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Al Smith

Governor of New York

Died when: 70 years 279 days (849 months)
Star Sign: Capricorn


Al Smith

Alfred Emanuel Smith (December 30, 1873 – October 4, 1944) was an American politician who served four terms as Governor of New York and was the Democratic Party's candidate for president in 1928.

The son of an Irish-American mother and a Civil War–veteran Italian-American father, Smith was raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan near the Brooklyn Bridge.

He resided in that neighborhood for his entire life.Although Smith remained personally untarnished by corruption, he—like many other New York politicians—was linked to the notorious Tammany Hall political machine that controlled New York City politics during his era.

Smith served in the New York State Assembly from 1904 to 1915 and held the position of Speaker of the Assembly in 1913.

Smith also served as sheriff of New York County from 1916 to 1917.He was first elected governor of New York in 1918, lost his 1920 bid for re-election, and was elected governor again in 1922, 1924, and 1926.

Smith was the foremost urban leader of the Efficiency Movement in the United States and was noted for achieving a wide range of reforms as New York governor in the 1920s.

Smith was the first Roman Catholic to be nominated for president of the United States by a major party.His 1928 presidential candidacy mobilized both Catholic and anti-Catholic voters.

Many Protestants (including German Lutherans and Southern Baptists) feared his candidacy, believing that the Pope in Rome would dictate his policies.

Smith was also a committed "wet", which was a term used for opponents of Prohibition; as New York governor, he had repealed the state's prohibition law.

As a "wet", Smith attracted voters who wanted beer, wine and liquor and did not like dealing with criminal bootleggers, along with voters who were outraged that new criminal gangs had taken over the streets in most large and medium-sized cities.

Incumbent Republican Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover was aided by national prosperity, the absence of American involvement in war and anti-Catholic bigotry, and he defeated Smith in a landslide in 1928.

Smith sought the 1932 Democratic presidential nomination but was defeated by Franklin D.Roosevelt, his former ally and successor as Governor of New York.

Smith then entered business in New York City, became involved in the construction and promotion of the Empire State Building, and became an increasingly vocal opponent of Roosevelt's New Deal.

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