Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Richard Norton Smith  

Pen Name: None


Born: 1953 in Leominster, MA

-- Richard Norton Smith on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Richard was appointed Founding Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, in Springfield, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Smith graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1975 with a degree in government. Following graduation he worked as a White House intern and as a free lance writer for The Washington Post. He became a speech writer for Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke, and then Senator Bob Dole, with whom he has collaborated on numerous projects over the years.Between 1987 and 2001, Smith updated and expanded several US presidential libraries. He was Director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa. He then worked for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Center in Abilene, Kansas, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the associated organizations in Simi Valley, California, the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan. When the museum was rededicated in 1997. In 1990 he organized the Eisenhower Centennial on behalf of the National Archives.In 2001 Smith became director of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. In October, 2003 he was appointed Founding Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, in Springfield, Illinois. About the same time, Smith also served as Executive Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, which doubled its endowment.As of 2010 Smith was a Scholar-in-Residence in History and Public Policy at George Mason University in suburban Washington, DC.

Published Works

    Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation, Mariner Books, 1997The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick, 1880-1955 , Northwestern University Press, 2003Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover, High Plains Pub Co, 1990Thomas E. Dewey and His Times, Simon & Schuster, 1984The Harvard Century: The Making of a University to a Nation , Harvard University Press, 1998

Selected Titles At Your Library

Patriarch :
ISBN: 0395855128. OCLC Number:

Houghton Mifflin,. Boston :. 1993.

When George Washington agreed to take on the presidency of his new nation, he inspired gratitude and adulation on a scale almost impossible to imagine today. In the years that followed, he would need every ounce of his countrymen's affection as he presided over a government threatened by internal dissension and foreign war. This is the story of Washington under political siege, a trial no less demanding than the Revolutionary War. George Washington emerges in these pages as a necessary hero. Indeed, it is hard to imagine the survival of the young republic without him. We watch him preside over the bitter quarrels within his brilliant Cabinet--enduring the historic feud between Jefferson and Hamilton while struggling successfully to keep the nation out of European conflict. On the personal level, this moving biography confirms Henry Knox's judgment that it was Washington's character, and not the recently signed Constitution, that held the infant Union together. In a supremely readable history, Richard Norton Smith gives us vivid descriptions of stagecoach travel, the capital's yellow fever epidemic of 1793, and life at Washington's beloved Mount Vernon. This George Washington, vastly more human than our inherited image, is a fallible man subject to vanity and disappointment, yet all the greater for his vulnerability. Patriarch tells not only what Washington did but, memorably, what he was like, and how both were essential to the birth of the American Republic. Repeatedly during his eight years as president, George Washington saved the infant republic from the factionalism and the involvement in foreign wars that threatened its existence. He skillfully moderated the feuds among his cabinet--especially those between Hamilton and Jefferson--and achieved his own political ends by seeming to be above politics. His actions and character defined the very nature of the presidency and, even more than the Constitution itself, made the new American government work. Better than any biographer before him, Richard Norton Smith gives us the "living" Washington, a working politician beset by crises, a masterly manager of men and events, anything but the time-worn marble monument.--Back cover.

The Colonel :
ISBN: 0810120399. OCLC Number:

Northwestern University Press,. Evanston, Ill. :. 2003 c1997.

An uncommon man :
ISBN: 096233331X. OCLC Number:

High Plains Pub. Co.,. Worland, Wyo. :. [1989?], ©1984.

Thomas E. Dewey and his times /
ISBN: 0671417428. OCLC Number:

Simon and Schuster,. New York :. 1984, ©1982.

The Harvard century :
ISBN: 0674372956. OCLC Number:

Harvard University Press,. Cambridge, Mass. :. 1998, ©1986.


  • Goldsmith Book Prize,
  • Robert R. McCormick The Colonel

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (No)