Papers (1975-1978) [bulk 1977-1978] relating to McNeill Smith's campaign for the U. S. Senate in the 1978 North Carolina Democratic Primary Election, including brochures, campaign statements, press releases and newspaper articles.
John McNeill Smith Jr., attorney, state legislator, and teacher, was born in Rowland, Robeson County, N.C., on 9 April 1918. He was the son of a country doctor. Smith graduated from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1938 with a Bachelors of Science in Political Science and graduated from Columbia University in 1941 with a law degree. After World War II service in the Navy as a bomb disposal officer in North Africa, the Middle East, China, Burma, and India, Smith returned to North Carolina to practice law in Greensboro with Smith, Moore, Smith, Schell, and Hunter, a firm that became one of the largest in the state.
McNeill Smith was a member of the Executive Committee of the Southern Regional Council, Vice President of the North Carolina Council of Churches and a Lay Leader of the Methodist Church. He taught Sunday school at the West Market United Methodist Church. Smith served as the Chairman for the Chamber of Commerce Downtown Improvement Committee in Greensboro, NC from 1961-1964 and served as the president for the American Business Club. He was a Charter Member for the N.C. Outward Bound School trustees; Charter member for the Greensboro College 400; an executive committee member for the Southern Regional Council from 1966-1971; and served as the director of the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union.
Smith became known as an advocate of human rights and equal justice. In 1963, he was the attorney for University of North Carolina students in the Speaker Ban case. From 1958 to 1962, Smith was co-counsel for Junius Irving Scales. In 1960, Smith was the negotiator between black and white leaders during the lunch counter sit-in in Greensboro where he pleaded for the end of discrimination.
In 1970 Smith was elected as a Democrat to the North Carolina House of Representatives: and was elected to the North Carolina Senate in 1972. From 1971 to 1978, he developed a reputation as a liberal lawmaker, supporting such issues as tax reform, education, energy, consumer issues, creation of a state Department of Transportation, tougher laws against drunk drivers, and consolidation of the University of North Carolina system. In 1978, Smith unsuccessfully ran for the United States Senate, losing in the Democratic primary. Smith built his campaign around defeating incumbent United States Senator Jesse Helms. After his defeat, Smith returned to civil litigation and also taught constitutional law at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1989-1990, Smith was ranked as one of the nation's most influential lawyers by the National Law Journal for his work in establishing the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union. From 1992 to 1993, Smith traveled to Estonia to help the former Soviet republic in its legal preparations to become self-governing."
Smith (born 9 April 1918) died at the age of 92 in his Greensboro, North Carolina home 15 January 2011. He was married to Louise Huske Jordan (birth? - 2000) of Fayetteville and had four children.
The McNeill Smith Papers consists of materials (1975–1978; bulk 1977–1978) from McNeill Smith's unsuccessful campaign for the 1978 Democratic U.S. Senate Nomination.
The McNeill Smith Papers are arranged in original order. The collection includes correspondence with Albert Coates, Bill Snider, and Vermont Royster. Press releases and newspaper clippings concern McNeill's campaign and his battle to win the Democratic Primary vote against incumbent Republican senator, Jesse Helms. Printed campaign materials include brochures, posters, and fundraiser requests that outline Smith's experience and campaign background and promotes his Skinny Cats for Smith fundraiser. The collection also includes campaign statements discussing McNeill's platform and beliefs for the 1978 Democratic Primary Election for U.S. Senate.
Gift of Honorable McNeill Smith
Encoded by Apex Data Services, March 2002.
Processing, inventory, and finding aid by Samantha Canada, April 11, 2012.
Inventory and finding aid revised by Jonathan Dembo, May 7, 2012.
Inventory revised by Jonathan Dembo, July 23, 2012.
Encoded by Jonathan Dembo, July 23, 2012.
Finding aid revised by Allison N. MIller, February 16, 2016.
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.