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Alfred E. Smith

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Signed portrait of the New York Governor, the first Catholic nominated for President by a major party

Alfred Emanuel Smith, 1873–1944.  Governor of New York, 1919–1920, 1923–1928; Democratic presidential nominee, 1928.  10” x 13” formal matte finish photograph signed Alfred E. Smith.

This large-format bust portrait is an outstanding image by Underwood & Underwood of New York City.  It shows Smith, in a vested suit and bow tie, looking directly into the camera. 

New York’s Governor for much of the 1920s, Smith, a Democrat, was the first Roman Catholic to be nominated for President by a major political party.  Franklin D. Roosevelt called him “the ‘Happy Warrior’” when he nominated Smith for the presidency at the 1924 Democratic national convention.  Smith lost the nomination because the convention deadlocked through 103 ballots between Smith and California Senator William Gibbs McAdoo and finally nominated John W. Davis of West Virginia.  But four years later, nominated again by Roosevelt, Smith won the 1928 Democratic nomination but ran into voter prejudice because of his religion.  Many feared that he would take direction from the Pope.  Furthermore, Smith opposed Prohibition, and he had ties to New York’s corrupt Tammany Hall political machine.  As a result, Republican Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover defeated Smith, carrying 40 states, significantly including Smith’s home state of New York. 

Smith has signed this photo in black fountain pen.  The photographer’s pencil signature, “Underwood & Underwood,” under the right edge of the image is so faint that it almost looks to have been partially erased, although we can detect no erasure marks.  The photo is toned at the top and sides from prior framing.  There is a nick in the surface of the photograph at the left side of Smith’s forehead, which could be retouched, and the photo has slight humidity rippling at the top edge and a faint crease in the lower right margin that we mention for the sake of full disclosure.  A couple of numeric pencil notations are on the back.  Overall the photo is in fine condition.


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