Stanton Everett Smith, local, state, and national officer in the American Federation of Teachers, the Tennessee Federation of Labor, and the Tennessee State Labor Council, was born in Wyoming, Ohio, in 1905, the son of Charles Henry Smith, an accountant. Smith received his early education at the McCallie School in Chattanooga and graduated from high school in 1924. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Denison University in Denison, Ohio, in 1930, and took additional courses at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Chattanooga. He married Nancy Virginia Lea, a teacher, in March 1932; they had four children.
In 1932, while teaching high school mathematics in Chattanooga, Smith joined the American Federation of Teachers (AFT); he served as the president of AFT Local 246 from 1932 to 1939. In 1937 he was elected national vice-president of the AFT and served until 1946. He also served as secretary-treasurer of the Chattanooga Central Labor Union from 1941 to 1956. He worked as education director for the southeastern region of the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union from 1942 to 1945.
Smith was elected president of the Tennessee Federation of Labor, American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1949, serving until 1956. After the merger of the AFL and the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO), he was elected president of the Tennessee State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, in 1956 and served until 1960. Then in 1960 he became the coordinator of state and local central bodies for the AFL-CIO and helped establish the Southern Labor School operated by thirteen southern AFL-CIO state councils; he served as secretary-treasurer and president at various times.