Last modified on November 27, 2019, at 03:21

James Smith (signer)

Founding Fathers
James Smith (signer)
State Pennsylvania
Religion Christian- Presbyterian [1]
Founding Documents Declaration of Independence

James Smith (b. Circa 1719; d. July 11, 1806 ) is an American Founding Father. He was a land surveyor, a lawyer and owned a large law practice. He was known to be very religious and became a professor of religion. James Smith was an organizing figure leading the people to boycott Britain. He asssembled and became Captain of the York voluntary militia. Smith was a delegate of Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress that signed the Declaration of Independence. Also, he was a State assemblyman and a judge of High Court of Appeals.

Early life

James Smith was born in Dublin, Ireland. His father John was a successful farmer that emigrated the family to Cheshire County Pennsylvania when James was 10 years old. He would receive a classical education from a local church minister. After his father died in 1761, James received an education from the provost of the college of Philadelphia, the distinguished Dr. Allison.[2] After that, he would study law at the office of Thomas Cookson, in Lancaster. Smith was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar at age twenty-six.[3] Next Smith established his own practice at York and it was one of the most successful. James and Eleanor Smith had five children, only two survived, a son and a daughter.[4]

American Revolution

James Smith entered with zeal into the patriotic cause in defense of colonial rights. He attended both the provincial convention and the state convention. He attended a provincial assembly session where he discussed his writings regarding a boycott of British goods, called the "Essay on the Constitutional Power of Great Britain over the Colonies in America." Elected for two years to the Continental Congress, provided his office for meetings of the Board of War. He had assembled a volunteer militia in York and was the Captain, later he oversaw a battalion and was made Brigadier General.


James Smith retired from Congress in 1777 and spent one term as a state senator. For a few months he became judge of the Pennsylvania High Court of Appeals. He would be reelected to Congress in 1785 but declined.


Little is known about his works, a fire destroyed his office and records. He died in 1806 several months after, in York, Pennsylvania. He was laid to rest at the First Presbyterian Church.[5]


  2. James Smith,
  3. James Smith,
  4. James Smith - Signer of Declaration of Independence,
  5. Continental Congress at York, Pennsylvania and York County in the Revolution