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George Washington Smith (1823-1873)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1866-1867

Little is known of George Washington Smith's early years, except that he was born in Kentucky around the year 1823 and moved to Texas in 1847.

Smith settled near Columbus in Colorado County, owned land there, and practiced law. He married and had two children. In 1859 he was appointed judge of the First District court, and served until 1866. In 1860 he became commissioner of the Columbus Tap Railway, which linked Columbus to Houston and Galveston. His leadership in railroad development would result in a locomotive being named after him in 1870. Smith was an opponent of secession but remained in Texas through out the Civil War.

Smith participated in the Constitutional Convention of 1866. That year Gov. Andrew Hamilton reappointed him to the First District judgeship, but in August he was elected to the Texas Supreme Court. He was one of the justices removed as an "impediment to Reconstruction" on September 10, 1867 when Texas came under military command. The following year he served as a delegate to the Democratic national convention. He went on to serve in the Texas House of Representatives during the Thirteenth legislative session in 1873.

Smith died of yellow fever at his home in Colorado County on October 24, 1873 at the approximate age of fifty.

Notable opinions

Casey v. March, 30 Texas reports 180 (Tex. 1867) (affirming judgment that while attorney possesses lien on client's property to secure payment, lien only vests in possession and thus attorney cannot collect on judgment until money has been collected).


Jackson, Charles Christopher. Smith, George Washington, Handbook of Texas Online (June 6, 2001).

Extended bibliography

Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas 778 (Chicago, Illinois: F. A. Battey & Co., 1889).

Davenport, Jewette Harbert. The History of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas (Austin, Texas: Southern Law Book Publishers, 1917).

3 History of Texas; Fort Worth and the Texas Northwest Edition 186. Buckley B. Paddock, ed. (Chicago, Illinois & New York, New York: Lewis Publishing Co., 1922).

Speer, Ocie. Texas Jurists 48 (Austin, Texas: the author, 1936).

2 A Comprehensive History of Texas, 1685-1897. Dudley Goodall Wooten, ed. (Dallas, Texas: W. G. Scarff, 1898).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 2, page 7?
Volume 48, page 449
Volume 58, page 390?
Volume 60, page 17
Volume 62, page 143, 154