1928 September 18

Anti-Catholic Attacks on Candidate Al Smith Continue


Religious intolerance pervaded the 1928 presidential election campaign. On this day, Ku Klux Klan-sponsored leaflets attacked Democratic Party candidate Al Smith for being a Roman Catholic. The Klan was a powerful anti-Catholic force in the 1920s. On November 7, 1922, it sponsored an Oregon compulsory education law that would have closed down Catholic parochial schools (but the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional on June 1, 1925. And on August 8, 1925, it staged a huge march on Washington, with 35,000 Klansmen parading down Constitution Avenue in the Klan robes.

Smith’s defeat in the November election gave rise to the belief that no Catholic could ever be elected president of the United States. In 1960, John F. Kennedy addressed the issue head-on in a famous speech on religion and politics to Baptist ministers in Houston, Texas, on September 12, 1960, and that November became the first Catholic elected president.

Watch a documentary on Al Smith’s 1928 nomination for president: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcopBKsclhY

Learn more about the Catholic Church in America: John T. McGreevy, Catholicism and American Freedom: A History (2003)

Read about Kennedy’s breakthrough: Shaun Casey, The Making of a Catholic President: Kennedy vs. Nixon 1960 (2009)

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!