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Empire Statesman : The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith

Empire Statesman : The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith - 01 edition

ISBN13: 978-0684863023

Cover of Empire Statesman : The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith 01 (ISBN 978-0684863023)
ISBN13: 978-0684863023
ISBN10: 0684863022
Cover type:
Edition/Copyright: 01
Publisher: Free Press
Published: 2001
International: No

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Empire Statesman : The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith - 01 edition

ISBN13: 978-0684863023

Robert A. Slayton

ISBN13: 978-0684863023
ISBN10: 0684863022
Cover type:
Edition/Copyright: 01
Publisher: Free Press

Published: 2001
International: No
Summary

Franklin Roosevelt is said to have explained Al Smith, and his own New Deal, with these words: "Practically all the things we've done in the federal government are the things Al Smith did as governor of New York." Smith, who ran for president in 1928, not only set the model for FDR, he also taught America that the promise of the country extends to everyone and no one should be left behind.

The story of this trailblazer is the story of America in the twentieth century. A child of second-generation immigrants, a boy self-educated on the streets of the nation's largest city, he went on to become the greatest governor in the history of New York; a national leader and symbol to immigrants, Catholics, and the Irish; and in 1928 the first Catholic major-party candidate for president. He was the man who championed safe working conditions in the wake of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. He helped build the Empire State Building. Above all, he was a national model, both for his time and for ours.

Yet, as Robert Slayton demonstrates in this rich story of an extraordinary man and his times, Al Smith's life etched a conflict still unresolved today. Who is a legitimate American? The question should never be asked, yet we can never seem to put it behind us. In the early years of the twentieth century, the Ku Klux Klan reorganized, not to oppose blacks, but rather against the flood of new immigrants arriving from southern Europe and other less familiar sources. Anti-Catholic hatred was on the rise, mixed up with strong feelings about prohibition and tensions between towns and cities. The conflict reached its apogee when Smith ran for president. Slayton's story of the famous election of 1928, in which Smith lost amid a blizzard of blind bigotry, is chilling reading for Americans of all faiths. Yet Smith's eventual redemption, and the recovery of his deepest values, shines as a triumph of spirit over the greatest of adversity.

Even in our corrosively cynical times, the greater vision of Al Smith's life inspires and uplifts us.

Author Bio

Slayton, Robert A. : Chapman University

Robert A. Slayton is Associate Professor of history at Chapman University. A New Yorker by birth, he is the author of Back of the Yards: The Making of a Local Democracy and New Homeless and Old: Community and the Skid Row Hotel. He lives in Orange County, California.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Oklahoma City, September 20, 1928

Part I: Coming of Age

CHAPTER 1. The Sidewalks of New York
CHAPTER 2. Neighborhood
CHAPTER 3. The F.F.M. Man
CHAPTER 4. "The Hall"
CHAPTER 5. Albany
CHAPTER 6. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
CHAPTER 7. Leadership


Part II: Governor

CHAPTER 8. The New Governor
CHAPTER 9. Picking Fights
CHAPTER 10. Winning Administrative Reform
CHAPTER 11 Forging a New America
CHAPTER 12. Prohibition
CHAPTER 13. The Sound of the Siren
CHAPTER 14. Business as Usual


Part III: 1928

CHAPTER 15. Opening Rounds
CHAPTER 16. Taking On America
CHAPTER 17. "Politics! Politics!"
CHAPTER 18. And the Pope Will Move to Washington
CHAPTER 19. The Decision


Part IV: Finale

CHAPTER 20. Up to Now
CHAPTER 21. The Little Boy
CHAPTER 22. Mr. Smith Does Not Go to Washington
CHAPTER 23. Nadir
CHAPTER 24. Elder Statesman
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

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