Alfred Emanuel Smith (1873-1944)
By Richard Sanders, Editor, Press for Conversion!
When Jerry MacGuire said Al Smith was involved, General Smedley Butler thought it incredible that the derby-hatted happy warrior, [from] New Yorks East Side slums, could be involved in a fascist plot (Jules Archer, 1973). Smiths pivotal role in the American Liberty League (ALL) had also shocked many. How could a poor Bowery boy get mixed up with Americas ultraright millionaires?
Smith was not just involved in the ALL, he helped found it. In fact, he and Irénée du Pont were its codirectors and their meetings were at Smiths New York offices. How did this leading Democrat get wrapped up in such a plot to oust the president?
Smith, a Democratic politician since his days in New Yorks state assembly (1904-1915), was New Yorks governor four times (1919-1921, 1923-1929). in 1920, he was the partys presidential candidate. In 1924, FDR nominated Smith for the president but he lost to J.P. Morgan attorney, John W. Davis.
In 1928, again nominated by FDR, Smith became the first Catholic presidential candidate for a major party. His campaign against Republican Herbert Hoover was divisive for the nation and the Democrats. It was a battle between Catholic and Protestant, Repeal (wet) and Prohibition (dry), urban and rural, North and South. Smith stood for wet forces and was linked to millionaire-funded Association Against the Prohibition Amendment (AAPA). Smiths campaign manager, General Motors John Raskob, was a top AAPA organizer and former Democratic Party chair. The Ku Klux Klan, then a powerful force, especially in the rural South, promoted Hoovers dirty campaign against Smith, the wet, urban, Northern Papist.
In 1930, Raskob formed the Empire State Building Co., to finance its construction. He hired Smith as its president. In the 1932 contest for the Democrats presidential candidate, Smith lost to FDR. When FDR became president, Smith moved even further right. In Congressional testimony, deleted from the Committees public report, Butler testified that Gerry MacGuire told him about Smiths connection to the plot. Al Smith is getting ready to assault the Administration in his magazine. It will appear in a month or so. He is going to take a shot at the money question. He has definitely broken with the President. MacGuires prediction was correct. About a month later, Smith did break with FDR and he used his magazine, New Outlook, to editorialize against the New Deal.
In 1936, Smith was the keynote speaker at the ALLs gala banquet. Democratic Senator Schwellenbach tried to stop him from giving in to the temptation of following the advice of J.P. Morgan, John Raskob and Pierre du Pont and all the rest of these rascals and crooks that controlled the ALL. He compared du Pont and Raskob to the racketeers...who were finally put in the penitentiary because... they evaded their income taxes (Gerard Colby, Du Pont Dynasty, 1984).
Colby describes the dinner as the most famous political gathering of American industrialists and financiers in the twentieth century. Smith warned the 2,000 attendees that FDR was moving towards communism:
"There can be only one capital, Washington or Moscow . There can be only the clear, pure, fresh air of a free America, or the foul breath of communistic Russia. There can be only one flag, the Stars and Stripes, or the flag of the godless union of Soviets. There can be only one national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, or the International."
More than a dozen du Pont family members basked in Smiths words and led a standing ovation. This was just the simplistic vision that these corporatists wanted. And who better to deliver their message than this long-time Democrat? Pierre du Pont told the press: It was perfect, he gave a splendid definition of democracy. Because the media, like Smith, was largely controlled by Wall Street, the papers aided Smiths attack on FDR.
After failing to stop FDRs 1936 presidential renomination, Smith quit the Democrats and joined Republican Alf Landons losing campaign. Smith also cozied up with the bankers even more and became chairman of the Bank of New York, County Trust Co.
Bernard Hirschhorn, "Review: FDR and His Enemies, by Albert
Fried, 2001," White House Studies, Summer 2002.
L. Wolfe, FDR vs. the Banks, The American Almanac, July 11,
David Kyvig, Repealing National Prohibition, 1979
Jules Archer, The Plot to Seize the White House, 1973
Gerard Colby, Du Pont Dynasty, 1984
Political Graveyard Database
Source: Press for Conversion! magazine, Issue # 53, "Facing the Corporate Roots of American Fascism," March 2004. Published by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade.
Order a Copy: Order a hard copy of this 54-page issue of Press for Conversion! on the fascist plot to overthrow President F.D.Roosevelt and the corporate leaders who planned and financed this failed coup.