Born: Oc­to­ber 21, 1808, Bos­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts.

Died: No­vem­ber 16, 1895, Bos­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts.

Buried: New­ton Ce­me­te­ry, New­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts.



Smith was the son of Sam­uel Smith and Sar­ah Bry­ant, and hus­band of Ma­ry White.

Smith at­tend­ed Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty and An­do­ver Theo­lo­gic­al Se­mi­na­ry.

He en­tered the Ba­ptist min­is­try in 1832, and the same year be­came ed­it­or of Bap­tist Mis­sion­ary Ma­ga­zine. He al­so con­tri­but­ed to the En­cyc­lo­pe­dia Am­eri­ca­na.

From 1834–42, he pas­tored at Wa­ter­ville, Maine, and was Pro­fess­or of Mo­dern Languag­es at Wa­ter­ville Col­lege.

In 1842, he moved to New­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts, stay­ing un­til he be­came ed­it­or of the pub­li­ca­tions of the Bap­tist Mis­sion­ary Un­ion in 1854.

The se­cu­lar world best re­mem­bers Smith as the au­thor of My Coun­try ’Tis of Thee.



Smith and Ol­iv­er Wen­dell Holmes were class­mates at Har­vard. For the 1829 class re­un­ion, Holmes wrote:

There’s a nice youngster of excellent pith,
Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith;
But he shouted a song for the brave and the free,
Just read on his medal, My country, of thee.

On Smith’s 80th birth­day, Holmes sent him the fol­low­ing:

Full many a poet’s labored lines
A century’s creeping waves shall hide—
The verse a people’s love enshrines
Stands like a rock that breasts the tide.

Time wrecks the proudest piles we raise,
The towers, the domes, the temples fall.
The fortress crumbles and decays—
One breath of song outlasts them all.