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Sat, 02.26.1825

James Skivring Smith, Doctor and Politician born

James Skivring Smith

*James Skivring Smith was born on this date in 1825. He was a Black doctor and politician.

A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Smith was eight years old when he came to Liberia in 1833. He was orphaned within a year of his arrival when his parents succumbed to malaria. As a young man he studied medicine under Dr. James W. Lugenbeel, the white-physician with the American Colonization Society (ACS) responsible for providing medical care to the immigrants. After completing his medical training in the United States, Smith returned to Liberia as the ACS physician in 1849 in Sinou County and Bassa Cove in Grand Bassa County. Smith was first elected to the Liberian Senate from Grand Bassa County in 1855 and later became secretary of state. As the running mate of presidential candidate Edward J. Roye, he captured Liberia's vice presidency in the election of May 1869.

When Roye was removed from office, Smith succeeded him and served as Liberia's sixth President from November 1871 until January 1872. Smith's tenure as president remains the shortest in Liberian history. After stepping down as president, Smith returned to Buchanan and served as Superintendent of Grand Bassa County from 1874 to 1884. Smith's son James Skivring Smith, Jr. later became a successful politician in Liberia, also serving as Superintendent of Grand Bassa County and as vice president from 1930 to 1944. James Skivring Smith died in 1892.

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