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Frank Leslie Smith (November 24, 1867 – August 20, 1950) was an Illinois politician.

Frank L. Smith
Frank L. Smith.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 17th district
In office
March 4, 1919 – March 3, 1921
Preceded byJohn Allen Sterling
Succeeded byFrank H. Funk
Personal details
Born(1867-11-24)November 24, 1867
Dwight, Illinois, U.S.
DiedAugust 30, 1950(1950-08-30) (aged 82)
Dwight, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyRepublican


Smith was born in Dwight, Illinois, in Livingston County He served as a United States Congressman from 1919 to 1921. He was elected by the people of Illinois to the United States Senate in 1926, but the Senate never allowed him to take his seat.

Run for the candidateEdit

Smith first ran for the Republican primary nomination for the U.S. Senate in 1920. In that first year of suffrage, women's votes were counted separately from men's in Illinois. He was beating William B. McKinley by 27,000 votes after the male votes were counted, but once the female votes were counted, McKinley had won by 11,000 votes. McKinley went on to win the general election as well.

In 1921, Smith became the chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission, which oversaw utilities in the state. He prepared to run again for the Senate in 1926. At the time, Illinois had no campaign finance laws. Smith collected donations from several wealthy executives who ran public utilities, including $125,000 from Samuel Insull. He used this money to defeat McKinley in the Republican primary held in the summer of 1926. Smith went on to win the general election held in November of that year, although Julius Rosenwald of Sears, Roebuck & Company offered him $550,000 stock to withdraw.[1]

McKinley, whose lame duck term would normally have extended until March 1927 under the laws of the time, died in December 1926. Illinois Governor Len Small (R) appointed Smith to fulfill the rest of McKinley's term, a fairly common practice when the incumbent senator has died or otherwise ceased to serve, but when Smith went to Washington to present his credentials as the appointed Senator, the U.S. Senate voted to not allow him to qualify as a senator, based upon alleged fraud and corruption in his campaign for the full term. In a special election he tried to again qualify as the elected Senator in March 1927, but was again denied. He finally resigned his seat on February 9, 1928.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ascoli, P. M. (2016). Julius Rosenwald the man who built Sears, Roebuck and advanced the cause of black education in the American South. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  2. ^ Frank Lloyd Wright Library, Frank L. Smith photographs, US Senate campaign brochure, accessed 2017-09-16
  • "Frank L. Smith, 82, Lost Senate Seat," New York Times, August 31, 1950, p 22.
  • Carroll Hill Wooddy, The Case of Frank L. Smith: A Study in Representative Government, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 1931.

External linksEdit

  • United States Congress. "Frank L. Smith (id: S000534)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
William B. McKinley
Class 3 U.S. Senator from Illinois
not allowed to take his seat
Succeeded by
Otis F. Glenn
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John A. Sterling
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 17th congressional district

Succeeded by
Frank H. Funk