Lawrence H. Smith Papers, 1941-1958


Republican congressman Lawrence Henry Smith was born on September 15, 1892 in Racine, Wisconsin and was educated in local public schools. He attended the Milwaukee State Teacher's College for two years and graduated from Marquette University Law School with a law degree in 1923. During World War I Smith was a first lieutenant with Wisconsin's 32nd Infantry Division in France. After the war he practiced law in Racine and served as president of the Racine County Bar Association. Smith was also active in civic organizations including serving as director of the Racine YMCA, president of the Lion's Club, commander of the Department of Wisconsin of the American Legion, and an active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

In August 1941 Smith was elected to Congress in a special election to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Stephen Bolles. He was elected to a full term in 1942 and subsequently reelected until his death. In 1955 Smith suffered a serious heart attack and was hospitalized and absent from his office for several months. On January 22, 1958 he suffered a second attack which was fatal.

Smith's wife Eleanor, who had actively participated in his campaigns and who had run his congressional office for more than fifteen years, continued to manage the district office and a special election was not called to fill the vacancy.

Mrs. Smith was born on a farm in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin in 1896. After attending Racine schools, she graduated from Milwaukee State Teachers College and taught school in Racine. She married Lawrence Smith during World War I. Later they became the parents of three children. Mrs. Smith shared her husband's interest in American Legion work, and she served as president of both the Wisconsin Auxiliary (1936-1937) and the national auxiliary (1943-1944). In addition to her office work, Mrs. Smith was also active in club work, serving as president of the Congressional Club.

During his terms in Congress Smith worked to reduce governmental spending and federal control of state and local matters. He was particularly interested in foreign relations and served as a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He favored a limited role for the United States in foreign affairs, and he worked to reduce foreign aid. He was also critical of the United Nations. As a staunch anti-Communist, Smith introduced bills to sever relations with the Soviet Union and to ban the Soviets from the United Nations. During the 1950s he was a strong supporter of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Mrs. Smith ran unsuccessfully for election in November, 1958. She then worked briefly in the office of Congressman Thor Tollefson of Washington before becoming Veterans Administration liaison for the House. In 1960, Republican Henry Schadeberg was elected to Congress from the First District, and Mrs. Smith worked as his administrative assistant until his defeat in 1964. In 1970 she retired to Racine and died on December 25, 1976.