Al Smith was many things during his political career: reform champion after the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, four-time governor of New York State, the first Catholic presidential candidate. But he was always a New York City boy at heart.
On this episode of the Long Island History Project podcast, New York City native Dr. Robert A. Slayton talks about Smith and his book, Empire Statesman: The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith (Free Press 2007). The book documents Smith’s rise from the Lower East Side to the top of the Democratic Party ticket in the “dirtiest presidential election in history.”
Along the way we learn more about progressive reforms in the early 20th century, the career path of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the influence of the Ku Klux Klan in 1920s America. We also touch on Smith’s influence on Long Island history, mostly through his elevation of Robert Moses in state government.
The Long Island History Project is an independent podcast featuring stories and interviews with people passionate about Long Island history. It is hosted by academic librarian Chris Kretz.
Photo: Governor Franklin D Roosevelt (left) and Al Smith (right) in Albany, New York.