Find of the Month

February 2015 - Farewell to Joe Smith

Joe Smith was a reformer and journalist active in Seattle politics around the turn of the 20th century. During the Spanish-American War, he was both a soldier and a war correspondent for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. After returning to the Northwest, he focused his journalistic attentions on issues closer to home for newspapers including the P-I and the Seattle Star. He was an activist for progressive causes and an advocate for political reforms, helping to found the Seattle Municipal League, a civic reform organization. Because of his activism and his nose for corruption, he was not always the most popular man around City Hall.

Smith apparently announced he was leaving the city in 1908, which spurred the following “Resolution of Regret” from the City Council:

Whereas one Joe Smith is about to leave the City of Seattle for the good of Seattle, and

Whereas, he makes such announcement at the hour when the old city council goes out of commission,

Therefore, be it resolved, that the retiring members of the city council do hereby express their regrets that Mr. Smith failed to leave long ago and express their ardent wishes that aforesaid Joe Smith do return within a short time to give the new city council the same bum steers in the Star that he gave the retiring members of the city’s legislative body.

The retiring members got their wish, as Smith continued writing about and participating in Seattle politics, including spearheading a successful movement to recall Mayor Hiram Gill in 1911.