Local Hero, National Leader

Local Hero, National Leader (HM400)

Location: Baltimore, MD 21201
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 17.379', W 76° 37.411'

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Sam Smith is the most important public figure buried at Westminster. A hero in two wars, Smith (1752-1839) spent 40 years as a U.S. Congressman and Senator. As a merchant, Smith amassed and lost a fortune, but won the admiration of locals who, in 1835, didn't hesitate to call on the 83-year-old leader in the midst of rioting over a bank failure. Smith confronted the mob and helped end the violence. Months later, he was elected mayor and served a two year term.

An Illustrious Family
John Spear Smith, Sam's father, was a prominent Scots-Irish merchant who moved his young family to Baltimore from Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1760. Sam entered his father's busines at 14 and by 19 was sent overseas. Sam's brother, Robert (buried here in the William and Robert Smith vault), served as the nation's second Secretary of the Navy (after Sam turned down Jefferson's offer) and sixth Secretary of State.


(Vault) Samuel Smith, Lt. Col. U.S. Army American Revolution, Maj. Gen. U.S. Army War of 1812

(Ground Slab) Molly Smith, Daughter of Robert and Jane Buchanan and Wife of John Smith who was Born October 9th, 1723 and Died February 17th, 1782, Aged 58 Years And 4 Months

Molly Smith (1723-1782) was Sam Smith's mother. A plaque located in the catacombs marks the graves of Smith's father and granfather, John Smith (1723-1794) and Samuel Smith (1698-1784), respectively.

Distinguished Veteran Sam Smith spent three-and-a-half years as a Continental Army officer commanding Maryland troops at the battles of Long Island, Harlem, White Plains, Brandywine and Monmouth. Wounded at the Mud Fort, Smith spent the winter of 1778 with Washington at Valley Forge.

Major General Samuel Smith, engraving after St. Memin, undated
The Maryland Historical Society

Interlocing Ties Margaret Spear's marriage to Sam Smith in 1778 linked several generations of Baltimore's leading Scots-Irish families, the Spears, Smiths, and Buchanans. Margaret's grandfather, Irish-born John Spear, came to America with his uncle, Robert Buchanan, in 1720. Buchanan's daughter, Molly, was Sam Smith's mother. Margaret Spear Smith (1759-1842), depicted here after Sam's death, was buried in this vault in 1842.

Margaret Spear Smith by William Edward West, oil on canvas, ca. 1839-1841
The Maryland Historical Society

Hero of the Mud Fort Lt. Colonel Sam Smith's stubborn defeense of the Mud Island fort in the fall of 1777 earned him a congressional award and the gratitude of his commanding general. The Mud Fort (later Fort Mifflin) sat on strategic ground on the Deelaware River below British-occupied Philadelphia. The fort fell under relentless British bombing, but not before the serously wounded Smith and his 400 troops stalled enemy supply ships, thus protecting Washington's troops from further attack.

The Course of the Delaware River...1779 (detail)
Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries

Home of the Brave When war broke out with Great Britain in 1812, Sam Smith was appointed Major General of the Maryland Militia. His spirited command of the defense of Baltimore in 1814 helped American troops repel the invaders on land (the Battle of North Point) and on water (the naval bombardment of Fort McHenry).

The gathering of troops on Hampstead Hill (present day Patterson Park), shown here, was part of an American line of defense that included 16,000 militia and 100 cannons. The British decision to hald their march set the stage for a 25-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry, an event that inspired Francis Scott Key's immortal poem, "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Defense of Baltimore-Assembling of the Troops, September 12, 1814 by Thomas Ruckle, oil on canvas, ca. 1814-1815
The Maryland Historical Society
HM NumberHM400
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 at 8:03am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 359988 N 4350176
Decimal Degrees39.28965000, -76.62351667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 17.379', W 76° 37.411'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 17' 22.74" N, 76° 37' 24.66" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)410, 443, 301
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 69 N Greene St, Baltimore MD 21201, US
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