Birth of Alfred E. Smith 

US #937 was issued the year after Smith died.

Birth of Alfred E. Smith 

Alfred Emanuel Smith was born on December 30, 1873, in New York City, New York.

Smith’s father was a Civil War veteran who had fought with the 11th New York Fire Zouaves.  When Smith was 13, his father died.  After this, he dropped out of school to work at a fish market to help support the family.

Smith never returned to school but claimed he had learned a lot about people by studying them while working at the fish market.  Smith was also a talented actor and found some success in amateur theater.

US #937 – Classic First Day Cover

Smith first entered politics in 1895 as an investigator in the office of the Commissioner of Jurors.  From there, he began working his way up the ranks of the Democratic Party.  He based his campaigns around his working-class background, aligned himself with immigrants, and said he was a man of the people.

US #937 – Plate Block First Day Cover

In 1904, Smith was elected to the New York State Assembly, where he served until 1915.  In that role, he worked with Frances Perkins to improve factory conditions, serving on a state commission to investigate and improve the situation.  The work of this commission helped to initiate new modern labor laws and increased safety protocols.  Smith was then elected president of the Board of Aldermen of the City of New York in 1917.

US #752//71 – Click the image to learn about Farley’s Follies.

Then in 1918, Smith was elected governor of New York.  His opposition to publisher William Randolph Hearst cost him re-election in 1920, but he managed to win back his seat again in 1922, 1924, and 1926.  His campaign manager and ally was James A. Farley (future postmaster general made famous through Farley’s Follies).

Smith was a staunch anti-prohibitionist and soon became known around the country for his progressive policies aimed at making the government more efficient and effective in meeting the needs of the people.  Under his leadership, New York improved its laws on worker’s compensation, women’s pensions, and children and women’s labor.

In 1924, Smith ran for president with support from fellow New Yorker Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Roosevelt called Smith “the Happy Warrior of the political battlefield.”  However, Smith was unable to earn his party’s nomination, and immediately began plans for the 1928 election.  In that election, he would win the party’s nomination but lose the election.  Many people opposed Smith because he was a Roman Catholic and because he opposed prohibition.  It was during this time that he also broke with Roosevelt, and would run against him in the 1932 election.  In the coming years, Smith was highly critical of Roosevelt’s New Deal policies.

US #930 pictures FDR and his birthplace, Hyde Park.

Outside of politics, Smith served as president of Empire State, Inc., overseeing the construction of the Empire State Building.  During World War II, Smith spoke in support of Roosevelt’s plan to change the Neutrality Act to allow cash and carry sales of war equipment to the British.  For his support, Roosevelt said “Very many thanks.  You were grand.”

US #3185b – from the Celebrate the Century: 1930s Sheet

Smith died at the Rockefeller Institute Hospital on October 4, 1944.   Many buildings in New York were later named in his honor, as well as parks, a fireboat, and a military installation.  And the Al Smith Dinner, a white tie fundraiser, is held in New York City every year to raise funds for Catholic Charities. 

You asked, and we listened…  FREE printable This Day in History album pages are now available!

Click here to download a PDF of today’s article.  

It’s two pages.  The first page has a border so you can print it on whatever paper you want.  The second page doesn’t have a border so you can print it on Mystic’s blank supplement pages.  

And click here if you need a binder, or other supplies to create your This Day in History album.  You’ll find handy mount grab bags, or you can get the mounts you need on each individual US stamp page.  

Let us know if you like these pages and want us to keep creating them.  

And remember – you can purchase any of the stamps, covers, or coins in these articles.  Just click on the pictures and add them to your cart.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

Did you like this article? Click here to rate:
[Total: 0 Average: 0]

Share this article

0 responses to "Birth of Alfred E. Smith "

Show comments or leave a reply

Leave a Comment

Love history?

Learn about each day in history, with relevant stamps sent straight to your inbox.

Subscribers receive daily emails about this day in stamp history.