Judge of the Month
Fourth District Court Judge, 1862-1864
Born in Boston, Massachusetts on April 16, 1808, Caleb Blood Smith spent his youth in Cincinnati Ohio, arriving with his family in 1814. After studying at Miami University and Cincinnati College, he moved to Connersville, Indiana in 1827 to read law with Oliver H. Smith. He also edited the local newspaper, the Sentinel.
Smith's political career began in 1834 when he won election to the Indiana House of Representatives. A Whig, Smith was reelected each year until 1837 and then again in 1840. In 1842, he entered the United States House of Representatives and served three consecutive terms. After leaving Congress in 1848, Smith sat on the board of commissioners to adjust claims against Mexico. He left that position in 1851 to serve briefly as president of the Cincinnati and Chicago Railroad Company. He spent the next eight years practicing law in Cincinnati.
In 1859, Smith, a leader of the Indiana delegation to the Chicago Republican Convention, fought for Abraham Lincoln's nomination. A personal friendship existed between the two from their time spent together in Congress. For his efforts in the Lincoln campaign, Smith was appointed Secretary of the Interior in 1861, making him the first Hoosier to hold a cabinet office. He resigned in December 1862 for health reasons. Relocated in Indianapolis, Smith was appointed Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Indiana, though he had been interested in the empty seat on the United States Supreme Court. Instead, he lived out the remainder of his life in Indiana, dying on January 7, 1864. In his honor, President Lincoln ordered all government executive buildings in Washington draped in mourning for fourteen days after his death.
The Indiana Historical Society, Caleb B. Smith Papers, 1849-1862: http://www.indianahistory.org/library/manuscripts/collection_guides/sc1359.html
The Federal Judicial Centerís Biographical Directory of Federal Judges: www.fjc.gov/history/home/nsf.
Indiana Biography Series v. 18