1928 October 6

New York Mayor Jimmy Walker Denounces Religious Intolerance


Mayor Jimmy Walker of New York City made a special effort to travel to Boston to speak out against religious intolerance. His speech on this day was prompted by the anti-Catholic attacks on Al Smith, governor of New York and Democratic Party candidate for president in 1928. See, for example, the events of April 18, 1927 and September 18, 1928. Smith lost the presidential election; many people believe it was because of opposition to his Catholicism, but historians generally argue that it was a Republican year and any Democrat would have lost.

The issue of Catholics as president came to a head in 1960, when John F. Kennedy was the Democratic Party candidate. Political observers at the time and most historians today believed that he laid the Catholic issue to rest with a famous speech to Baptist ministers in Houston, Texas, on September 12, 1960.

Learn more about the issue: Shaun Casey, The Making of a Catholic President: Kennedy vs. Nixon, 1960 (2009)

Watch Kennedy’s famous 1960 speechhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBNlS8Zg1WA

Learn more about Al Smith: Robert A. Slayton, Empire Statesman: The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith (2001)

Learn more about Jimmy Walker, Herbert Mitgang, Once Upon a Time in New York: Jimmy Walker, Franklin Roosevelt, and the Last Great Battle of the Jazz Age (2000)

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