb Blood Smith. Walker had an interest in President Abraham Lincoln, and discovered in reading about Lincoln that one of his cabinet members was buried in the city in which he lived. An excavation was done in November, but Smith's body was not there. It was Smith's brother-in-law William Watton Smith. C.B. Smith's wife, Elizabeth B. Watton, had paid $500 for the choice of plots, in Greenlawn Cemetery[5] but had to remove the body to Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis for fear of southern dissenters, the Sons of Liberty, desecrating his body and of local teens knocking over the markers. There was also a possibility that his body was in one of the two above ground vaults behind the Elmhurst house in Connersville, but both doors were standing open and had been for years, with nothing inside (also in Connersville, Indiana). A letter inquiring about the whereabouts of Smith's body found in the 1980s arose from a New York public library in the 1930s.


  1. ^ Smith, Dwight L. (1968). Goodly Heritage: One Hundred Fifty Years of Craft Freemasonry in Indiana. Franklin, Indiana.
  2. ^ The Cincinnati Historical Society Bulletin, Vol. 30. 1972. pp. 47.
  3. ^ a b c Mr. Lincoln's White House: Caleb Blood Smith
  4. ^ "Art & History: First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln". U.S. Senate. Retrieved August 2, 2013. Lincoln met with his cabinet on July 22, 1862, for the first reading of a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. Sight measurement. Height: 108 inches (274.32 cm) Width: 180 inches (457.2 cm)
  5. ^ Sanford, pp. 392-93. In 1890 the Greenlawn Cemetery was closed.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
James H. Cravens
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 4th congressional district

March 4, 1843 – March 3, 1849
Succeeded by
George W. Julian
Political offices
Preceded by
Jacob Thompson
U.S. Secretary of the Interior
Served under: Abraham Lincoln

March 5, 1861 – December 31, 1862
Succeeded by
John Palmer Usher
Legal offices
Preceded by
Elisha Mills Huntington
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Indiana
Succeeded by
Albert Smith White