Smith, John Lawrence
- Ralph L. Langenheim
Smith, John Lawrence (16 or 17 Dec. 1818–12 October 1883), chemist, mineralogist, and physician, was born near Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Benjamin Smith, a wealthy merchant; his mother’s name is unknown. At a very young age, even before he could read, John Lawrence Smith demonstrated precocity in mathematics. After attending private schools and receiving a classical education at the College of Charleston, in 1835 he entered the University of Virginia, where he concentrated on science, mathematics, and engineering. Returning to Charleston in 1837, he worked for one year on a Charleston-to-Cincinnati railroad engineering project before entering the Medical College of Charleston and completing requirements for his M.D. degree in 1840. He studied in Europe for several years with Justus Liebig (who inspired him to focus his research efforts on chemistry), J. B. Dumas, Matthieu Joseph Bonaventure Orfila, and Élie de Beaumont. Also at this time he initiated a lifelong association with ...