Smith, Joshua Hett

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Smith, Joshua Hett

SMITH, JOSHUA HETT. (1736–1818). Lawyer. New York. A son of William Smith, Joshua Smith was a successful lawyer in the tradition of his father and elder brother, Chief Justice William Smith. Although his father and brother were suspected of having Loyalist sympathies, Joshua was an active Patriot, a member of the New York Provincial Congress, and a member of the militia. His wife was from South Carolina, and he had met General Robert Howe in Charleston in 1778. When the latter assumed command at West Point, Smith directed Howe's secret service. When Arnold succeeded Howe, he asked Smith to continue his intelligence work. Thus it was that Smith became—apparently in all innocence—a key actor in the events connected with Arnold's treasonous activities. Although acquitted of any part in Arnold's treason on 26 October 1780, Smith was imprisoned by New York authorities as a suspected Loyalist. In May 1781 he escaped from the Goshen jail, reached New York City the next month, and was given a stipend of one dollar a day by the British. Late in November 1783 he went to England, and in 1801 he returned to the United States. Although his property had not been confiscated, he had lost most of his fortune. Though returning to his legal practice, he never attained much prominence, and he died in New York City in 1818.

SEE ALSO Arnold's Treason; Smith, William (I); Smith, William (II).


Van Doren, Carl. Secret History of the American Revolution. Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing, 1941.

                              revised by Michael Bellesiles

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Smith, Joshua Hett

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