Architectural History, xvii (1974), 5–13;
Dunbar et al. (1995)
SMITH, JAMES. (1719–1806). Signer. Ireland-Pennsylvania. Born in Ireland, 17 Sept. 1719, Smith and his family settled in York Co., Pennsylvania in 1729. James was schooled in Philadelphia, admitted to the bar in 1745, and soon thereafter he became a lawyer and surveyor on the frontier near Shippensburg. Four or five years later he returned to York, which remained his home for the rest of his life. Although the only lawyer in town until 1769, he found little legal work and in 1771 he launched an unsuccessful iron manufacturing business that cost him £5,000 before he sold out in 1778. Meanwhile he had become a leader of the backcountry and Patriot causes. In July 1774 he read his "Essay on the Constitutional Power of Great Britain over the colonies in America" to the provincial conference. He also urged nonimportation and advocated that a general congress of the colonies be called. Returning to York full of revolutionary zeal, in Dec. 1774 he raised a volunteer company, was elected its captain, expanded this unit into a battalion, and accepted the honorary title of colonel. He was a delegate to the provincial congresses of Jan. 1775, June 1776, and in the constitutional convention of 1776 he was on the committee that drafted a state constitution. On 20 July, before the state convention had been in session a week, he was elected to the Continental Congress where he signed the Declaration of Independence. He did not return to Congress for the next session, but was re-elected on 10 December 1777 and sat as a delegate the next year. He declined re-election, but thanks to the efforts of General Howe the Continental Congress came to him, and while that body met in York the board of war held its meetings in Smith's office.
He held a number of political posts after the war, was brigadier general of militia in 1782, and was counselor for his state in the Wyoming Valley controversy. Between 1781 and his retirement in 1801 he acquired a substantial estate through the practice of law. He died in York, 11 July 1806.
revised by Michael Bellesiles
Journalist; b. Skolland, Shetland, July 11, 1790; d. Oakley, Fife, Jan. 5, 1866. He was brought up a Presbyterian and trained as a solicitor before the Supreme Courts in Edinburgh. He was converted to Catholicism and, in the public controversy over the Catholic Emancipation Bill of 1829, lectured and wrote in support of Catholic claims. He married Catherine Mackenzie (1812), a cousin of Bp. Alexander MacDonell of Kingston, Ontario; and his own son, William, became archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh (1885). In 1831, some of Smith's controversial lectures, Dialogues on the Catholic and Protestant Rules of Faith, were published and, in 1832, he founded and edited the first Catholic Scottish monthly; the Edinburgh Catholic Magazine. It appeared from April 1832 to November 1833, then fell silent until February 1837. In April 1838, "Edinburgh" was dropped from the title, and it continued as the Catholic Magazine until December 1842.
One of the reasons for the journal's eventual failure (and a typical source of weakness in Scottish periodical literature) was that the editor migrated to London. There he continued his journalistic activities, editing two successive issues of the Dublin Review (1837, 1838), and launching the Catholic Directory on the lines of John macpherson's directory in Scotland. Smith's publication superseded the old Laity's Directory and still continues as the national Catholic directory for England and
Wales. Smith continued a prominent role in religious controversy and Catholic public life, acting for a time as secretary to the Catholic Institute of Great Britain. Toward the end of his life he returned to his native land.