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This Day in Georgia History

November 25, 1890

James Milton Smith Died

To view an image of James Milton Smith, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

Former Georgia governor James Milton Smith died in Columbus, Georgia. Though he did not attend college, he studied law with an attorney, gaining admittance to the bar in 1846. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Smith joined an infantry regiment and rose to the rank of colonel. Severe injuries in 1862, however, left him unable to serve in the military–so he ran for and won election to the Confederate Congress. After the war, Smith resumed the practice of law. He also won election the Georgia House of Representatives in 1870, subsequently being elected Speaker the next year. After Reconstruction governor Rufus Bullock fled the state, Smith was chosen governor in a special election in 1871 (and reelected to a four-year term in 1872). Later, he was named chairman of the newly created State Railroad Commission (later renamed the Public Service Commission). Smith’s final public office was that of superior court judge, a position he held at the time of his death in 1890. [See Oct. 24 entry for more biographical information on Smith.]