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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 52 Collections and/or Records:

Francis H. Smith speeches and publications, 1841-1879

 Series
Scope and Contents A chronological file containing originals and copies of Smith's published addresses, speeches, discourses. These were published in pamphlet form. VMI owns originals for many; for those not found in the VMI Archives, the staff obtained photocopies from the Library of Virginia.

Francis H. Smith West Point Diploma, 1833

 Item
Scope and Contents The United States Military Academy diploma awarded to Francis H. Smith in 1833. The ink is badly faded. Bears the signature of President Andrew Jackson.

Oversized case 9

George A. Goodman papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0044-oversized
Scope and Contents Papers consist of eleven items. Included are Goodman's VMI Diploma and Cadet Dialectic Society certificates; letters of recommendation (1859) from Francis H. Smith and Thomas H. Williamson; miscellaneous Civil War documents including commissions, oaths of allegiance, and prison parole.

James Henry Waddell papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0130
Scope and Contents 4 items, including a letter (1855) from Cadet Waddell to his sister, that contains a detailed description and pencil drawing of his room (#14) in Barracks and of his roomates (Barksdale, Penn, Magruder, Shepherd, Wilson); a second drawing of a barracks room & roommates (similar to a sketch found in the Shepherd Collection, MS#0019); pencil map, 8 inches x 10 inches, labeled "Plan of Battle of Bethel Church, June 10, 1861." Letter of recommendation, 1879, written by VMI's Superintendent...

James W. Breedlove papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0168
Scope and Contents Papers, 8 items, of James W. Breedlove. Includes two letters (October 13, 1859; March 11, 1861) from Cadet Breedlove to his grandfather in which he discusses his studies, expenses; two letters from Superintendent Francis H. Smith to Cadet Breedlove's grandfather, acknowledging receipt of money; three VMI quarterly grade reports; one account sheet detailing VMI expenses.

John B. Strange letter

 Item
Identifier: MS-0153
Scope and Contents Strange's letter to his sister Anne 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: 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 Institute throughout 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 (b. 1830 in Lynchburg, Va.; d. 1894), who attended VMI 1848-1850. The one volume diary-notebook contains short and sporadic entries; daily routines and special events are noted; one of the earliest references to Superintendent Francis H. Smith as "Spex" (April 30, 1850); lists of cadets; room occupants; poetry of Sara Henderson Smith ("The Old Gray Coat) and others. The five letters were written to...