Francis Hopkinson Smith was born in Baltimore, Maryland on October 23rd, 1838, the grandson of Francis Hopkinson, a signatory to the Declaration of Independence.
Smith was educated at the Boys' Latin School of Maryland and from there he built a very successful career as author, painter and engineer.
Initially he became a contractor in New York City and worked mainly for the federal government, helping to build the stone ice-breaker at Bridgeport, Connecticut, the jetties at the mouth of the Connecticut River, the foundation for the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, and many other works.
Smith liked to travel both within the US and abroad: to Cuba, Mexico, Venice, Constantinople, Spain and the Netherlands. On these trips he sketched and painted much of what he saw. His paintings of these times still command good prices at auctions.
As a writer his initial focus was on travelogues before branching out into short stories and novels.
And it was as a novelist that he created two sensational books, each becoming the best-selling work of fiction in their year of publication: 'Tom Grogan' (1896) and 'Caleb West' (1898)
Francis Hopkinson Smith died at the age of 76 on April 7th, 1915.