Alfred Emanuel "Al" Smith (December 30, 1873 – October 4, 1944) was an American statesman who was elected Governor of New York four times and was the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate in 1928. He was the foremost urban leader of the efficiency-oriented Progressive Movement and was noted for achieving a wide range of reforms as governor in the 1920s. He was also linked to the notorious Tammany Hall machine that controlled New York City's politics; was a strong opponent of Prohibition and was the first Catholic nominee for President. His candidacy mobilized Catholic votes—especially women who previously had not voted. It also mobilized the anti-Catholic vote, which was strongest in the South.
As a committed "wet" (anti-Prohibition) candidate, Smith attracted not only drinkers but also voters angered by the corruption and lawlessness brought about by prohibition. However, he was feared among Protestants, including German Lutherans and Southern Baptists, who believed that the Catholic Church and the Pope would dictate his policies. Most importantly, this was a time of national prosperity under a Republican Presidency, and Smith lost in a landslide to Republican Herbert Hoover. Four years later Smith sought the 1932 nomination but was defeated by his former ally and successor as New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt. Smith entered business in New York City and became an increasingly vocal opponent of Roosevelt's New Deal. Roosevelt blocked Smith from having any major role in World War II.
By Dean Hanley
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