The William and Robert Smith vault, another of Maximilian Godefroy's Egyptian-flavored designs, belonged to one of early Baltimore's most successful and accomplished families.
William Smith followed his brother John from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Baltimore in 1761, along with other Scots-Irish flour merchant families. Smith helped transform Baltimore from a raw town of some 1,500 into an international port city. He was also one of the founders of the First Presbyterian Church, whose members established this burying ground in 1786.
Robert Smith, William's nephew, was the son of John and the older brother of Sam Smith. He became an attorney and statesman of national prominence who served as Secretary of the Navy (1801-1809) and Attorney General (1805) under President Thomas Jefferson, and Secretary of State under James Madison (1809-1811). A Revolutionary war veteran and 1781 graduate of College of New Jersey (Princeton University), Robert Smith served in the Maryland State Senate and the House of Delegates. After retiring from politics, Smith spent some 20 years as provost of the fledgling University of Maryland (established in Baltimore in 1807).
A Doting Granfather In this 1788 portrait William Smith dotes attention on his grandson at his country estate, Eutaw. He is surrounded by symbols of virtue - books suggest a literate populate, the knife reveals pride in labor, and the well groomed estate reflects the nobility of farmers, and a treasured child shows concern for furture generations - a favorite ploy of the artist Charles Wilson Peale.
William Smith and Grandson by Charles Wilson Peale, oil on canvas, 1788
Virginia Musuem of Fine Arts, Richmond. Museum purchase with funds provided by The Robert G. Cabell III and Maude Morgan Cabell Foundation, and The Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund.
A National Figure Robert Smith served as Secretary of Navy (1800-1811) during the war against the Barbary states, maintaining the Mediterranean blockade that eventually ended the piracy against American ships. Smith later resigned as Secretary of State at Madison's request because of disagreements over policies toward France and England.
Robert Smith by St. Memin, engraving, ca. 1800
The Maryland Historical Society
A Pseudo Temple The Smith Family vault is a "square pseudo-temple" (Robert Alexander) made of Baltimore freestone, and featuring a slate roof. Compare its two doorways to the one on the O'Donnell vault. Godefroy's three columns are topped by stylish Egyptian capitals.
Photograph by Jennifer White, 2006