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Smith, Francis H. (Francis Henney), 1812-1890

 Person

Major General Francis Henney Smith (b. 1812 d. 1890) was appointed VMI's first Superintendent in 1839. An 1833 graduate of West Point, he had previously served briefly in the U. S. Army and was a Professor of Mathematics at Hampden-Sydney College (VA) when he accepted the position as head of the newly established Virginia Military Institute. He served for fifty years, from the Institute's infancy, through the Civil War, and through the difficult post-war period. He is known as the "builder and rebuilder of VMI." Smith retired on January 1, 1890 and died only a few months later, on March 21, 1890.

Found in 7 Collections and/or Records:

James E. Tyler letter

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0074
Scope and Contents One letter (dated May 14, 1846) from VMI alumnus James E. Tyler to President James K. Polk, requesting a commission in the Army or Marine Corps. Tyler mentions recommendations from Francis H. Smith and John T.L. Preston, and states that he was an "inmate" of VMI for two years.

John B. Strange letter

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0153
Scope and Contents Strange's letter to his sister Anne M. Strange was written just a few months after the Institute's opening day, and is one of the oldest personal cadet letters still in existence. Strange mentions several aspects of cadet life that were common during the pre-Civil War era, including that final examinations were given orally rather than as written tests, presided over by faculty and the VMI Board of Visitors and open to the public; summer furlough was not automatic, and many cadets stayed at the...

John F. Early papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0012
Scope and Contents The collection consists of the letters and diary of cadet John F. Early (1830-1894), who attended VMI from 1848 to 1850. The one volume diary-notebook contains short and sporadic entries regarding daily routines and special events. The diary contains one of the earliest references to Superintendent Francis H. Smith as "Spex" (April 30, 1850). The diary also contains lists of cadets, room occupants, and poetry of Sara Henderson Smith ("The Old Gray Coat") and others. The five letters were...

John P. Bowyer letter of recommendation

 Item
Identifier: MS-0162
Scope and Contents One letter (September 18, 1847) from VMI Superintendent Francis H. Smith to Gen. E. C. Carrington, recommending an army commission for John P. Bowyer. Bowyer had volunteered for service in the Mexican War, in which he subsequently served.

Letter of appointment to VMI for Richard Pollard, 1846 June 27

 Item
Scope and Contents Letter appointing Richard Pollard a cadet at VMI. Signed by Board of Visitors member Charles P. Dorman. Note to Pollard's father written by Superintendent Francis H. Smith is at the bottom.

Letter to Anne M. Strange, 1840 June 23

 Item
Scope and Contents Written from VMI, Lexington, Virginia. Letter regards cadet life.

Letter to Anne M. Strange, 1840 June 23

 Digital Image
Identifier: http://digitalcollections.vmi.edu/digital/collection/p15821coll11/id/1389