Richard Norton Smith is an American speechwriter and historian. Born in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1953, Mr. 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." After being employed as a speech writer for Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke, he went to work for Senator Bob Dole, with whom he has collaborated on numerous projects over the years.
Mr. Smith’s first major book, "Thomas E. Dewey and His Times," was a finalist for the 1983 Pulitzer Prize. He has also written "An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover" (1984), "The Harvard Century: The Making of a University to a Nation" (1986), and "Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation" (1993). In June 1997, Houghton Mifflin published Mr. Smith’s "The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick," which received the prestigious Goldsmith Prize awarded by Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School. Currently, Mr. Smith is at work on a biography of Nelson Rockefeller, a massive project involving thousands of pages of newly available documents, as well as more than 150 interviews with Rockefeller associates.
Between 1987 and 2001, Mr. Smith served as Director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa; the Dwight D. Eisenhower Center in Abilene, Kansas; the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and the Reagan Center for Public Affairs in Simi Valley, California; and the Gerald R. Ford Museum and Library in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, Michigan respectively.
In 2001, Mr. Smith became director of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, where he supervised construction of the institute’s landmark home and launched several high profile programs. In October, 2003 he was appointed Founding Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, in Springfield, Illinois.
Mr. Smith is presently a Scholar in Residence at George Mason University in suburban Washington, DC.