Author: Leila Christenbury


Smith, Dabney N. (September 1846–August 27, 1920)

Dabney N. Smith, born probably into slavery in Charlotte County, was a member of the House of Delegates (1882-1883). He became interested in politics around 1878 and attended the March 1881 convention of African American Republicans in Petersburg when they agreed to join with the biracial Readjuster Party. Smith won the Republican Party nomination for the county’s seat in the House of Delegates in September 1881, and in November he defeated a white Democrat by a comfortable margin. He served in the important reform session of 1881–1882, where he unsuccessfully introduced motions to abolish petty larceny conviction as a disqualification from voting and another from Norfolk County residents for a local option liquor law. He lost his bid for reelection in November 1883. Smith remained active in local politics, and on March 26, 1887, addressed African American voters in Charlotte County prior to an election. Smith married Bettie Jordan on February 25, 1885. They had four daughters, two of whom became teachers, and one son. On the death of Smith’s father in March 1892, he and two of his brothers inherited their father’s property in Smithville. Smith resided on his farm for the remainder of his life. Smith died at his home in Charlotte County on August 27, 1920, and was buried on his farm.

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