Smithers, Nathaniel B.

Born: 1818-10-08 Dover, Delaware

Died: 1896-01-16 Dover, Delaware

Flourished: Delaware

Nathaniel B. Smithers was a lawyer and U.S. congressman. At age eleven, Smithers moved with his father from his native state to Maryland, where he attended West Nottingham Academy. At the age of fifteen, he enrolled in Lafayette College, graduating in 1836. Smithers began the study of law at the law school of Judge John Reed in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He was admitted to the bar in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania in 1840, and in the spring of 1841, was admitted to the bar of Kent County, Delaware, where he started a law practice. In 1845, Smithers was elected as clerk to the Delaware House of Representatives, being reelected to that position in 1847. He was a delegate to the Whig National Convention in 1848. Smithers became estranged with the Whigs in 1847, when the party rejected the gradual abolition of slavery, and voted in local option concerning alcohol. He cooperated with the American Party, but did not become a member. In March 1853, Smithers married his cousin, Mary Elizabeth Smithers, in Dover. Their union produced four children, two of whom died in infancy. Joining the Republican Party, Smithers was a delegate to the 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago, which nominated Abraham Lincoln for president. He served as the secretary of state of Delaware in 1863. Smithers was elected to U.S. Congress, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of William Temple, and served from 1863 to 1865. Not a candidate for reelection in 1864, Smithers resumed the practice of law in Dover and was a delegate to the 1864 Republican National Convention.

George Ashmun and Others to Abraham Lincoln; Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 1852; William T. Smithers, Memoir of Nathaniel B. Smithers (Wilmington, DE: Historical Society of Delaware, 1899); Gravestone, Wesley Methodist Church Cemetery, Dover, DE.