Smith, Francis H. (Francis Henney), 1812-1890
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 2 Collections and/or Records:
Identifier: RG-01-Correspondence-Preston - Smith
Scope and Contents Correspondence between Francis H. Smith, who became VMI's first Superintendent, and John T. L. Preston relating to the organization and opening of VMI. Includes four letters from Preston to Smith; and one letter from Smith to Preston, in which he accepts the job offered by the Board of Visitors to serve as Superintendent (originally called Principal Professor). One related letter is from Francis H. Smith to William Atkinson or Atkison, in which Smith asks for advice about VMI's job...
Found in: Virginia Military Institute Archives