(37.) ALFRED E. SMITH (1873-1944)
“The Happy Warrior”
Democrat Smith/Joseph Robinson
Defeated by Republican Herbert Hoover/Charles Curtis, 1928
Several presidential candidates, winners and losers, came up from backwoods environment, but Al Smith arose from the grinding poverty of the big city from New York’s East Side. Whatever position he held or whatever the issue at stake, he strove to make good for the sake of his beloved East Side.
Smith worked in the fish market and as a shipping clerk, and at 22 received a “near” political assignment as a process server for the Commissioner of Jurors. He gained a reputation as a reader and amateur actor in parochial school and despite lack of formal education, rose to a high place in New York political life.
He was in the New York Assembly and served as speaker, was elected sheriff, and became governor in 1918, accomplishing things that are a monument to him, such as promotion of the Empire State Building. His bid for the presidency was handicapped by his stand on prohibition and many would not support him because of his religion.