Last Update April 20, 2012
For Research on Sam Smith
Plus a Few Ideas
These fine works have excellent lists of references:
Budiansky, Stephen., Perilous Fight: America's Intrepid War With Britain on the High Seas, 1812-1815. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. Lots of interesting information about the war, such as this postwar comment on page xv from the memoir of British diplomat Augustus J. Foster, "The Americans . . . have brought us to speak of them with respect." Half of page 344 describes the quarter million square miles the British initially demanded as a homeland for their Indian allies, along with northern Maine and some other lands. As negotiations proceeded, the British dropped these demands. It would be interesting to know more about these negotiations; they changed the course of world history.
Cassell, Frank A., Merchant Congressman in the Young Republic: Samuel Smith of Maryland 1752-1839. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1971. Prof. Cassell is now retired from the University of Pittsburgh.
George, Christopher, Terror on the Chesapeake, Shippensburg, PA, White Mane Books, 2000. Mr. George is the editor of the Journal of the War of 1812.
Lord, Walter, The Dawn’s Early Light, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994. The author's research notes are in the archives at Ft. McHenry. Mr. Lord grew up in Baltimore and graduated from Gilman in 1935.
Pancake, John Silas, Samuel Smith and the Politics of Business 1752-1839. University, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1972. Prof. Pancake died in 1986.
Sheads, Scott S.,Fort McHenry.Baltimore: Nautical & Aviation Publishing Co. of America, 1995. Mr. Sheads is a ranger/historian at the National Park at Ft. McHenry. He describes how Smith reinforced Ft. McHenry with 56 naval guns and oversaw the construction and equipping of four other fortifications nearby.
Swanson, Neil Harmon, The Perilous Fight. New York, Toronto: Farrar and Rinehart, 1945. Mr. Swanson, former Executive Editor of the SunPapers, died in 1983. This historical novel provides insights into the mind of a commander on the eve of battle by an experienced storyteller and veteran of WWII. Ignore the goofy illustrations and hope that this fine work will be reissued with an index. I am indebted to C.H. Echols for this citation.
Whitehorne, Joseph A., The Battle for Baltimore: 1814. Baltimore, MD: Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1997. Prof. Whitehorne is at Lord Fairfax College in Virginia.
A partial list of other sources:
Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography (1887-89) lists Smith's achievements as a Baltimore civic leader. His father, brother, son and nephew are also mentioned, a virtual dynasty of public-spirited citizens. No sources are given.
Smith's Congressional biography. It makes him out to be more protectionist than he really was.
The library of the Maryland Historical Society is a superb source on everything to do with the history of Maryland.
Ft. McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine has a collection of research materials on the Battle of Baltimore. There's also a fine unofficial website which has a helpful timeline and tour of the Battle of North Point, plus much other useful information.
Wayne Schaumburg is a well-known, very helpful expert on the history of Baltimore.
The Baltimore Sun's Archive contains numerous stories about Smith. One of the most recent is a birthday tribute on page 2D of the July 27, 2002 edition. In that article, the Sun refers to Smith as "the greatest Baltimorean of all time." Note that the Sun's archive does not appear to include the Evening Sun; for that you might have to consult a librarian.
Donald Hickey's review of the recent literature on the War of 1812, with more than a hundred citations.
Historian Thomas Fleming provides some valuable insights into Smith's performance at Ft. Mifflin.
Sources for the short biography on this website:
Thousand-foot wharf: Power, Garrett, "Parceling Out Land in the Vicinity of Baltimore: 1632-1796, Part 2," 88 (1993), p. 169-170. Fig. 14 shows Smith's wharf to be at the foot of Gay St.
Decorated hero - by resolution of the Continental Congress, Smith was presented with a ceremonial sword for his service at Ft. Mifflin: Pancake, p. 22, Lord, p. 230.
Funeral: Pancake, pp. 196, 199; Cassell, p 263-264 names the Cabinet members attending and adds, "But it was the crowds that impressed observers, both because of the numbers and the intensity of feeling many individuals manifested. It was not an uncommon sight to see both adults and children crying as the cortege passed."
Changing the course of history: Lord, p. 15, pp. 301-321, 342-344; Cassell, p. 209.
Surviving the battle of White Plains, Oct 28, 1776: Cassell, p. 19.
Reciprocal trade: Cassell, 114, 212; Pancake, 183-184.
Military efficiency: George, pp 158 ("more than 50" British), pp 163 (43 Americans).
Multiplied his productivity, Cassell, p xii.
Business failure: Cassell, p 223-226; Pancake, p. 145.
Mayoral election: Cassell, 257-262; Pancake 195.
Commanding the regulars: Cassell, pp 201-203; George, pp 126-127; Pancake, pp 113-115; Lord, pp 229-231.
Napoleon: Look up the story of Betsy Patterson and unravel her family connection to Smith. Start with Cassell, pp 108-109.
For an illustrated description of Smith's country home (near the present site of City College) and how it disappeared in 1909, see J. Gilman D. Paul, "Montebello, Home of General Samuel Smith,” Maryland Historical Magazine 42, no. 4 (December 1947): 253–60. The article says that Smith admired French military prowess and named his estate after a notable French victory in 1800. I have been told that no one knows exactly where either of Smith's homes was located, which is why they lack historical markers. Perhaps a student of geography or civil engineering could use real estate maps from the 1800s to rediscover these locations, mark them, and write an article proposing the placement of formal historical markers.
Smith's statue was moved several times before ending up in its lonely prominence atop Federal Hill. Most recently it was the centerpiece of Sam Smith park, on the Inner Harbor waterfront. Why was the statue moved, and what controversy - if any - surounded the move?
The citations above are of course, merely starting points for further research. There are many other interesting and significant events in Smith’s life that are not mentioned here.