Delazon Smith

Delazon Smith (October 5, 1816 – November 19, 1860) was a Democratic Party politician who briefly represented the state of Oregon in the U.S. Senate in 1859. He served for less than one month (February 14 to March 4), making his term among the shortest on record in the Senate. Smith was also a newspaper editor in New York and Ohio, and served in the Oregon Territory's legislature.

Delazon Smith
United States Senator
from Oregon
In office
February 14, 1859 – March 4, 1859
Preceded byPosition Created
Succeeded byEdward Dickinson Baker
Personal details
Born(1816-10-05)October 5, 1816
New Berlin, New York
DiedNovember 19, 1860(1860-11-19) (aged 44)
Portland, Oregon
Political partyDemocratic

According to the obituary in the Chicago Tribube, "The adventurous character of Mr. Smith, and the noted eccentricity of his career, had given him a notoriety greater than is usual to men of a similar grade of ability and attainment."[1]

Early lifeEdit

Smith was born in New Berlin, New York on October 5, 1816.[2] He was expelled from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1837, and excommunicated from "the church".[3] He then began the study of law.[2] and soon was admitted to the bar.[2] In 1838 he established the New York Watchman newspaper in Rochester, New York, which he edited for two years.[2] Smith also edited the True Jeffersonian and the Western Herald in Rochester for a time in 1840. In 1841, he founded the Western Empire in Dayton, Ohio.[2]


Like most Democrats at the time, Delazon was opposed to the abolition of American slavery, and in particular to the warm treatment blacks received in Oberlin.


Smith's career in politics began when he was appointed a special United States commissioner to Quito, Ecuador, serving in this capacity from 1842 to 1845.[2] He then moved to the Iowa Territory in 1846 and became a minister. In 1850, he ran in the Iowa 1st district special election as an Independent receiving 3.43% of the vote.[4][2] In 1852 he moved to the Oregon Territory and began editing the Oregon Democrat.[2] In 1854 he was elected to the Territorial House of Representatives.[5] There he served as Speaker of the House during the 1855 to 1856 session.[6] The following session was his last as a representative of Linn County.[7] In 1857 Smith was a delegate to the state's constitutional convention of that prepared the first constitution in preparation for statehood.[8] Upon Oregon's admission to the Union as the 33rd state, Smith was elected to the Senate, serving from February 14 to March 4, 1859.[2] He was an unsuccessful candidate for re-election.[2]

Less than two years after leaving the Senate, Delazon Smith died in Portland on November 19, 1860 at the age of 44 years.[2] His interment was at Albany, Oregon in the Masonic Cemetery.[2]

Works authoredEdit


  1. ^ "Death of Delazon Smith". Chicago Tribune. December 12, 1860. p. 2 – via
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l United States Congress. "Delazon Smith (id: S000526)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  3. ^ "Misplaced Honors". Oberlin Evangelist. December 19, 1860. p. 205.
  4. ^ Our Campaigs (December 5, 2015). "Delazon, Smith". Our Campaigns.
  5. ^ Oregon Legislators and Staff Guide,1854 Regular Session (6th Territorial). Retrieved 2016-06-20.
  6. ^ Oregon Legislators and Staff Guide, 1855 Regular Session (7th Territorial). Retrieved 2016-06-20.
  7. ^ Oregon Legislators and Staff Guide, 1856 Regular Session (8th Territorial). Retrieved 2016-06-20.
  8. ^ "Biographical Sketch of Delazon Smith". Crafting the Oregon Constitution. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved 2016-06-20.
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Position Created (Oregon statehood)
U.S. senator (Class 2) from Oregon
February 14, 1859 – March 4, 1859
Served alongside: Joseph Lane
Succeeded by