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John Walter Smith

Gov. John Walter Smith

  • January 10, 1900 - January 13, 1904
  • Democratic
  • February 5, 1845
  • April 19, 1925
  • Maryland
  • Married Mary Frances Richardson; two children
  • Representative, Senator


JOHN W. SMITH was born near Snow Hill, in Worcester County, Maryland on February 5, 1845. His education was attained in the private schools and at Union Academy. Before entering into politics, Smith worked successfully in the lumber, oyster and insurance industries. In 1889, he won his first election to the Maryland State Senate, a position to which he was reelected to in 1893 and 1897. He also served as president of the senate in 1894, and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1899 to 1900. Smith secured the 1899 Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and then went on to win election to the Maryland governorship on November 7, 1899. He was sworn into office on January 10, 1900. During his tenure, the state’s agricultural college was restructured; election machinery was improved; health laws were revised; a state sanatorium for tuberculosis was instituted; and a deceptive federal census was amended. Also, the state’s public school system was improved and the state’s first free textbook law was sanctioned. After completing his term, Smith left office on January 13, 1904. He later was elected to the U.S. Senate where he served from 1908 unti 1921. Governor John Walter Smith passed away on April 19, 1925, and was buried at Makemie Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Snow Hill, Maryland.


Eisenberg, Gerson G. Marylanders Who Served the Nation. Annapolis, MD: Maryland State Archives, 1992.

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

White, Frank F., Jr. The Governors of Maryland, 1777-1972. Annapolis, MD: Hall of Records Commission, 1970.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Nabb History

Maryland State Archives

Recent Maryland Governors