J. Gregory Smith

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J. Gregory Smith
J. Gregory Smith.jpg
J. Gregory Smith, Governor of Vermont, 1863 to 1865
28th Governor of Vermont
In office
October 9, 1863 – October 13, 1865
Lieutenant Paul Dillingham
Preceded by Frederick Holbrook
Succeeded by Paul Dillingham
Member of the Vermont House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born (1818-07-22)July 22, 1818
St. Albans, Vermont
Died November 6, 1891(1891-11-06) (aged 73)
St. Albans, Vermont
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ann Eliza Smith
Profession businessman / politician
Edward Curtis Smith, son of J. Gregory Smith and Ann Eliza Brainerd Smith

John Gregory Smith (July 22, 1818 – November 6, 1891), railroad tycoon, politician, and the last Governor of Vermont during the Civil War.[1]


Ann Eliza Smith, wife of J. Gregory Smith

Smith was born in St. Albans, Vermont, son of Congressman John Smith and Maria (Curtis) Smith. His father was a pioneer railroad builder in Vermont, and a leading lawyer and political figure. J. Gregory Smith graduated from the University of Vermont in 1841 and received a degree from Yale Law School.

In 1842, he married Ann Eliza, daughter of U.S. Senator Lawrence Brainerd, who was prominent in her own right as the author of several novels and other books. After the death of her father, J. Gregory Smith named Brainerd, Minnesota after his wife's family.[2][3]

Smith's brother Worthington served in Congress from 1867 to 1871, and his son Edward served as Governor from 1898 to 1900.[4]

In addition, F. Stewart Stranahan was married to Ann Eliza Smith's sister, and Stranahan became prominent in the Smith family businesses before serving as Lieutenant Governor from 1892 to 1894.


Smith became associated with his father in his law practice and railroad management. After his father's death in 1858, he succeeded to the position of trustee under the lease of the Vermont and Canada Railroad. Simultaneously he entered politics, and for many years the career in each line was involved with the other. He was also one of the originators of the Northern Pacific Railway enterprise and was the president of the corporation from 1866 to 1872. Under his lead five hundred and fifty-five miles of the road were built. The family holdings included the St. Albans Foundry, the National Car Company, and the Vermont Iron and Car Company.[4]

Smith entered the Vermont House of Representatives in 1860, and in 1861 and 1862 was Speaker.

In 1863 he was elected Governor in 1863, succeeding Frederick Holbrook, and he was re-elected in 1864. His efforts in office were centered on the American Civil War, including obtaining medical care for Vermont soldiers at the front, and securing the right of soldiers in the field to vote by absentee ballot.

His home was a target of the Confederate St. Albans Raid. He was not at home, but his wife was, and her appearance at the front door carrying an unloaded pistol (the only weapon she could find) was enough to cause the raiders to decide to bypass the Smith home while fleeing to Canada.

Following his governorship Smith returned to his business interests, including serving as President of the Northern Pacific Railroad from 1866 to 1872. He was chairman of the state delegation to the Republican National Conventions in 1872, 1880, and 1884.[1] After his retirement as governor he held no public office. He was mentioned as a candidate for the United States Senate in 1886 and 1891, but in both cases he withdrew his name.


Smith died in St. Albans on November 6, 1891, and was interred at Greenwood Cemetery.[5]


  1. ^ a b "J. Gregory Smith". National Governors Association. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Richardson, Renee (September 12, 2012), "Railroad Roundhouse symposium offers look at what was and what could be", Brainerd Dispatch, Brainerd, MN 
  3. ^ The True Story of The Angels and Women/Seola Book By Jim Rizoli
  4. ^ a b "J. Gregory Smith". Find A Grave. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "J. Gregory Smith". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Ullery, Jacob G., Men of Vermont: An Illustrated Biographical History, Brattleboro, VT: Transcript Publishing Company, 1894, Part I, p. 96.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Frederick Holbrook
Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Paul Dillingham
Business positions
Preceded by
Josiah Perham
President of Northern Pacific Railway
Succeeded by
George Washington Cass