William French Smith

William French Smith bigraphy, stories - Attorney General of the United States

William French Smith : biography

August 26, 1917 – October 29, 1990

William French Smith (August 26, 1917 – October 29, 1990) was an American lawyer and the 74th Attorney General of the United States.

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South Florida Sun-Sentinel


Born in Wilton, New Hampshire, he received his B.A. degree in economics, summa cum laude, from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1939, and his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1942.

From 1942 to 1946, Smith served in the United States Naval Reserve, reaching the rank of lieutenant. In 1946 he joined the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in Los Angeles, where he was a senior partner when in 1980 he was nominated Attorney General by then President-Elect Ronald Reagan. Smith was a member of the American Law Institute, American Judicature Society, and the Institute of Judicial Administration’s Board of Fellows, as well as a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He served as Attorney General from 1981 to 1985 and then joined the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

He served as a member of the U.S. Advisory Commission on International, Educational and Cultural Affairs in Washington, D.C. from 1971 to 1978; a member of the board of directors of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council since 1970 and its president since 1975; a member of the Los Angeles Committee on Foreign Relations from 1954 to 1974; and a member of the Harvard University’s School of Government since 1971.

He also served as a member of the advisory board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Georgetown University, since 1978 and was a member of the Stanton Panel on International Information, Education and Cultural Relations in Washington from 1974 until 1975.

His business affiliations included service as a director of the Pacific Lighting Corp. of Los Angeles from 1967 to 1981 and the Pacific Lighting Corp. of San Francisco from 1969 to 1981, a seat on the board of directors of Jorgensen Steel Company from 1974 to 1981, and a seat on the board of directors of Pullman, Inc. of Chicago from 1979 to 1980.

He was a member of the California delegation to the Republican National Convention in 1968, 1972, and 1976, serving as chairman of the delegation in 1968 and vice chairman of the delegation in 1972 and 1976.

He died in 1990, aged 73, from cancer and was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.