Smith, Al


1934 TLS by the former New York governor and 1928 Democratic presidential candidate (1st Catholic nominee), to a Chicago liberal socialite


Autograph ID: 5853
Condition: Very good, 2 mail folds
Description: “(1873-1944) NY politician, 3-time elected governor 1919-20 & 1923-28. He was the foremost urban leader of the efficiency-oriented Progressive Movement and was noted for achieving a wide range of reforms as governor. He was also linked to the notorious Tammany Hall machine that controlled Manhattan politics and was a strong opponent of prohibition. 1st Catholic to run for US President as 1928 Democratic Party nominee, trounced by Herbert Hoover owing to his unpopularity among certain segments including Southern Baptists and German Lutherans, who believed the Catholic Church and the Pope would dictate his policies. He sought the 1932 nomination but lost to his former ally and successor as Governor, Franklin D. Roosevelt. After the 1928 election, Smith became president of Empire State, Inc., the corporation which built and operated the Empire State Building. He became an increasingly vocal opponent of Roosevelt’s New Deal, joining the American Liberty League and supporting Republican presidential candidates Alf Landon in 1936 and Wendell Willkie in the 1940 election.

TLS on 11 x 8 3/4 letterhead as Chairman, Empire State, Inc., New York, September 18 1934, to Miss Narcissa Swift, Chicago, a friend. Smith recounts the pressure he was under in the summer and states that he has no time to write an article for “Polity”, as all over the country “…men who supported me in 1928 and friends who have met me since are asking me to write articles”. He has even not been able to complete a book contracted with Harper’s 2-1/2 years earlier. Smith has read with interest her parents’ experience in Germany and encloses (not present) a pamphlet on the Liberty League. With envelope.

NARCISSA SWIFT KING (1910-1998) Chicago socialite, great-granddaughter of Gustavus F. Swift, founder of the Swift meat packing company. In her early 20s, she lived on Chicago’s Gold Coast and was briefly editor of “Polity”, a liberal magazine, becoming interested in politics while working on Fiorello LaGuardia’s New York City mayoral campaign. In 1941, she married Clinton King, son of a prominent Ft. Worth, Texas candy manufacturer. He became an internationally known painter, settled with his bride in Chicago, and the two became a high-powered socialite couple. In the 1960s, Mrs. King used her status to attract some of Chicago’s most prominent women to the cause of civil rights. In 1964, she helped found, and was 1st chairwoman of, the Chicago Urban League’s woman’s board, an integrated group of about 60 women who advocated civil rights. It was the first such board in the US to gather African-American and white women together for such a cause. She was one of a handful of Chicago-area women to go to Selma, Ala., in 1965 to feed demonstrators helping Dr. King make his historic Selma-Montgomery voting rights march. She also raised money for the movement in Chicago by hosting galas for the city’s elite. After her husband died in 1979, she moved to Santa Fe and became active in its arts scene.”
Type: Letter

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