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Hoke Smith

Gov. Hoke Smith

  • June 26, 1907 - July 1, 1909
  • Democratic
  • September 2, 1855
  • November 27, 1931
  • North Carolina
  • Married Marion "Birdie" Cobb; five children
  • Resigned


HOKE SMITH, Georgia’s 43rd and 45th governor, was born in Newton, North Carolina, on September 2, 1855. Smith, who was not college educated, studied law with his father’s help, and was admitted to the bar in 1873. He established a law career in Atlanta, building a reputation as a personal injury attorney who specialized in railroad accidents. Smith entered politics as a loyal Grover Cleveland supporter, and chaired the 1888 Democratic National Convention. He also served as a delegate to the 1892 Democratic National Convention, and he was appointed by President Cleveland to serve as Secretary of the Interior, a position he held from 1893 to 1896. Smith won the 1906 Democratic gubernatorial nomination and was elected Governor of Georgia. During his tenure, he undermined the powerful railroads by granting further authority to the railroad commission; juvenile courts were created; child labor conditions improved; and public school funding increased by 30 percent. Also, the convict lease system was eliminated, a primary election law was enacted, and a bill passed disenfranchising African-American voters. After losing his reelection bid in 1908, Smith ran again in 1910 and was victorious. During his second term, a state department of labor was initiated and an anti-lobbying bill was enacted. After winning election to the U.S. Senate, Smith resigned from the governor’s office on November 15, 1911. He served in the senate until 1921. Governor Hoke Smith died on November 27, 1931, and he is buried at the Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta.



Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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