James Milton Smith

James Milton Smith

James Milton Smith.

James Milton Smith (October 24, 1823 – November 25, 1890) was a Radical Reconstruction.

He was born in Hall County in the rural part of the state. In 1855, he unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Representative from his district.

With the onset of the Civil War, he entered the Confederate Army as a major, then to the regiment's colonelcy in 1862. He led his regiment through the Gettysburg Campaign, and marched to the banks of the Susquehanna River before returning to Gettysburg to participate in the Battle of Gettysburg. He was severely wounded in the 1864 Battle of Cold Harbor and returned to Georgia to recuperate.

He resigned from the army to enter politics and was elected a Democratic delegate to the Columbus, Georgia, and was elected to the Georgia Legislature in 1870 as an outspoken opponent of Radical Reconstruction. The following year, he became Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives.

Running unopposed, Smith was elected Governor in 1872 to fill the unexpired term of Democratic National Convention of 1876. Major accomplishments included restoring the state's credit rating by voiding fraudulent bonds and reducing overall expenditures, retiring the debt and leaving office with a surplus in the state treasury. He was a supporter of creating a state department of agriculture, and was noted for appointing the most qualified candidates to fill openings in his administration, a contrast to the patronage system that was popular at the time.

Smith was defeated in his bid for the U.S. Senate in 1877. He was named the first chairman of the new Georgia Railroad Commission, serving a 6-year term. Returning to his legal career, his former