Sangamon County ILGenWeb © 2000
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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

JAMES SMITH, D. D. - A distinguished divine, author and United States consul to Scotland, James Smith, D. D., was born in Glasgow, a son of Peter and Margaret (Bruce) Smith. Excellent educational privileges were afforded him and he improved them, becoming a man of high literary attainments. He was graduated from Glasgow College and in early manhood crossed the Atlantic to the new world. He became the owner and editor of a newspaper in Tennessee, but his best work was not done in the journalistic field. He left that for the ministry, accepting a call from the First Presbyterian church of Springfield, Illinois, of which he became the second pastor, serving here from 1849 until 1856. While here he became acquainted with Abraham Lincoln, and after the election of the latter to office Rev. Smith was appointed consul to Scotland, where he died while filling the position in 1871. He was then buried in the family lot in his native city of Glasgow. His wife lived in Scotland for one year after his death, and then returned to America, her death occurring in Springfield in 1872.

Mrs. Smith bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Black, and was born in Culross, Scotland. She became the mother of nine children, of whom Dr. Hugh Smith, a practicing physician of Chicago, died in February, 1903. He married but had no children. The family were well-to-do people of marked culture, refinement and liberal education, and were leaders in the best circles of society here. Rev. James Smith exerted strong influence in his ministerial work and also became widely known as an editor of Christian literature. He wrote and published a number of books, including "Smith on Infidelity," and it was this one that brought Lincoln's attention to him so that they formed an acquaintance that ripened into a deep friendship, and finally brought to Mr. Lincoln a firm belief in Christianity. Rev. Smith was also the author of the widely known book called "Christian Evidence," which has been extensively sold. By no known standard can we measure his life work and its influence, but he certainly planted the seeds of truth and kindness in the hearts of many and in tinge they have borne rich fruits. He was an eminent scholar, deep thinker, a logical reasoner and added to his strong mentality was the sympathy and helpfulness which comes from a Christian spirit.

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