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Presidential Campaigns in U.S. History: Al Smith


Foreshadowing the Great Depression

The Great Depression was triggered by a number of factors. For an overview of the circumstances leading to the Great Depression, read the following articles:


Lords of Finance: 1929, The Great Depression and The Bankers who broke the World.

 5 Myths of the Great Depression

The Slide into Protectionism in the Great Depression


Al Smith (Prohibition, PBS series by Ken Burns)


Prohibition and Al Smith

Alfred Emanuel Smith was born in a tenement building on New York's Lower East Side, the son of a freight handler. The contrast between Smith and his opponent in the 1928 presidential election could not have been clearer. Herbert Hoover, the Republican nominee, favored Prohibition, at least in public.

Smith's cause had probably always been hopeless; the economy was still booming and no one saw a way that the Republicans could lose. Smith's candidacy did bring thousands of big-city working-class voters to the polls for the first time, but his religion and his opposition to Prohibition cut deeply into the supposedly solid Democratic South. Hoover won by six million votes. Smith was stunned at the size of his defeat and the viciousness of the campaign against him.

Books in the Library