Benjamin A. Smith II

Benjamin Atwood Smith II
United States Senator
from Massachusetts
In office
December 27, 1960  November 6, 1962
Appointed by Foster Furcolo
Preceded by John F. Kennedy
Succeeded by Ted Kennedy
Mayor of Gloucester, Massachusetts
In office
Preceded by Joseph J. Grillo
Succeeded by Beatrice Corliss
Personal details
Born (1916-03-26)March 26, 1916
Gloucester, Massachusetts
Died September 26, 1991(1991-09-26) (aged 75)
Gloucester, Massachusetts[1]
Resting place Calvary Cemetery, Gloucester.[2]
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Barbara M. Mecham[2]
Children R. Russell II, Benjamin A. "Punky" III, Barbara S. Ramsey, Susan S. Crotty, and Cathleen Smith.[2]
Alma mater Harvard University
Awards Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal
Military service
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1941-1945
Rank Commander
Battles/wars World War II

Benjamin Atwood Smith II (March 26, 1916  September 26, 1991) was a United States Senator from the state of Massachusetts from December 1960 until November 1962.

Family and education

Smith, who was named for his grandfather Benjamin A. Smith,[3] was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts to R. Russell and Grace Smith.[3] He married Barbara M. (Mechem) of Lake Forest, Illinois and Annisquam, Mass.[4] They had five children, sons, R. Russell Smith 2d and Benjamin A. Smith 3d, an ice hockey player and coach, and daughters, Barbara (Smith) Ramsey, Susan (Smith) Crotty, and Cathleen Smith.

Smith attended the Gloucester public schools.[3] Smith was captain of the 1933 Gloucester High School football team under coach Nate Ross.[3] He later graduated from Governor Dummer Academy and Harvard University. While at Harvard, Smith played fullback on the football team under coach Dick Harlow.[3] At Harvard, Smith was a roommate of John F. Kennedy.

Military service

Smith served in the United States Navy for four years[3] during World War II. While he was in the Navy, Smith served in the Pacific as Commander on an anti-submarine, anti-torpedo vessel.[2]

Public service

Smith served as a member of the Gloucester School Committee, the Gloucester City Council and was a trustee of the Addison Gilbert Hospital.[3] Smith served as Mayor of Gloucester from 1954 to 1955; however, at the time Smith was mayor, Gloucester had a Plan E form of government. The office of mayor was a ceremonial position, the mayor was a city councilor chosen by that body and the actual city administration was carried out by a professional city manager.

Business career

For many years Smith was the chief executive of his family's business, the Merchants Box Company in Gloucester.

Senate appointment

John F. Kennedy resigned from the Senate on December 22, 1960, after he was elected President of the United States. Kennedy, who had been reelected to a second Senate term of six years in 1958, advised Gov. Foster Furcolo of Massachusetts to appoint Smith to fill the vacated seat "in the interest of promoting party unity." Critics said Smith, a close friend of the Kennedy family, was intended to be a "seat-warmer" until the President-elect's brother Edward M. Kennedy turned thirty (the minimum age provided by the U.S. Constitution for eligibility to serve in the Senate). Smith served as Senator until November 6, 1962, when Edward Kennedy, his duly elected successor, was chosen in a special election.

Special ambassador

In 1963, President Kennedy named Smith as the chairman of the U.S. delegation to the North Pacific Fisheries Conference[5][6] involving the United States, the Soviet Union, Canada and Japan.[3]

Death and burial

Smith died after a long illness in the Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester and was buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Gloucester.[3]


  1. "Benjamin Smith, 75, U.S. Senator in 1960's". The New York Times. September 28, 1991. p. 27, § 1, New York ed. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Benjamin A. Smith II, adviser to Kennedys, 75". The Boston Herald. September 28, 1991. p. 35.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Benjamin Atwood Smith 2d, at 75; former senator, Kennedys' adviser". The Boston Globe. September 27, 1991. p. 23.
  4. Cass, Judith (August 14, 1939). "Barbara Mechem's Engagement to New Englander Announced". The Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 13.
  5. "The Presidency: Amid Affairs of State". Time. May 17, 1963. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  6. "Deaths; Benjamin A. Smith II". The Washington Post. September 28, 1991. p. B4.

External links

United States Senate
Preceded by
John F. Kennedy
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Massachusetts
Served alongside: Leverett Saltonstall
Succeeded by
Edward M. Kennedy
Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph J. Grillo
Mayor of Gloucester, Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Beatrice Corliss
Preceded by
Member of the
Gloucester, Massachusetts
City Council
Succeeded by
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