Richard Moe was born on November 27, 1936, in Duluth, Minnesota. He had a long career in Democratic politics serving as administrative assistant to Minneapolis Mayor Arthur Naftalin (1961-1962); administrative assistant to Minnesota Lieutenant Governor A.M. Keith (1963-1967); finance director of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party (1967-1969); chairman of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party (1969-1972); administrative assistant to Senator Walter Mondale (1972-1976) and chief of staff to Vice President Walter Mondale (1977-1981). From 1981 to 1993 he worked for the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell in Washington, D.C. In 1993, he became the seventh president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Richard Palmer Moe was born on November 27, 1936, in Duluth, Minnesota to Russell James, a physician, and Virginia Mary (née Palmer), a kindergarten teacher. After graduation from the Shattuck School in Faribault, Minnesota (1954), he then received a Bachelor of Arts from Williams College (1959) and a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School (1966). At Williams College he first became interested in politics, and, in 1958, he volunteered on James MacGregor Burns' congressional campaign against Silvio Conte in the Western District of Massachusetts. In 1960, he joined the Minnesota Army National Guard's 151st Artillery Division and was honorably discharged in 1966. Richard Moe married Julia Neimeyer on December 26, 1964 and they had three children together.
During the 1960s, Moe worked in numerous positions in Minnesota politics including serving as an administrative assistant to Minneapolis Mayor Arthur Naftalin (1961-1962) and chief aide to Lieutenant Governor A. M. "Sandy" Keith (1963-1966). In 1967, Moe became finance director of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party. At 32 years of age, Moe, in 1969, Moe, became the second youngest chairman in the history of the Democratic Farmer Labor Party. He was instrumental in helping the party secure control of the state legislature for the first in Minnesota history in 1970 and again in 1972.
From 1972 to 1976, Moe served as administrative assistant to Senator Walter Mondale in Washington, D.C. After the Jimmy Carter/Walter Mondale ticket won the presidential election in 1976, Moe served as Mondale's chief of staff in the Carter administration. As chief of staff from 1977 to 1981, Moe was instrumental in helping Mondale expand the role of the Vice Presidency. After the defeat of the Carter/Mondale ticket in the 1980 presidential election, Richard Moe joined the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, where he remained until 1993. Moe became a partner in the law firm in 1986; however, he remained active in national Democratic Party politics. Moe participated as a political advisor in the Mondale presidential campaign of 1984, Dick Gephardt's 1988 presidential bid, the Michael Dukakis presidential campaign in 1988, and the preparations for the 1992 Democratic Party presidential campaign.
During this time period, Moe rekindled his love of history and began to actively research Minnesota's Civil War past. He also became director of the Civil War Preservation Trust and, in 1993, published a history of the First Minnesota Infantry Regiment called The Last Full Measure: the Life and Death of the Minnesota Volunteers. The same year, he was named the seventh president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. During Richard Moe's tenure at the National Trust, the organization ended its dependence on federal funding and began to raise private capital, significantly increasing its annual budget and endowment. Richard Moe retired from the National Trust in 2010.