Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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SMITH, Oliver, philanthropist, born in Hatfield, Massachusetts, in January, 1766; died there, 22 December, 1845. He engaged in farming at an early age, and acquired large wealth by stock-raising. He was a magistrate for forty years, twice a representative to the legislature, and in 1820 a member of the State constitutional convention. He amassed a large fortune, which he bequeathed to establish the "Smith Charities," a unique system of benevolence, now holding $1,000,000, the interest of which is expended in marriage-portions to poor and worthy young couples.--His niece, Sophia, founder of Smith college, born in Hatfield, Massachusetts, 27 August, 1796; died there, 12 June, 1870, received few early advantages, and led a life of retirement in her native village until, at the age of sixty-five, she inherited a large fortune from her brother Austin. She then determined to found a college for the higher education of women, and passed the remainder of her life in perfecting plans for its organization. By the terms of her will the institution was established at Northampton, Massachusetts, and endowed with $387,468. It was opened in the autumn of 1875, and its charter was the first that was ever issued by the state of Massachusetts to an institution for the education of women. Miss Smith also bequeathed $75,000 to the town of Hatfield for the endowment of a school preparatory to Smith college.
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