Elder John Smith
The First Permanent Baptist Pastor in Ohio
By A. H. Dunlevy, 1869
[Footnotes are changed to Endnotes and the footnote symbols are changed to numbers.]
JOHN SMITH, the first permanent pastor of the First Baptist Church in Ohio, or the Northwestern Territory, was a Virginian by birth and education. He was a man of a vigorous mind, and though without a liberal education, by great industry, soon acquired a good degree of general information and a respectable knowledge of letters. He was a man of unusually fine appearance, of easy and agreeable manners, and a natural orator. His voice was remarkable for its power and compass as well as for its peculiar sweetness. As out-door preaching was common in his day, when there were few meeting-houses, his voice was admirably adapted for such service, and I have heard it said he could be distinctly heard in preaching on these occasions at the distance of half a mile.
His pleasing and popular manners, as well as preaching talent, led to his entrance into public life. He was returned as one of the members of the Territorial Legislature for the Northwestern Territory in February, 1799, and on the organization of a State government in 1802, he was chosen a member of the Constitutional Convention, and by the first Legislature of Ohio was elected one of the Senators of the State in Congress. In the Senate he became acquainted with Aaron Burr, the then Vice-President and presiding officer of that body. Thomas Jefferson was then President, and John Smith, who was a warm Republican, as then distinguished from Federalist, and had been a great advocate of his election, became a favorite with him. The president made him quite a confidant on the subject of our relations with Spain, out of which difficulties were soon expected to arise. The truth, no doubt; was that Spain owned the country at the mouth of the Mississippi, known as Louisiana and Florida, and our government wished by some means to possess all or a good part of it. John Smith, as a contractor for the supply of the United States troops west of the Alleghanies [sic], had occasionally visited the forts on the Mississippi, and had also, for the purpose of getting some supplies, visited New Orleans and some other places in the Spanish dominions. Jefferson, aware of this fact, had advised with him as to the friendly disposition of the inhabitants of the country toward the United States, and on one occasion, in the summer of 1805, as Smith stated, and of the truth of which there is no doubt, had induced him to visit New Orleans and other places in the South, and ascertain with more certainty what the principal public functionaries and inhabitants generally would think of annexation to the United States. He had made this beginning, and found the governor, inferior officers, and inhabitants generally, not only friendly to, but anxious for annexation. This was reported to Jefferson at the December session of Congress, 1805. Soon after a warlike message against Spain was sent confidentially to Congress. The fact of such a message being sent soon leaked out, however, and the country for a year or more was in expectation of war very soon, with Spain. But negotiations succeeded soon after, and war was prevented.
In the autumn of the next year, Colonel Burr visited the West, and having been acquainted with Senator Smith, in the Senate, called on him at Cincinnati. Smith was a real Virginian, with all their warm hospitality, and, as a matter of course, invited Barr to make his house, his home during his stay. Here he remained some ten days, and left for Kentucky. At this time, early in October, 1806, there were comparatively slight rumors of Burr's movements being hostile to the union, and Senator Smith, from his disposition to think the best of all men until proof to the contrary, could not give any ear to these whispers. Besides, Burr was so fair and plausible as well as insinuating in his address, that he removed every suspicion from the minds of those who listened to him. Smith therefore considered the rumors afloat without foundation, and from his nature would not desert one whom he thought unjustly impeached. This friendly treatment of Burr was construed into connection with him in his plan, whatever it was, though even that could never, until this day, be certainly determined.
A few individuals, of very bad character, at Cincinnati, who had themselves been intimate with Burr, and several of whom it was believed had been fully committed to his plans, when the clamor became great, withdrew their familiarity with Burr and, to screen themselves, joined in accusing Smith of connection with him. Party political strife at that time ran high and at Cincinnati a secret organization was formed, and oaths of inviolable privacy were taken. The crimination of Senator Smith originated with this secret society. Its members were the principal witnesses against him, and refused, on his trial, to answer any questions except such as they pleased, and as they supposed, no doubt, would afford evidence against him.
After Burr left Cincinnati for Lexington, these rumors against him increasing, Senator Smith, on the 23d of October, wrote to Burr: "I beg leave to inform you that we have in this quarter various reports prejudicial to your character. It is believed by many that your design is to dismember the Union. Although I do not believe that you have any such design, yet I must confess, from the mystery and rapidity of your movements, that I have fears, let your object be what it may, that the tranquillity of the country will be interrupted unless, it be candidly disclosed, which I solicit, and to which I presume you will have no objections." To this letter Burr promptly replied on the 26th of October. After denying most emphatically that he had any intentions against the integrity of the Union, and that any attempt to effect such a separation by force would be as ridiculous as vain; "that all the armies of France could not effect such a separation," he adds, "I have no political views whatever. Those which I entertained some months ago, and which I communicated to you, are abandoned. Having bought of Col. Lynch 400,000 acres of land on the Wachita, I propose to send thither this fall a number of settlers, as many as well can go and labor a certain time, to be paid in land and found provisions for the time they labor — perhaps one year. Messrs. J. Breckenridge, Adair and Fowler, have separately informed me it was the strong desire of the administration that American settlers should go into that quarter, and that I could not do a thing more grateful to the government. I have some other views which are personal merely, and which I shall have no objection to state to you personally, but which I do not deem it necessary to publish. If these projects could in any way affect the interests of the United States, it would be beneficially; yet I acknowledge that no public considerations have led me to this speculation, but merely the interest and comfort of myself and friends."
On, the 14th day of December, 1806, the proclamation of President Jefferson reached Cincinnati, declaring the opinion that Burr's movements were hostile to the country, and calling aid of all to arrest and suppress them. From that moment Senator Smith, supposing, as he dec1ared at the time, that the President had much more information than he had on the subject, exerted himself in every possible way to arrest the expedition. The keeper of the arsenal at Newport, Ky., refusing to deliver arms to volunteer companies who offered their services to the government, Smith prevailed upon him, by entering into bonds with security in $10,000 to indemnify the keeper of the arms, in delivering as many as could be spared or were required, and in every way from that time Smith gave every aid he could to arrest Burr's movements.
In August, 1807, bills of indictment for treason and misdemeanor were found in the Circuit Court of Virginia against Burr, Smith, and several others. Burr was afterwards tried and acquitted, and the prosecution of Smith and others abandoned. In the mean time, on the 27th of November, 1807, a resolution was offered by John Quincy Adams, then a member of the Senate of the United States, "to inquire whether it be compatible with the honor and privileges of this house that John Smith, a Senator from the State of Ohio, be permitted longer to have a seat therein." Adams had recently become a member of the Republican, then the Jefferson party, and no doubt, from a weakness incident to the greatest men, felt it incumbent on him to show his allegiance to the republican administration. This he could not better do than to be active in sympathizing with his hostility to every person intimate with Burr. I doubt not, too, that he labored under prejudices toward John Smith, as a Baptist. He frequently, in his subsequent life, exhibited such a feeling against Roger Williams, the Baptist pioneer of New England.
On the 3lst of December, 1807, Adams, as chairman of the committee under this resolution of inquiry, made a long report distinguished as assuming that the Senate was not bound by any rules of investigation, on motions to expel, which were recognized in the courts of justice, but that only such evidence as raised a strong presumption of guilt was necessary. At this time Burr had been acquitted and nolle poseurs had been entered on the bills against Smith and others. Of course the guilt of Burr or any of the others could not be established on legal grounds, and it became necessary to assume, first, that Burr's expedition was treasonable contrary to the decision of the court at Richmond; and next, that a connection with this treasonable design could be established against others, so far as necessary to satisfy the Senate, by evidence insufficient to convict any of them in a court of law. This rule left Smith at the mercy of his enemies, and every act of his, in his intercourse with Burr whether friendly or hostile, was construed to establish his connection with him. Even his exertions to arrest Burr's expedition after the arrival of the President's proclamation, were considered the highest evidence of guilt, though it was also admitted, by at least one member of the Senate who argued the case, that had he manifested indifference and stood idle after Jefferson's proclamation, that too would have been still stronger proof of his criminality; so that whatever Smith did, under this mode of proof and trial, only afforded evidence against him. Jefferson was bent on the destruction of all who showed countenance to Burr, and suspicion of intimacy being the ground of conviction, there was no hope of escape. Rumor, fear and prejudice had magnified every thing into evidence overwhelming. The administration took advantage of this, and though on the final vote Smith was not expelled by a constitutional majority, yet so many voted against him, that he at once resigned his seat. It was a party vote. The friends of Jefferson — those who belonged to the republican party of that day — perhaps without exception, voted in favor of his expulsion, while the other members of the Senate could see no evidence of guilt, and voted against Mr. Adam's resolution. Senator Smith was not only ably defended by counsel, but by the most talented members of the Senate. Hillhouse of Connecticut. Giles of Virginia, and Pope of Kentucky, made most able speeches, dissecting the evidence produced against Smith, and showing that laying aside the evidence of Smith's first and principal accusers, whom he had shown were not only unworthy of credit, but had themselves been very intimate with Burr until the rumors of his treasonable designs became rife, there was no proof of any improper intimacy with Burr, whatever might have been the object of the latter.
It is also worthy of remark, and shows how little reliance can be placed in the most distinguished politicians, as to their estimate of what is or is not patriotism or treason, that Senator Smith was condemned for a mere suspicion of being concerned with Burr in an attempt to invade Mexico, and revolutionize a part of it at least, if not annex it to the United States. At this day, 1856, members of that Senate have openly avowed their connection with an expedition, fitted out in this country, to invade, revolutionize and annex Cuba, a part of that same kingdom on which Aaron Burr had probably fixed his eyes; but now, such an effort is not only innocent but praiseworthy and patriotic, with a large portion of the people of the United States. In this way too, Texas was revolutionized and annexed, the very thing, in all probability, which Burr intended, and the principal actor in that revolution has been highly honored by the administration and now holds a seat in that very Senate from which it was attempted to expel Smith, for a suspicion of favoring that which has since been considered to be laudable and patriotic.1
Though these charges against Mr. Smith had not been sustained, either in the Senate, by a constitutional majority, or before the court at Richmond; and although those who had best and longest known him did not believe he was guilty of any thing more than indiscretion in treating Burr with civility and giving too easy an ear to his plausible pretenses, yet the public mind had been greatly excited against Burr, and any suspicion of even friendship for him was enough to destroy any man's reputation. This prejudice fell on Mr. Smith with more destructiveness on account of his being a Christian minister. Besides this, his extensive business operations had compelled him to solicit credit, and he was still more involved by the great expense he had been put to in collecting evidence and making his defense before the Senate. The confidence of his creditors, which had been unlimited, was now withdrawn, and he was pressed for all the claims against him at once. This he could not immediately meet. His property therefore was seized, and in a great measure sacrificed to pay his debts, and he soon removed to St. Francisville, Louisiana, in the neighborhood where he had many years before purchased a tract of land. There he continued to live from about the spring of 1808, to his death in 1824, in great obscurity, taking no part in public affairs, and for several years without any connection with the Church. But he could not live at peace without preaching, and while his reputation was so clouded with the charges which had been made against him, he did not feel it worth his while to attempt to preach. But from exhorting, first the slaves in his neighborhood and then congregations of white people, he afterwards resumed the preaching of that Gospel which had ever been dear to him, and from which he derived his only consolation in all the troubles and persecutions to which he had been subjected.
His removal to a Southern climate probably brought sickness upon his family. Several of them died in a few years after he reached St. Francisville — and afterwards his companion and wife, for whom he always had the most tender affection. This seemed to be the severest stoke in his chequered life. He felt his loss deeply; but this affliction came not alone. An only daughter whom he had left in Ohio, in the last stages of consumption, attempted to reach her parents, and with her mother to leave her three children for protection, when she should be called away, which she knew must be soon, died on her passage down the river nearly at the same time with Mrs. Smith. Thus misfortunes and afflictions gathered about him with unusual frequency and severity; yet was he able to stay himself on his God. As the tempest gathered about him in darker and darker hues, be clung with stronger and stronger faith to that Ark of safety which could bear him up amid the dark waters which surrounded him. That Ark was Christ, the Savior. To him he fled for refuge amid the windy storm and tempest, and was safe. He continued to preach the Gospel with greater zeal, from year to year, and at last was taken sick suddenly on his return home from preaching at one of his stations, in l824, and died after a short illness, at St. Francisville, Louisiana.
Thus ended the mortal career of the first pastor of this First Church of the great Northwestern Territory. He was a remarkable man in many respects. His native talents were uncommon — talents which fitted him for every place, and rendered him everywhere distinguished. In his person, and in his bearing and demeanor, there was ever an air of dignity. He was a natural orator. His flow of language was free and pure; his elocution clear and distinct; his voice peculiarly pleasant and of great compass; and his action natural and graceful. As a preacher, he commanded great respect and attention from all; and to the experienced Christian his sermons were spiritual feasts. I speak from the impressions I received from many of his early neighbors at Columbia, some members of his church, and others not connected with any church, and, so far as I know, such was their uniform testimony.
But John Smith yielded to the fascination of fame and was led from one step to another, farther and farther from his pledge to preach the Gospel, to which he had felt, and always believed, he had been specially called. He had many misgivings as to his course, when he took his seat in the Senate of the United States, and these were strengthened by letters from an endeared wife urging him to abandon political life and again assume the humble pastorate of the church where he had so many evidences of being blessed in his work. The terrible persecution which followed on the charge of connection with Burr, though believed to be entirely groundless by those who knew him best, seemed to his friends, if not to himself, to be a judgment against him for his unfaithfulness to that work of preaching the Gospel, which he had in early youth espoused.
Added to this charge of connection with Burr, his enemies have been industrious in heaping upon his memory other delinquencies and even many years after his decease they have been increased in number and malignity. In a late work, purporting to contain the life, character and services of the Hon. Thomas Morris, late of the United States Senate, deceased, Smith is represented, on the authority of one Judge Pollock, of Clermont County, Ohio, as "first in the log-rolling, first in the horse-race, and first in the pulpit; and, as clandestinely leaving the country in 1807." With those acquainted with Judge Pollock, a wag, this statement would have little weight, but these are now few. There are, however, some living who contradict every charge of the kind, and bear testimony to the uniform Christian bearing and behavior of John Smith in every condition and sphere of life. One of these is John Webb, of Newtown, Hamilton County, a man of irreproachable character, who knew Smith well from the time he first came to Columbia until he left. In a letter to me, dated 1856, he says: "I was acquainted with John Smith from the time he first came to Columbia until he left, and that personally. All that time I heard him preach. I have been with him at log-rollings, house-raisings and barn-raisings, and have worked for him and with him, and never saw anything in his deportment but what I thought correct. It was impossible for any one to hear him and be with him and not love him." To the same import is a letter from Dr. Ezra Ferris, of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, dated November 5th, 1856. Dr. Ferris came to Columbia in 1789, was present, though a boy, at the constitution of the Columbia Church, and knew John Smith from that time until he left Cincinnati, in 1807, or 1808. He says: "I lived with my father, a near neighbor to him (Smith), and felt almost as much at home in his house as my father’s, and knew he was very reserved in his character, as a Christian in his family, and feel persuaded he never visited a horse-race, neither did he approve of such sport. And until his enemies began their persecutions against him on Burr’s account, few men in the sphere in which he moved were more exemplary." And as to the charge of fleeing the country in dishonor, Dr. Ferris says in the same letter — "It was a matter of public notoriety that he was going when he went."2
I have not stopped here but have pursued my inquiries as to John Smith's deportment after he left Cincinnati, and settled near St. Francisville, Louisiana, and find, without any contradiction, that though humbled by persecution, on account of supposed friendship for, and connection with Burr, yet he ever maintained his Christian deportment, and in his family and to his neighbors recommended the Bible truths and precepts as worthy of all acceptation. For a time John Smith resided in the family of the father of Mrs. Challen, wife of the Rev. James Challen, now of Philadelphia, while Mrs. C. was a young girl. Afterwards Mrs. C. remained a near neighbor to Mr. Smith until his death, and her testimony is the same with that of John Webb and Dr. Ferris, as to his Christian deportment at all times and under the most trying afflictions. Though on account of the persecutions which followed him, and the public rumors of his connection with Burr, he for a number of years withdrew from the church, yet afterwards he felt himself so strongly called upon to preach again, that he sought a restoration, which was readily granted, and the last few years of his life were devoted zealously and successfully to preaching the same gospel which he had proclaimed in his early career. Having in his intercourse with the South acquired a knowledge of the Spanish language which enabled him to speak it with considerable ease, he once attempted to make a missionary tour through a part of Texas, but he found the intolerance of Catholicism an effectual barrier to any successful effort to preach in that country. In addition to all this, I have the assurance of a brother Eastman, communicated to Dr. Ezra Ferris, that during the last three months of Mr. Smith’s life he traveled with him, and that Elder Smith was entirely devoted to his work of preaching. Elder Smith, after traveling some time with this early Baptist missionary, suddenly complained of being unwell, and left him for home, where he was taken down and died in a few days, as he understood, in the triumph of strong faith.
I have thus given a longer account of Elder Smith than may appear to many necessary. But as he was a Pioneer Baptist preacher of great distinction; first in the church, and then in the political world, and afterwards became the object of a relentless, and, as all those who best knew him considered, an unfounded persecution. I thought it proper to bestow particular notice upon him. Of his trial before the United States Senate I can only give a brief outline. Those who wish to examine it more particularly may consult the published annals of the first session of the Tenth Congress. But to form a proper estimate of the merits of the charges against John Smith, it is necessary that his persecutors — those who brought the first charges against him, should be known and their characters and conduct weighed against those who still retained their confidence in Smith, notwithstanding the charges of his accusers. The disparity was great, and their testimony as opposite as their characters.
Elder Smith's great error was in leaving the pulpit — first but for a time as he supposed, but gradually he was drawn further and further into the vortex of worldly business and ambition, until he found himself overwhelmed with a storm which he could neither escape nor control. To this terrible mistake he attributed all his misfortunes. In a letter to the Columbia, Lebanon and probably other churches, where many of his early brethren and acquaintances had their membership, written about 1819, he fully confessed this great error, and expressed deep penitence on account of it — but denying all criminal designs against his country — and desiring once more to return to the church, and be permitted again to preach that gospel which had been his only permanent solace in all his trials, persecutions and afflictions. In answer to this letter, I have been assured the Columbia, then Duck Creek, Church most heartily and gladly accepted his assurance of penitence and restored him to their confidence. This letter returned John Smith to the church, and though before this he had often preached in a private way to his neighbors and among the slaves in the vicinity, he now publicly proclaimed the gospel to several churches, through a considerable district around St. Francisville, as long as he lived, and in 1824 returned home sick from a preaching tour, never more to rise from his couch.
We insert here an extract from a letter of Mrs. E. Challen, of Philadelphia, to Mrs. Mary Gano, giving an account of the last years of Elder Smith. Mrs. C. lived in the immediate neighborhood of Elder Smith, from the time he reached St. Francisville, Louisiana, until his death — and part of the time Elder Smith lived in her father’s family:
"A Mr. Taylor, of Cincinnati. published a little work entitled 'The Victim of Intrigue,' which gave a correct history of his (John Smith’s) life. But I rejoice to say his last days were his best days. His return to the fold from which he had long strayed was accompanied with bitter repentance and deep humility. He felt himself unworthy the honor of proclaiming the gospel again, but was constrained to attempt it, first among the poor blacks, with whom he was very acceptable. I presume he was the first Protestant who went to Texas with the intention of preaching. But, I think, the Catholics did not suffer him to speak at all; but he was not to be hindered. He set out with the determination of redeeming the time he had lost, and was indefatigable in his endeavors to do good. Indeed, I must do him the justice to say this always seemed to be his aim. When in our family he always tried to teach us the way to heaven, but we were all in hot pursuit of the pleasures of this life, and gave little heed to his instructions, till his wife — who was a most excellent woman — came to live with us. Though not what we call a zealous Christian, she was very consistent — of a meek and quiet spirit. She opened her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue was the law of kindness. She bore with our youthful follies and participated in our amusements, especially novel reading, which occupied a great portion of our time, but not to the exclusion of more solid literature. Indeed, when Mr. Smith was there, we had a regular school. He gave me my first lessons in Geography, Astronomy, and Chemistry. The Spanish language, which he learned himself, he taught to us. My brother David perfected himself in it, so far as to be able to translate it correctly, which proved of great service to him when he practiced law in New Orleans. Their sojourn in our family was a blessing to us all. We had little need of seeking pleasure from home while we had their society, and that of their sons. Their deaths seemed the principal means of his perfect recovery from his wanderings. Never have I known a more friendly and attached family, and never have I seen more unreserved submission when they were taken away. The first one that died was named Louis. He and his father had taken a trip to Pensacola, and on his return he was seized with yellow fever, which proved fatal in a few hours. His father was not aware of his danger, though he was not insensible to it himself, remarking to some around, while his father was out of the room a few moments, that 'he felt himself dying, but could not bear to mention it to his father,' adding 'he will know it soon enough.' When the poor afflicted parent returned home he seemed to be completely subdued in spirit. "Pity me, oh my friends, for the hand of God has touched me," were his first words on entering, and at family worship be read the twenty-ninth of Job. This was a favorite portion of the Scriptures. He frequently read from Psalms, and those passages that he read in such a touching tone of voice are still very dear to me. He was a most beautiful reader, and a fine speaker, though, like many others, he got too loud and vociferous as he proceeded. This used to annoy his wife very much as she was of a very nervous temperament, and easily affected with noise. Though of very opposite characters they lived in great harmony and affection. When absent, he wrote every spare moment in the most lover-like style. I have often heard him regret not having followed her advice which would have prevented all misfortunes. She strongly opposed his leaving the ministry of the word to engage in political life. He had preserved her letters addressed to him at Washington, begging him to return to his duty as a parent, in assisting her to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. No doubt it added tenfold to his sorrow when they were so suddenly snatched away. Mrs. Smith and my mother were on a visit to an old friend, and while they were gone (only two days) her youngest son, John, was taken so ill that the doctor sent for her; but he was insensible when she arrived, and expired almost immediately. She repeated Job’s words: 'The lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,' closed his eyes in death, and went composedly and got his grave clothes ready. It was a great comfort to her that in their last conversation, the night before she left the house, he had avowed a fixed determination to lead a new life. There had been for some time a decided change in his temper, which was naturally violent, though always kind and affectionate, especially to his mother whom he almost worshiped, as they all did. All of our neighbors loved and respected her, and solicited her visits. She was not fond of society and went sometimes, but always returned expressing her greater satisfaction in my mother's company. They loved each other as sisters, and contributed very much to each other's happiness. When she died it made a great blank in my mother’s affections which no one else could fill. When mother found she was dying she asked her if she was aware of it. For a moment she seemed naturally shocked and startled: but recovering herself immediately, said: 'No, I did not know it; but it is what we must all come to. "Jesus, Master, receive thy servant."' She lingered on much longer than we expected, but said little. We were all watching her, but, overpowered with sorrow and fatigue, fell asleep. I was awakened by her speaking to me, and felt as though those words of the Savior in a like situation were addressed to me: 'What, could you not watch with me one hour?' I slept no more that night.
"I regretted very much that I was denied the privilege of being with my beloved old friend in his last moments. Though not more than a quarter of a mile off, he was taken so violently, that he was obliged to stop at a Dr. Balfour's, who was also a preacher, but being absent until a short time before his death, he was unable to render him any aid. His remains were brought to our house, and laid beside his wife's and sons'. How often have I visited those graves, and rejoiced in the indissoluble union between the Savior and his members."
1. The fol1owing notice of Mr. Smith is from Burnett's Notes on the Northwestern Territory,2d ed. pp. 294-5. Judge Burnett was well acquainted with Mr. Smith; a shrewd observer, and belonging to the opposite party in politics from Mr. Smith, he cannot be accused of partiality. Speaking of the first Territorial Assembly, of which Mr. Smith Was a member, he says:John Smith, of Hamilton County, was scarcely excelled by any member of either House, in native talent and mental energy. He felt very sensibly the want of an early education, yet the vigor of his intellect was such as measurably to overcome tllat difficulty. His ambition to excel, urged him to constant application, and soon raised him to a fair standing among the talented and influential leaders of the day. In 1803, he represented the State in the Senate of the United States, and stood high in the confidence of Mr. Jefferson. Subsequently, however, his intimacy with Colonel Burr put an end to all intercourse between him and Mr. Jefferson. When the Colonel was on a tour through the Western eountry in 1806, he spent a week or two in Cincinnati. Mr. Smith was then a Senator, and had been a member of that body when Mr. Burr presided in it as Vice-President of the United States. He therefore very naturally invited him to his house, and tendered to him its hospitality during his stay in the place.2. Since this sketch was written, the Rev. B. F. Morris, author of his father's biography, above referred to, has admitted to me that he had been misled by Judge Pollock's statement which he has given; that he knew nothing of Pol1ock; had no idea that he was a wag and infidel who took pleasure in ridiculing all religion, and regrets the quotation of his remark as doing Smith injustice.
This act of respect and kindness, dictated by a generous spirit, was relied on as evidence that he was a partisan of the Colonel, and engaged in his project. A number of persons then residing in Cincinnati, who were in constant and intimate intercourse with Burr, and who were universally believed to be engaged in his undertaking, whatever it might have been, deserted him as soon as the storm began to gather. Some of them figured in the trial at Richmond, in 1807, as patriots of spotless purity. When the Governor of Ohio made his communication to the Legislature on the subject, which was the commencement of the military movement, familiarly called at that day, 'The Burr War,' it was amusing to see those men who had been so recently the most devoted attendants on the Colonel, and the most vocal in his praise, denouncing him as a traitor, and tendering their services to the Governor of the State, to arrest the culprit and bring him to justjce. Mr. Smith was a firm, consistent man, not easily alarmed. He solemnly affirmed his belief that Colonel Burr was not engaged in any project injurious to the country, and refused to join in the outcry against him, or to aid in the measures that were taken to procure his arrest. The consequence was, he was denounced himself, and a bill of indictment found against him, which, however, was abandoned without any attempt to bring him to trial."
[Taken from A. H. Dunlevy, History of the Miami Baptist Association, 1869, pp. 96-119. — jrd]
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