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Reed Owen Smoot: A Featured Biography

Reed Owen Smoot

Born in Salt Lake City in 1862, Reed Smoot became a successful entrepreneur and investor, as well as a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Following his election to the Senate in 1903, Smoot's religious affiliation prompted a congressional inquiry by the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections. The "Smoot Hearings," as they were called, examined his church activities and led to Senate consideration of a "faith requirement" for admission to Congress. The chief concern was Smoot's election to the Church's Council of Twelve Apostles in 1900, a position he held until his death. The three-year inquiry resulted in the Utah senator retaining his Senate seat. The U.S. Senate had taken a stand in support of religious freedom for all Americans. Smoot served for a decade as chairman of the Finance Committee. In 1930, in the early days of the Great Depression, he co-authored the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, which increased tariffs on imports to record high levels. Reelected four times, Smoot failed in his bid for a sixth term in 1932 and subsequently retired to Utah.

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