President Lincoln’s wartime Cabinet included many of his opponents from the Republican National Convention where each had the goal of becoming President of the United States. His choice for Secretary of the Interior was Caleb Blood Smith.
Smith was originally from Boston, Massachusetts (born in 1808) but lived in Ohio and then Indiana. He was editor of the Sentinel newspaper in Connersville, IN. He studied law at Cincinnati College and Miami University and was admitted to the bar in 1828. He served in the Indian state legislature. He was elected to the U.S. Congress as a Whig from 1843-1849. He was responsible for the seconding of the nomination of Abraham Lincoln for president at the Republican National Convention in 1860 in Chicago, IL.
Smith got into a compromising situation during his post when Mrs. Lincoln was found to have been making questionable purchases for the White House. Out of respect for Mr. Lincoln, Smith suppressed the investigation of Mrs. Lincoln’s fiscal problems, with the president paying the questionable bills out of his presidential salary.
Smith was the one Cabinet member who was not originally on board for Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. However, as soon as the proclamation was announced, Smith supported it.
When Smith resigned in December 1862 due to ill health and became a circuit court judge in Indiana. At that time, J. P. Usher became the Secretary of the Interior. Smith was a Freemason in Connersville, IN. He served as Grand Master of the Grand Loge of Indiana. The highest award of the Indiana Masons today is the Caleb B. Smith Medal of Honor.
Caleb Smith died at the age of 55 in 1864. The location of his burial plot remains a mystery today as inquiries and excavation of his grave plot failed to uncover his body.
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