Reed Alden Smoot (1862-1941) born in Salt Lake City, Utah, was a United States Senator, best known as the first Mormon to serve in the U. S. Senate and for championing the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act in the 1920s. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act raised US tariffs on over 20,000 dutiable items to record levels, and, in the opinion of many economists, protracted or initiated the Great Depression. U.S. President Herbert Hoover signed the act into law on June 17, 1930. Smoot was elected as a Republican Senator from Utah to the 58th Congress in 1902, and served five terms before being defeated in the 1932 election by Democrat Elbert D. Thomas.
Before being seated in the Senate, controversy over the church once again arose in the national eye, reminiscent of the treatment that B. H. Roberts received after being elected to the House of Representatives. Unlike Roberts, Smoot did not practice plural marriage, and so he was allowed to be seated while the investigation ran its course. The Smoot Hearings and the controversy surrounding the investigation into continuing plural marriage practices within the state of Utah and the Mormon Church lasted for more than two years.
Senator Smoot was also accused of taking the 'Vengeance Oath', that all Mormon men were required to make at the time. Critics on the Senate investigation committee pointed out the conflict between Smoots Oath of Office as a Senator and his treasonous faith.
"You and each of you do covenant and promise that you will pray and never cease to pray to Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation, and that you will teach the same to your children and to your children's children unto the third and fourth generation." The oath reportedly remained part of the temple rituals until February 15, 1927.
On February 20, 1907, the Republican Party defeated a proposal that Smoot be removed because he was an official in the Church whose leaders had admitted, under oath, that plural marriage was still a common practice among Church hierarchy. Politically, Smoot was a Republican, and the Republicans wanted him to remain in power to ensure the continued election of Republicans in Utah. He also earned a great deal of respect from his colleagues by the way he comported himself.
He was a member and eventually an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from April 8, 1900 until his death February 9, 1941 in Saint Petersburg, Florida.
Smoot was son of Mormon pioneer and former mayor of Salt Lake City, Abraham O. Smoot.