JOHN GREGORY SMITH was born in St. Albans, Vermont. He graduated from the University of Vermont and from Yale Law School. In addition to practicing law with his father in St. Albans, he became involved in the banking and railroad businesses. He served in the state Senate and the state House of Representatives, where he was Speaker in 1862. As the last Civil War governor of Vermont, he succeeded in securing legislation to provide sick and wounded Vermont soldiers with quality medical care. He also authored legislation recognizing the right of soldiers in the field to vote in elections. After completing two terms in office, he chaired the Vermont delegation to the Republican National Conventions of 1872, 1880, and 1884. He was also president of both the Northern Pacific Railroad and the Vermont Central Railroad.