Jean Edward Smith Memorial Symposium

“He never lost his way of his chapters, always knowing the direction he was going and never leading off,” Bob Bender, vice president and executive director at Simon & Schuster, said. 

Professor Jean Edward Smith was an author of many scholarly articles and more than a dozen books including the book John Marshall: Definer of a Nation, that brought him to Marshall University. Smith was a renowned biographer, and political scientist that helped restore luster to the harmful reputations of underrated presidents.  

On Sept. 1., , was the marking of the second anniversary of his death as friends, family, and faculty still mourn of his passing and great accomplishments at the Joan C. Edwards playhouse.  

“His life was dedicated to writing, nothing would interfere. He would work for a solid couple month then take a break with traveling and then after his adventures were over it was back to writing,” said his wife, Christine Smith.  

George F. Will, Charles F. Hobson, Robert Bender, and Jan-Werner Müller were all honored to be able to speak and bring recognition of the lost colleague Jean Edward Smith.  

Charles F. Hobson was a member of the planning conference of John Marshall Research Center, and principal editor for 25 years of the John Marshall papers. Hobson has his own books, The Great Chief Justice: John Marshall, and Rule of Law (1996), The Great Yazoo lands Sale: The case of Fletcher v Peck (2016). In 2010, his one-volume edition of John Marshall: Writings was published by the Library of America.  

Hobson first encountered Smith in the 1990s of letters to the editor of New York Times. Between 1992-96 was their most intense relationship. 

Hobson and Smiths encounter in the 90s, evolved into a professional and personal relationship reaching a peak of two Marshall Bi-Centennials of 2001 and 2003 of Chief Justice.  

“Smith couldn’t wait for his publication of John Marshall so he could start on his next book Grant,” said Hobson.  

Smith’s drafts were from original sources, then checking the interpretations.  

Jan- Werner Müller unfortunately never got to meet Professor Smith. He was a Roger Williams Stratus professor of Social Science at Princeton in 2005. However, He read his books and was inspired by them. In 2019, Müller came to Marshall and presented a lecture focusing on his book What is Populism (2016), that is transcribed into 25 different languages.  

Three points that Müller hit on was political ethics, places, and broaden political developments. Along with there are two types of leaders in the book, The Defense of Berlin (2019), a pleaser of the leader, and shows clearly that the cold war was inevitable.  

“Takes leave of notion that there was no Golden Age when the United States and European countries worked together,” said Müller.  

 The Liberation of Paris (2019) and The Defense of Berlin both describe military leaders who define orders. Smith’s books taught Müller what it takes for historians to figure out what really went on.  

Bob Bender, who was Professor Smith’s editor at Simon & Schuster, worked with Smith on his books Grant and Liberation of Paris. Smith was needing a new book publisher, so Bender did what he needed to do and was able to work with Smith. The book Grant was to grasp the military strategy and as president. Grant was undervalued as president. In 2001, the book Grant won a Pulitzer Prize.  

Smith’s biographies were 600-700 pages but kept the narrative moving. He took it chapter by chapter sending it out to have feedback before continuing and had a great sense of a good writing way.  

George F. Will, a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper columnist, political analyst, commentator, syndicated by Washington Post, and appears in the Washington Post twice weekly in more than 440 newspapers was honored to be able to come from Washington to speak about his friend Jean Smith.  

Will was hired by Smith who was the chairman of political science at Columbia University.  

“Smith is the model of what a professor should be,” said Will. “Education is about praise, and individuals’ matter.”