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Alfred Emanuel Smith
New York

Gov. Alfred Emanuel Smith

  • January 1, 1919 - January 1, 1921
    January 1, 1923 - January 1, 1929
  • Democratic
  • December 30, 1873
  • October 4, 1944
  • New York
  • Married Catherine Dunn; five children


ALFRED E. SMITH, the forty-fifth and forty-seventh governor to serve New York, was born in New York City on December 30, 1873. His education was limited due to the death of his father. In an effort to help support his family, he went to work in a fish market at the age of fourteen. Smith first entered politics in 1903, serving as a member of the New York House of Representatives, a position he held twelve years. He also served as speaker of the house in 1913; was elected sheriff of New York County in 1915; and served as president of the New York board of alderman in 1917. Smith next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor on November 5, 1918. He lost his 1920 reelection bid, but was successful in his 1922, 1924, and 1926 campaigns. During his tenure, women and children’s labor regulations were improved; the workmen’s compensation law was revised; a vehicular tunnel between New York and New Jersey was planned; and waterpower development was promoted. In 1928 Smith won the Democratic presidential nomination, but lost in the general election to Herbert Hoover. Smith, who was a rival of Franklin D. Roosevelt, became a leader of the American Liberty League in 1934, and openly denounced the liberal policies of Roosevelt. Smith eventually became involved in the planning of the Empire State Building, and was named as president of the Empire State, Inc, a corporation that ran the operations of the new building. Governor Alfred E. Smith passed away on October 4, 1944, and was buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Long Island City, New York.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.


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