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Caleb Blood Smith
Caleb Blood Smith

6th United States Secretary of the Interior
In office
March 5, 1861 – December 31, 1862
Preceded by Jacob Thompson
Succeeded by John Palmer Usher

Born April 16, 1808(1808-04-16)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died January 7, 1864 (aged 55)
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Political party Whig, Republican
Spouse(s) Elizabeth B. Watton Smith
Alma mater Cincinnati College
Miami University
Profession Politician, Lawyer, Journalist
Signature Caleb Blood Smith's signature

Caleb Blood Smith (April 16, 1808 – January 7, 1864) was an American journalist and politician, serving in the Cabinet of Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War.



Caleb Blood Smith

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, he emigrated with his parents to Ohio in 1814, was educated at Cincinnati College and Miami University, studied law in Cincinnati and in Connersville, Indiana, and was admitted to the bar in 1828. He began practice at the latter place, established and edited the Sentinel in 1832, served several terms in the Indiana legislature, and was in the United States Congress in 1843–1849, having been elected as a Whig. During his congressional career, he was one of the Mexican claims commissioners. He returned to the practice of law in 1850, residing in Cincinnati and subsequently in Indianapolis. He was influential in securing the nomination of Abraham Lincoln for the presidency at the Chicago Republican National Convention in 1860.

Lincoln appointed Smith as the United States Secretary of the Interior in 1861 as a reward for his work in the presidential campaign. He was the first citizen of Indiana to hold a Presidential Cabinet position. However, Smith had little interest in the job[citation needed] and, with declining health, delegated most of his responsibilities to Assistant Secretary of the Interior John Palmer Usher. In 1862, he was interested in the empty seat in the United States Supreme Court vacated by John Archibald Campbell's resignation the previous year. However, Lincoln nominated David Davis for the position instead. After Smith resigned in December 1862 as the result of his discord with the Emancipation Proclamation[citation needed], Usher became Secretary. Smith went home to become the United States circuit judge for Indiana. He died January 7, 1864, from his ill health. President Lincoln ordered that government buildings be draped in black for two weeks in a sign of mourning for Smith's death.

Search for body[]

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It has been said that Caleb B. Smith's body is buried in a Connersville, Indiana cemetery. In 1977, John Walker, a Connersville, Indiana resident, received permission from the Smith family, Norvella Thomas Copes, and Nancy S. Hurley, and the city of Connersville, Indiana, to excavate the body of Caleb Blood Smith. Walker had an interest in President Abraham Lincoln, and discovered in reading about Lincoln that one of his cabinet members was buried in the city he lived in. An excavation was done in November, but Smith's body was not there. It was Smith's son-in-law William Watton Smith. C.B. Smith's wife, Elizabeth B. Watton, had paid $500 for the choice of plots, in Greenlawn Cemetery[1] but had to remove the body to Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis for fear of southern dissenters, the Sons of Liberty, desecrating his body and of local teens knocking over the markers. There was also a possibility that his body was in one of the two above ground vaults behind the Warren Lodge [1], also known as Elmhurst, but both doors were standing open and had been for years, with nothing inside (also in Connersville, Indiana). A letter inquiring about the whereabouts of Smith's body found in the 1980s arose from a New York public library in the 1930s.

The letter was written April 24, 1936 by Louis J. Bailey, Chief Librarian of the Queens Borough Public Library in New York, and sent a letter to a Miss Dunn, a librarian in Connersville, In. He inquired to Miss Dunn in regards to the location of Smith's body. In that letter he states that He enclosed a letter from Senator New about Smith to her. Louis talks of records saved in the Indiana Library from Green Lawn Cemetery, where C.B.Smith was originally buried, and discusses possible locations, misspellings of the Watton name. (Walton and Watton). Caleb Smiths wife was Elizabeth Watton, but few have it listed as Walton. The correct spelling is WATTON. In a 55 page research paper written by John Walker on Smith other evidence was discovered in 2009 listing names of those who have researched and written their findings on Caleb Smith. Offering possibilities of him being buried in someone elses grave, secret midnight burials, curses and other findings this paper has a lot to offer in many theories, newspaper articles, letters and family tales of where he is located.


  • Sanford, Wayne L. "Cemeteries" The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994. googlebooks Retrieved May 21, 2009
  • Correspondence on excavation and opening of grave-site (See talk page.)


  1. Sanford, pp. 392-93. In 1890 the Greenlawn Cemetery was closed.

External links[]

Template:Start box |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States House of Representatives Template:USRepSuccessionBox Template:S-off Template:U.S. Secretary box |} Template:USSecInterior

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