Smith, Robert, 1757–1842, U.S. government official, b. Lancaster, Pa. Admitted to the bar in 1786, he practiced law in Baltimore before serving in the Maryland state senate (1793–95) and in the Baltimore city council (1798–1801). An ardent Republican, he was (1801–9) secretary of the navy under President Thomas Jefferson. Smith successfully maintained a blockading squadron in the Mediterranean during the war against the Barbary states. He also served (1809–11) as secretary of state under President James Madison but resigned at Madison's request because of disagreements over policy toward Great Britain and France.
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