Margaret Bayard Smith

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Margaret Smith

Margaret Bayard Smith (20 February 1778 – 7 June 1844) was an American author, born in Pennsylvania to Colonel John Bubenheim Bayard and Margaret Hodge.

Her father was with George Washington at Valley Forge when she was born, the seventh of eight children. Also included in the family were three orphaned children of Col. Bayard's twin brother, Dr. James Asheton Bayard who had married Margaret Hodge's sister, Ann Hodge. One of the orphaned children was the lawyer and politician James A. Bayard. Margaret married Samuel Harrison Smith on 29 September 1800.

Her husband, Samuel Harrison Smith, was a close friend of Thomas Jefferson, who encouraged Smith to establish the newspaper National Intelligencer when the government moved from Philadelphia to Washington. Their first child Julia Harrison Smith was born in 1801 and soon after the family bought a farm, Turkey Thicket, three miles from town (now part of Catholic University). They renamed the farm Sidney. In 1804 another daughter, Susan Harrison Smith, was born. In 1810 a son, Jonathan Bayard Smith and in 1811 another daughter, Anna Maria Harrison Smith. Mrs. Smith began writing in the 1820s. A two-volume novel in 1824 called A Winter in Washington, or Memoirs of the Seymour Family. Another novel in 1825, What is Gentility? as well as contributing to several serials with essays and short stories. She also wrote several biographies including Dolley Madison. Her literary reputation, however, comes primarily from a collection of her letters and notebooks written from 1800 to 1841 and published in 1906 by Gaillard Hunt as The First Forty Years of Washington Society.


  • Mayo, Lida. "Smith, Margaret Bayard" Notable American Women. Vol. 3, 4th ed., The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1975