Smith Thompson (1768 - 1843)

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Death: Died in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, NY, USA
Managed by: Doug Robinson
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About Smith Thompson

Smith Thompson (January 17, 1768 – December 18, 1843) was a United States Secretary of the Navy from 1818 to 1823, and a United States Supreme Court Associate Justice from 1823 until his death in 1843.

Born in Amenia, New York, Thompson graduated from Princeton University (then known as the College of New Jersey) in 1788, taught for a short period thereafter, then studied law under James Kent and subsequently set up a law practice. He practiced in Troy, New York from 1792 to 1793, and in Poughkeepsie, New York from 1793 to 1802. He was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1800, and attended the New York Constitutional Convention of 1801. He was appointed to the New York State Supreme Court in 1802, serving as Associate Justice from 1802 to 1814, and Chief Justice from 1814 to 1818.

He was a founding vice president of the American Bible Society and provided a copy to every officer and enlisted man in the Navy.

He was appointed Secretary of the Navy by President James Monroe, and campaigned for the Democratic-Republican presidential nomination in 1824. When Andrew Jackson won the nomination, Thompson only reluctantly accepted his appointment to the United States Supreme Court.[3] Thompson received a recess appointment from President James Monroe on September 1, 1823, to a seat vacated by Henry Brockholst Livingston. Formally nominated on December 5, 1823, Thompson was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 9, 1823, and received his commission the same day. He did not give up his political ambitions there, and took the — now considered unusual, but then quite common — step of running for political office from the bench; however, his 1828 bid for Governor of New York was unsuccessful, unlike the example of Chief Justice John Jay, who had been elected governor in 1795. Thereafter he mostly exited political life, and on the court was a staunch opponent of Chief Justice John Marshall.

USS Smith Thompson (DD-212) was named for him.

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Smith Thompson, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court's Timeline

January 17, 1768
June 20, 1796
Age 28
October 2, 1797
Age 29
December 18, 1843
Age 75
Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, NY, USA