Al Smith and His America

Al Smith and His America The legendary image of America as a land of opportunity was challenged in by Al Smith s race for the presidency Could the governor from New York a Catholic from the Lower East Side really becom

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  • Title: Al Smith and His America
  • Author: Oscar Handlin
  • ISBN: 9781555530211
  • Page: 373
  • Format: Paperback
  • The legendary image of America as a land of opportunity was challenged in 1928 by Al Smith s race for the presidency Could the governor from New York, a Catholic from the Lower East Side, really become president His candidacy began a dark episode in American history as Al Smith found himself a victim of the very society that, ironically, gave him his greatest opportunityThe legendary image of America as a land of opportunity was challenged in 1928 by Al Smith s race for the presidency Could the governor from New York, a Catholic from the Lower East Side, really become president His candidacy began a dark episode in American history as Al Smith found himself a victim of the very society that, ironically, gave him his greatest opportunity.pThis sympathetic account of Smith s political career demonstrates that a changing society in the decades after World War I propelled Americans toward isolationism and a reassertion of comfortable verities about religion and ethnicity Oscar Handlin notes that Americans were fundamentalists in 1928, and their anti Catholicism affected the outcome of the presidential election But religion was only one symptom of the American anxiety that prejudiced attitudes toward the city, toward foreigners, toward the League of Nations and Prohibition Disillusioned and betrayed by an unsuccessful peace, Americans searched for external causes on which to lay blame, and Al Smith seemed to epitomize the alien forces that were undermining the nation.

    One thought on “Al Smith and His America”

    1. While I've read a lot about Al Smith in other works (most notably, Robert Caro's "The Power Broker"), I would never consider myself an expert on the man and his era. That said, Handlin's Smith bears little resemblance to the Smith I've seen elsewhere. I've come to see Smith as a champion of liberal values and a believer in the ability of big government to do great things. As FDR said, the New Deal was essentially built from things Smith had already done in New York. In Handlin's telling, though, [...]

    2. A good narrative style, although the focus almost exclusively on the dry facts and developments of Smith's political fortunes keeps Handlin from using the style to its greatest effectiveness.

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