John Smith was one of the first two U.S. Senators from the state of Ohio. He reluctantly resigned from the Senate under charges of alleged complicity in the Burr conspiracy. Little is known of his early life. There are conflicting reports on the location of his birth, with some sources saying he was born in Virginia, and others saying Hamilton County, Ohio; the identity of his parents are unknown. He prepared for the ministry, and was pastor in various Baptist congregations in Virginia and Ohio during the 1790s and then began a profitable business supplying military posts near Cincinnati, Ohio. He was a member of the Northwest Territorial legislature 1799–1803 and a delegate to the Ohio state constitutional convention in 1802. He was a leader of a group that supported statehood in opposition to the Territorial Governor Arthur St. Clair. Upon the admission of Ohio as a State into the Union, he was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the United States Senate and served in the 8th, 9th and 10th Congresses. While in the Senate, Smith continued his profitable trading ventures in Louisiana and West Florida and pursued numerous land investment schemes. In 1805, former Vice President Aaron Burr sought his support in organizing a military expedition against Spanish Florida. Although Smith claimed he had no interest in Burr's plot to force secession of Spanish territories, he agreed to provide supplies for the proposed expedition. When President Thomas Jefferson later issued an alert, charging that Burr's actual purpose was an invasion of Mexico, Smith responded patriotically by financing weapons to defend against the Burr expedition and delivering those weapons to New Orleans. These travels caused him to miss weeks of Senate sessions and led the Ohio legislature to charge him with dereliction of duty and to demand his resignation.