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Alfred E. Smith Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96099).

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Smith, Alfred E. (30 December 1873–04 October 1944), politician, was born Alfred Emanuel Smith in New York City, the son of a truckman and Union army veteran who passed his full name to his son and Catherine Mulvehill, a factory worker and shopkeeper. In his political career “Al” Smith, as he was commonly known, was to be the symbolic spokesman of the nation’s city dwellers of stock that Anglo-Americans have considered immigrant. For this role he had, most clearly on his mother’s side, an appropriate ancestry; she was the daughter of Irish immigrants. The noncommittal but normally English “Smith” obscures his father’s European origins, about which little is known. One scholar suggests Italian forebears. Enemies of Al Smith, probably trying to sever him from the Irish, spread rumors that the father had changed his name from “Schmidt.” Al Smith, at any rate, is remembered as Irish American and a product of New York City’s multiethnic culture....