John Smilie
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John Smilie

John Smilie (1741 – December 30, 1812) was an Irish-American politician from Newtownards, County Down, Ireland.

He served in both houses of the state legislature and represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. House from 1793 until 1795 and from 1799 to 1812. Smilie was a prominent Jeffersonian and was identified with the "'Quid" branch of the party. In 1806-07, during the debates over the abolition of the slave trade, Smilie was among the most outspoken against the evils of the slave trade. He argued that slaves illegally imported after 1808 should be freed, and that slave smugglers deserved the death penalty. Neither provision was adopted.

Reppleye, ?Robert Morris?, page 409, in reporting the elections of October 1786, says, '...John Smilie lost his seat.' He did not lose his seat. John Smilie did not stand as a candidate for the Pennsylvania Assembly in October 1786. John Smilie was rather a candidate and elected to Pennsylvania's Supreme Executive Council.<ref>Pennsylvania, Published Archives Series, 1664-1902 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Pennsylvania Archives. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, retrieved 20 April 2015, John Smilie elected Councilor, Fayette, 2nd Tue 1786, Series 6, Vol 11, p 194<ref>

Smilie was born in Ireland and immigrated on May 24, 1762, settling first in Lancaster County. He moved to Fayette in 1780. He was elected to the Thirteenth Congress in 1812 but died before it opened.

He died in Washington, D.C., aged 71, and is buried in the Congressional Cemetery there.

John Smilie in the Whiskey Rebellion

John Smilie in the Whiskey Rebellion, paragraph from Everett, Edward. "John Smilie, Forgotten Champion of Early Western Pennsylvania." Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 33 (September-December 1950), 77-89:

"What Smilie's activities were in the storm of rebellion that was to follow is a mystery that needs solving. In the Pennsylvania Archives there are letters that shed light on the activities of practically every prominent leader of the western insurrection; yet not one letter of Smilie's is found among these documents. There is some information on his life from 1790 to 1793 in regard to the excise problem, but from 1793 to 1794 source material on Smilie dwindles away to practically nothing. Even Findley, Brackenridge and Gallatin shed little light on the life of Smilie at this time. Yet, strange as it may seem, Brackenridge, Hamilton, George Clymer, Oliver Wolcott, Neville B. Craig and John Bache McMaster claim that Smilie was a prominent leader of the Whiskey Insurrection."

Family

Little is known about John Smilie's family in Ireland, other than that his father's name was Robert Smilie. In the US, Smilie married a woman named Jane Porter, and together they had 3 children, Jane Smilie, Mary Smilie, and Robert Smilie.

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Political offices
Preceded by
John Woods
Member, Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania,
representing Fayette County

November 2, 1786 - November 19, 1789
Succeeded by
Nathaniel Breading
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
None
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's at-large congressional district

1793-1795
Succeeded by
None
Preceded by
William Findley
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 11th congressional district

1799-1803
Succeeded by
John Baptiste Charles Lucas
Preceded by
Andrew Gregg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 9th congressional district

1803-1812
Succeeded by
Isaac Griffin



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