About Israel Smith, Governor, U.S. Senator
Israel Smith (April 4, 1759 – December 2, 1810) was an American lawyer and politician who held a wide variety of positions in the state of Vermont.
Smith was born in Suffield, Connecticut, where he spent his childhood. He studied at Yale and graduated in 1781. He then became a lawyer and moved to Vermont. He first settled in Rupert, Vermont where he practiced law and entered politics. By 1790 he had moved to Rutland, Vermont.
Smith served a 1-year term in the Vermont House of Representatives in 1785. He again served in the Vermont House from 1788 to 1791. During that time, he was active in solving Vermont's boundary disputes with other states and served as a delegate to the Vermont Constitutional Convention, at which Vermont ratified the American Constitution. When Vermont became a state in 1791, Smith ran for Vermont's seat in the United States House of Representatives. In a bitterly fought election between Smith, Matthew Lyon and Isaac Tichenor, Smith received second place, 35% of the vote in the first round, but won the runoff against Lyon.
Smith served in the US House from 1791 to 1797. In 1792 and 1794, Lyon unsuccessfully ran against Smith, but in 1796 Smith was finally defeated by Lyon. By this time, Smith had become a member of the Democratic-Republican Party.
In 1797, Smith again briefly served in the Vermont State House. Later in 1797 he became chief justice of the Vermont Supreme Court, but resigned the following year. In 1800, Smith was reelected to the United States House, where he served until 1802.
In 1802 Smith was elected to the United States Senate from Vermont, and served in the Senate from 1803 to 1807. In 1807 he successfully ran against one of his old political rivals, Isaac Tichenor, for governor. Tichenor had served as governor for a decade. Smith resigned from the Senate and served as governor of Vermont from 1807 to 1808, when he was defeated for reelection by Tichenor.
Smith then moved back to Rutland, Vermont, where he retired from politics and soon developed an illness. He died in Rutland and is buried there in West Street Cemetery.