Thanks everybody for your belief in my large and widespread knowledge of minutia yesterday but I was not correct. I was close, but I missed the mark. Here is the origin I found:
SMART AS A WHIP - "Bright, clever, alert. A whip 'smarts' and operates with snap. In the days of horse-drawn vehicles one was often able to urge on the horse merely by flicking or cracking a whip near the animal, and if that failed, you could be sure of results by seeing that the flick or crack touched him lightly. The transfer must have arisen from that widespread exercise. An expression in use early in the 19th century was 'smart as a steel trap,' which does indeed operate smartly too, but by 1860 the 'Mountaineer' in Salt Lake City was printing: 'Mr. A___ was a prompt and successful businessman, 'smart as a whip,' as the Yankees say." From "Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Wings Books, Originally New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985).
Darn it. I think I like my answer better anyway =P.