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Full text of "Alfred E Smith An American Career"

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: -': : :i' ! KA^AsciTL,^^ffiiffi 





GOVERNOR ALFRED E. SMITH 



ALFRED E.;|MITH 

An American Career 

BY 

HENRY MOSKOWITZ 



NEW YORK 
THOMAS SELTZER 

1924 



Copyright, 1924, by 
THOMAS SELTZER, INC. 



All rights reserved 



PRINTED IN THB UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



TO 
MY WIFE 



PREFACE 

It has become quite fashionable in recent years for some 
intellectuals to question the validity of the American theory 
of government. Lovers of America, the classic example of 
democracy, should meet this challenge. 

Dictatorships have sprung up in Europe which are symp- 
tomatic of an impatience with the deliberate process of 
parliamentary government as an efficient tool of the state to 
carry out policies necessary for critical situations. 

Can democracy meet the test of states confronting a crisis ? 
Can it be made the instrument for realizing the aspirations of 
the common man conscious of a new status? Can it do 
justice to the farmer, the laborer, the brain-worker and the 
business interests caught in the chaos of post-war conditions? 

Realizing the deep issue raised in this challenge to democ- 
racy by minority government, I have set forth in this book 
the record of a man; with whom the rule of the majority has 
been the cardinal unit of his political faith. He typifies the 
kind of leadership developed in a republic born of the Declar- 
ation of Independence and the Constitution of the HJnited 
States. He is essentially the product of the opportunities 
afforded by our American institutions. 

The book is the outcome of personal contact, a study of 
private sources of information and public records and docu- 
ments. 

If it will help to strengthen one man's faith in democracy 
as an instrument for bringing a better day to those whom 
Governor Smith loves to call the "rank and file of the people," 
this story of an American career will not have been told in 
vain. 

In its preparation, the stimulus and criticism of one is 
greatly acknowledged my wife. 

HENRY MOSKOWITZ. 

New York, May, 1924. 



PUBLISHER'S NOTE 

While this book was in press Mr, Smith's 
mother, to whom reference in this book is 
made, died on May 18, 1924. 



CONTENTS 



I. BOYHOOD 3 

II. COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE ..,,... 16 

III. A FAMILY MAN 20 

IV. POLITICS IN THE FOURTH WARD OF NEW YORK 

CITY 25 

JN V. THE SPRINGS OF His PERSONALITY .... 29 

VI. THE KEY TO His PUBLIC CAREER . ' . 32 

VII. His STAND FOR. THE WAGE EARNER .... 36 

VIII. SMITH IN THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION . 40 

IX. IN THE LOCAL POLITICS OF NEW YORK ClTY . 43 

X. SMITH FOR GOVERNOR 48 

XI. THE GOVERNOR'S FIRST YEAR 51 

XII. WOMAN SUFFRAGE 65 

XIII. IN THE THROES OF AN ECONOMIC CRISIS . . 67 

XIV. A FIGHT FOR FREEDOM 71 

XV. His RELIGION 74 

XVI. RJE-BLECTED 77 

XVII. IN ALBANY AGAIN 81 

XVIII. AN ACCOUNT OF His STEWARDSHIP .... 85 

XIX. His APPOINTMENTS 86 

XX. A TYPICAL CAMPAIGN ADDRESS 90 

XXI. His CAMPAIGN SPELL 108 

XXII. THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET 121 

XXIII. REORGANIZING THE STATE GOVERNMENT RE- 

TRENCHMENT 145 

XXIV. EX-GOVERNOR SMITH IN ALBANY 156 . 

XXV. ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DESPOTISM AND 

DEMOCRACY 173 

XXVI. AGRICULTURE 185 

XXVII. WELFARE LEGISLATION DEBATE ON THE BARNES 

AMENDMENT 193 

XXVIII. ON THE PUBLIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE STATE'S 

WATER POWER 196 

XXIX. THE LITERACY TEST AND A HUMOROUS INCIDENT 

IN THE CONVENTION 199 

XXX. DEFENSE OF SOCIAL LEGISLATION 201 

XXXL SMITH AND LABOR 265 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER PAGE 

XXXII. ON LIVING WAGE FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN 

INDUSTRY 213 

XXXIII. FOR THE WIDOW AND ORPHAN 218 

XXXIV. THE HOUSING CRISIS 222 

XXXV. HOME RULE 236 

XXXVI. SUNDAY 241 

XXXVII. THE ISSUE OF I/AW ENFORCEMENT .... 244 
XXXVIII. ''BETTER TIMES" FOR THE SICK AND DISABLED . 263 
XXXIX. SOME THOUGHTS ON PRISON REFORM .... 265 
XL. A CONSERVATION POLICY IN THE PEOPLE'S IN- 
TEREST 269 

XLI. REVIVING THE PORT OF NEW YORK .... 274 

XLII. THE QUALITY OF SMITH'S AMERICANISM . . . 276 
XLIII. AN EVEN KEEL THE RETURN TO FUNDAMENTAL 

AMERICANISM 279 

XLIV, THE HEARST CONTROVERSY 286 

XL/V. THE CLIMAX 306 

XLVI. ADDRESS TO THE STATE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION 

OF 1924 309 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



GOVERNOR ALFRED E. SMITH 

ONE OF THE GREATEST OF His THEATRICAL TRIUMPHS 

A TYPICAL PAGE FROM THE WELLS FARGO RECEIPT-SCRAP BOOK 

AT TWENTY-ONE AND ALREADY ACTIVE IN POLITICS 

THE FIRST PICTURE OF HIM 

AT EIGHTEEN AND IN THE REAL ESTATE BUSINESS .... 

ALFRED E. SMITH: THE COASTING KING 

174 SOUTH STREET, THE HOUSE IN WHICH ALFRED E. SMITH WAS 
BORN 



FACING PAGE 

. . Frontispiece 
. . . 22 
70 
118 
150 
182 



246 
294 



ALFRED E. SMITH 

An American Career 



CHAPTER I 
BOYHOOD 

There is In existence an old Wells-Fargo receipt book into 
which Alfred E. Smith, when a young man, neatly pasted 
all sorts 1 of records programs of entertainments and plays 
in which he took part as moiiologist or actor, the program of 
of the closing exercises of his school, clippings from news- 
papers telling of his exploits as a bicyclist or containing 
humorous references to him as a member of the Seymour 
Club. There is one newspaper item in which he is jibed at 
for having political aspirations in his ward. But these 
aspirations, even had they not been( justified by his later life, 
receive sanction from the youth's interest in high affairs as 
shown by the other clippings] in the book. Pasted in it are 
John Hays* speech on the death of McKinley, Grover Cleve- 
land's and Bourke Cockran's addresses, Bryan's famous 
Cross of Gold speech, and many other orations culled from 
the newspapers H 

To turn the pages of this fat, close-leaved volume, com- 
pletely covered with records, is to relive a whole period of 
a life that fairly glows with vitality. You see before you an 
eager, vivid, vivacious, alert, gifted young man of the people, 
who enlivened his neighborhood .by his spirits and good 
humor, his zest, his interest in the people, animals! and things 
about him, who-' lived a life of animated activity, who went 
ahead gaily to great things, in spite of straitened economic 

(3) 



4 ALFRED E. SMITH 

circumstances, hard labor and heavy responsibilities thrust 
upon him early in, life. 

If the reader could glance over the old Wells-Fargo 
receipt-scrap book, this first chapter, save for statements of 
birth and parentage, would be almost superfluous. It gives 
a picture of the young man up to marriage, so complete, 
revealing, interesting and amusing that words would scarcely 
be needed to supplement it. 



Almost under the Brooklyn Bridge on its Manhattan side, 
in an old tenement at 174 South Street, on December 30, 
1873, a boy was born to two simple people of American 
birth Catherine Mulvihill and Alfred Emanuel Smith, 
They named him after his father. Later came his sister 
Mary. There were no other children. 

South Street wast a river-front thoroughfare from which 
the little boy saw the masts of sailing schooners, and watched 
freighters, tramps and other work-horses of the sea come 
laden with thet wealth of distant lands and pour it upon the 
wharves that teemed with life and movement when the ships 
came in. 

Below Brooklyn Bridge, wrapped in the mantle of ,the 
night, is the dark blue sheet of the East River, sparkling 
with the flickering lights of moving ferry-boats and other 
river craft. On both sides, the City of New York unfolds 
its myriads of lighted windows in those colossal office build- 
ings that form the unique sky line which thrills the home- 
coming traveler or the visitor who enters the harbor for the 
first time. 

Looking down from that bridge in a southeasterly direc- 
tion one can see a wilderness of tenements forming chasms 
of brick and mortar. These shelter the people of the con- 
gested East Side of New York City. 



BOYHOOD 5 

The father of Alfred E. Smith was a truckman a man 
the muscles of whose arms -had been hardened by the kind 
of severe labor that lines the face and moistens it with the 
sweat of the brow. This truckman guided a pair of heavy 
horses through the mazes of the city, which then knew 
neither the automobile nor the motor truck. He was born 
on Water Street near Oliver in the eighteen forties. His 
wife saw the light in a corner store on Dover and Water 
Streets in 1850. They were childhood sweethearts in the 
neighborhood and they married in 1871. 

One of the events of the day in the life of little "Al," 
when first he grew aware of the kind of world in which his 
lot had been cast, was his father's return from a hard day's 
driving, still grimy with the dust of neglected streets, still 
wet with the perspiration that seemed the mark of his calling. 
The little boy watched his father peel off garment after 
garment. "Why do you do it?" the boy asked, and Governor 
Smith still r remembers his father's answer "To 'cool off/* 
The elder Smith would plunge his head and arms into 
cold water with a delight that bore out his statement. He 
was large, stalwart, with the constitution of iron, the full, 
rich voice, the physical endurance, which, taken together, 
comprise the inheritance of his son. 

The association between father and son /was not so inti- 
mate as it might have been, on account of the round of toil 
in which the elder Smith was immersed. He was always 
up and out at ( work by six o'clock in the morning. Some- 
times he would not come home until dusk, when the little 
boy was already in bed; and it was only on Sundays and 
holidays that he had an opportunity for intimacy with his 
wife and children. Every little episode connected with him 
becamq an event in the boy's [life. He still recalls the walk 
they took together one winter's day completely across the 
East River, which by some miracle was all frozen over. 



6 ALFRED E. SMITH 

The father led his little son across the,' ice by the hand. He 
the father wore no overcoat because he never needed it. 
He was warm-blooded enough to keep out the winter's chill 

Al's life as a child born ion the river-front in, the City of 
New York of those days was never dull. Scarely had he 
donnedl his first pair of trousers, made by his mother from a 
discarded garment of his father's, jwhen he went to play 
about the wharves. In the summer, to be sure, trousers 
were often superfluous; he could jump off the docks in 
tights, and soon became what the longshoremen of the region 
called a water-rat. Many a swim did he enjoy in the East 
River with other water-rats of his age. They learned to 
dive and swim so long beneath the surface that an onlooker 
would have thought they'd never come up again. Smith and 
the other boys would also play tag among the piles -of lumber 
and the pyramids of boxes and crates, dodging in and about 
among heavy horses and heavier trucks, until, tired out, 
they'd sit and rest on the roof of a shed and watch the long- 
shoremen hoist gigantic crates or lower them into the holds 
of ships. 

"The Brooklyn Bridgeiand I grew up together/'; Cover nor 
Smith told a friend once. "It attracted my infantile atten- 
tion and I spent a lot of time sort of superintending" the job 
in my boyhood, I have never lost the sense of admiration 
and envy I felt for the men who swarmed like flies stringing 
the cables and putting in the roadways as the bridge took 
shape. Ten years after I was born and j nine years after the 
New York tower was finished, they opened the bridge. 

"I recall the intense excitement down in our part of town 
when word came that many people had been killed in a crush 
on the structure. 

"That was on May 30, 1883 Decoration Day. The 
bridge had been formally opened a few days before and my 
father and mother and sister and I were among the first to 



BOYHOOD 7 

cross over to Brooklyn 1 on the bridge and come back by the 
Fulton Street Ferry. 

"Late in the afternoon of Decoration Day there was an 
immense crowd on the bridge crossing in both directions. 
My recollection is that somebody in the crowd at the New 
York end yelled that the bridge was falling. There was a 
rush for the New York end. This rush, meeting -a great 
throng coming from Park Row, produced a jam in which 
about eighteen or twenty people were trampled to death. 

"A gang of us boys -from down the water-front hurried 
to Park Row when we heard of the accident. It was grow- 
ing dark. We got as close to the centre of things as the 
policy would let us. They were taking away bodies of 
wounded people and policemen were piling up great quantities 
of hats and clothing that had been torn from the victims. 

"That was my first view of a great [calamity. I didn't 
sleep well for nights." 

Perhaps the most thrilling of the day's delights was 
afforded by the fire-engine horses. A horse, swift, sturdy, 
sure-footed, was a heroic figure to the boy; he made up his 
mind to be a fireman after some consideration of the career 
of a letter-carrier. The gong ,at the fire-station would rouse 
him from the soundest sleep or interrupt the most absorbed 
contemplation of the craft along the river, and send him 
speeding to the fire-house, with his shoes in one hand and his 
hat in the other. Much to his regret he was never permitted 
to help harness the steeds, though he could have done the 
whole thing alone, by his eighth year having studied the 
process a hundred times and memorized every detail of it. 

Little Al he( was known as Al from the first moment he 
knew enough to tell anyone his name seldom failed to reach 
the firehouse in time to see the men glide down the polished 
brass polesi from their loft to the level of the street. It was 
the house of Engine Company 32 on John Sreet, near the 



8 ALFRED E. SMITH 

corner of /Platt. John Binns, the veteran Deputy Chief of 
the Fire Department, was then its virile young captain, a 
tremendous personage in the eyes of the boy, who actually 
scraped acquaintance with him and followed his figure, con- 
spicuous in long | white coat and straight helmet, in the many, 
many alarms to which Binns and his company had to respond. 

The child would make futile efforts to dash afoot in the 
wake of horses and firemen as they sped iin a whirl with 
clang of bell and thud of hoof. And he never lost sight of 
them; he learned to track the fire-engines to the remotest 
alleys and side .streets, where for hours at a time he would 
watch the progress of the fight with the flames. It was with 
reluctance that he would come home to a dinner that was 
sometimes cold; for he was a born "buff" and his father 
thought it wise to humor his inclination. 

To this very day Alfred Smith responds eagerly to the 
stimulus: of a fire-alarm, and as a young man was among the 
best-known buffs of the great city's Fire Department. He 
distinguished himself among those of the citizens who have 
the privilege of passing through thd fire lines to help in the 
work of subduing the flames. He has manipulated lines of 
hose, climbed ladders and in his eagerness stood on the very 
edge of an imperilled roof the survival of an instinct that 
was keen when the child had scarcely realized the function 
of a fire-engine, j 

It is easy to understand how the boy came to have priv 
leges at the fire-engine house usually denied the average 
hungry-eyed lads who shared the same dreams how it was 
that; he became the favorite of Engine Company 32. He 
had and still has social gifts. He was bright, talkative, 
could sing and dance and had that resonant voice which in 
later years shook the rafters of the assembly hall and the 
public meeting place. Also he had ready-made opinions 
then, which he expressed with a fluency that experience and 
maturity have taught him to repress. 



BOYHOOD 9 

So the boy became a buff. When he heard the stroke of 
the fire-alarm, he would make for the coffee can and the 
sandwich basket kept near the entrance; and when horses, 
men and engines had darted out of the doors, he was the one 
to close them. Then he and the fire dog together he carry- 
ing the coffee can and the sandwich basket would dash to 
the place where the fire was. He had learned to locate it 
by the number of rings of the bell. 

If it was a false alarm, or if the fire were slight, he would 
return with the firemen on the engine, the envy of. his 
boy friends. How proudly he leaped from the engine and 
opened the fire-house door! If the fire was serious, he 
would go to the restaurants, where he was known by this 
time, and get coffeei and sandwiches for the men. 

He was more scrupulous than a Dutch housewife in keep- 
ing the can brilliantly polished, in fact, in keeping all his 
utensils shipshape. When his work was done a man's 
the lad would go home to delight the family with the tale of 
the day's doings. 

In later years, when he became one of the real buffs, and 
an honorary member of the Officers' Association, he never 
lost his love for the fire department. At a dinner given to 
Honorary Fire Chief Robert H. Mainzer on January 18, 
1916, he recalled, to the delight of the five hundred diners 
present, his own career as a buff and more particularly his 
experiences! when he was a very little boy. 

The neighborhood in which the boy lived was at one time 
the aristocratic section of New York City. Survivals of this 
glorious past are still seen in some of the few remaining 
colonial houses, homes of leading families in fact. The 
doors reflect the purity of the colonial style in architecture 
and retain the distinctive brass knockers. They are fast 
disappearing to give way to tenements five and six story 
boxes of red brick and mortar housing hundreds where 
these small old houses sheltered tens. 



10 ALFRED E. SMITH 

The tradition of "AT lingers in the thoroughfares he 
haunted when he was a child. He is described as a slim, 
somewhat athletic figure, fleet of foot, disposed to take 
off his shoes and stockings and carry them in his hand 
on hot summer days, his head surmounted by a shock 
of tawny hair and his lips forever parted in a smile that 
revealed firmly set teeth. The steely gray eyes flashed as 
he talked in a quick and loud but melodious accent. His 
shirts were made for him by his mother, who also, with her 
own hands, made the first complete suit of boy's clothes 
he ever put on. Anyone coming in contact with him then 
would have been struck by the qualities of a voice and 
the lovable traits of a personality that triumphed over 
an environment which might have extinguished a nature 
less gracious or less gifted with a sense of humor. Alfred 
Smith was what is known as a laughing baby; he went 
through his East Side boyhood gaily. Nimble of wit, highly 
articulate, in the sense that he could express his ideas with 
facility, he had no self-consciousness at all Indeed, his 
elocutionary gift revealed itself even in those early days, 
and it was easy to foresee that in whatever sphere his lot 
might be cast, his powers of address would prove a factor in 
his career. 

As he had, in addition, the gift of a retentive memory, it 
seems quite natural that he should have taken to elocution. 
He loved to recite famous orations, sometimes to an audience 
of the boys and girls of the neighborhood, sometimes to 
assemblages of his elders at school He thus became a dis- 
tinguished pupil at St. James' School, which is not far from 
the South Street house where he was born and which he 
attended with reasonable assiduity. 

Yet it will have to be conceded that he was by no means 
an intellectual prodigy, nor a strict student though proficient 
in debates because he mastered his subjects and had a power- 



BOYHOOD 11 

ful voice. Whether it was his voice or his eloquence, the 
fact remains that he treasures to this day a silver medal 
awarded him in a spirited contest between two sets of ora- 
torical champions. To reach the place where the debate was 
held he had to go farther, from his home than he had ever 
been before quite to the west side of Harlem, The un- 
precedented period of two hours was spent on the street 
cars, then drawn by horses. It was his first extensive view 
of the city that he was to come to know as well as a man 
knows his own pocket. 

Not that he had not already been started in the training of 
a typical Fourth Ward boy of those days ; before he was ten 
he became a newsboy a matter of necessity, as his father's 
earnings were never large. In that household twelve dollars 
was a great sum and not even a cent was lightly given to the 
children for a stick of candy. It was with about twenty 
cents in cash that Al ( was set up in business as a newsboy. 
He would sell one batch of papers and use his profits to buy 
more newspapers ; then come home in the evening with what- 
ever he had made. 

His earnings, small as they seemed, were really urgently 
needed. There was a mother and there was a growing sister 
to support, and the health of the father had /begun to fail. 
When Al was less than thirteen years old, he died. The boy 
had to leave school and go to work. 

Alfred Smith took up his new duties with his characteristic 
gaiety. The father had left a good name to his son and even 
the nucleus of what might be called a trucking business. 
There were horses to manage, creatures that Al was quite 
competent. to deal with. And he could deal with customers 
as well. Nor was he long in ascertaining that other lines 
afforded better financial prospects than trucking. There was 
a thrivingj fish stall in Fulton Market at the water-front and 
it seemed a stroke of 'good fortune to him when he was 



12 ALFRED E. SMITH 

offered the post of helper by the man who owned the 
business. 

After seven years as a fishmonger, during which he earned 
a living for himself and a dependent mother and sister, he 
was offered another position at better pay, and accepted it. 
A strong, wiry youth by this time, he was ready for any kind 
of work at which he could make a living, and for weeks 
toiled as a common laborer in a Brooklyn pump-works. He 
would get up in the morning at six o'clock, eat the breakfast 
of ham and eggs and coffee that his mother had prepared, 
and trudge on foot to the ferry. His daily task involved 
much and severe manual effort and he earned his bread lit- 
erally by the sweat of his brow. After? lunch, a small affair, 
put up for him in the morning by his mother, he would 
work for five hours! at a stretch in the afternoon. 

Never did he lose his brightness of mood and disposition, 
or his eloquence/ imagination and personal magnetism an 
inheritance bequeathed him by his father. From his mother, 
who adored him and whom he in turn deeply loved, he 
derived his deep spiritual nature, his sterling common sense, 
and his discerning judgment. 

To his histrionic gift he owed the relaxations of this 
period. He seemed always able then and since to project 
himself into the personality as well as the experiences of 
another, to see life from other viewpoints than his own. His 
gift for: recitation and for acting was no mere mimicry. It 
was an actual living in terms of another's consciousness. The 
gift served him well then. Night after night he held audi- 
ences never very large perhaps but always enthusiastic 
raptly attentive while he told stories, declaimed, assumed 
character parts and imitated local celebrities/ He told a 
funny story in dialect with inimitable drollery. This gift 
of expression was exploited in small local halls, often packed 
to suffocation, and whether his theme was The Bells by 



BOYHOOD 13 

Edgar Allan Poe, or The Night Before Christmas or even a 
Shakespearean soliloquy, the young man imparted genuine 
importance to the printed announcement, "Recitations by Mr. 
Alfred E. Smith." 

It was inevitable that A!l should graduate from this 
school into the field of amateur theatricals. He was given 
important parts at benefit performances under church 
auspices. His success was not ascribable to his qualities as 
an actor alone, but to that genius for the reconciliation of the 
most antithetical and antagonistic elements upon which his 
career in politics has been built. Tact, patience, intuition, 
sympathy, capacity for management of men and for grasp 
of detail all these he revealed. Many a catastrophe was 
averted through his presence of mind when performers for- 
got their parts in the middle of a play. Nothing disconcerted 
him an African temperature, a crowded house, difficulty in 
drawing up an improvised curtain, the collapse of a bit of 
scenery Al Smith could always be depended upon to find a 
way of meeting the situation. He could be serious on the 
stage, but he preferred comedy because it strained the polite- 
ness of an audience so much less. Moreover, his unusually 
flexible and powerful voice lent itself with most felicity to 
the drolleries of burlesque, to the brilliance of his impro- 
visations and to the swiftness of his transformations, some 
of them executed before a hall full of people. 

The ease and lack of self -consciousness in the presence of 
an audience which characterize Alfred Smith were acquired 
at this period through his perfect subjection to the disci- 
pline of a competent dramatic coach. Yet, even without 
this training in amateur theatricals, Alfred Smith must have 
become an orator; he had the voice and the mood of one. 
That was clear already in these years of his immature young 
manhood. Nevertheless, it is true that he has never entirely 
lost a natural timidity when he has to address audiences. 



14 ALFRED E. SMITH 

The rehearsals were conducted amid gales of merriment. 
Smith, in an abundance of youthful spirits, would joke with 
the fellow-members of the troupe, who would retaliate with 
practical jokes to make him ridiculous in his most tragic 
parts. His wig, for example, would suddenly be lifted from 
the top of his head on] an invisible string. 

His audiences were often typical of the neighborhood, 
especially when a popular comedy made the attraction. The 
basement of the parish house, sometimes dimly lighted with 
the aid of old-fashioned lamps, its benches packed with eager 
boys, who overflowed on to the window-sills and all but 
hung from the beams and rafters, did not overwhelm the 
young actor. On the contrary, it gave him his first lessons 
in the establishment of intimacy with his audience and 
formed the essential characteristic of his public manner to 
this day. This intimacy of effect became the note of his 
personality, the very quality! of his finest oratory. He seemed 
never out of touch, never remote. The young people all 
about him in the parish house rocked with the laughter he 
aroused or grew serious with the mood he created and sus- 
tained. He got to know his community no less perfectly 
than Daniel Webster knew his Massachusetts. Moreover, 
he acquired expertness as a critic of the drama, retentive- 
ness of memory that never fails him and responsiveness to 
the emotions and sympathies of people in the mass. No man 
in public life equals him, perhaps, in sensing the disposition 
of a crowd and in the ability to win them over. 

Long after he had become sheriff of the City and County 
of New York this fondness for the theatricals of his youth 
lured him back to the scenes of his dramatic triumphs. He 
was one of the stars among the troupe known as the "St. 
James Players." The little company performed in many 
a parish house. His farewell performance was perhaps 
that celebrated production of The Shaugraun, in which state 



BOYHOOD 15 

senators, city aldermen, even a judge on the bench, played 
parts, with a competence justifying the boast on the program 
that this was a finished performance by an all-star cast and 
one of the stars, as the program which has been preserved 
shows, was Mr. Alfred E, Smith. 



CHAPTER II 
COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE 

Long before Smith attained manhood, while still an ado- 
lescent lad, he fell in love. 

Katherine Dunn was a dark-haired, bright-eyed, willowy 
girl, cheerful and gracious, but reserved in manner. She 
was bornj in the same part of New York as he, and he was 
a frequent visitor to the home of her family, who were also 
poor people but had succeeded in giving their daughter a 
much better educationi than he had received. She could sing, 
play the piano, make her own dresses and cook, helping her 
mother in the kitchen so competently that young Alfred had 
eaten many a cake o^ her baking before he suspected that it 
was not her mother's. 

Alfred soon told Katherine of his love, but it was a long 
time before he dared to, speak of it to her family. They did 
not altogether approve of his attentions, though his char- 
acter and abilities were above the average. The trouble 
was that his prospects did not seem brilliant and he had a 
mother and a sister to provide for. Probably in order to 
withdraw Katherine to a distance from him, the Dunns 
moved far away all the way to the Bronx. 

In those days the last decade of the nineteenth century- 
the distance between South Street and the Bronx was, in 
terms of transportation, tremendous. There was no subway ; 
there was no direc! route by trolley or horse car. Alfred 
had to walk to the nearest station of the "L," or, rather, 

(16) 



COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE 17 

to a Third Avenue station, as the Second Avenue line 
afforded no facilities. When he got to Harlem he took a 
street car the rest of the way, or he walked usually the 
latter. 

By this time he was making what was then considered 
good money as much as twenty-five dollars a week and 
he wore fine clothes on his, visits! to Katherine, a derby hat, 
a cutaway coat, the striped trousers of the period, a "stand- 
up" collar, a four-in-hand tie and black shoes. The now 
familiar russet; was not yet in vogue for a Sunday. 

Even in his best toggery, Alfred, it must be confessed, 
made no marked impression of prosperity. It seemed un- 
thinkable that he would ever be in a position to support Katti- 
erine Dunn iry the style to( which she had been accustomed. 
Her dresses were more numerous and finer than any he had 
ever seen, and she was the belle of many a ball. Besides 
which she sang as he himself was the first to concede 
divinely. To make matters more difficult, his reputation as 
an elocutionist actually stood in his way ; the Dunns declared 
that their child must never marry an actor. Fortunately, as 
he himself has proudly affirmed, he was able to prove that he 
was no actor, despite the applause his audiences had showered 
upon him in Hazel Kirke. As for his prospects, they were 
steadily improving; the pay envelope he gave his mother 
every week yielded a sufficient margin for his trips to the 
Bronx and an occasional bouquet of flowers, oil even a box 
of candy. There were no movies then. Social life was 
more formal Young girls did not take the initiative in any- 
thing. But there were dances at home in the evenings and 
there were full-dress occasions under the auspices of club 
or church or clan. 

Nor was life in any sense difficult for young Smith. The 
war with Spain was over by this time and prosperity had 
fully returned after the panic that had ushered in the Chi- 



18 ALFRED E. SMITH 

cago exposition some years before. Food was plentiful, 
of the best quality and cheap. There was no housing crisis. 
In fact, the region of the Bronx and Harlem was overstocked 
with flats, apartments and houses. It was a simple matter 
for a young couple to get two, or even three, months rent 
free from a landlord overeager for tenants while his prop- 
erty was standing vacant. Clothing was inexpensive, even 
if not of the best quality. 

In time, too, Al was becoming endeared to the people who 
moved in the Dunn circle, and by and by it became a well- 
understood fact that Katherine and he would marry. 

There were embarrassments cruel ones sometimes, 
humorous ones other times. Once there was to be a grand 
dance in a big Harlem hall, and he had planned to take 
Katherine. As was the custom in those days when none but 
millionaires owned dress-suits, Alfred hired his. He got it 
from a Jewish tailor in his neighborhood for two dollars, 
and carried it in a box all the way to Katherine's; home in the 
Bronx, where he was to make the necessary change of cloth- 
ing. When he put the suit on in the privacy of her brother's 
room, he found to his horror that while the coat and waistcoat 
fitted, the| trousers would never do. He was fairly tall and 
quitef slim ; the trousers had obviously been made for a short, 
stout man. It was impossible to make the long trip to the 
southernmost end of New Yorlq and be back at Kathenne's 
house in time ! Fortunately, Katherine's brother was of Al's 
build and had a pair of dark blue trousers which he loaned 
him* And Al, garbed in elegant dress coat and waistcoat 
above the every-day blue trousers, danced again and again 
with Katherine. To use Governor Smith's own phrase in 
relating this incident, "I got away with it." 

If the courtship had its humorous side it was sometimes 
attended with despair. There were moments when Al won- 
dered if he might not lose his prize, if someone more for- 



COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE 19 

tunate than; himself might not gain the powerful support of 
the young lady's family. 

Altogether it was not an easy time. As he rode home in 
the "L" train late at night, he would try to sleep all the way 
so as to be the fresher for his hard work in the morning. 
What if the big umbrella, a prized possession, were stolen 
while he slept? The mere thought kept him awake until 
once he hit upon the plan of tying it to a button of his coat. 
That would keep him from forgetting the umbrella, too. One 
rainy evening his scheme was put to the test. The "L" train 
was drawing near Chatham Square station, where he got off, 
and he was still sound asleep. A gay party of his friends 
had boarded the train some time before. One of them de- 
cided to play a joke on Al and take his gigantic umbrella. 
A pull on the umbrella, the string resisted, and Al woke up. 
The scheme was frustrated. 

Had it not been for the youth, the vigor of constitution 
and the incorrigible optimism with which he faced the world, 
Smith might not have emerged so happily from the ordeal 
of his courtship. Sometimes he would not get to bed until 
two o'clock in the morning from one of those long expedi- 
tions to the Bronx. And he had to be up and at work by 
seven ! It was the devotion of a fond mother that smoothed 
his path for him. She called him in the morning. She saw 
to his meals and his washing and his room. She gave him 
her perfect sympathy in his first and only love affair. 

The course of his true love, though it did not run smooth, 
reached its goal on May 6, 1900 the* wedding day of Kath- 
erine Dunn and Alfred E. Smith, 



CHAPTER III 
A FAMILY MAN 

Alfred and Katharine Smith have five children. 

The oldest, Alfred Emanuel Smith, Jr., is a slim young 
man, a promising law student. His geniality, his modesty, 
his simplicity, are traits strongly reminiscent of his father as 
a youth. 

Next to young Alfred conies Emily, a girl of vivacious 
disposition, much like her father, in appearance the living 
image of her mother when she first received her husband's 
attentions. Then conies Catherine, who received her grand- 
mother's name and is much like her in temperament. Next 
come Arthur and Walter, bright, healthy boys of a ticrmal 
American type. The first two children were born on the 
third floor of a tenement in Madison street. Here the Smith 
family lived in a small flat. The third child was born in an 
apartment on Peck Slip and the remaining two in the Oliver 
street house. The children were all born in an area less than 
a quarter of a mile square the same region in which their 
parents and their grandparents had been born. Indeed, the 
Smith family have been associated with this oldest portion of 
New York City for more than a century. 

Alfred Smith; has been a comrade to his children. They 
have grown up with him as he has grown with them. He has 
carried every one of them in his arms through the streets of 
New York; he has wheeled each of them in a baby coach; 
he has romped with all five of them in a public park. He 
swims and golfs and plays with them, to-day. 

(20) 



A FAMILY MAN 21 

It Is no easy matter, as many a parent knows, to establish 
and maintain a bond of friendship with one's children. This 
was made easy for Alfred Smith by his fortunate possession 
of an irrepressible sense of humor and an infectious gaiety, 
which attracts hisi children to him as it does most people who 
come in contact with him. 

As his finances improved, he was able to move with his 
young* wife and their two babies into a small house of brick 
and stone, where the children one after the other came to 
know their father's world. 

The family's living was simple. There were never in 
those days any[ servants. Mrs. Smith saw with a wary eye 
to the grocery bill and the butcher's bill. The fare was 
ample but plain except for the pies and the ice cream, to 
which Smith is partial, 

It is Smith's unfailing good spirits that give the tone to 
his household. If the Governor resembles his father, the 
truckman, in being patient in labor, resolute in danger, and 
firm in distress, he? manifests the qualities of his mother in 
being judicious, simple and wholesome. For the qualities of 
sheer joy and humor, controlled by unfailing consideration 
for the feelings of others, he is unrivalled; and those who 
derive the most benefit from this quality are his own boys 
and girls. They have been precipitated into gales of laughter 
by tales of his adventures as a boy along the river-front; 
they have revelled in his anecdotes of all sorts and conditions 
of men and in stories from his reading, which is surprisingly 
wide, considering his lack of early educational opportuni- 
ties, Moreover, he has such a marvellous memory that if 
he has ever heard a tale he never forgets it. 

Children love a person with the sort of manners he has, 
especially if he also has the perfect good health and the social 
gifts of Alfred Smith humor, sarcasm, poetry, gesture and 



22 ALFRED E. SMITH 

voice. He can hold spellbound not merely a family circle 
but a parlor filled with visitors. 

The Smith home has never attained the stage at which the 
parlor gives place to the drawing-room. On the walls in the 
New York City home hangs the traditional portrait of the 
head of the family surrounded by wife and children, the 
portrait of the mother, an old tintype of the truckman grand- 
father. To these, in recent years, have been added a player- 
piano, a phonograph, and the radio set of the youngest sons. 
The large front parlor is thus a typical New York house 
interior. The dining-room is in the front of the basement, 
the kitchen at the back. The living-room upstairs is where 
the family gathers at night. The Governor's going to 
Albany interrupted this existence but did not alter its essen- 
tial character; and it was the life that was resumed when he 
left Albany after his first term; it is the life that will be 
resumed when he| leaves public office. 

With this love of family life and its fun and laughter 
goes also a passion for animals which the Governor retains 
from his boyhood days and which his children indulge in 
every possible way. There was never a time in his life when 
he did not own a dog. His wife early observed his passion 
for pets and encouraged him in it. When his children were 
old enough, he bought a pair of goats and a carriage for the 
goats to draw. For the boys alone, when they grew older 
and he could afford it, he bought a pony. Everyone who 
knew him also knew his great Dane, Caesar, his inseparable 
companion in Albany as it had been in New York. One of 
the features of the executive mansion is the Governor's 
menagerie of dogs,, horses, monkeys three of these a rac- 
coon, a fox, and even an alligator. Nor does this exhaust 
the list. 

Perhaps no part of the domestic establishment of the 
Governor of New York at Albany interests him more than 
the stables, his customary visits to which he never misses. 



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Tho party accepting this receipt thei 

DT, A ARKCtES VALUE ADDRIC 






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FOR FIVE NIGHTS: * 

Monday Evening, November 15th, 189? 



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ONE OF THE GREATEST OP His THEATRICAL TRIUMPHS 
(Program Pasted In Wells-Vargo Receipt-Scrap Book) 



A FAMILY MAN 23 

On one occasion, dropping into the place with a friend 
from New York, the Governor patted the ponies, called them 
by name, and received from each the recognition that a horse 
always gives to one it knows as a friend. Then the Gover- 
nor's eye chanced to scan the floor. It had not been cleaned. 
He picked up a shovel and set to work. "I come by this job 
honestly," he explained. "My father was a truckman." 

The greatest of all days in the calendar of the Smith 
family is Sunday. It is reserved for church and the Gov- 
ernor's white-haired mother. Although she is approaching 
her seventy-third year, she retains hen alert mentality and a 
keen interest in all the things going on around her, just as in 
the old days on South street. Nothing short of an earthquake 
could interfere with the weekly visit that the Governor pays 
to his old mother. She often comes to the executive mansion 
at Albany the little old lady before whom the great execu- 
tive still kneels to receive her blessing on certain impressive 
occasions. 

Once Bourke Cockran had an appointment with the Gov- 
ernor and came somewhat ahead of time. Soon the Governor 
entered, but did not observe the waiting visitor; he had eyes 
only for his mother, who was seated in an armchair. Just 
as he had done when a boy, he went over and knelt beside 
that armchair. 

This boyishness with his family is the secret of his happi- 
ness in his home. Now and then, when completely relaxed, 
he recalls the days of his renown as an elocutionary artist in 
amateur theatricals. He may then recite some absurdity like 
"Hans Breitmann giff a pardy Where ees dot pardy now ?" 
His supreme drollery is a recitation of Old Grimes is Dead, 
which he once deliberately inflicted upon a person who would 
not believe that he could recite it from memory. He has 
even recited Poe's Bells to his children. His knowledge of 
the history of the stage is so complete that he can give in a 
few words the gist of the life story of any actress of renown 



24 ALFRED R SMITH 

as well as a sound judgment of the genius of any celebrated 
actor. 

He has used his wonderful memory to especially good pur- 
pose in acquiring a thorough knowledge of the Bible. There 
was a huge family Bible in the old home of his parents on 
South street, and the future Governor was familiar with its 
contents even before he was ever sent to Sunday School. By 
the time he was seven he had mastered the whole of Genesis 
and the other books of Moses. The interest in the Bible he 
has preserved to this day. The Book of Job is a favorite 
of his ; in the New Testament he is said to prefer the Gospel 
of Luke. His secular readjng has been quite extensive out- 
side of the vast masses of matter, like legislative reports and 
newly enacted statutes, which he devours and digests. He is 
still old-fashioned enough to prefer Shakespeare to all other 
dramatists. In the contemporary theatre, he has been over- 
heard to say, there seems insufficient scope for actor or 
actress. The art of acting is not as well understood as it 
was. He likes performances of plays dealing with life 
among people of the plainer sort with a decided human inter- 
est and a sufficient dash of sentiment. 

His views on such topics as literature and the theatre are 
seldom or never expressed except in the course of conversa- 
tion in the intimacy of private life. This is why so few 
people in recent years are aware of how comprehensive is 
the taste he has acquired for other arts than those of the 
theatre. When he is among old friends or with his wife and 
children, he' tells his wittiest stories and recalls his happiest 
memories, for socially he is a family man who has made 
the executive mansion at Albany the hospitable home of 
rather simple but warm-hearted folks, echoing the voices of 
children as well as their elders. In fact, it would be mis- 
leading to convey the idea that he is scintillating or brilliant 
or inspired, when the essential characteristics of his mind 
and personality are plainness and simplicity. 



CHAPTER IV 
POLITICS IN THE FOURTH WARD OF NEW YORK CITY 

Before he quite realized it, young- Smith was a rising figure 
in what is so vaguely called by the name of politics. 

The theoretical politics of the college graduate is as the 
poles asunder from the practical politics of Smith. Before he 
had been a married man three years he had emphasized to 
him what he only dimly realized when he was reciting and 
toiling" and courting the fact that the gregarious instincts 
of men are the same, whether they live in the open spaces or 
in the cramped quarters of a crowded city. Countrymen folk 
gather at the general store, where they swap stories and talk 
politics. In the congested neighborhood of a big city, men 
gather not in one but in many stores, sometimes on street 
corners, sometimes in saloons when they existed, and some- 
times in the clubs, where they too swap stories and talk 
politics. 

He was now a husband and father but this did not inter- 
fere with his perception of the truth that the political club 
is a man's social center. It is also a community institution. 
It helps to meet the needs of the people in the district natur- 
ally. There is no conscious philosophy of service or pose 
about its activities. It is just neighborliness which is trans- 
lated on Election Day into votes and majorities. 

These results, however, are brought about by no mere 
dilletante interest in the political game. The district leader 
is often its slave from morning till midnight. It is a three 

(25) 



26 ALFRED K SMITH 

hundred and sixty-five day in the year job. No exertion is 
too great to make, no favor too insignificnt to do for the 
people. The duties of a political leader are as varied as the 
complicated needs of a crowded city neighborhood. 

A political leader's success is due in some measure to the 
perfection of his organization with its election district cap- 
tains and sub-captains. It comes chiefly, however, from the 
human touch, the human relationship behind it. 

Smith divined these things with the sureness of his instinct 
for alii that is human. Politics might be a game but it was 
human. Such a human game was played by Tom Foley, the 
Democratic leader of the district in which young Smith was 
living. Foley takes to the political game just because he loves 
people. Though a man of most generous impulses, he is a 
martinet in his demands upon his lieutenants to be at the club 
and do their chores for the home folks. They were called 
* 'contracts" in the parlance of the district. That word accur- 
ately describes the spirit in which the work was done. When 
a "bit" was assigned, it carried with it all the obligations of 
a contract. Politics as Foley played it was an exacting game. 
No member of his organization, if he held public office, be 
it high or low, was ever allowed to keep out of touch with his 
constituents. A "swelled head" was soon contracted to its 
normal proportions, or the glory of holding public office was 
short-lived. 

Every night Foley could be seen at the club house. He 
exacted less from his lieutenants than from himself. The 
Congressman as well as the Alderman, and the Assembly- 
man, had his contracts to carry out. 

It was a political school which nurtured some virile vir- 
tues. Loyalty was one of them, and keeping a promise sacred 
was another. 

A boy with Smith's antecedents living on the lower East 
Side of New York, came naturally to Democratic politics. 



POLITICS IN THE FOURTH WARD 27 

He joined the Club and got the severe training of this school 
of politics. Then he learned the importance of team work in 
an organization. He learned loyalty, modesty, and service. 
He also learned to hate the yellow streak. 

His first public job was in the office! of the Commissioner 
of Jurors serving jury notices. Like his leader, on stated eve- 
nings he was at the club house meeting the people. With 
them he was popular from the first. 

In the twenty-three years of Foley's leadership the racial 
character of the neighborhood changed with the shifting tides 
of immigration. In the early days of his political activity, 
the population of the district was almost wholly Irish who, 
as life's struggles brought material success, moved out and 
gave way to the Russian Jews. Many of these moved away 
as they made their way under American opportunities, and 
gave place to the later immigrants, the Italians. These again 
were followed by a succeeding immigrant race group, the 
Greeks. In fact, this particular neighborhood has more 
nationalities than any spot in the cosmopolitan city, as it 
partly borders on the water front ; but throughout these racial 
changes in the neighborhood, Foley's leadership was never 
shaken. He remains the master of the situation, and his 
district can always be counted on to supply its huge Demo- 
cratic pluralities. Even during the Harding landslide, when 
New York City, normally Democratic, went Republican for 
the presidency,, Foley's district gave James M. Cox its huge 
normal Democratic plurality. 

Campaigning in such a neighborhood, with its motley of 
races, was no holiday experience. Men fought hard and 
fiercely at times. Feuds sometimes occurred among the lead- 
ers, which ended as feuds generally do, in brawls and even 
bloodshed. 

When his assemblyman got the "swelled head" and ab- 
sented himself too frequently from the Club and kept away 



28 ALFRED E. SMITH 

f rbm his constituents, Foley looked for a young man to take 
his place. Henry Campbell, a respected merchant of the 
neighborhood and an influential adviser of the leader, sug- 
gested Al Smith, whose personality, wit and mixing quali- 
ties indicated to this shrewd judge of men that he had the 
making of a successful assemblyman. When Smith was nomi- 
nated and elected for the Assembly in 1903, Foley's advice 
to his young Assemblyman was brief and to the point: 
"Never make a promise unless you keep it, and always speak 
the truth/' 

It epitomized Foley's code of political honor. It consti- 
tuted in his view, the moral asset of a practical politician and 
a statesman. It was his only capital and his credit. 

In the career which he later made, Smith kept the code. 
For it was never said of him that he broke a promise or 
knowingly made a misstatement 



CHAPTER V 
THE SPRINGS OF His PERSONALITY 

Smith was no youthful prodigy. His growth and develop- 
ment were slow. His personality was made by increasing 
responsibility. Perhaps no one in the neighborhood where 
he was so well known had the remotest suspicion of the un~ 
foldment of the career now in its first stages. He was crude, 
doubtless, even callow. Had he attended college, he would 
have been dubbed sophomoric. But he was earnest and 
sincere. There were inexhaustible reserves in his nature. 
He somehow quarried his powers out of the depths of his 
being. 

He was endowed with a retentive memory and a capacity 
for plodding work. But his achievements came through 
effort. His qualities have the solidity of slow birth. He 
has none of that quick flashing brilliancy of mind we associate 
with Roosevelt. He resembles him in his power to assimilate 
what he hears. Much of Smith's knowledge has come 
through his ears. He has the same capacity that Roosevelt 
displayed for forming sound conclusions after hearing argu- 
ments from varying points of view. 

Roosevelt had! a social intelligence. He needed the clash 
of men's minds to stimulate his own. Smith thrives under 
the same stimulus, except that he has more of a capacity to 
brood. 

Stability characterizes his mental and moral qualities. He 
is not mercurial, and though in his public career he has had 

(29) 



30 ALFRED E. SMITH 

occasion to show uncommon moral courage, he is never 
impulsive. An eloquent listener, he can, when necessary, be 
silent under great provocation. 

He is not a student of literature like Roosevelt. Legisla- 
tion and, public documents furnish him with all the intellec- 
tual and heart interest of the best literature. A young girl 
at a summer school once asked him if he had ever read a 
certain book. Smith sized her up a$ a poseuse. "My dear 
young lady," he said, "the only book I ever read through 
was The Life and Battles of John L. Sullivan.' " That was 
a poetical exaggeration. Itj contained a grain of truth. 

Smith has style. He has a literary sense for the right 
word. He has a gift of creative phrase-making whxh has 
made him a deadly campaigner. 

The search for the springs of a personality is fascinating 
just because in his case it is so baffling and so elusive. En- 
countering an individual of his uniqueness one is mystified 
by the sources of his power. 

Men of the Lincoln type, not standardized in a common 
educational mould, retain a flavor of individuality which is 
the result of their antecedents as well as their self-effort. 
They have the tang of the native air. They are racy of the 
soil. 

"If Al Smith had a college education," some have said, 
"what an intellectual giant he would be!" Perhaps. It is 
well that he has not been standardized by conventional educa- 
tion nevertheless. He has retained his mental freshness, that 
clear mind unencumbered by mere vocabulary and mere 
excess baggage. His mentality is a precise tool for handling 
the complex problems he has solved as they arose, with 
common sense and without waste of mental motion. Some 
of this efficiency can be attributed to mother wit and sound 
judgment born of the struggle against poverty and adverse 
circumstances, taught in the "University of Hard Knocks/' 



THE SPRINGS OF HIS PERSONALITY 31 

The quality of being human is not strained in Al Smith. 
It is an outstanding characteristic amounting to talent. It 
was developed by those "contracts" which meant helping the 
widow bereft of her bread-winner, getting jobs for the job- 
less, trying to give the weak brother caught in the meshes 
of the law another chance at self-respect. Out of the 
tragedies he saw about him, out of the crucible of the pain 
and joys in the life of poor folk in a big city must have grown 
his human traits. 

The gift of leadership comes not from intellect but from 
character. The magnetism with which Smith attracts men 
may be in part a natural endowment, but sustained success 
in holding them, and eliciting their implicit faith springs 
from traits which are essentially moral. Smith has the mag- 
netism of a born leader of men. He can make them rise 
with him in triumph and go down with him in defeat with 
colors flying. How such qualities of leadership unfolded as 
situations faced him is a story which can be told only in a 
brief account of his eventful public career. 



CHAPTER VI 
THE KEY TO His PUBLIC CAREER 

Alfred E. Smith has a genius for public life. 

Few men holding public office have been put so drastically 
to the acid test of character and capacity. 

Running for office in a democracy is no rose-colored ex- 
perience. In the knock-down and drag-out of a political 
campaign opponents subject a candidate's past to examination 
for any trace of weakness that may destroy the confidence 
of the electorate in a man's qualifications. 

Smith has been in, elective office since 1903 except for the 
years 1920-1922 when he was defeated for his second term 
as Governor by the Harding landslide altogether twenty- 
one years. 

In twelve of these years he served continuously as Assem- 
blyman. He began in 1903. He was acting as majority 
leader in 1911 during the administration of Governor Dix; he 
was Speaker of the Assembly in 1913. He served as minority 
leader in the three sessions of 1912, 1914 and 1915. 

Timidly, with hat in hand, Al Smith entered the Assembly 
in 1903. He was overawed by the dignity of the office. He 
was sobered above all by the sense of responsibility it entailed. 

Later, when already Governor; he said coming from an 
elevator on his way to the Executive Chamber, "Twelve 
years ago I stood on this floor a raw Assemblyman. My 
heart beat fast. I was about to see the office where the 
Governor worked." 

(32) 



THE KEY TO HIS PUBLIC CAREER 33 

There are two theories of Smith's submerged first three 
years in the Assembly. One is set forth in Smith's statement 
to his friends that it looked as though he would never make 
his mark, he was so discouraged with the maze of bills. 
Tom Foley, his leader, had quite another theory. "Al went 
up to Albany," he said, "on his first trip to the Assembly just 
as cocksure of himself as he has evei" been in his life. He 
didn't cut) much of a figure in the first two or three terms, 
but there was a reason for that, and if he won't tell, I will 

"He was too smart to be a morning glory. The secret of 
his success is that he never mingles in anything he doesn't 
know all about. He played a minor part in the Assembly 
until he was thoroughly familiar with the rules and procedure 
and with state legislation and finance in general. When he 
was sure of his ground he walked out, and it wasn't very 
long before he was the dominating figure in a legislative body 
hostile to him and to his political organization/' 

It was common knowledge that the number of legislators 
who read the annual appropriation bill in both houses a bill 
of some three hundred pages could be counted on the 
fingers of both hands. 'The boys useds to take it for shav- 
ing paper in the morning," explained one veteran of those 
day$. It was so convenient to tear off the soft pages for 
the purpose ! But Smith plodded through the bill from cover 
tpt cover. No item was unfamiliar to him. 

His profound knowledge of state finances, as well as of 
the administrative machinery of the state, dates back to the 
old days of plodding labor with the appropriations. 

His social gifts which charmed his neighborhood, the 
raconteur who made hundreds laugh, the mixer who cir- 
culated instinctively with people, that winning personality, 
soon captured the up-state legislator. And in a very short 
tyne no one in Albany had a wider acquaintance or knew 
more about conditions in the state than he. 



34 ALFRED E. SMITH 

"Exposing the polish and the shine on the gold brick" was 
one of his favorite sentences. 

Knowing the needs of the State as few legislators in its 
history, he would rise at times to show up the true intent of 
an innocent item appropriating a tidy sum for a local bridge 
or a highway, or a creek. 

"I pick up ideas," he has said, "from the back country 
fellows. They don't have a lot to think about when they are 
at home and they generally think pretty straight and to the 
point, I don't blame them for trying to use the power of 
the majority for the benefit of their communities in a legiti- 
mate way, but when they try to use their power for the 
benefit of an influential individual or institution, I am going 
to try to stop them and they know it." 

Governor Smith tells of a walk from Albany to Troy one 
winter on the frozen Hudson River. He wasi with a friend 
from home. To him he poured out the tale of his discour- 
agement, his bewilderment. He confessed also his over- 
whelming desire to make good. He saw that success lay 
through hard work and study. It interested him. It fas- 
cinated him. "I didn't know what it was all about, but I 
made up my mind to learn and, to study." 

So Al Smith plodded at his bills like few Assemblymen 
before or since him. He read and studied every bill. He 
worked hard on the committees to which he was assigned. 
No one in Albany toiled more devotedly. From a raw youth 
he transformed himself into an unquestioned authority on 
the State Government. 

He grew in ability and stature. Endowed with a natural 
intelligence, a ready wit, a sincerity and a good sense, aptly 
characterized in the sentence, "Al never fools himself/' he 
developed into a convincing speaker. 

The quality of his eloquence springs from the quality of 
his personality. His persuasion is never merely rhetorical. 



THE KEY TO HIS PUBLIC CAREER 35 

He uses no artificialties of phrase. His language is always 
simple. His speeches are packed with facts, illuminated by 
a turn of wit and humor, now b^ a touch of sarcasm, some- 
times by an exalted appeal which is Biblical in its phrasing, 
and literary only in the sense thatf his words are as inevitable 
as the sentiment they express or the exhortation they contain. 

"I wouldn't be honest with myself/' he confessed, "if I 
didn't say I like political life. In spite of the strain of the 
disappointments frotn your inability to do one hundredth 
part of the things you are asked to do, there is a fascination 
in the game of politics that gets in the blood. A man who 
won't confess that he feels a sense of elation when he is 
honored and applauded by his fellow-men and by his 
f ellow-wcmen since we gave them the vote is a liar and the 
truth is not in him." 

One of Smith's assets was his frankness with people. 
Social and civic reformers interested in particular bills of an 
uplift character or political zealots who conceived radical 
improvement of government in terms of their special bills 
whether they dealt with corrupt practices, direct primaries, 
the Massachusetts ballot, or any other changes in the ma- 
chinery of government found Smith frank. When he had 
the power to make or mar a bill, he would give its sponsors 
the reason for his approval or opposition or its merits and 
when his reasons were based on political expediency at the 
time, he frankly said, "I can't do this politics is against it." 

He never gave reasons based on merit where there were 
none. 

He always took responsibility and "hated a buck passer." 

Friend and foe, politician and reformer, knew that Smith's 
word meant action. He never forgot the moral asset of a 
politician the reputation for keeping a promise made. He 
seldom made them but when he did, they were kept. 



CHAPTER VII 
His STAND FOR THE WAGE EARNER 

Being in the minority party save for the two years' admin- 
istrations of Governors Dix, Sulzer and Glynn, in much of 
his legislative career he performed the function of critic. 
This is the primary duty of an opposition party. But Smith 
was never a destructive critic. 

The three years from 1912 to 1915 were years of battle 
and achievement. They were the years of his leadership. 
They brought out all; his powers as a debater. Unhampered 
by the responsibilities of a party m power, he was able to 
expose the weaknesses of legislative programs with uncanny 
effectiveness. No joker missed him. No attempt on the part 
of private interests to exploit the public through the medium 
of innocent general language devised by cunning and expert 
legal talent was missed by his sixth sense. He revelled in 
his opportunity. The Republican Governor and the majority 
leaders in both houses winced under the lash of his illuminat- 
ing criticism, his caustic wit or his satiric humor, all aimed 
at "gold bricks." This was one of his favorite expressions 
for "ripper" legislation or bills designed to give special privi- 
leges to private interests at the public expense. Though 
years of opposition, they were also rich in legislative results 
for the causes in which hd believed. 

He assumed the responsibility of majority leadership in 
1911, and that of Speaker of the Assembly in 1913. In 1911, 
the first Workmen's Compensation Law was passed in a 
Democratic administration. Until then, injured workers had 
to sue under the employers' liability law, which required the 

(36) 



HIS STAND FOR THE WAGE EARNER 37 

plaintiff to prove that the injury was not caused by his own 
fault or the contributing negligence of a fellow worker. The 
growing army of crippled men and women who became 
public charges because they were too poor to employ counsel 
who could cope with the talent representing the casualty 
company cried out in protest. Labor unions and social 
workers proved by heartrending concrete cases and by im- 
partial studies the social injustice of the theory of the existing 
law and the practice of insurance carriers. No legislation 
proposed during the session met with greater resistance on 
the part of the powerful special interests with their high- 
priced counsel, their lobbyists and their financial and other 
pressures. Smith proved a tower of strength in the cause of 
the industrial workers. No detail of the bill missed his 
practised eye. He foiled attempts to emasculate its provisions 
with apparently innocent legal language. The measure 
passed. It established for all time in. New York State that 
the wear and tear of the human factor in industry is as much 
the concern of that industry as is its machinery. Smith's 
voice and hiaj leadership have been powerful ever since, not 
only in preventing any weakening of the provisions of this 
statute, but in improving the law in the direction of greater 
compensation for injuries and speedier adjustments for the 
victims. 

He fought the attempt of the insurance carriers to effect 
direct settlements with the workers without the intervention 
of the Workmen's Compensation Commission. He continued 
this fight until as Governor in his firstf term he succeeded in 
wiping out the evil. Every message of his contained recom- 
mendations urging improvements in the law. 

The City of New York was shocked by a fire in the Tri- 
angle Waist Factory on March 25, 1911. Nearly one hun- 
dred and fifty working girls jumped out of lofty windows 
to certain destruction in the streets below. The people of 
the city were aroused. The conditions in factories which 



38 ALFRED E. SMITH 

made such a tragedy possible were forced upon the attention 
of the whole country. A mass meeting under the auspices 
of many civic organizations at the Metropolitan Opera House 
voiced the popular demand that immediate steps be taken to 
prevent such tragedies. Smith was then majority leader of 
the Assembly, With his aid the New York State Factory 
Investigating Commission was appointed. This body in- 
quired into the conditions under which manufacturing was 
carried on in the State. It was directed to report to the Legis- 
lature with recommendations. 

Associated with Smith on the Commission, of which he 
was vice-chairman, was Senator Robert F. Wagner, its 
Chairman, Samuel Gompers, President of the American Fed- 
eration of Labor, Mary E Dreier, President of the Women's 
Trade Union League, Simon Brentano, and Robert Dowling, 
Abram I. Elkus acting as counsel, and Bernard L. Shientag 
as his legal assistant, 

His experience on this Commission marked an important 
turning point in Smith's career. For the first time he had 
the opportunity to familiarize himself with indttstrial condi- 
tions throughout the State. They menaced the lives, the 
health and the safety of all workers. 

With characteristic energy and thoroughness he entered 
upon his investigating duties. He travelled from one end of 
the State to the other. The Commission visited many im- 
portant industrial establishments throughout the State, It 
acquired personal knowledge of conditions affecting the work- 
ers. Testimony was taken. Expert investigations were 
made. These labors resulted in a series of labor laws which 
had to be pushed through the Legislature against th<* most 
powerful industrial lobby that rich manufacturing interests 
could afford. Smith had the satisfaction of seeing these 
laws passed in the period of his leadership of the Assembly* 
The enactment of what is still regarded as the most enlight- 
ened labor code ever placed on the statute books of any State 



HIS STAND FOR THE WAGE EARNER 39 

was due in large measure to his personality, his eloquence 
and his leadership. 

The labor laws passed during the Smith leadership of the 
Assembly from 1911 to 1915 comprised accident prevention 
and an increase in the number of factory inspectors. The 
penalties for violations of the Labor Law were safeguarded. 
Legislation was enacted for the licensing of immigrant lodg- 
ing houses and the protection of workers in tunnels and cais- 
sons. Fire prevention requirements werd devised, fire drills 
and automatic fire sprinklers were made compulsory. The 
Commissioner of Labor was given summary power to close 
up unclean factories. Registration of factories was required. 
Children applying for working certificates were obliged to 
submit to a physical examination and the fifty-four hour law 
for women and male minors was passed. Night work of 
women in factories was prohibited. 

The Labor Department was reorganized, -temporary classes 
in labor camps were provided, smoking in factories prohib- 
ited, ventilation provided for, and seats for women! workers 
required. The dangerous trades were regulated and protec- 
tion of elevators ordered. 

Manufacturing in tenements was restricted, and many 
sanitary provisions were made for cleanliness of factories 
and other comforts such as wash rooms, dressing rooms and 
the proper toilet facilities. The eight-hour law was extended, 
and the employment of children in canning establishments 
and tenement house manufacture was prohibited. Street 
trades were regulated, public employment offices established 
and the enclosure of stairways in factories serving as exits 
in buildings of five stories or more was required, while the 
compulsory contributions to benefit or insurance funds in 
mercantile establishments was prohibited. The "one day 
rest in seven" law and the workmen's compensation law 
complete an extraordinary record of achievement in so short 
a time. 



CHAPTER VIII 

SMITH IN THE CONSTITUTIONAE* CONVENTION 

The year 1915 gave Smith a broader forum. It enabled 
him to dedicate the knowledge of the State government 
acquired by experience as a legislator to the work of chang- 
ing the fundamental law of the State to meet the changing 
industrial and social needs of its people. He was a delegate 
to the Constitutional Convention called in pursuance of a 
provision for reconsideration of the constitution and its 
change upon the approval of the voters, every twenty years. 

The presiding officer was Elihu Root. This veteran Re- 
publican statesman brought to the post a rich experience. He 
had seen years of public service as United States Senator, 
Secretary of State, and Secretary of War. Both political 
parties sent their ablest men to the Convention, General 
George W. Wickersham, Attorney General of the United 
States under President Taft, was the majority floor leader. 
The Republican Party was also represented by men like 
Henry L. Stirnson, ex-Secretary of War, Congressman 
Herbert Parsons, United States Senator Wadsworth, George 
Clinton, Edgar T. Brackett, Martin Saxe, Harvey T. Hin~ 
man and Judge Clearwater. The Democratic membership 
included men like ex-Judge Morgan J* O'Brien, Senator 
James J. Foley, Senator Robert F. Wagner, and DeLancey 
NicolL 

Smith participated in nearly every important debate. He 
displayed a knowledge of State administration and legisla- 

(40) 



THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION 41 

tive procedure, and of history as well that astonished this 
assemblage of veteran statesmen, judges, administrators and 
legislators. No phase of the State government was new or 
unfamiliar to him. 

His objections rarely resulted jn, merely destructive criti- 
cism. He had always a constructive amendment. In the 
formal language of a parliamentary assemblage he began 
with "strike out on page , line , and substitute the fol- 
lowing." The words rang out over the hall like a trumpet. 

The convention offered him a rare opportunity for display- 
ing his natural gifts as a debater. He submitted his criticisms 
and made his motions with aggressiveness. He was unfail- 
ingly courteous. Seldom if ever did he refuse to stop, when 
a delegate put the usilal interruptive parliamentary question, 
"Will the gentleman yield?" His replies revealed a spon- 
taneous wit. They always contained an answer that at- 
tempted to meet the questioners honestly. 

As a debater he reflected in voice, in gesture, and in 
thought, the masculinity of what the Fourth Ward loves a 
"he-man." Manly vigor characterized his arguments. Smith 
was never stilted. His languagq sometimes lacked the polish 
with which technical lawyers put their arguments. It never 
lacked cogent persuasiveness and the eloquence which ema- 
nates from a strong personality. It had that elusive magne- 
tism which springs from human qualities deep under the 
surface. Its very roughness contributed to the spontaneity 
of its effect. He had too much to say to be bothered about 
the way of putting it. At times he would expose the under- 
lying motive for what he thought wrong in a picturesque 
phrase which showed up the purpose and raised the laugh of 
recognition. 

He was always well informed although he dealt with many 
themes. Among the subjects he discussed were apportion- 
ment, home rule, executive budget, taxation, water power and 



42 ALFRED . SMITH 

conservation, a living wage for women and children, labor 
laws, the use,of the emergency message in legislative proced- 
ure, public service corporations, state . departments, and the 
literacy test. 

He usually began his argument by tracing the history of 
the legislation which had brought about the existing status 
of the matter under discussion. His memory never failed 
when put to the test of a question of fact. 

Throughout the debates he adhered to his Democratic 
philosophy. He was a firm believer in the rule of the major- 
ity. He applied his theory consistently to the many proposals 
considered by the convention. 

Aside from the political apportionment plank adopted by 
the majority, which was the chief reason for the rejection 
of the amended constitution by the electorate, the constitu- 
tion was a creditable piece of statecraft. It contained funda- 
mental change^ in the structure of the State government, in- 
cluding the reorganization and simplification of the State 
government, and an executive budget plan for which Smith 
was destined as Governor to battle against the very Republi- 
can party whose leaders in the Convention favored it. 

Elihu Root in his final address paid an eloquent tribute to 
the quality of the debates in the convention. It was Elihu 
Root who In an informal gathering said, "Of all the men 
in the Convention, Alfred E. Smith is the best-informed man 
on the business of the State ofi New York." The majority 
floor leader, General George W. Wickersham, characterized 
him as "the most useful man in the Convention." 



CHAPTER IX 
IN THE LOCAL POLITICS OF NEW YORK CITY 

Nineteen hundred and fifteen saw the close of his career 
as legislator. For twelve years he served his State and his 
party continuously in the important but unlucrative office 
of Assemblyman. 

Always poor, he came out of the Assembly with his purse 
as empty as when he entered it. His party, realizing his 
sacrifice, could not in justice to his large and growing family 
allow him to continue it, and he was nominated for the well- 
paid office of Sheriff of the County of New York. 

Smith's candidacy was hailed by Republicans and inde- 
pendents alike with enthusiasm and approval. Even the 
New York Tribune, the Republican metropolitan daily, paid 
him an honest and forceful tribute in its editorial of Sep- 
tember 3rd, 1915, headed "Alfred E. Smith." 

"The City of New* York could well afford to pay Alfred 
E. Smith all the prospective emoluments of the Sheriff's 
office as a consideration for his continuing to represent a 
local Assembly district at Albany. In the past ten years, 
there has been no Republican, Progressive or Democrat in 
the State Legislature who has rendered as effective, useful, 
downright valuable service to this town as ex- Speaker 
Smith ... 

"The peculiar value of Mr. Smith's service at Albany has 
lain in the fact that he was always loyal to his own city, his 
own county and his own district. He has fought for some 

(43) 



44 ALFRED E. SMITH 

scores of things that were good, and he has fought with 
equal vigor against things that were- injurious to this 
town. 

"... A true leader, a genuine compeller of men, a 
man of wit and force with an instinctive grasp on legislative 
practice, he has made a real reputation for himself at the 
capitol, and has deserved well of the large constituency which 
is his own town." 

The Citizen's Union, ever an anti-Tammany organization, 
endorsed Smith's candidacy in the following language : 

"Alfred E. Smith is endorsed for Sheriff of New York 
County* As to his qualifications! for this office there can be 
no question. The service to the State rendered by Mr. Smith 
in the Constitutional Convention this year entitles him to 
special consideration. . . . 

"Although a party leader, Mr. Smith has in recent years 
been instrumental in obtaining much desirable and important 
legislation. We are endorsing Mr. Smith in the expectation 
that he will improve the conditions in the Sheriff's office/' 
And the New York Sun, a Republican organ which has fre- 
quently applauded Smith in public office, in an editorial under 
date of October 23, 1915, commenting on the endorsement 
of Smith's candidacy for Sheriff by the Citizens' Union, 
published the following editorial: 

"The Citizens' Union does credit to itself as well as to 
the Democratic candidate for Sheriff of New York County, 
Alfred E. Smith, in endorsing him as the man for the 
voters to support at the polls on November 2. This is a 
merited acknowledgement of the service Mr. Smith has 
rendered in laboring ably and energetically in the interest of 
New York City in the Legislature, where he rose to the 
position of Speaker of the Assembly simply because he dem- 
onstrated a force of character in dealing with men and affairs 
that could not be downed. 



LOCAL POLITICS 45 

"During the recent orgy of extravagance indulged in by 
the Republican Legislature, Mr. Smith and Senator Robert 
F. Wagner, as the minority leaders of the two Houses, 
fought to the last ditch to prevent the saddling of $14,000,000 
of the scandalous direct State tax on the taxpayers of this 
City. Although the present municipal administration was 
elected in opposition to their party they did not hesitate to 
act as the spokesmen for Mayor Mitchel and President 
McAneny on the floor of the Legislature in an effort to 
prevent the partisan raid on the city treasury. 

"Mr. Smith's promotion to the most coveted position to be 
filled at this fall's. election is deserved. It is only to be re- 
gretted that his services to the city in the Legislature when 
the Republicans resume their raiding providing the Demo- 
crats fail to carry the Assembly will be sadly missed." 

In the municipal campaign, which began at the close of 
his term for Sheriff in 1917, Smith was nominated for 
President of the Board of Aldermen and he bore the brunt 
of oratorical battle for his party in that campaign. He 
revelled in satirizing the hornrimmed-spectacled youths who 
called themselves efficiency experts, so dear to the hearts of 
the reformers. 

Smith, as campaigner, has the intuitive gift of reading the 
mind of the mass and making it recognize itself by that 
approval which comes from a hearty laugh confirming its 
convictions and its prejudices. He picked out one of the 
most vital flaws of reform administration, a belief in effi- 
ciency alone as a sure appeal to popular favor. Smith leads 
the common people by his sympathetic and understanding 
interpretation of their viewpoint and is thereby able to effect 
reforms without making the mistakes of reformers. 

Robert Adamson, formerly secretary to Mayor Gaynor, 
and a well-known newspaper man, was Smith's opponent 
on the fusion ticket. They were good personal friends. 



46 ALFRED E. SMITH 

Adatnson challenged Smith to a joint debate. It was held 
before a Brooklyn Club. 

In the course of his speech Adamson asked : 

"What are your qualifications for the office of President 
of the! Board of Aldermen?" 

"My qualifications," answered Smith, "are: twelve years 
a member of the New York Legislature and four years 
Democratic floor leader there. I was for one year Speaker 
of the Assembly. I was six years on its cities' committee, 
which revised the New York City charter. As chairman of 
the ways and means committee I personally prepared the 
State budget. It cut down expenses by fifteen million 
dollars as compared with the last year of Governor Hughes's 
administration. 

"I was vice-chairman of the committee which obtained 
the enactment of our existing excellent factory fire preven- 
tion laws. I was a member of all the important committees 
of the last Constitutional Convention. If there is any man 
in the city with the same legislative experience, let him speak. 
I will be glad to surrender my nomination to him, and go 
back to Fulton Market." 

Then he .sat down. Adamson arose and took a drink of 
ice water ! 

The Board of Aldermen of 1917, whose President he now 
became, saw the emergence of a new group, small, but sin- 
cere and intelligent. Five Socialist aldermen were elected 
for the first time in the history of the City. 

As presiding officer of the Board, Smith gave to this new 
minority the consideration due it. Socialists were assigned 
to the most important committees and when a radical minor- 
ity held office he never forgot that he also had led minorities 
in legislative chambers. His attitude was forcefully ex- 
pressed in his opening speech as President o the Board of 
Aldermen in January, 1918: 



LOCAL POLITICS 47 

"To the majority party, I desire to say that the people of 
this city in no uncertain terms placed upon us a grave re- 
sponsibility. The glory that comes from what we do of 
benefit can be claimed by everybody. That which is neglected 
constitutes our sins of omission. 

"I have a keen understanding of the relationship to the 
body of the minority and the minor minority (meaning the 
Socialist members). The people rule negatively as well as 
affirmatively, and a good, healthy, vigorous minority is the 
necessary check on great power., 

"The rules of the board are intended for the protection of 
the rights of the minorities as well as to expedite the business 
of the majority. In that spirit, I will interpret them with a 
desire to do equal and evenhanded justice to all." 



CHAPTER X 
SMITH FOR GOVERNOR 

His service on the Board of Aldermen was brief. It began 
in January, 1918, and by June of that year a well-defined 
movement was afoot to nominate him for the Governorship. 

In the twelve years of his legislative career, Smith was 
the outstanding champion of justice to New York City. 
His loyalty to the interests of the city of his birth was pro- 
claimed by New Yorkers, whether Republicans or Democrats. 
These achievements were recognized by opposition party 
newspapers. They were proclaimed by civic bodies strongly 
opposed to the local Democratic organization. New York's 
love was always ungrudgingly given him. What many New 
Yorkers did not appreciate was the impression he had made 
upon upstate communities and their substantial leaders 
above the Harlem River. 

His gift for friendship had brought him friends in the 
Legislature. They included such stalwart political foes as 
Ed. Merritt, long his opponent as majority Republican leader 
in the Assembly, and the late Senator Edgar T. Brackett, 
who gave many years of distinguished service to his party 
in the upper house at Albany. 

The Smith personality and the accumulated results of his 
service had won him a large acquaintance throughout the 
State. It was thus not unnatural for upstate Democratic 
leaders to look upon him as sound gubernatorial timber. 
They shrewdly calculated his vote-getting powers in New 

(48) 



SMITH FOR GOVERNOR 49 

York City. Of his fatness for office both by natural endow- 
ment and acquired training they had not a shred of doubt. 
A strong movement in favor of Smith for Governor ema- 
nated from the upstate Democratic leaders. The local New 
York City organization idolized Smith. With the initiative 
of upstate spontaneous support it was not difficult for him 
to secure the nomination in the Saratoga Convention of 1918. 

The pride and pleasure which that nomination brought to 
him and his family was revealed through his son Arthur, 
then -a little boy of ten. It happened that Mrs. Smith could 
not attend the Convention. There was some question as to 
which of the children would be allowed to accompany their 
father. Arthur assured his mother that if he was allowed 
to go, he would "bring home the bacon." 

The lad listened to every word and counted every vote in 
the Convention. It wa:si he who dashed to the telephone to 
say to his mother, firmly convinced it was so, "See, I told 
you I'd bring luck and I did. We've got it/* 

No sensational issues characterized that campaign. Smith 
criticized the Republican administration for its extravagance. 
He stood for an aggressive support of President Wilson in 
winning the war. At the very close of the campaign, he had 
the opportunity to meet a group atl the Women's University 
Club of New York. Adapting himself quickly to his audi- 
ence, which consisted entirely of women, he told them the 
history of the suffrage movement in the State and discussed 
with them the underlying theory of representative govern- 
ment. He concluded his speech by saying, "I have spent 
twelve years; in the Assembly in the State of New York and 
I know the State Government. I want to say to you here 
and now that if I am elected I will do what my conscience 
tells me is best for thej State of New York. If I do wrong, 
you may be sure that it will not be from ignorance and you 
can hold me responsible/' The straightforward manliness of 



SO ALFRED E. SMITH 

that speech brought him thousands of wavering votes from 
independent Democrats. 

The influenza epidemic broke out during that campaign 
month 'of October. It proved so violent in upstate communi- 
ties and in the larger cities that active campaigning had to 
be abandoned. This calamity affected the very strongholds 
in which the Democrats most needed recruits. Despite this 
handicap, Smith was elected by the very small majority of 
15,000 votes. The dream of the young Assemblyman from 
the Fourth Ward of New York City came true. Al Smith 
was now the Governor-elect, 



CHAPTER XI 

THE GOVERNOR'S FIRST YEAR. 

The gratitude which welled up in his heart for this honor 
conferred upon him by the electorate of New York took 
the form of a solemn vow to give the people the best that 
was in him. 

When, on the first of January, 1919, he placed his arm 
upon the Bible. t6 take the oath of office, with his mother by 
his side, his wife and his five children around him, he looked 
out upon the Assembly Chamber packed with his loyal and 
loving friends. The spectacle inspired his silent prayer to 
Divine Providence to make him worthy of his responsibili- 
ties. 

"No one owes* more to the State than I do," he said 

No Governor tried to give more of his deepest soul to the 
duties of" that office. His inaugural address was an expres- 
sion of his gratitude. Simple in its language and deeply 
human in the emotions, it was only a dedication of himself 
to public duty. 

Delightfully informal as Al Smith can be, he was every 
inch His Excellency. His attitude reflected that solemn 
dedication born of his gratitude to the people and his own 
conception of the dignity of the office he now held. 

When Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and their five children, with 
Caesar, their great Dane, came to occupy the Mansion, they 
lived as simple neighbors. For the first time within the 
memory of Albanians the children of the neighborhood could 

(51) 



52 ALFRED E. SMITH 

be seen playing on the grounds. The children were as demo- 
cratic as their father. They lived just as they did in their 
old neighborhood. They made many friends among the 
neighborhood children. 

About a month after the family settled in the Mansion, 
while they were 'having their "supper" the bell rang and 
the Governor received the visitor in the hall. The woman 
was plainly embarrassed. "Are you Governor Smith?" she 
asked. "I have that honor," replied the Governor. 

"I'm afraid you will think me foolish" said the visitor, 
"but I am Mrs. So-and-So and a neighbor. I want to know 
if my little daughter? is here." 

"Yes," answered the Governor, "she's inside at supper 
with the family. Come in and see her." 

She found her daughter in the seat of honor at the dining 
table to the right of the Governor's chair. 

"I couldn't believe it," she stammered, "although she is a 
truthful child. When she told me one of your daughters had 
invited her over to din I mean supper I have seen several 
families come and go well I justi had to come over to see 
for myself." 

One Saturday evening the Secretary of the Reconstruction 
Commission had a conference with the Governor in his study 
on the second floor of the Mansion. Three times during 
the conference the Governor excused himself for about five 
minutes. Each time he left the room the resonant voice of 
the Governor! was heard and boyish shouts of laughter, ac- 
companied by the splashing of water. Finally, after his third 
departure from the conference, he explained these mysterious 
interruptions. 

"Ever since my boys were old enough to frequent a 
bath tub I have had fun turning the hose on them. My 
mother came up today with my sister's little boy and he and 
my two boys have been taking turns in having the hose 
turned on them." 



THE GOVERNOR'S FIRST YEAR 53 

Smith is not a self-made snob or a democratic snob. He 
has no prejudices because of social station. First families 
do not interest him just because they are F. F/s. 

Albany prides itself on the exclusiveness of its aristocracy. 
When Smith became Governor he was invited to dinner with 
one of the? most exclusive families in Albany. He refused. 
It created quite a stir and reached him. In explanation he 
said : "I have been in Albany for fifteen years. I have met 
all the members of that family socially a number of times. 
This is the first time they have invited me to their home. 
Governor Smith may be different from Assemblyman Smith 
to them but not to me/' 

Smith met "high society" at the charity ball. It is the 
leading social event in Albany and at it the Governor of the 
State is the guest of honor. Society was curious to see how 
this man of the plain people would handle himself. 

The curious found him in his formal event attire, looking 
every inch the Governor, whose dignity and repose were 
striking. As the Four Hundred of Albany visited the Gover- 
nor's box, he had something appropriate to say to each. He 
really charmed them with his poise as much as he surprised 
them all. Many, meeting him for the first time with pre- 
conceived notions of a crude personality, received a first hand 
impression of a governor to the manor born. 

Smith entered upon his gubernatorial duties soon after 
the armistice was signed ending the World War. He struck 
the keynote of his administration in his first message. 

"Our hearts go out to the afflicted families whoi have but 
the memory of their loved ones, and the sad sight of the 
returning sick and wounded puts the pang of sorrow in our 
hearts. Let us, nevertheless, greet the dawn of peace as 
meaning the end of the black night of conflict; that has con- 
vulsed practically every civilized nation in the world. The 
new era that is coming in the United States puts the duty 



54 ALFRED E. SMITH 

upon our State of blazing the way in the conception of re- 
adjustment. The old order of things that means standing by 
and meeting the situation when it presents itself must at 
once give place to a policy of initiation, broadness! of vision 
and foresight that will not only hold the position we have 
inherited in the country's affairs, but will provide for the 
successful solution of every condition that can arise. 

"... In the wake of war, there is much that needs 
re-adjustment, and ours is an opportunity for the upbuilding 
of the service of the State to the people on permanently 
progressive lines," 

When Smith was elected governor he received letters of 
congratulation from old neighbors who settled in every part 
of the U. S., and even from the Philippine Islands. Com- 
menting upon these letters, he said : 

"Consult the history of the city, you will find that the 
lower, end of Manhattan was the beginning of the State of 
New York. At one time practically the whole population of 
the State lived there. 

"It was from the lower part of Manhattan that the ad~ 
venturious pioneers moved up through the Hudson Valley 
and out through the Mohawk Valley beyond. That move- 
ment has continued ever since. It was particularly strong in 
my young boyhood and young manhood. Horace Greeley's 
advice, 'Young man, go West/ still carried force. From the 
letters I received It appears that the migrants from the old 
Fourth Ward have contributed something to every commun- 
ity they have settled in." 

In the interval between election and inauguration, he gave 
thought to plans for solving the State's reconstruction prob- 
lems. He divided them into two classes, the temporary arid 
the permanent. 

The temporary problems requiring immediate solution 
were the! need of relief for injured soldiers, impoverished 



THE GOVERNOR'S FIRST YEAR 55 

families and orphan children, and for the unemployed. 

Among the permanent problems of reconstruction he 
enumerated taxation to bear equally upon all classes, the high 
cost of the necessities of life, housing, more stringent laws 
for protecting the health, comfort and efficiency of the people, 
and problems of finance, banking, labor, the position of 
women in industry, education, and Americanization. 

On January 20, in a special message to the Legislature 
the Governor announced the appointment of a Reconstruc- 
tion Commission, and requested an appropriation of $75,000 
for its work. 

The non-partisan spirit in which he conceived this work 
was manifested) in the quality and standing of the men and 
women he appointed without regard to party. He sought the 
best citizens he could recruit from the community. The 
chairman was Abram I. Elkus, former Ambassador to 
Turkey, and a distinguished member of the New York Bar, 
who rendered signal service as counsel of the State Factory 
Investigating Commission, and who conceived a profound 
admiration for tli6 Governor's ability and sincerity. 

The roll of members should be scanned critically as evi- 
dence of that unerring insight into human character and 
capacity which experience had developed in him. 

Abram L Elkus, of New York City, who served as counsel to the 
New York State Factory Investigating Commission; Ambassador 
to Turkey, and a member of the State Board of Regents, lawyer. 

Charles H, Sabin, president of the Guaranty Trust Company of 
New York City. 

Bernard M. Baruch, of New York City, chairman of the Federal 
War Industries Board. 

Gerrit Y. Lansing, of Albany, well known banker and Federal 
Fuel Administrator for Albany county. 

John Alan Hamilton, president of the Legal Aid Bureau of 
Buffalo. 

Dr. Felix Adler, leader of the New York Society for Ethical Cul- 



56 ALFRED E. SMITH 

ture and well known generally throughout the country for his 
patriotic and civic activities. 

Charles P. Steinmetz, of the General Electric Company of 
Schenectady, inventor and electrical expert. 

John G. Agar, active in war work, and a prominent lawyer of New 
York City. 

William M. K. Olcott, former District Attorney of New York 
county. 

Arthur Williams, of the New York Edison Company of New York 
City, and Federal Food Comptroller of New York. 

Michael Friedsam, president of B. Altaian & Company, of New 
York City. 

John C McCall, secretary of the New York Life Insurance Com- 
pany, of New York City. 

Thomas J. Quinn, president of the Bronx National Bank, New 
York City. 

Alfred J. Johnson, City Chamberlain of New York City. 

Carleton A. Chase, prominent business man of Syracuse, N. Y. 

George Foster Peabody, of Saratoga, director of the Federal 
Reserve Bank, 

Dr, Henry Dwight Chapm, well-known physician of New York 
City, and especially interested in child welfare work. 

Mortimer L. Schifr*, son of Jacob H. Schiff, banker and philan- 
thropist, of Nejw York City. 

Mrs. Sarah A. Conboy, and Peter A. Brady, of New York City, 
representing the State Federation of Labor. 

Addison B. Colvin, of Glens Falls, president of the Glens Falls 
Trust Company, and Federal Coal Administrator for Central New 
York. 

Mrs. Walter W, Steele, of Buffalo, prominent war worker of 
Western New York. 

Mrs, Harry Hastings, of New York City, member of the Execu- 
tive Committee of the Democratic County Committee of New York. 

Edward F. Boyle, Judge of the Municipal Court of New York City. 

Henry Evans, of New York City, president of the Continental Fire 
Insurance Company. 

M. Samuel Stern, member for many years of Board of Education 
of New York City. 

Mrs. Lewis Stuyvesant Chanler, of Barrytown, Dutchess county, 
wife of former Lieuenant-Governor Chanler. 

Thomas V, Patterson, of New York, president of the Lehigh & 



THE GOVERNOR'S FIRST YEAR 57 

Scranton Coal Company, and member of the New York Produce 
Exchange and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. 

Mrs. William H. Good, of New York City, former president of 
the Civitas Club and active in charitable and civic organizations and 
a member of the National League for Women's Service. 

Norman E. Mack, of Buffalo, publisher of the Buffalo Times and 
the Democratic National Committeeman from this State. 

J. N. Beckley, prominent citizen of Rochester. 

Otto B. Schulhof, prominent manufacturer of New York City. 

V. Everit Macy, of Westchester, chairman of the Ship Building 
Labor Adjustment Board and chairman Executive Committee of the 
National Civic Federation. 

Richard S. Newcomb, prominent member of the bar, Flushing, L. I. 

S. J. Lowell, of Fredonia, president of the New York State 
Grange. 

Alfred E. Marling, of New York City, president of the Chamber 
of Commerce of New York State. 

In announcing the Commission, Smith called upon every 
available official and unofficial resource of the State to aid it. 

From the very outset of his administration, the Governor 
was hindered by the partisan opposition of a Republican 
Legislature. The funds he requested for the Commission, 
which could easily have been transferred from unexpended 
balances of the State war services, now at an end, were 
denied him. The Commission secured financial support for 
its work from voluntary subscription, A permanent organ- 
ization of standing committees dealing, with the subject mat- 
ter suggested by the Governor and other important problems 
was quickly effected. Co-operating with them was a staff 
of experts. On March 20, two months after its appoint- 
ment, thel Commission presented its first report to the Gov- 
ernor. It dealt with the necessity for preserving the State's 
employment agencies. The Federal employment system was 
threatened with demoralization through lack of appropria- 
tions from Congress. During the war the State agencies 
were merged with the Federal system. The breakdown 



58 ALFRED E, SMITH 

meant paralysis of the State in placing returned soldiers and 
civilians during the period of serious unemployment which 
followed the war. An appropriation of $50,000 was granted 
by the Legislature. Thus the State was able to continue its 
work of placement when it was most needed. 

The first temporary problem was solved. 

The second report of the Commission dealt with the com- 
pulsory military training of boys under eighteen years of age. 
It afforded a sound analysis of the function of military 
training of boys under eighteen in times of peace. 

The Commission recommended the abolition of the Mili- 
tary Training Commission, which was the existing agency 
for such training. Its functions were to be transferred to 
the Department of Education. The Republican Legislature 
did not follow this recommendation until the next adminis- 
tration came to power. 

One of the Governor's first acts was to appoint Mr. Jere- 
miah F. Connor, Commissioner under the Executive Act, 
to investigate the management and affairs of the State In- 
dustrial Commission. 

He was greatly concerned over the weakening of the com- 
pensation law. This had been brought about through an 
amendment passed by a Republican legislature in the admin- 
istration preceding his which permitted direct settlements 
between the victims of industrial accidents and the insurance 
carriers. Smith had strenuously opposed this when he 
helped put through the original law in 1913. He succeeded 
then in combating the insurance lobby, and thus kept this 
form of settlement out of the law. 

Mr. Connor's report was filled with illustrations of abuses 
which arose under this amendment. Injured workers, ignor- 
ant of their rights, made direct settlements with .insurance 
companies which considerably reduced the sums they were 
entitled to receive under the law. The claims of insurance 
carriers that direct settlements would reduce the cost of the 



THE GOVERNOR'S FIRST YEAR 59 

law's operation and end the claimant's case with dispatch 
were not borne out by the facts. 

The report was so convincing that the Governor's recom- 
mendation to abolish direct settlements was approved by the 
legislature. Thus, one of his campaign pledges to working 
people was kept, and once again Smith came to the rescue 
of the Workmen's Compensation Law. 

A popular legislative achievement of his first term was 
permissive legislation to local communities which desired 
Sunday baseball and Sunday movies. His point of view on 
innocent Sunday recreation was set forth in the memoran- 
dum of approval which accompanied his signature of these 
bills. 

One of the most serious effects of the high cost of living 
during and immediately following the war, was the loss of 
experienced teachers and supervisors from the public school 
systems of the State. They simply could not afford to re- 
main in the schools. Salary schedules were based on pre- 
war living conditions. Teachers sought more lucrative work. 

The Governor's memorandum of approval of a bill to 
remedy this condition is characteristic of his attitude toward 
the functions of education in a democracy: 

This bill amends the Education Law to provide increases in 
salaries of the teaching and supervising staff of the public schools 
throughout the State and increases the allotment of State funds 
to cities and rural school districts. Fifty-three thousand school 
teachers are affected by it. This measure establishes the prin- 
ciple of equal pay for women, corrects present discriminations 
and increases the inadequate salaries now paid to members of the 
teaching staff. It should result in filling the many vacancies in 
our schools, which were caused by higher compensation paid in 
other fields of employment. 

In my annual message to the Legislature I stated : "The effic- 
iency of the school cannot rise above the standard of qualifica- 



60 ALFRED E. SMITH 

tions set for the teaching service. To bring this about the 
teachers should be adequately paid and fairly pensioned. I 
strongly recommend that whatever curtailment may be necessary 
elsewhere, full and adequate provision be made for the education 
and training of our children. 

It has been certified to me by the State Department of Educa- 
tion that the training schools for teachers are not attended in a 
satisfactory manner due to the 'fact that the salaries paid to 
school teachers fail to attract women to that important service. 
This presents a serious situation and one that the State itself 
must deal with. It is a narrow-minded statesman who thinks 
only of the day he lives in. If our common school system is to 
be maintained in the degree of efficiency that the greatness of the 
State suggests, we must build for the future. By this bill we are 
attracting to the school service the best talent the State can 
secure. 

There has been much discussion in the public press as to the 
cost of this bill to the City of New York. It has been certified to 
me by State Commissioner of Education Finley that the cost will 
be as follows : 

First year (1920) $1,612,000 

Second year (1921) 5,700,000 

Third year (1922) 9,4SO,ooo 



There are two great functions the State performs for our 
people. One is the education of our children and the other is the 
preservation of health. General O'Ryan states that the intelli- 
gence of our soldiers contributed as much as any other one thing 
to the great successes our armies achieved in the struggle for the 
freedom of civilization. 

Our country has just been tested by the fires of war and our 
future safety rests upon the school system that will weave into 
the hearts and minds of generations to come the principles of 
American freedom and justice. The country or the State cannot 
be above the, efficiency of its people, and no money spent for 
education or the preservation of health is ever wasted. 

I have yet to meet the taxpayer who would admit that the 
education of our children should not be put above a mere matter 



THE GOVERNOR'S FIRST YEAR 61 

of dollars and cents. The cost of this measure cannot be spoken 
of in the same terms as road improvements, canal construction 
and different other activities of the State for which many mil- 
lions have been appropriated. The pubic schools must be 
adequately supported if they are to remain the bulwark of the 
Nation and their success is dependent upon the number and 
ability of our teachers. 

The President of the Board of Education in Great Brit- 
ain in presenting the education bill during the war said: 
"That nation which after the war employs the best teachers 
with the highest pay will be the best governed and therefore 
the greatest nation." 

Another of his campaign promises to the women of the 
State was fulfilled by signing a bill giving permanent status 
to the} Bureau of Women in Industry in the Labor Depart- 
ment, "by which the conditions surrounding the employment 
of women in industry throughout the State can be examined 
into, and proper safeguards for their health and protection 
can be provided." 

Prohibition closed a rich avenue of revenue for the State 
through the abolition of excise license fees. Both parties 
agreed that new sources of revenue were needed to meet the 
State's expenses. The Legislature, therefore, passed d State 
income tax law, which the Governor approved. 

But a Governor is judged not only by the legislation he 
approves. Just as frequently his mettle is tested by his 
vetoes. Smith, as "Veto Governor," revealed all his close 
knowledge of the State government acquired by twelve years 
as a legislator. He applied that knowledge with that uncanny 
sense for jokers and political pap which was so evident in his 
work in the Legislature and in the Constitutional Convention. 

There were governors in the history of the State who 
took the word of the chairmen of the financial committees of 
the Legislature that the appropriation bill was "all right/' 



62 ALFRED E. SMITH 

They signed it with but slight scrutiny. Governor Smith 
knew how the appropriation bills were drawn. He had 
helped to draw them. He was familiar with the indirect 
routes traveled by those innocent line items of appropriation 
bills which favor faithful party workers and punish other 
employees. He understood the political significance of bills 
which meant patronage and "pork" for favored committees 
and particular politicians using the public treasury to keep 
pre-election promises made to local constituents. 

His vetoes set forth the principle that partisan political 
considerations for local improvements at the State expense 
would not be tolerated by him. Sound policy demanded a 
reasoned and comprehensive plan of highway and canal and 
other improvements worked out in the order of importance 
by the heads of the departments who knew the State's needs 
from the viewpoint of its best interests. 

The Governor delighted in vetoing the many local improve- 
ment bills masquerading in the guise of a Statewide measure. 
The familiar creek to be dredged, the local highway and 
bridges to be built, old friends and new acquaintances were 
before him this time as Governor, long known to him as 
legislator, and he used the axe like a virtuoso. Nearly three 
million dollars were saved for the people of the State by the 
Governor in this way. " 

Just after signing one such appropriation bill, he said to 
an intimate friend, "Well, I finished the appropriation bill 
today, and I signed it, and I thank God that I can honestly 
say there is not one dollar in it that interests me personally, 
or that I asked to have put there/* 

Smith enjoyed every piece of work connected with the 
Governor's office but one the pardoning power. This re- 
sponsibility in every case shook him to his very depths. The 
veteran pardon clerk of the executive office who had dealt 
with many a Governor in pardon applications stated that 



THE GOVERNOR'S FIRST YEAR 63 

Governor Smith gave more attention to appeals from death 
sentences than any Governor in his memory. It gave him 
many a sleepless night. Naturally sympathetic the appeal of 
mothers, wives and children moved him deeply. 

He read every case in all its details. He would take the 
record with him on trains, grounded! himself in the law and 
in conversation with trusted friends he would put hypo- 
thetical cases to them for their reaction. He consulted with 
judges of last resort on points of criminal law and they 
were astonished by his knowldge of rules of evidence. One 
of them! said he was one -of the best criminal lawyers in the 
State. 

Very early in his first administration he determined to 
have nothing to do with exploiting lawyers in pardon cases. 
Always accessible, he went through the harrowing experiences 
of meeting the families of condemned prisoners rather than 
have them mulcted by certain types of pettifoggers. He saw 
too much of the effects of crime upon the innocent members 
of families not to protect them from the exploitations of their 
tragedy. It soon became rumor that lawyers in pardon 
cases were persona nom grata at the executive chamber. 

On one occasion he made a special trip to New York to 
inspect personally the scene of the gang murder to clear up in 
his own mind one vital piece of testimony in a case. "There 
is only one doubtful point in this case," he said. "It rests 
in the testimony of the police officer who described the escape 
of the murderer. On the face of the testimony, I do not 
believe the fleeing man could have done all the things the 
policeman said he did in the limited time he was under 
observation." At the scene of the murder in New York 
City, he went through all the movements described by the 
policeman, including one which involved jumping from a 
window, and found that the time mentioned by the officer 
was ample. He returned to Albany that night and on the 



64 ALFRED E. SMITH 

next day refused the application for clemency. 

Hearing the last plea of the mothers of prisoners con- 
demned to death was particularly painful to him. A friend 
recalls his interview with the mother of a boy who had a 
long criminal record, and who was condemned to: death for 
shooting the officer who attempted to prevent him from com- 
mitting burglary. The mother was desperately persistent. 
He questioned her shrewdly but tenderly. "Why didn't he 
go on the stand ?" he asked. The mother admitted that her 
son's record was too bad and testimony would be damaging. 

The decisive consideration with the Governor in this case 
was the killing of an officer on duty and engaged in the per- 
formance of it. 

His acts of mercy were many but always the result of con- 
scientious study and only when he was' convinced that clem- 
ency in each instance was in the interest of society as well as 
the prisoner and his family. 



CHAPTER XII 
WOMAN SUFFRAGE 

Governor Smith proved an effective ally to the cause of 
woman suffrage. Upon the receipt from the Acting Secre- 
tary of State, Mr. Frank L. Polk, of a certified copy of the 
"joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution 
extending the right of suffrage to women" with a request 
that he submit it to the Legislature for its action, he took 
pride in prompt action to place New York among the first of 
the States to ratify. He immediately called an extraordinary 
session of the Legislature on June 10, 1919, His reasons 
set forth in the Proclamation calling the session. 



My purpose in calling the Legislature in extraordinary session 
is to enable it to take prompt action upon the proposed amend- 
ment to the Constitution of the United States extending" equal 
suffrage to women. 

New York State has already extended to women the suffrage 
within its own bounds. When the right of the women in the 
Nation to the same privilege is to be determined New York State, 
the Empire State, should be in the front rank bearing its full 
share of responsibility, with its full share of the efforts required 
to write into the Federal Constitution the principles- we believe 
in and to grant to the women of our land the right to which they 
are entitled, which should be speedily granted them as a slight 
recognition of their heroic conduct in the great crisis through 
which we have so recently passed. 

It is important that action should be taken upon this measure 
before the next regular session of the Legislature for several 
reasons. 

(65) 



66 ALFRED E. SMITH 

New York should be in the forefront in the advocacy and 
adoption of all measures of a beneficial progressive character in 
the support of which it has too often lagged. 

But furthermore, if this privilege is to be extended to women 
in such form as to entitle them to full participation in the next 
ensuing presidential election, early action is necessary, 

It would not be sufficient to permit them only to choose as 
between candidates selected and principles approved by others, 
but they should be enfranchised at a date so early that they may 
take part in the primaries which will be held next spring to select 
delegates to the national party conventions and thus be co-work- 
ers from the very start in the selection of candidates and the 
declaration of party principles. 

In order to secure this early action by at least thirty-six of the 
States, it will be necessary to call special sessions of the Legis- 
latures of many of them, where regular sessions will not under 
their constitutions be convened until 1921. 

I know of no greater stimulus to prompt and energetic action 
throughout the Nation than would follow the immediate and 
decisive approval of the proposed amendment by this the most 
populous of the commonwealths. 

If it receives the approval of New York at an early date, 
I believe her good example would be far-reaching and forceful 
and be followed by a sufficient number of her sister States at 
a date so near that full association in the steps leading up to 
selection of our next President would be enjoyed by the newly- 
enfranchised voters. 

The prompt action of the New York State Legislature 
was regarded by the suffrage leaders as a strategic move 
favorably influencing the legislators of other States for the 
final ratification of the Constitutional Amendment. 



CHAPTER XIII 
IN THE THROES OF AN ECONOMIC CRISIS 

Many a difficult problem confronted Governor Smith at 
the close of the Legislative session. The people of the 
Empire State were in the throes of the economic adjustment 
resulting from the war. 

In a communication to the Governor, the Reconstruction 
Commission had declared that "due to many causes, the 
industrial life of the State is undergoing a period of unrest." 
The situation, in fact, was assuming serious proportions. 
It recommended that the Governor call a "statewide confer- 
ence of representatives of employers, workers and public 
spirited men and women for the purpose of preparing a 
program of action which will endeavor to prevent strikes if 
possible and to bring about arbitration and mediation of 
differences between employer and employee by men and 
women who are willing 1 to serve the State voluntarily/' 

The Governor held such a conference in the Executive 
Chamber on September 16. It was attended by a representa- 
tive gathering of the three parties in industry labor, em- 
ployer, and public. The conference unanimously adopted the 
Governor's suggestions. He appointed a special board ac- 
cordingly to be known as the Governor's Labor Board. It 
was to consist of representatives of labor, capital and public. 

Upon its appointment, the Governor's Labor Board did 
creditable work. It aided in allaying the industrial unrest at 
the time. It prevented, strikes in public utilities at Buffalo 
and in the textile industries of the State. It averted a strike 

C67) 



68 ALFRED E. SMITH 

of 70,000 garment workers in New York City. It prevented 
another between the milk wagon drivers and their employers, 
the distributing companies of New York City. The em- 
ployers of the Railway Express Companies were kept at 
work while their grievances were settled. The shirtmakers 
in New York invoked the aid of the Board. 

To much of all this work the Governor gave his personal 
attention. He was the chief influence in bringing about in- 
dustrial peace in some of the most important industries of 
the State. All had been seriously disturbed by the post-war 
spirit of unrest. 

Drivers of milk wagons in New York City threatened to 
strike when their agreement with their employers was about 
to expire at midnight on a Sunday in October, 1919. The 
employers were willing to arbitrate the differences. These 
were mainly concerned with wage, questions. The time for 
the contract to expire was only twelve hours away. Gover- 
nor Smith sent telegrams to both sides urging a continuance 
of work and arbitration of differences. The employers were 
willing. The men would not consent. Sunday evening at six 
the men had called a mass meeting to make their final deci- 
sion. If the strike occurred, children and sick people, to say 
nothing of mothers and infants and householders generally 
would suffer hardship and inconvenience. A last minute 
appeal to intervene was made to the Governor through his 
Labor Board, It was seven o'clock. The men thronging in 
the hall were indignant at any suggestion from their leaders 
that they arbitrate. Their president telephoned desperately 
that his last expedient for averting a strike was to have the 
Governoit come in person to the hall and plead with the men. 

It was seven o'clock and the hall had to be vacated by 
eight. It being Sunday the Governor was in Brooklyn visit- 
ing his mother. When last communicated with he was on 
his way back to the hotel at which he was staying. Time 



AN ECONOMIC CRISIS 69 

passed and he had not got there. At last, at twenty minutes 
to eight he answered the telephone. The plea was made to 
him to go. 

"I haven't eaten all day and here's my dinner on the table. 
Pretty hard on me to have to go and ask a lot of striking 
milk drivers to stay at work." The plea of sick babies and 
mothers was made to him. "I'll go," he answered. 

Word was flashed to the hall to hold the men. 

They stayed. 

He arrived and was hustled through the seething mass. 
They listened. He asked them in simple language, in the 
name of mothers) and children and the sick to stick to their 
duty and adhere to the responsibilities they had assumed. 
He promised that their grievances would be arbitrated. As 
he finished speaking a quick vote was taken by acclamation 
and the! strike was averted. The men carried him from the 
hall on their shoulders. 

On another occasion, he assembled in the Executive Cham- 
ber the employers and workers in the cloak and suit industry 
in New York City. Seventy thousand workers were affected 
by a threat to strike. As a matter of fact, some of the shops 
were already out in violation of their collective agreement. 
The issue was the request of an increase in wages because 
of the increased cost of living, not foreseen when the agree- 
ment had been made. The employers* counsel attempted to 
prove that the union broke the agreement by countenancing 
the shop strikes for higher wages. The Governor asked the 
lawyer to show him the contract. He studied it for a 
moment and then said: "Show me any paragraph in the 
contract which says the machinery of mediator and arbitrator 
must be used when the men ask for more money." The em- 
ployers said they would be satisfied if the men stayed at work 
and permitted the Governor's Labor Board to arbitrate their 
differences. 



70 ALFRED E. SMITH 

The workers were hesitating and their leaders indicated 
that they did not believe they could control the men suffi- 
ciently to stop the shop strike arid send the men back to work. 
While the employers' counsel was making another long argu- 
ment, the Governor quietly called the real leader of the men 
over to him at his desk and said very softly : 

"That was a fine speech. You ha4 to make it and it went 
over big with your people, but just between you and me and 
the lamp post, you can send them back if you want to. 
Now, can't you ?" 

In response to the knowing look in the Governor's eye, the 
union leader quickly said : 

"Sure, sure/' And he did. 



THE KlfiHTY D9LLA 



! r iRKttlnaiioia of Candidates In Coii* 

Coacjvs^maa E. J, Dunpiiy, of ttio Swerith 

Congrossiorttil ' District, announced soaxs few 

weeks ago 'flat an ^ examination would, take 

Dlice in the no ir future to test the nualiilcatioas 
! of the many ontLusiauuc 7<>ung m?a t,i' his <lis- 
', triot who war-* aspiring to military honors. Tho 
; Fourta Warder* v^er*.' JK'Cordiafflv in a state of 

arudt, t-xcitfewieat ^or tae'-e ,re ever so niny 
I young rutm who arc anxious to Shoulder the 
! inu^t at Wes$ Poiut, 

Tlie sxaiuliutiarv was lieJd yesterday in 

Grammar School Xo. 21, Marion st. Some 20 ^ v,,.,^^.^ 

Jam-*' SoU^CTl'jind Columbia 1 prosaated *tliem- I ence was we.ll pleased by tlie reafly excellent 

r 1VW iW^ho*iS fhaOlJ'F^wyA^wsa^Sad- P er fr rmance S*^ ty the ladies and ' Mntte- 

iusr rnao, with 05 p^r cent.,* while, his classmate, | men. ia the east. 

! 3Mr. J. Dnell. had 01 pec cent. Out of the first 

5 ten men pu the 1 Use eight were from St Jam s' - 

kScUwol, che sixth and seventh, being from, the ' Was very ainusmgand reaqsred the numerous 

*'Ctty Coitus. 



Credltabie Performance by Members 

of the St. James' Ucioa. 
The incnabers of the St. James' Union gave 
the first of five performances last Eight at St, 
James 1 Hall, James street near Madisoa, for 
he Benefit of the fund of the St. James' Free 
\ School Society, The play presented was the 
[ late \V. J. Fiorenee's greatest sueeess, "The 
Mighty Dollar,' 1 
The hall was comfortably filled and the audi- 



4 



speeches of the voluble M. C. from the Kohosb. 
District with good etfect Misa -f ennie p. 

l6r- 



Lace, r^JVIrs. Gen. Gflflory, and M&a 
ence Mdy. as Ljbbio Boy ("Libbie dear'*), 
'were vivacious and fully alive to the eapabili- 



Friends' oC Alfred E. Smith, secretary of 

the Seymour Club, of *the Second Assembly'- .___,, ,, ._, 

District, are quieHy nursing his boom for the ties of their respective parts. 
noraZnafijon for the Assembly. '> M ''The Lord Cairngorm of John J. Shiete was 

^ /^ perfect in make-up, and Mrs. May Howden 




Alfred E;~ Smith,, the hustling young secre- 
tary or {b seymoui' Club of tlie Second AR- 1 
sembly District, Has won a reputation as an* 
ama^UTr actor. -HA haa; played the principal 
parts Ip t'May, Blosscm," '"The Confederate^" 
Spy," "Long Stride" and'"The Mighty DoK*) 
lar," and 'has' received an offer to join the; 



A number of prominent young Democrats | 
of the Second Assembly District will spend ) 
Saturday and Sunday at the Lenox Hotel, Far 
Rockaway. They will be under t the leadership 
of Alfred E. Smith, one of the most promi- 
nent young Democrats in the district. Mr,. 
Smith is an amateur actor of no mean ability, 
and is the leading man of the Sta. James Ly 
ceum Company. f 

a. ~ V // 

DANCED A> r MADE MEKlftY. I 
iceesMifml EntCTtttiD.rn.ent of the St. 



The most successful entertainment ever 1 



Frohman ^tock company. Mr, Smith, decide* ,gavn by the St James' Unran, of > the Second 
^that h* would stick to polities, and refused \AK.scmbly District, was the sumnaferniffht's fes- 
tth titter, . ;tJ tival held on Friday evening at Sulxer'ar Har- 

<* . , __ ^_ ^ y .,., *, lem River Kark and Casino. Thff attendance 

1 T..' */JT "^ jBMMt- -l - - "| . was larger aud more ael&ct than '<nvr -before, 
A HAP3PT MAN, JYed BUuveH, the big <a ^^ no t an incident occurred 'to "disturb Ow 
chiel of the Bnterpriss Fish ng Club and a p* _ e . .yment of the occasion, 
nroihinent member of the Seymour Club of M s.hong tho prominent persons yrcsant were V 
the 'Second Assembly District, was married on r/ p. ; p OT^vyer, Rev. John J. Kesn. James A. 
Wednesday evening to Miss Miry Kay, of j Hayes, JCLOSS N,.aghton, Thcr",as J. Nolan, 
Brooklyn. Blau^elt is widely known in social j amtS j. Do-nohue, M. J. Nolan, T. F, Me- , 
and political 'Circles In both this city and U/Carthy, J. J. Conway, F, F. Murphy, T. P. 
Brooklyn and h'ls departure from bachelor- Da i y< ^Wrtd E. Salth, ( John P. Ollchrist, F. . 
hood will' be f&lt^y his comrades. 'He wa a > F. /Lynch, P. A. Sim-cos:, Francis J. Florence, 
e*n!al companion and the life of many social / j^n. B. -Cassidy, J. J. .McNamara, J. E. Mc- 

Carthy, Robert J, Roberts, Franca J. Kav- 




A TYPICAL PAGE FROM THE WELLS-FARGO RECEIPT-SCRAP BOOK, SHO* 



CHAPTER XIV 
A FIGHT FOR FREEDOM 

The second regular session o the Legislature of his first 
term was a repetition of the first. It presented the spectacle 
of a Governor battling" for his program with a legislature 
dominated by the opposite party. He continued his appeals 
to the people for his program, but favorable public sentiment 
could not break the crust of the opposition in the Legislature. 
Outside of the amendment for the consolidation of State de- 
partments into twenty, no other reorganization amendments 
passed. Only his recommendations liberalizing the Work- 
men's Compensation Law and strengthening their adminis- 
tration went through. 

The active subcommittees of the Reconstruction Commis- 
sion were holding hearings on. the important problems of 
readjustment which were contributing to the unrest of the 
times. Careful reports were submitted to the Governor on 
Americanization, public health, housing, and the high cost of 
foods and the need of reducing the spread between the pro- 
ducer and consumer through a system of wholesale terminal 
markets. 

Much of the legislative session was taken up by the pro- 
ceedings against the five Socialist Assemblymen elected from 
New York City who had been expelled. Out of the heat 
engendered by this proceeding and as a result of a legislative 
committee's investigation, the Legislature passed three laws 
designed to detect and convict radicals who were conspiring 

(71) 



72 ALFRED E. SMITH 

to overthrow our form of government by violence, and to 
prevent their propaganda from sinking into the minds of 
children. They consisted of a bill requiring principals of 
public schools to determine the loyalty of teachers, another 
to require all private schools to procure a license from the 
regents of the State University and a third establishing a 
secret service system of espionage in the Attorney General's 
office. Smith vetoed all three. 

The memorandum accompanying these vetoes sounded a 
note of Americanism greatly needed at the time. It reaffirmed 
principles of liberty under law which were handed down 
from Runnymede to the American Revolution. Once again 
Smith distinguished himself as a veto Governor, this time in 
the service of fundamental Americanism. 

The session ended with little done for? his major program 
on social welfare and reconstruction, but with considerable 
achievement on non-controversial matters. 

The housing situation meanwhile had become so acute 
that the Governor requested remedial legislation along the 
lines laid down in a communication signed by the Chairman 
of the Joint Legislative Committee, the Reconstruction Com- 
mission, the Mayor's Committee of the City of New York on 
Rent Profiteering, the Tenement House Commissioner of the 
City of New York, and the Secretary of the Tenement House 
Committee of the Charity Organization Society. This was 
done and a small measure of temporary relief made possible. 

Many hearings exposed conspiracies in the building mate- 
rial industries to raise costs to excessively high prices. These 
prices tended to prohibit building at reasonable costs. In- 
dictments were found. Court action was forced. Salutary 
as was this work, it did not stimulate building. Hundreds 
of thousands of tenants in New York City and elsewhere 
were forced to pay rents which they could not afford in a 
landlord's market. The owners took eviction proceedings 



FIGHT FOR FREEDOM 73 

against them. The unrest in the Manhattan and Bronx dis- 
tricts of New York was growing. Violence was openly 
threatened by irate representatives of the harassed tenants. 
Remedial legislation was urged by responsible judges of the 
Municipal Courts whose calendars were clogged by thousands 
of cases. Thousands of tenants were threatened with 
eviction in October when their leases expired, and they 
saw themselves on the streets with their belongings and 
no house to shelter them. Emergency action was im- 
perative to avert this condition. The Governor, therefore, 
called an extra session of the Legislature in September and 
in co-operation with the Joint Legislative Committee urged 
the immediate enactment of the necessary emergency legisla- 
tion and also pressed for a constructive housing policy for 
permanent betterment recommended by the Reconstruction 
Commission. 

The emergency laws were passed and it is estimated that 
100,000 families were kept in their homes and protected from 
unreasonable rentals. 



CHAPTER XV 
His RELIGION 

The references of Governor Smith to Divine Providence 
impart a flavor all their own to many of his speeches, mes- 
sages and proclamations. 

His belief that man is a conspicuous factor in a divinely 
providential plan of the universe is 1 at the foundation of all 
his motives. It is a conviction lodged in the deepest recesses 
of his nature. His Christianity is a simple faith in God. 
From it springs his interest in humanity and in the humanita- 
rian labors that make man their beneficiary. He has no 
interest whatever in theological formulas that divide men but 
he is deeply attached to whatever spiritual ideas and principles 
unite them. 

No illustration of his point of view is quite so representa- 
tive as his address at the Protestant! Bowery Mission. The 
temptation to quote it fully is irresistible because it reflects 
the very soul of the man : 

We are here tonight to celebrate forty years of active work 
on the part of the Bowery Mission, in a section of this city mis- 
understood throughout the country, in fact, throughout the world. 
When this Mission was established there was not very much to 
New York by comparison with today. The great residential 
section of this city was south of Twenty-third street. The 
Bowery was a very popular thoroughfare. It was the natural 
place for men from other parts of the country, - coming to our 
city as strangers, to find their way, because from the earliest day 
Park Row and the Bowery contained the "poor man's hotel/' 
commonly known and commonly referred to as the "lodging 
house." 

(74) 



HIS RELIGION 75 

Forty years ago scarcely any other part of the city offered 
temporary residential facilities for men who were strangers to 
the City of New York, so they found their way, naturally, to the 
Bowery. It would be impossible for me or for any other man 
to estimate the great good that grows from an institution of this 
kind in all of these forty years. What does a man need more 
than the knowledge that somebody is interested in his wefare, 
particularly if he is a stranger ? Bring it home to yourself. It 
is a hard, cruel world that a man faces, in a strange land far 
from home and far from friends, if there is not somebody to 
evince a little bit of interest in his welfare. From my own per- 
sonal knowledge and my personal observation that has been the 
particular and special function of this Mission during all of its 
useful lifetime. While it has catered to the spiritual needs of 
men it also catered to their temporal needs, to the end that the 
body may be in that healthy condition that would give the 
strength, the power, the force and the vigor to withstand 
temptation. 

Our Divine Lord, during his lifetime on earth, preached not 
only the theory of charity, but by His own action He demon- 
strated it as an actuality. 

In the many cold nights the cold winter nights when I came 
down to the Bowery myself and saw the long line of homeless 
men, waiting for coffee, and waiting for a sandwich, and waiting 
for the warmth and the consolation that came from this Mission, 
I have had men from other parts of the State visiting me in my 
own home, but a short distance from here, who remarked to me : 
"That is an institution that while preaching the word of Almighty 
God is doing that practical thing that makes a man think that 
somebody in this world is thinking about him." 

The Reverend Bishop spoke about the relationship of the 
Church and State. The Church and the State are divided only in 
theory. It is a constitutional division, prescribed by constitu- 
tional law, but in reality they are one, because what the Church 
does for the individual that makes him a better citizen that 
makes him a God-fearing man is really the greatest and highest 
work that can be done for the State. And as I sat in the 
Cathedral of St. John the Divine, witnessing the very impressive 



76 ALFkED E. SMITH 

ceremony that installed Bishop Burch as the Episcopal Bishop of 
this diocese, I thought of the field of opportunity that was opened 
to him, to work not only for the State, but for that flag (pointing 
to the Stars and Stripes), because the man who really and ear- 
nestly studies the history of this country and studies it right and 
looks at it properly must believe that it is God's own country ! 
And he must believe that God kept it hid behind the veil for cen- 
turies, while men were spilling each other's blood for the pos- 
session of worldly goods, and when He believed that civilization 
had reached that point, He allowed the bow of the Santa Maria 
to pierce the unknown seas that the cross might be raised on the 
Island of San Salvador, and He has kept a watchful eye over it. 
The student must have read in history how God answered the 
prayer of the immortal Washington at Valley Forge when he 
appealed to the Almighty that the Continental army might live 
over another winter. He must have read in that history that it 
was the sustaining spirit of Divine Providence that kept the soul 
in the great Lincoln during the four years of trial in the Civil 
War. He must have read in that history that the same Divine 
Providence was behind Dewey; and right here in our own time, 
when the impartial pen writes the history of this latest war, he 
will have to read that Almighty God selected this country for 
the salvation of the civilization of the world. 

You must have read in that history that Almighty God intended 
this country to be a haven of rest and a harbor of refuge for the 
downtrodden, the poor and the oppressed of every land and if so 
He must be heart and soul behind the institution that extends 
this practical idea to those who arrive upon our shore. 

It is for that reason, I firmly believe, that He has guided the 
success of this mission during its forty long years of activity. 
And it is this feeling within me that makes me feel proud not only 
as a citizen of the city, not only as a resident of this immediate 
neighborhood, but as the Governor of this State, to corne here 
and congratulate your superintendent, his force of assistants and 
everybody who during these forty years have kept this old mis- 
sion going with so much success and to express to you the hope 
that it may have years and years of usefulness ahead, not only to 
the city and to the State but to the Nation itself. 



CHAPTER XVI 
RE-ELECTED 

When election year came around, Smith's renomination 
was inevitable* He carried on an offensive campaign 
against his opponent, Nathan L. Miller, on his record. Even 
Miller publicly said that under Governor Smith, "the affairs 
of the State were, on the whole, well administered." But: 
the feeling against the Wilson Administration was too 
strong, and the Republican party relied tipon this for vic- 
tory. Miller made a State campaign chiefly on the na- 
tional issue. 

How Governor Smith was regarded by the voters, the 
election results showed. In a Harding landslide the Demo- 
cratic candidate for president received over one million 
votes less than Smith, who was defeated by a slight margin 
of 74,000. Such a defeat merely emphasized the ability 
of the Governor as a vote-getter and enhanced his political 
prestige. Half a million Republicans split their tickets to 
vote for him. 

For the first time since his young manhood, Smith was 
free from the burdens of public office. He could devote 
some attention to< the needs of his large and growing family. 
He went intp that trucking business,, to which he came so 
naturally through his father. He became chairman of the 
Board of Directors of the United States Trucking Corpora- 
tion. As a business man he proved a success. His person- 
ality, his knowledge of men, and his executive ability were 

(77) 



78 ALFRED E. SMITH 

business assets. Men of affairs appraised him as a busi- 
ness-getter and a good executive. 

But he was not to be free from public responsibility very 
long. When the recommendation of the New York-New 
Jersey Port and Harbor Development Commission for the 
creation of a Bi-State Port Authority was enacted into 
law, Governor Miller drafted him to serve as one of the 
three New York members of the Commission. Smith 
could not refuse. He owed his state and city too much 
not to co-operate as a citizen in solving the serious prob- 
lems of the Port of New York. 

To the work of formulating a comprehensive physical 
plan for the unification and co-ordination of terminal 
facilities, both rail and ship, Smith made solid contribu- 
tions. His grasp of the technical problems of transporta- 
tion astonished engineers and practical railroad men who 
had spent a lifetime in the business. He was an influence 
on the Commission for sound and practical solutions as 
opposed to the dreams of visionaries. When the final plan 
was submitted to 'the New York Legislature, Smith bore 
the brunt of the battle against the parochial opposition of 
the City authorities of his own party. His speech at the 
legislative hearing very largely carried the day for the 
plan. 

With the close of the Miller administration, the demand 
for Smith's return as Governor was heard from end to 
end of the State. Again it was the upstate contingent of 
his party that proved most vocal. Smith longed for a rest. 
But the party was in danger of drifting on to dangerous 
shoals. This aroused his fighting instinct. 

In Smith's view, the Democracy was facing a crisis, 
caused by the threatened dominance of Wm. R. Hearst 
in party councils and control. If it yielded to the influences 
represented by Hearst, it would be dominated by an irre- 



RE-ELECTED 79 

sponsible newspaper leadership. This stood for issues 
based upon temporary advantage, firing mob fury, by the 
methods of demagogy. A firm believer in party govern- 
ment because it was responsible government^ he saw that 
victory for these forces meant disintegration of leadership 
in the Democratic party. It meant to him abandoning a 
sound and continuous progressive program for a will o* the 
wisp radicalism. All this was inconsistent with his con- 
ception of sound Democratic doctrine. 

Hearst had presidential ambitions. His plans con- 
templated their realization through a nomination in the 
Democratic state ticket for governor or United States sen- 
ator. For months Mr. Hearst used his wealth lavishly to 
prepare the ground throughotit the state for his nomination. 
He relied upon the Mayor of New York City, his honest 
admirer, to use in his interest the pressure of power and 
patronage upon the city Democratic organization. Com- 
bined with an upstate organization which he tried to create 
through high salaried special agents covering every part 
o-f the State and by sentiment stimulated by financial re- 
sources, Hearst's p-renomination campaign was based on 
no unplausible optimism as to its outcome. 

Smith determined that he would, under no circumstances, 
yield control of the party to these influences. He would 
not run with Hearst. The odds against him were great. 
But when he reached Syracuse, the convention city, he 
found that the upstate delegations were determined to 
nominate him for governor and to repudiate Hearst. 

The late Charles F. Murphy, then the New Yo-rk leader, 
sounded out the sentiment of the convention with open- 
mindedness. Never in his long and stormy career had this 
veteran political leader faced so delicate a situation. Smith 
was accused of trying to wreck the party. The pressure 
of the city government, the earnest plea of the Mayor of 



80 ALFRED E. SMITH 

New York with Murphy, personal influences from every 
direction were used to break Smith's stand. Like a rock 
he stuck. The Hearst forces crumbled under the immov- 
able resistance of this man of iron will. Hearst withdrew 
from the fight. 

Smith was nominated by acclamation. Hearst had met 
his Waterloo. 

The drama of Smith's fighting courage in the Syracuse 
Convention of 1920 captured the imagination of the people 
who gave him 1,397,657 votes and elected him by an un- 
precedented majority of 385,932. 



CHAPTER XVII 
IN ALBANY AGAIN 

The Governor's social welfare and reconstruction program 
had been an issue of the campaign. He debated it fully 
from one end of the State to the other. The voters 
heard both sides and decided in no uncertain terms in his 
favor. In the light of that verdict he asked the Legislature 
to accept his program as a mandate from the people. 

Despite the huge majority which swept in the entire state 
ticket the Democratic Party captured the Senate by only one 
vote and the Assembly was safely Republican by a margin 
of six. This result was a practical demonstration of Smith's 
criticism of the apportionment article, in the Constitutional 
convention of 1915, by which an easy control of both houses 
is insured for the Republican Party in* normal elections and 
at least a majority in the Assembly even when the Demo- 
cratic Party is swept in by a landslide. The territorial theory 
of representation -governing constitutional apportionment in 
the State of New York has been the most effective instru- 
ment for the dominance of the Republican party in the 
legislature. Throughout his second term, the voters found 
him battling for his program against the partisan opposition 
of a Republican Assembly. The Democratic Senate enacted 
his platform pledges into law only to find them nullified by 
the lower house. Minority rule frozen into the constitution 
held sway. 

Save for statutory consolidations like the merging of the 

(81) 



82 ALFRED E. SMITH 

Highway Department, the Department of Public Works and 
the Department of Public Buildings into a new Department 
of Public Works, a consolidation of tax functions and some 
other minor consolidations, only that part of his reorganiza- 
tion program in one constitutional amendment consolidating 
departments and adopting the short ballot passed the As- 
sembly. The Executive Budget and the Four- Year Term 
received scant consideration and failed to pass. 

His social welfare program, like the minimum wage com- 
mission proposal and the forty-eight hour law were also de- 
feated in the Assembly. One feature of his housing pro- 
gram was enacted into law, the creation of a permanent 
State Board of Housing and Regional Planning. 

Handicapped by partisan opposition Smith emerged from 
the fight with a record of constructive achievement in his 
two terms of which the high lights are briefly summarized. 

In addition to passing the constitutional amendment for con- 
solidation of State departments from 187 to 20 for the first time, 
he vetoed bills sent in by the Republican Legislature depriving 
people of freedom of speech and action. 

He called a special session of the Legislature, 1919, to ratify 
the woman suffrage amendment. 

Called a special election to assure representation to the assem- 
bly districts where the Socialists had been unseated. 

He called a special session of the Legislature, 1920, to enact 
the emergency rent laws, thus keeping 100,000 people in their 
homes and preventing rent profiteering and recommended and 
passed laws permitting localities to exempt new housing from 
taxation, to encourage the resumption of building. 

He appointed the Reconstruction Commission to draft a social 
and business administration program for the State. 

The repeal of the Direct Primary Law was vetoed by him. 

Direct settlements between injured workmen and insurance 
companies were abolished. 

He signed bills for the first adequate appropriations ever made 



IN ALBANY AGAIN 83 

In the history of the State for the construction and maintenance 
of institutions for the State's dependents; the insane, mentally 
deficient, etc., and appointed a Prison Survey Commission acting 
on those parts of its report which were available before the 
close of his term, establishing many prison reforms. 

He established the administration and building of highways 
on the highest plane ever known in the history of the State 
without regard to politics and put the canals on a business basis 
for the first time. 

Disability of women in the Civil Service Law was abolished. 

He signed the largest appropriation for education in the his- 
tory of the State, and increased teachers' salaries by $32,000,000. 

The State was protected against any encroachment on its 
water power rights. 

He signed bills approving local option in showing motion 
pictures and the playing of baseball games on Sunday. 

The Children's Code Commission to codify and draft laws 
relating to all fields of child welfare was created. 

A Governor's Labor Board was appointed consisting of three 
representatives each, of labor, employers and the public, which 
successfully adjusted or averted many industrial difficulties in 
the period immediately after the close of the war. 

Assisting in the passage of- the Home Rule amendment, giving 
Home Rule to localities of the State. He appointed a commis- 
sion to study and draft enabling acts to make Home Rule func- 
tion and signed the enabling act making it effective. 

He repealed the law requiring teachers to submit to a loyalty 
test; and he pardoned political prisoners in the State prisons. 

He repealed the law requiring the licensing and supervision of 
private schools. 

A commission was appointed to investigate defects in the law 
and its administration. 

The Labor Department was restored to efficient operation by 
means of adequate appropriations. It had been practically de- 
prived of activity between the two administrations of Governor 
Smith. 

He passed a bill for. public health aid in rural communities, 
extending the system of Health Department laboratories, and 



84 ALFRED E. SMITH 

advocated and secured authorization of a bond issue of $50,000,- 
000 for the construction of State institutions and large additional 
appropriations to decrease the fire hazards in State institutions. 

A State Housing Commission was established. 

He aided in the passage of the State bonus to soldiers and 
initiated and passed an appropriation of $1,500,000 to establish 
a military memorial hospital. 

A system of State parks has been developed and created and 
provision has been made for a bond issue of $15,000,000 to 
extend and improve State parks in the next ten years. 

He reduced the State income tax 25 per cent and reduced the 
direct tax on real estate 25 per cent, thus saving $17,000,000 to 
taxpayers. 

A law providing for the licensing of all motor vehicle oper- 
ators, and establishing a Department of Motor Vehicles for the 
control and regulation of automobiles has been passed and also 
a bond issue of $300,000,000 for the elimination of railroad cross- 
ings at grade. 

A Children's Court Act for the City of New York, and many 
other recommendations of the Children's Code Commission, 
strengthening the Child Welfare Laws and extending their oper- 
ation have been enacted. 

Many improvements strengthening the Workmen's Compensa- 
tion Law, providing for increased compensation and shortening 
the waiting period were passed and prison industries are being 
reorganized on a sound and adequate basis. 

He made a prompt, personal, public investigation of charges 
preferred against the State Department of Labor which were all 
withdrawn. He sponsored a bill creating an Industrial Council 
composed of representatives of employees and workers to be 
advisory to the Labor Department. 

Far-reaching legislation to develop State water power, retain- 
ing control and ownership by the State, and providing for devel- 
opment without the use of public funds has been proposed by 
him. 

He secured transit legislation for New York City, giving the 
city absolute right to construct, own and operate rapid transit 
subway lines. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

AN ACCOUNT OF His STEWARDSHIP 
Smith always had a strong sense of his responsibility to 
the people and at the close of each legislative session he 
presented "An Accounting to the People," explaining in de- 
tail appropriations made and the reasons for them. These 
financial reports are prefaced usually by some such statement 
as will be found at the beginning of the one issued in 1923. 
"There is nothing less interesting to our people than financial 
reports because as prepared by bookkeepers and accountants, 
they are not understandable to the ordinary man. To com- 
prehend them thoroughty, one must have not only an under- 
standing of the government of the State itself, but must be 
able to comprehend technical terms used in financial reports. 
For that reason, I will endeavor to explain appropriations 
of this year in such a manner to make them easily under- 
standable to everyone/' 

His theory of appropriations is set forth in the same 
document in its conclusion. 

"The State of New York wants to do its full duty to all of 
its institutions for the sick, thq poor, and the afflicted, who 
are the objects of its; special care. It wants to maintain its 
great public works, its great Department of Education, and 
perform all of the service it offers to the people of the State 
at one hundred per cent of efficiency, and it has been my 
experience that the people of the State find fault only with 
the wasted dollar and not the appropriated dollar that brings 
one hundred per cent of service. That a full complete return 
will be made to the people of this State for every dollar 
appropriated is the sincere and honest pledge of the present 
administration." 

(85) 



CHAPTER XIX. 
His APPOINTMENTS 

It appears to be human nature in the policies of a two- 
party system where control is divided, for the opposition 
to obstruct the execution of a program advocated by the 
representatives of the majority. Party advantage, not the 
State's interest, frequently underlies the tactics of the oppo- 
sition. A Democratic governor faces the resistance of a 
Republican Legislature on his major program and Governor 
Smith was no exception to the rule. In his contact with 
the Legislature he had no bed of roses. Resistance by Re- 
publican politicians was his normal experience. 

In his capacity as executive responsible for the efficient 
management of departments under his control, a governor's 
mettle is tested by the way he resists the pressure of short- 
sighted politicians in his own party. They are chiefly con- 
cerned with getting jobs for the faithful. Patronage is 
their first consideration, equipment for the place is often 
secondary. 

Smith is a firm believer in responsible party govern- 
ment. He was willing at all times to receive suggestions 
for appointments from party leader's. But he set the 
standards of qualification for the job and the candidates 
had to measure up to them. Sc-mre of the leaders met the 
standards. Others did not, and in that case Smith rejected 
their suggestions. He filled some of the most important 
places with men who had no political antecedents but just 
outstanding fitness. 

(86) 



HIS APPOINTMENTS 87 

The task of finding first-rate men for important state 
offices is one of the most difficult a well-intentioned gov- 
ernor faces. Their value is appreciated in private business. 
The salaries paid by the state cannot compare with what 
they might earn. A governor must appeal to their public 
spirit to make the financial sacrifice. A magnetic person- 
ality like Governor Smith's was particularly successful in 
attracting men of high calibre. 

Governor Smith has made many promotions rather than 
new appointments, and those set a standard and goal for 
men who have been long in the state service. A few 
illustrations will tell the story, although there are many 
more instances than those cited here. 

He appointed General Goethals Fuel Administrator when 
the coal strike of 1922 threatened the people of the State 
with a coal shortage and an equitable distribution of avail- 
able coal at reasonable prices was imperative. 

On the administrative side his appointments showed 
creditable results. The Highway Department, under Colo- 
nel Frederick Stewart Greene, was particularly efficient in 
substituting durable roads for the political roads of many 
previous administrations characterized as "more miles, more 
votes." His one instruction to Greene was, "Do what is best 
for the State. Rid the Highway Department of partisan 
politics." In the Labor Department, he appointed Frances 
Perkins as a member of the Industrial Commission, selecting 
her because of her expert knowledge of labor codes. In gen- 
eral, he sought and found merit rather than political standing 
in selecting appointees. 

Personally and politically unknown to him, Governor Smith 
at the suggestion of a group of experts appointed Sullivan 
W. Jones State architect. Mr. Jones has proven another 
administrative discovery for the State. 

A number of his most conspicuous appointments were 



88 ALFRED E. SMITH 

promotions from among men who had a long" and honor- 
able record in the department. Upon the death of Dr. 
Herman Biggs, whom he reappointed State Health Com- 
missioner in his first term, he promoted the first deputy, 
Dr. Matthias Nicoll, who had a long and honorable record 
in the service of the Department. 

When Adjutant General Charles W. Berry was made 
Major-General, in command of the National Guard, he 
promoted General Edward J. Westcott, a Republican, who 
had a distinguished record of many years as Assistant 
Adjutant General. 

Upon the resignation of Major Chanler, the head of the 
State Constabulary, he appointed a captain of one of the 
troops, recommended by the outgoing head. 

Even when the office of his private secretary was made 
vacant by his appointment of George R. VanNamee as 
Public Service Commissioner for the second district, he 
named Geoirge B. Graves, a Republican with a record of 
thirty-two years' service in the Executive Department, 

To- the superintendency of prisons he appointed James L, 
Long, who had been deputy superintendent and for years 
regarded by prison authorities as a sound administrator 
of penal institutions. 

His appointment of Bernard L. Shientag to be State 
Industrial Commissioner was hailed by representatives of 
the wage-earners and by social workers with approval and 
enthusiasm. During his second campaign he had promised 
to rehabilitate the department shattered by a policy, of 
economy, which he publicly condemned as, dangerous to 
the health, safety and welfare of the State's industrial 
population. His support of his Industrial Commissioner 
when attacked by the Associated Industries, the manufac- 
turer's lobby, and his prompt and fair investigation, acting 
himself as Commissioner under the Executive Act, is a 



HIS APPOINTMENTS 89 

dramatic illustration of how he kept the faith with the 
people of the State, The charges against his Industrial 
Commissioner were publicly withdrawn. The investiga- 
tion served to bring out in striking relief the record of 
the Commissioner in the work of rehabilitating the depart- 
ment. 

In the course of the trial, an episode occurred that gave 
rise to an extemporaneous statement ,of his policy. The 
charges were concerned with alleged delay in disposing of 
workmen's compensation cases. 

His right to question the motive behind the charges was 
challenged by the counsel for Associated Industries, Gov- 
ernor Smith said in part : 

No one has worked more hours in that back room than I 
have and I think it has been said about me from one end of the 
State to the other that almost anybody can come here and see 
me. 

No one makes any appointment with me. They come up on 
the train without making any appointments because they know 
they can get in and see me anyway. I have a notion in ray 
head that this whole thing was done to create an atmosphere 
around this building against pending legislation, and if I get 
that in my mind I am going to satisfy myself whether that is 
true or not; and inasmuch as all the Directors of the Associated 
Industries have openly declared in this room that they have 
nothing whatever to back up any of these charges, it devolves 
upon the man behind them whose word they saw fit to take on 
faith, and I think I have a right before we go any further to 
test the credibility of this witness against the State or any of 
its departments. 

Certainly there isn't anything more political in the Assoc- 
iated Industries than there is in the Traffic Club of New York, 
or the Merchant Truckmen's Bureau, whose meetings I attended ; 
but they never speak about how nominations ought to be made, 
and I want to know why Mr. Daly used the name of the Assoc- 
iation to create an atmosphere against political legislation* 



CHAPTER XX 
A TYPICAL CAMPAIGN ADDRESS 

For years now in the local Democratic organization, Smith 
has been regarded by all its orators as the master of those 
who know. His methods have been studied by young men 
who think they are gifted enough to speak to the people on 
political issues. Smith found his most attentive audience 
among the attendants at the speakers' bureau, as it is called. 
These ranks are recruited from among young people who 
show aptitude for influencing public opinion through the 
medium of the spoken word. They are the orators of a 
local Democratic campaign. 

His address to these workers became an annual event. It 
was usually delivered at the outset of a campaign and served 
as a sort of general instruction to the rank and file of speak- 
ers. It not only confined itself to a discussion of the 
issues. It dealt with the way to handle those issues. 

The Governor's speech before the members of the Speak- 
ers' Bureau on October 9, 1922, may be considered a typical 
Smith campaign address. It handles the complicated finan- 
cial issues of that campaign simply and convincingly. The 
point is enforced when made through the medium of intimate 
history. There are references to the reports of State officials 
which, seemingly clear, could have been made only by one 
thoroughly familiar with the State government. It is quotable 
for these reasons alone but its importance arises from the 
circumstance that it is such a fine instance of the Smith 
campaign spell': 

(90) 



A TYPICAL CAMPAIGN ADDRESS 91 

Time was in public speaking when it was very easy to enter- 
tain and amuse an audience with generalities, general state- 
ments about the principles of Jefferson, the principles of Lin- 
coln, etc. They were all right in. their time, but the men and 
women who are listening to the campaign argument of today 
want facts, and they want facts backed up by statistics as far 
as you are able to give them. It is perfectly easy, as the New 
York World said this morning in one of its editorials, for Gov- 
ernor Miller in one part of the State to say that he saved 
$28,000,000, and for Governor Smith to say in another part of 
the State that he didn't do anything of the kind, but when that 
is all finished the public is exactly where they were when the 
argument started because it doesn't mean anything. The papers 
are good enough to concede that we are both truthful gentle- 
men; that certainly makes it pretty difficult for the listeners to 
know which one of these statements ought to be accepted in 
view of the fact that there is a paltry little difference between 
us of $20,000,000. 

I am going to dismiss this whole economy question with a 
very short speech. There is a greater issue involved in this 
whole economy question than the question of dollars and cents. " 
The people would be very little concerned, as The World this 
morning truthfully said, whether my administration cost a couple 
of million less or a couple of million more than Governor 
Miller's, if that was the only question involved, but there is a 
bigger question, and there is a very great reason- why Governor 
Miller stresses to the exclusion of nearly every other issue this 
economy one, and it is this ; 

In 1915 the Constitutional Convention recommended a reor- 
ganization of the government of the State. Everybody here is 
familiar with the argument for the reorganization of the gov- 
ernment. It is sufficient to say that the government today of the 
State -consists of some 185 distinct and independent spending 
agencies. Anybody in this room who read the New York World 
after last Saturday's convention will remember seeing the head- 
line in the World that Governor Miller called "his two hundred 
department heads into conference in the Executive Chamber." 



92 ALFRED E. SMITH 

The necessity for reorganization has been conceded. EKhu 
Hoot, Colonel Stitnson, George W. Wickersham, Adalbert Moot 
of Buffalo, and all the leading Republican and Democratic mem- 
bers of a non-partisan organization have advocated this reor- 
ganization of the government constantly since 1915. 

On the first of January, 1920, in a very comprehensive mes- 
sage, dealing with the whole history of the State government, 
I referred to the legislature constitutional amendments to bring 
about this reorganization. The first public meeting about it was 
held at the Hotel Astor under the auspices of the Merchants' 
Association of this city. Present at that meeting were myself 
and Senator Sage, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. 
We debated this question. As a result of our debate, the Mer- 
chants' Association approved of it. On the train to Albany I had 
a quiet talk with Senator Sage. He is a friend of mine of a 
good many years standing, and I said, "What do you think about 
it?" He smiled and said, "There is nothing doing on it." He 
had evidently made up his mind for the Senate .months ahead 
of time. I gave the Senate and Assembly reasonable time to 
study it out. At the end of a certain period, I started to speak 
through the State. I went to Buffalo, I went to Syracuse, I 
went to Rochester, I went to Utica, I went over to Brooklyn and 
I spoke again here in Manhattan. In every place I spoke boards 
of trade, business men's associations, women's organizations 
were unanimous in their endorsement of the plan. 

The pressure began to be felt by the members of the legisla- 
ture. It got a bit stronger than they were able to withstand, 
and consequently Senator Sage started on a tour of the State, 
and he went to Rochester and spoke about it. The following 
day I had a copy of Senator Sage's Rochester speech in front 
of me and I called a meeting in Albany, and invited him to 
come over to Chancellor's Hall in the Education Building and 
discuss it with me before the citizens of his own city, of his 
own constituency. That he declined to do. I spoke there any- 
way. The result of it was that in 1920, with the pressure of 
Root, with the pressure of Wickersham, with the pressure of 
the big leading figures of the Republican party, the amendments 



A TYPICAL CAMPAIGN ADDRESS 93 

passed the Senate and passed the Assembly. So far, so good. 
We left Albany at the end of 1920 victorious as far as we had 
gone. 

In 1921 Governor Miller arrived in Albany with his mind and 
his heart set against this program, and I say to you tonight, 
without fear of contradiction, that the only reason why he was 
against it was because I favored it so vigorously, and because 
I taunted him with it so much during the campaign of two years 
ago when he refused to discuss it with me, and insisted upon 
talking about the St. Lawrence River and Article X. However, 
he was unable to stop it in the Senate, the pressure was too 
strong, and the amendments went through the Senate. Then they 
came up in the Assembly, and after a conference between the 
Speaker of the Assembly, the Republican leaders of the Assem- 
bly and the Governor, himself, the amendments were thrown in 
the waste basket. A motion to discharge the committee in the 
Assembly brought out 58 votes of the required 76, and the 
Speaker of the Assembly was only able to stop the 76 by a per- 
sonal appeal to stand by him to the different chairmen of the 
committees he had appointed. 

Well, of course, naturally that brought on quite a storm. It 
would be unreasonable to think that that action on the part of 
the Governor would not meet with a great deal of resentment 
on the part of the members of his own party; and they ap- 
proached him and spoke to him on the subject and Hs answer to 
them was that it is not necessary to have constitutional amend- 
ments to bring about this reorganization. We can do it without. 
He had the reputation, he still enjoys it, of being a great con- 
stitutional lawyer and a great many of the people interested stood 
back and gave him a free hand to bring about these improve- 
ments and this reorganization of the Government, if it was pos- 
sible for him to do it, but he knew when he promised that he 
could not do it. He knew it just as well as I did. So what did 
he do? He had to smoke-screen the whole performance in 
Albany In order to satisfy this influential group inside of his 
own party. He had to falsify the figures. He had to put his 
name to figures of appropriation that he knew were not right. 



94 ALFRED E. SMITH 

Now that is pretty strong, vigorous language it is the only kind 
that you can use, because it is right. 

The Governor, boasting of his economy, said that he reduced 
the cost of the Government by $10,000,000. No man can make 
that statement and expect to get away with it unless it is true. 
I never fool with a financial statement because I was in Albany 
too long. I know you can't do that. It's all right at the time, 
but there comes a day of reckoning. It's all right enough to say 
the figures don't lie, but liars figure. 

The Governor gave out the statement that the total appropri- 
ations for the cost of the Government in the first year was 
$135,000,000. He spread that all over the State$10,OOQ,000 
less than Smith. Smith was $145,000,000. "We had an era of 
great extravagance and great waste in the Government, and by 
the application of business methods and by reorganization, by 
the quick process of legislation rather than the slow method of 
constitutional amendment, I have in my first year effected a 
saving of $10,000,000." 

What are the facts ? Get the Comptroller's report for 1921 
and turn to page 229, and you ,will find on page 229 of the 1921 
Comptroller's report the total appropriation is $149,126,507.43. 
The State Comptroller did not have any reason to be personally 
friendly to the Governor. The State Comptroller was under 
indictment while he was running for office two years ago, and 
the Governor was quite peeved about it, and he didn't reach out 
his hand to help his friend on the ticket. He did everything to help 
himself, and the Comptroller realized it and the Comptroller's 
figures are right. 

Now, how does the Governor arrive at $135,000,000? How does 
he get that $14,000,000 off? Why, a simple process. He under- 
takes, himself, to say what ought to be counted in his appropria- 
tions. Well, of course, any Governor who is permitted to do that 
can make almost any kind of a record. 

You are going out to speak to the people of New York here. 
Nothing is as dull as figures. You can acquaint yourself with 
them, but you won't get very far. It is all right to be talking 
about a few million here or there, nobody thinks about that, they 
don't remember it more than half an hour after they hear it, but 



A TYPICAL CAMPAIGN ADDRESS 95 

for the man on the street this is a practical question. If the 
Governor saved $14,000*000 where is it? Who's got It, and in 
wfeat way was it reflected ? Now if you were at the head of a big 
business and the superintendent of one of your departments came 
in and said, "I am just after saving $500,000," the next question 
you'd want to know is, "where is it ?" I think that is human. 

Well, let's see where it is. How it is reflected. Who got the 
benefit of it. The State raises money in two ways, by indirect 
taxation and by direct taxation. Direct taxation is levied against 
incomes and against real and personal property. That is direct 
taxation. Indirect taxation is levied against certain business 
transactions or against the estates of people who have died. There 
has been no reduction in any of the direct taxation except one 
year, which I will explain in a minute. Hold that thought in 
your mind. The indirect tax is exactly the same with the excep- 
tion of the automobile tax, which has been increased and the 
State reached out in the last two years to tax a new industry 
that has heretofore never been taxed, moving pictures, from 
which there has been an income of substantially $3,000,000. 
Well, we haven't saved anything to the taxpayers so far. 

Now, where is the $20,000,000? Is it in your surplus fund 
of the State ? In other words, have we put it in the bank for a 
rainy day? No, we didn't do that, because we took something 
out of the bank and I will tell you how that was taken out. The 
Governor claims to have saved the direct tax on realty and per- 
sonalty in 1922. In 1920 the Legislature passed an act putting 
into effect the soldiers' bonus that was voted on by the people in 
1920. It contained provision not only for the collection of the 
tax for the bonds for the soldiers' bonus, but contained a pro- 
vision for the tax on realty and personalty. Immediately after 
the comptroller sent word to the treasurer of the different coun- 
ties of the State and told him to collect his direct tax. On these 
figures the bonus was to be paid. The Court of Appeals handed 
down a decision declaring the soldiers' bonus to be unconstitu- 
tional. The Attorney General immediately advised the Governor 
that we had enough money in the surplus fund until the Legisla- 
ture met and there was no need of collecting this direct tax. 
Mind you, the Governor claims the credit of saving it, and then 



96 ALFRED E. SMITH 

sets out to spend it and nothing stopped him but the Court of 
Appeals. Now the Legislature comes back in session in 1922. 
In the meantime when he found out that it was possible to get 
away from that entirely and claim it as a saving he did it, but 
where did he get the money from. He took it out of the surplus 
fund. He just went to the State surplus and took that money out 
of it. Now that represents no saving any more than a man or a 
woman could claim they saved some part of their salary in a 
year provided they paid their rent out of their bank account or 
drew upon their principal. So that when you get finished with 
it there is no saving. 

The State share of the income tax is about $18,000,000. With 
$41,000,000 of surplus that I left when I left Albany, what could 
he have done? He could have repealed the income tax and said 
"that is the way to save money for you. You pay your income 
tax to the Federal Government, we will run this State without 
it." But he didn't do that because when you get all finished 
there was no saving. 

One of the very salutary features of the proposed reorganiza- 
tion plan was an executive budget. The men interested in that 
plan put as much stress into the necessity for an executive 
budget as they did for the reorganization of the Government; 
The Republican party promised to the people in the nation in 
their platform of 1920 and put it on the ground of economy and 
then denied it to the State. The Governor says, "Well, we will 
take care of that, that can be done" ; and in one of his speeches 
the other night he actually stood out before an intelligent New 
York audience and told them he installed a scientific budget 
system. What he did was to appoint a Board of Estimate and 
Control made up of the Comptroller, himself, the Chairman of 
the Finance Committee of the Senate and the Chairman of the 
Ways and Means Committee of the Assembly. What have they 
done? They never functioned. Under the law they were sup- 
posed to submit a budget the first of January, 1922, and I will 
personally take the responsibility in any part of this State for 
the statement that they never functioned, and they never will. 
That is not the way to control expenditures". Why, these men 
that are talking about the Governor's scientific budget do not 
know what an executive budget means. 



A TYPICAL CAMPAIGN ADDRESS 97 

Now, remember, that I believe strongly enough in democratic 
government never to be guilty o any utterance that would 
indicate that I believed a legislative body ought to be robbed 
of any of its power. I will never stand for that. I look upon 
the Senate and the Assembly as the people themselves, under 
our form of government. I want to take none of their power 
away. I want to leave it with them. But I want the people to 
control the manner in which they exercise it. Now let's see 
what I mean by that. If the Governor is responsible to the 
people for the finances of the State, and the head of a depart- 
ment declares the amount needed to run that department for 
the next year, why should the Legislature increase it? That is 
what they do. They never decrease it, they increase it. They 
can arbitrarily tell the head of a department what he must pay 
his own secretary. I have known an instance of a department 
head coming before a Senate Committee and saying, "There is 
an item in here increasing the salary of a man that I do not 
desire to increase because his services have not been such in 
the last year as to warrant this increase, and I am afraid that 
it will demoralize the whole department," and he was promptly 
told by the Chairman of the Finance Committee that a certain 
Senator wanted more money for that man and he had to take it. 

Now after all was said and done this so-called scientific bud- 
get of the Governor was again prepared in the Legislature, It 
was prepared under the same influences and in the same manner 
that it has been prepared in the last twenty-five years. Through 
its every line it was the subject of log-rolling and of compro- 
mise. After the Legislature passes the family budget just the 
same as the housewife puts down the rent, the gas, the butcher, 
the baker, the absolutely necessary things to run the house, put 
that in the bill, let nobody interfere with that, but after that 
is disposed of, then let's talk about the desirable things that we 
would like to do with the State's money. In discussing these, 
discuss them in the open, not when they are clouded in a bill 
of nine hundred pages. If a man wants to build a bridge over 
the great Sodus Bay, let him get up before two hundred and 
twenty-one men and explain the obligation of the State to build 
that bridge, but don't hide it in a bill that has nine hundred 
pages in it and that nobody see,s until they see the construction 



98 ALFRED E. SMITH 

of the bridge beginning. That is common sense. That is good, 
sensible government. That is in effect, and in a few words, what 
the executive budget means. Now I must not spend too much 
time on this, because I have so many other things. However, 
the point is this, it is not a question of finance or of appropria- 
tions, it is a bigger issue Can a Governor come before the 
people of this State, and in order to silence a disappointed 
group misrepresent to the people of the State what are the 
actual financial facts, and what are the real figures? 

That is exactly what has taken place, and to my mind it is 
an issue infinitely greater than whether there was $1,000,000 
difference between us or there was not. As a cold matter of 
fact, reduced down to figures, the difference between my last 
year and Miller's first year is less than $200,000, although he 
ran, into a period of falling prices. I bought sugar for the 
inmates of the State institutions at 25c a pound. He came in 
when he could buy it for 5c. Clothing, supplies, medicines, 
everything that is needed, everything that the housewife buys 
is bought for the State, and was bought in 1919 and 1920 when 
the cost of these supplies was at the very peak in the history of 
the State. Now I will pass from that phase of it to some- 
thing else. 

The Governor, the other night, made a speech, and there is 
no doubt that he will make this speech in New York City, 
because he may feel that there it will have a special appeal. I 
want to give you the facts so that you will have them and be 
prepared to answer. The Governor says that the Smith up- 
State Public Service Commission increased car fares. In the 
first place Smith never had any up-State Public Service Com- 
mission. During my whole time I appointed two men for that 
Commission out of five, and I don't think that any Democrat 
in this State can ever feel ashamed to stand behind the record 
of Judge Kellogg, of Glens Falls, and George Van Namee, of 
Watertown, because two straighter, two better and two more 
clean-cut men do not live in the history of the political life of 
this State. So that nails that assertion right away. Smith had 
no up-State Public Service Commission. The other three remain- 



A TYPICAL CAMPAIGN ADDRESS 99 

ing members of it Judge Irvine, a Democrat, appointed to office 
by a Republican, never came to see me in the two years I was 
there. The other two men were Republicans. It is true that 
they raised car fares, but they had their choice between raising 
car fares and no transportation. The small cities up-State have 
entirely different problems from those we have to deal with 
down here. There is usually one railroad in a small city and in 
nearly every instance the rate of fare was a part of the fran- 
chise, and the Public Service Commission refused to act on it 
until the properly constituted officials of the city themselves 
came before the Public Service Commission and joined with 
the railroad to the end that the cars may be kept running. Now 
that is the cold matter of fact about it and they can talk about 
it as much as they like. 

As far as the telephone situation is concerned the Public 
Service Commission in 1919 before Van Namee was appointed 
reduced the telephone rate. After the reduction was made the 
Bureau of Women in Industry in the State Industrial Com- 
mission, in response to widespread complaint throughout the 
State about the telephone service, made a survey throughout 
the State, and they brought pressure to bear for an increase of 
salary for the girls who were operating the telephones in the 
State. The figures necessary to do it were brought before the 
Public Service Commission and the Public Service Commission 
was placed in the position of either granting that increase or 
of turning to the Bureau of Women in Industry and telling them 
that these girls had to remain working at a salary that did not 
keep them in decent health and comfort. 

That is the answer to that. 

Don't let anybody on the stump from the other side say any- 
thing to you about the local Public Service Commission trying 
to raise the fares down here. That is 99.99 per cent, pure bunk 
and I will tell you why. They couldn't do it. If they could do 
it, why did Miller amend the law so as to permit his Commission 
to do it? He didn't have to bring down upon himself the con- 
demnation of a united press. He didn't have to arouse the 
wrath of the City Administration and the people o New York 
City by taking away from the Board of Estimate the control 



100 ALFRED E. SMITH 

over their contracts if the power already resided in the Public 
Service Commission to do it Now that is the real fact about it. 

There probably never was, in the history of legislation in this 
State a more brutal and more wicked invasion of the home rule 
rights of the citizens of a great community than the Governor's 
transit bill. What newspaper condemnation did he escape? 
Newspapers that have devoted their columns to promoting the 
success of the Republican party since the Civil War condemned 
him for it. 

The only reason he did it was, the power did not reside in 
any State official to change the provisions of that contract and 
the five-cent fare is a part of the contract. He knew that and 
he transferred that power from the City Hall to the Public 
Service Commission and then he says that Nixon, my appointee, 
wanted to do it when he knows himself as a lawyer and as a 
former judge that Nixon couldn't do it. If Nixon could do 
it he was a terrible fool to change the law, because he could 
have let his own Commission he appointed after Nixon do it 
without bringing all this condemnation on himself. What did 
he recommend? 

It would not do for us to go through this campaign finding 
fault and talking about the other man. We must have a con- 
structive side. We must be prepared to say what we are going 
to do. 

Now, what is our platform plank? I don't remember the 
exact language, but I read it over several times, and I know 
what it provides. It provides for a very radical change in the 
State's policy of dealing with all public service commissions by 
transferring that power to the local authorities. Now what Is 
wrong about that? The Republican party will never take the 
position that that is too much home rule because they're 
promising that 

On July i, 1907, the State of New York embarked upon the 
policy of regulating public utilities through a commission. 
Legislative power was granted to this commission. Every 
man, woman and child in the State knows that it has been 
unsuccessful, not only in New York, but throughout the State. 
The people themselves in every large commuiuty have resented 



A TYPICAL CAMPAIGN ADDRESS 101 

this exercise of power from Albany because they look to their 
local authorities. 

Can any great mistake in policy be made by relieving us of 
the transit commission in time and delegating the State's power 
to the elected officials in the Board of Estimate and Appor- 
tionment to regulate public utility corporations? If anybody 
challenges that statement ask them this question : say to them, 
give me one reason, just tell me one reason why the State of 
New York ought to build a railroad in the City of New York 
any more than it ought to build a sewer or a bridge. It is the 
only city in the State v where the State does do it. 

They will answer it by saying this is the only city that has a 
partial municipal ownership of any utility. That is not a com- 
plete answer because the principle involved is what we are 
talking about and if Rochester or Syracuse to-morrow made 
up its mind to build a subway Td like to see the man that 
would have influence enough in Albany to induce that com- 
munity to let the State build it for them. It couldn't be done. 
Now there is a little story behind this construction of subways 
by the State down here. 

In 1907 when Governor Hughes put through the Public Serv- 
ice Commission he didn't like that That question was put to 
him very forcibly, .what right has the State got to be building 
subways in the City of New York, Why not give that power 
to the City of New York? 

He was on the point of sending that bill back to the Legis- 
lature for amendment turning that power over to the Board of 
Estimate and Apportionment as far back as 1907, and he was 
advised by the leaders of his own party in the Senate and 
Assembly, that he had better not put the bill in the Assembly 
because there was a great deal of opposition to it, and it might 
fall to the ground. He said to one of the Senators who was 
helping him ;with the bill in the Senate, "I suppose I will have 
to take this as it is, but it is wrong in- principle." 

Now, we have had a wonderful picture drawn for us of Gov- 
ernor Miller. He ;was himself in his first year there in his 
true colors, and he wore his own clothes and did his own think- 



102 ALFRED E. SMITH 

ing, and that is the year that every reactionary proposal that 
he stood for got by him and got by the Legislature. 

Up in Poughkeepsie the other night he talked about my idea 
of representative government. One of the fundamentals of the 
Constitution guarantees to peaceable citizens the right of 
assembly and to petition of the Governor. A group of women 
went up to the Governor to petition the Governor for an eight- 
hour day law and a bill for maternity and child care. His reply 
was that they were a menace to the community. He has never 
denied it. He repeated it the other night But when the sec- 
ond year rolls around and he has to make an account of his 
stewardship he has a different group of advisors around him. 
He changes the picture a bit. He must now become a ;wel-> 
fare Governor. Here in his second year he poses as the wel- 
fare Governor and says he did something for the children and 
the women in his maternity bill. Why he didn't do a thing 
more than he had to do<. The Federal Government put it up 
to him. "Will you match the appropriation of the Federal 
Government for maternity aid?" and he said, "No, well have 
our own maternity aid,'* and he appropriated $130,000 to help 
them. Maternity aid! They appropriated $200,000 for the 
propagation of fish. He put them into springs of the Adiron- 
dacks, and .we got $130,000 for maternity aid, and Senator 
Davenport from Utica on Monday night, with his cut-a-way 
coat and a big long shoelace on his eye-glasses stands up before 
the Assembly and talks about the eight hundred wo-men in the 
State outside of the City of New York who died in one year 
from child-birth. 

In 1919 I presented to the Legislature a comprehensive plan 
dealing with the whole question of maternity and child aid by 
offering to the counties the money of the State to match what 
they'd put up for the erection and maintenance in every county 
of a health center. It came to me from Dr. Biggs of the Health 
Department They threw it in the waste basket. Who is 
responsible for the eight hundred mothers that died or the 
sixteen hundred rather that died in the two years since they 
threw that bill away; 



A TYPICAL CAMPAIGN ADDRESS 103 

He claims the extension of children's courts. Why, bless 
your soul, he had to do that because it's an amendment to the 
Constitution that we adopted last fall. He didn't think of it 
in the first year, he did it when the people of the State of New 
York by constitutional amendment told him to do it, not a min- 
ute sooner. 

Compulsory extension of the boards of child welfare is all 
right It was recommended under me and thrown into the 
waste basket at that time by the Republicans. 

He talks a great deal about party responsibility. What about 
the black, unspeakable record of his party during the two years 
I was in Albany? How about that? Any reduction that he 
actually made in any department of the State that he claimed 
so much credit for in his speech of acceptance, I recommended 
to a Republican Legislature and they refused to do it. Why 
aren't they carrying around a little bit of the odium of passing 
these things up as long as they want to talk party government ? 

I will take the responsibility for the Democrats, the men of 
my party. We stood behind every progressive measure in 
those two years, and did our best to force them through. Some 
of them passed the Senate only to go- to their death in the 
Assembly. Among them t was the eight-hour law, the minimum 
wage law and bill for water power development under State 
ownership. 

All of a sudden the Governor has taken a great interest in 
labor in this State and labor wants one thing. It wants a 
proper enforcement of the existing factory code. It's the best 
factory code in this country. All that labor wants is its 
enforcement. But that is just exactly u what labor is not get- 
ting; because the appropriations for that department were so 
curtailed and cut as to render it practically ineffective. Now 
what good' would the penal law be if we didn't have any police- 
men? You might just as well not have it. It costs the citizens 
of this city about $25,000,000 a year to enforce the penal 
statutes. The State of New York has its great labor code, but 
no enforcement. It has exactly yvhat the lobby wants that 
comes to Albany every year representing the manufacturers. 



104 ALFRED E. SMITH 

You can write all the nice laws you want protecting the work- 
ingman and the lobby won't say a word, but just as soon as you 
try to put up the money to enforce it, that is different and the 
comparison of appropriations will show that Governor Miller 
stripped that department by very nearly $1,000,000, 

Workmen's compensation is something that wo-rkingmen are 
interested in, both men and women. Under the guise of a 
reorganization and behind the smoke screen of rebuilding the 
department, what happened? There was written into the 
Workmen's Compensation Act again, after all the labor we 
had to take it out, that vicious clause that permits the insurance 
companies to deal directly with the injured people. 

I submit that there is the meanest thing you can do, to leave 
poor unfortunates, and for the most part, people ignorant of 
their rights under the law, at the mercy of the great insurance 
companies for immediate settlement, while the wolf of hunger 
is stalking at the door-mat and sickness and death may be in 
the house. In 1915 a member of the Assembly from Chautau- 
qua County stood up on the floor of the Assembly and said that 
he met during his vacation period a representative of a great 
insurance company and that representative told him that if the 
Republican party won they were going to write a direct settle- 
ment clause in the compensation act. They came down to 
Albany and they did it 

They did it after two or three weeks of the worst fighting 
that ever happened. The Republican members of the Assem- 
bly jvere brought into the caucus and the party whip was 
applied, not from Albany, but from the seat of power, from 
where the nomination came and the home leaders of the differ- 
ent Assemblymen were called on the long distance telephone 
and the whip put to them to pass that bill providing for direct 
settlement. I appointed a Commissioner to investigate and he 
laid before the Senate the names and addresses of the men and 
women in this State who were cheated out of what belonged 
to them under the law by the operation of the direct settlement 
clause. Why the Senate and the Assembly were unable to 
stand up under it. 



A TYPICAL CAMPAIGN ADDRESS 105 

It was an argument that nobody could answer. 

The result t was that we were successful in taking it out, but 
back in again it goes in 1921 under the guise of a reorganiza- 
tion of the department That is the service that has been 
rendered to labor by the Governor and he, in his new position, 
wants to be known as a welfare Governor. 

Fd like before I finish to ask anybody here if they want to 
ask me a question* Probably ,we could bring something out in 
that way. Anything that you have any doubt about connected 
with the State Government or the campaign as far as it has 
gone. 

If not, I would make this suggestion that at any time during 
the campaign if you see any statement that doesn't seem to fit 
in with t what I have talked about tonight I will be glad to* com- 
municate with any member of this Bureau if they just come to 
me with the story or get it to me. I will answer it myself for 
you, and I .will give you the facts because I would be entirely 
unwilling to make any statement here tonight, knowing that 
you are going out to make that statement after I do, unless I 
know it to be absolutely right I only ask you to say what I 
say myself and what I promise I ;will back up before anybody 
and before the world. 

QUESTION : What about the Ltisk Education bills, Governor ? 

MR. SMITH: Very important The Lusk Education Bills. 
This is something you ought to know because when Governor 
Miller talks representative or group government here's where 
you can nail him to the mast, and he hasn't got a chance of 
escape. Is it representative government; is it democratic gov- 
ernment, for the State to subject the great army of school 
teachers of this State to a test as to their loyalty to the coun- 
try? Why nothing of that kind k was suggested in Prussia in 
the days of Prussian autocracy when the military meant every- 
thing. 

No group of citizens engaged in the important business of 
teaching the youth, moulding the character of the future citi- 
zen, would be subjected to that inquisitorial power through 
State agency. 



106 ALFRED E. SMITH 

I will tell you what the law does. They send to the principal 
of a school a blank sheet of paper and require him to put down 
the names of the teachers under that principal and the principal 
is to check off the ones he believes to be loyal, to check off the 
ones that he is doubtful about and to check off ones whose dis- 
loyalty, in his opinion, there is no question about. They will 
tell you that that doesn't become public property. My answer 
to that is that there is no official document in this State that is 
not public property. You may try to keep it hidden away, but 
you can't do it, and you shouldn't do it, and you shouldn't be 
permitted to do it. The principal's list goes to Albany to the 
Board of Regents. Isn't that a nice situation? Isn't that a 
wonderful bill for a Governor to accept who talks about rep- 
resentative government ? 

To take the opinion of some one person about some other 
person's loyalty to the country? And the greatest sin of all is 
that the accused person, accused by his immediate superior as 
a matter of State record, is never given an opportunity to dis- 
pute it 

Equally pernicious and equally vicious is the bill requiring 
the licensing of private schools. Let that be carried to the final 
extremity and look at the opportunity there is for the exercise 
of bigotry throughout the State that could never be counte- 
nanced at the present moment in this enlightened age and 
generation. 

The two Lusk Bills were the outgrowth of a political brain- 
storm that hit the -Senate and Assembly and to- devise these 
wonderful safeguards against the enemies of the country we 
spent about $200,000 in counsel fees, and a great army of men 
lived in royal splendor at the Murray Hill Hotel for the best 
part of the legislative session, while the theatres were in full 
blast on Broadway. 

I feel I have encroached upon the time of the other men by 
talking more than an hour, but I am full of the subject and I 
want to have you feel the same way and get the same notion 
and idea that I have, and I can only repeat that at any time 
during the campaign you hear of anything that shakes your 



A TYPICAL CAMPAIGN ADDRESS 107 

faith in anything I have said or has to do with any administra- 
tion, just get in touch with me right away, and I will straighten 
it out 

I am thankful to the committee and thankful to the Speakers' 
Bureau for bearing with me and I will ask the other speakers 
to excuse me if I leave right away because I need a clean, dry 
collar and a bath. 



CHAPTER XXI 
His CAMPAIGN SPELL 

Smith's campaign spell is bound up with his personality. 
On the stump his speeches are heart to heart talks with 
his audiences. He never indulges in cant. His phrases 
have the simplicity and the freshness of the man himself. 

Smith dictates every important speech to his stenog- 
rapher. He prepares by outlining what he wants to cover. 
He makes sure that all the material is at hand. During a 
campaign when he is forced to give the newspapers advance 
copy of what he is going to say, he will dictate his principal 
themes for the address of the evening. When the address 
is typed he will ask for a copy, read it over and prepare 
the famous envelopes. 

He will take a sheaf of legal size envelopes and on each, 
with a particular lead pencil with a very thick lead, write 
in his own hand, the topic head with a few sub-heads as 
reminders of the points he wants to make. Each envelope 
is devoted to one topic only. If he wants to read a docu- 
ment he has it in a convenient file folder. He personally 
checks over his material to make sure that what he may 
need to emphasize a point or answer a question, is at hand. 
Then he is ready. 

With the envelope on the desk, he will often repeat his 
dictated speech,, so uncanny is his memory. Newspaper 
men who have followed him from their advance copy have 
marvelled at his capacity to keep to the text from the 
headings on his magic envelope. Often., however, Smith 

(108) 



HIS CAMPAIGN' SPELL 109 

is at his best in repartee, in answering interruptions and 
in making a sally at his opponent from some local last 
minute references which he could not anticipate in his pre- 
pared address. 

His eloquence comes not from his voice, although that is 
resonant and large, nor from his gestures, free and vigor- 
ous as are these. His arms swing from somewhere near 
his heart. He bends forward at times like a perspiring 
evangelist and talks into the very depths of his hearers' 
souls. His is a persuasiveness which comes from some- 
thing about him that compels confidence* His gestures, his 
words and his thought are all parts of that unique whole 
the Al Smith personality. 

But at more formal gatherings of trained minds or before 
a Chamber of Commerce or a group of experts, this man of 
the people presents his subject with a consecutiveness of 
thought, an ease of manner and an absence of gesture char- 
acteristic of a lecturer rather than of a campaigner. The 
response from such an audience is just as effective if less 
demonstrative than from a popular meeting. 

He has an instinct for the style that fits the occasion. 
While his informal manner on the stump is vigorous and 
forceful, his dignity on other occasions is equally natural. 
His friends have called it "The Governor's university man- 
ner/' But it is less a manner than an outward expression of 
that sense of fitness which has made him in his official 
capacity as Governor, "every inch His Excellency/' 

Nothing is easier than citation of chapter and verse by way 
of illustrating his characteristics as a speaker. For example, 
early in the 1923 campaign for the Assembly, the Republican 
Women's State Executive Committee issued a circular en- 
titled "Give the State a Chance/' It was a severe arraignment 
of the Governor's record and charged him with increasing 
appropriations by $23,000,000. At a meeting of the 



110 ALFRED E. SMITH 

Democratic State Committee on Friday evening, Septem- 
ber 28, the Governor spoke. Displaying the circular to the 
audience and reading from it, he proceeded to answer the 
statements made. The following excerpt is given as an 
example of his method of polemic on the stump : 

At the close of the Legislature I put out a statement in which 
I dealt with every item of the appropriations made last winter. 
If a person will only train his intelligence on this for a minute 
he can see how ridiculous it is. The Assembly was in the hands 
of the Republicans. The Governor cannot appropriate any 
money, and every dollar of the $165,000,000 had to have the 
approval of the Republican Assembly before I could sign it. 
You don't need to go into any detail about it. Just take the com- 
mon sense of it. In the statement I put out I coupled it with 
what in my opinion was a challenge to debate that appropriation 
bill with anybody in the State of New York. If they didn't take 
it or understand it to be a challenge, I put it forth tonight as a 
direct one, i 

The next thing is interesting, too "He doubled the tax rate." 
That isn't true. Whoever told that to the ladies should have told 
them this that I put back into the direct tax the amount that 
Governor Miller deducted from it, because Governor Miller, 
when he deducted it, took the $22,000,000 out of the surplus. 
You can't take it out twice. Let me say for their benefit that it 
would not make any difference who was elected last fall, the 
mill and a half would have to go back on the direct tax because 
the surplus of the State only stands one draft as big as $22,- 
000,000. 

Here is an old worn-out joke: "He had put on the payrolls 
five hundred and twenty-five new jobs for Tammany hench- 
men/' That is getting played out. A Statement of that kind in 
this enlightened day and age is an insult to the intelligence of 
the people of this State. There isn't a man or a woman around 
Albany who doesn't know that the contrary of that statement is 
true. I know it because I know how hard it was to do it. 

"And he raised the pay of 1961 Tammanyites." Why, there 
aren't that many people on the payroll of the State outside of 



HIS CAMPAIGN SPELL 111 

the institutions. Of course, what they meant was that all the 
nurses, and all the attendants, and all the kitchen help, and all 
of the people that are charged ' directly with the care of the 
insane, got an increase of salary. According to my Republican 
lady- friends, they are all Tammanyites even those up in Go- 
wanda Hospital in Buffalo ! 

There's ,one statement they make that has a humorous side. 
You know, I can't think of anything so depressing as public 
office if a man is without a sense of humor. It must be awful. 
I know I couldn't stand it. It's the little amusement I get 
that compensates for a great many headaches. Think of this 
one: "He seeks a four-year gubernatorial term elected in. the 
even off years when the Republican party is not choosing a 
President" 

So it's the Republican party, and not the people, who 
chooses the President, Smith exclaimed. 

In the Fall of 1923, the Democratic women, conscious of 
the need of political education along broad lines, conceived the 
plan of establishing a School of Democracy in which women 
irrespective of parties were invited to participate. 

The school offered lectures by prominent Democratic 
authorities on the principles of the party, the problems of the 
practical workings of the City, State and national depart- 
ments of government. General political questions were dis- 
cussed by experts as well as political issues of interest to the 
voters. This institute of politics attracted women from 
many states. Over three hundred of them registered and 
took an eight weeks* course in the Hotel Commodore. The 
last address was delivered by Governor Smith. The demand 
to hear him was so great that the "school" moved to the Town 
Hall tq hear him. 

This address illustrates Smith's way of driving home an 
argument with the aid of history. It is also a characteristic 
defense of his social and progressive policies advocated by 
him in the Legislature in the Constitutional Convention of 
1915 and as Governor. 



112 ALFRED E. SMITH 

I shall speak of the essential difference in this State between 
the two parties, as I have viewed it m my active political career, 
which dates back over twenty years. 

Let us take up one at a time the great subjects of public 
interest, and let us compare the attitude of the parties; and. when 
I speak of this I speak according to the record, and nobody 
can dispute it. If there is anything I say from this platform 
to-night that anybody desires to dispute, let them come up on 
this platform at any time they choose, I will be here, 

No. 1. The Income Tax. What is the record of the two 
parties ? The income tax amendment to the Federal Constitution 
was submitted to the Legislature of 1910, then under the com- 
plete control of the Republican party. And what did they do 
with it? They rejected it. They were unwilling to say that 
great wealth ought to bear its share of the burden of govern- 
ment. They were unwilling to subscribe to the indisputable 
principle that he who benefits the most should pay accordingly. 

Governor Hughes was then in office as Governor, United 
States Senator Wadsworth was the Speaker of the Assembly, 
and the proposal to ratify the Federal Income Tax was defeated 
in the Assembly, which was under Federal direction and under 
Republican organization command in 1910. 

You see how easy it is for me to issue the challenge, because 
I just quote history. It cannot be disputed. In the fall of 1910 
a Democratic governor was elected and a Democratic Legisla- 
ture was elected, and in the spring of 1911 the amendment to 
the Constitution providing for the income tax was adopted by 
the State. There cannot be any dispute about that. Nobody will 
deny it it is history. 

What position would the country have been in in her hour of 
trial, in her hour of tribulation during the war, if she was 
denied by the provisions of her own Constitution the power to 
levy an income tax against the people who could best afford to 
sustain the country ? And so far as the record of that particular 
subject is concerned in this State, it is distinctly a Democratic 
achievement, as against a reactionary performance on the part 
of the Republican party. 

No. 2. Direct Election of United States Senators. That 



HIS CAMPAIGN SPELL 113 

amendment came to this State for ratification in 1911 and was 
bitterly opposed on the floor o both Houses of the Legislature 
at Albany by the then Republican minority. It was adopted 
and the State of New York was put squarely on record for 
that progressive measure by the votes of the Democrats in the 
Senate and Assembly, against the forceful and vigorous opposi- 
tion of the Republicans. About that there can be no question. 

After some great constructive reform is achieved there are 
always a great number of people looking for the credit. In 
view of the history, how can anybody deny to the Democratic 
party in this State the credit for putting the State of New 
York in line for enfranchisement of women? You know, there 
is a funny little history goes with it that I think I ought to tell 
you. I ought to go back a little bit back further than the 
twenty years I spoke about. 

Prior to 1894 there was nothing in our Constitution in this 
State prohibiting women from voting. It was in the election 
law, the statute law of the State. The Constitution was silent 
on the subject, but the statute law, known as the election law, 
contained certain qualifications for voters; and among the qualifi- 
cations was that a voter must be a male. Roswell P. Flower 
was Governor, and there was a bill passed in both Houses of 
the Legislature striking the word "male" out of the law. It 
came down to the Governor, and it lay on his desk for quite a 
little while. Wonderful pressure and wonderful influence was 
brought to bear on him, and he did not sign it, and it was lost 
in what is known as the omnibus veto among thirty-day bills. 

The following year the Republicans, in full and absolute con- 
trol of the Constitutional Convention, took from that experience 
a warning, and it was they who wrote into the Constitution of 
this State the word "male." It was the Republican party that 
by constitutional law for twenty years prohibited women from 
voting in this State. They were in power from 1894 right 
through to 1911, and during all of that period a proposal to 
amend the Constitution could never even be reported from the 
committee for discussion. When it was reported it was pursuant 
to a Democratic platform plank which promised the people of 
this State that they would submit the question, and I was the 
Speaker of the Assembly that handed down that report of the 



114 ALFRED E. SMITH 

Committee on Judiciary, offering to the people of this State the 
opportunity -to pass upon this question. 

Look at the returns of the election of 1917, and study out the 
political situation in the light of neighborhoods. It is a matter 
of fact, it is a matter of history, that cannot be disputed, that 
the votes to carry the amendment enfranchising the women 
came from the sections of the State that for half a century 
have been known to be strongly Democratic. 

I have said in the course of political debate time and again 
that every big constructive reform in the government of this 
State was put through under Democratic auspices. Let us prove 
it by dates and facts and by figures. Taking them, not neces- 
sarily in the order of their importance, let us study the history 
of the Workmen's Compensation Act. That policy of the State 
placed New York State in the very forefront of all the States 
in the Union which had a constructive, intelligent and progres- 
sive Workmen's Compensation Act Who passed it ? A Demo- 
cratic senate and Democratic assembly, and it was signed by a 
Democratic Governor. Our Republican friends went through 
the motions of investigating the subject a popular Republican 
pastime. 

Investigate things, but don't do anything about them. Some- 
times the report of the Committee satisfies the clamor and the 
appetite of the people for a little while, but meanwhile another 
year passes over us and as long as nothing happens everybody 
is happy. That is the characteristic standpat policy of the Re- 
publican party in this State. The Legislature convenes on the 
first Wednesday in January and the Republicans are exceedingly 
happy if they can wind it up as soon as possible, so that nothing 
happens. 

It is a matter of history and of common knowledge that during 
the administration of Governor Hughes in this State the Repub- 
lican party was torn from stem to stern in a bitter fight over 
whether the people would make nominations for office or the 
bosses would make them and the bosses won. Governor Hughes 
left Albany on the first of September to take his place on the 
Supreme Court bench at Washington, and when he left the 
caoitol he said, "Thanks be to Almisrhtv God." 



HIS CAMPAIGN SPELL 115 

He was not running away from Democrats. As a matter of 
fact, there were not enough of them up there to hurt him. But 
he was running away from a mess within his own party. They 
investigated direct primaries and they talked about them. They 
fixed the appropriation bill so that the investigating committee 
would have the expenses of their trip to the Western States 
paid by the State, whether the Governor liked it or not. This 
brought about, an interesting episode in the State's history. The 
Governor struck out the appropriation for the traveling expenses 
of a committee that was going to investigate whether or not 
.the enrolled voters ought to make their own nominations. He 
struck it out of the appropriation bill, and then he heard that 
the committee were on their way and had actually proceeded. 
He sent for the Deputy Comptroller and he said, "Are these 
men paying their own expenses?" "I don't think so," was the 
reply. 'Well," he said, "that's funny, because I took that item 
out of the appropriation bill." And the Deputy Comptroller said, 
"Well, you only took it out once, and it was in twice." They 
were bound to investigate it, and of course the theory of investi- 
gating it was to be sure to bring back a report that it was not 
any good. 

Which party gave to the people of the State a thoroughgoing 
direct primary bill a primary bill that opened up the door of 
party to the enrolled voters and turned its machinery com- 
pletely over to them? The Democratic party in 1913. It rested 
on the statute books until 1919. The first assault upon it was 
made while I was Governor, and one day there came down to 
me an amendment to the election law providing for the restora- 
tion of the convention system for the nomination of Supreme 
Court judges. So I sent for one of the Republican leaders, and 
I said, "What does this mean?" "Well," he said, "You know it's 
all right, Al, on these strictly political nominations, but when it 
comes to selecting judges of the Supreme Court," he said, "you 
know a few people can always do that better than the mob." 
I said, "Is that so?" "Well," I said, "that is just exactly in 
direct opposition to my notions about it; because if there is one 
official that the people themselves ought to nominate as well as 
elect, it is a judge. If you brought that down to me and stated 



116 ALFRED'S. SMITH 

that with reference to an Alderman, or an Assemblyman, there 
would be a chance for you, but the very reason you have given 
is the reason why I won't sign that bill." 

Flushed with the great victory of 1920, carried away by 
that million one hundred thousand, intoxicated with the notion 
and the thought that they had broken into the solid South, feel- 
ing that the trend of thought and public opinion was going to be 
their way for another generation to come, they went up to 
Albany and emasculated the direct primary bill and gave us 
back the convention system, not only for judges of the Supreme 
Court, but for all the officials running statewide, and it enabled 
the Governor to take control of the convention and declare whom 
he would permit to run and whom he would not. 

The characteristic exemplified by Smith here is clarity a 
clarity which makes him a master of exposition. His theme 
here is ordinarily involved by political speakers in clouds of 
figures. Smith can deal with figures, with his prodigious 
memory, but he conveys inferences from them to the most 
mixed audiences with scarcely an effort or rather with no 
trace of effort. Nor should it be thought that the forcible 
quality of his language here and there is attended by any loss 
of dignity. 

Smith on the platform is an impressive figure because he 
does not lose dignity, but it is never the stiffness, the pom- 
posity and the heaviness usually associated with the idea. The 
dignity goes along with earnestness the speaker is so tre- 
mendously impressed, so sincere and so charged with his 
theme that he makes it no less important to an auditor than 
it is to himself. The humor, manifested at every phase of 
the argument, is really incidental Hence a Smith speech is 
unique in that when read it seems to reflect a far less serious 
treatment of the subject than his hearers thought it. The 
clarity of the exposition, however, is always delightful. 

In the next part of the above speech Smith dealt in the 
same trenchant way with Child Welfare and Labor Laws, 



HIS CAMPAIGN SPELL 117 

the legislation arising out of the Triangle Shirt Waist Fire, 
and the shocking conditions tinder which women and chil- 
dren worked in the canneries in the State. 

The Republican clamor against the fifty-four-hcmr bill for 
women engaged in industry was, "Industry will leave the State, 
it will go over into Connecticut and it ( wiil go over into Massa- 
chusetts, or it will go into Canada." They were unduly solici- 
tous about manufacturers. We passed the fifty-four-hour bill. 
None of them left this State. 

Another one was the bill that abolished night work for 
women. That statute was declared unconstitutional in this 
State in 1904 by the Court of Appeals, upon the theory that it 
interfered with a woman's liberty to contract for her labor. In 
other words, she can do anything she likes in the way of con- 
tracting to work. Why, nobody ever thought from that section 
of o<ur Constitution it is taken from the Federal Constitution 
that liberty ever jvas intended to mean the liberty of contract, 
when that contract was against the public health or the public 
welfare. That kind of liberty meant the liberty of the person 
or the individual, as long as he lived within the laws, to- move 
around and go .wherever he liked and do what he pleased if 
he violated no statute. The same law, limiting the hours of 
labor, the identical one, was sustained in 1914, ten years after, 
by the very same court. In the opinion, the Chief Justice took 
occasion to mention that the court sustained its constitutionality 
because a report from a Commission of the Legislature laid 
before that body indisputable evidence that working in the 
night time was injurious to the health of women, and the health 
of women was the greatest asset that the State co-uld have. 

The prohibition of women working in, foundries, the one-day- 
of-rest-in-seven Act, every one of these bills and every one of 
these laws was written on the statute books of this State by a 
Democratic Legislature and signed by a Democratic Governor. 
Did they remain there peacefully? No. It has taken real 
Democratic effort and real Democratic fighting in all the period 
since 1913 up to today to keep them there. The one-day-of- 
rest-in-seven has been compromised girith so much that there is 



118 ALFRED E. SMITH 

very little of it left. An attempt was made even in 1920 to 
weaken the night-work law for women. And I remember it 
distinctly. A man from an interior part of the State that is 
made up entirely of farming communities, and practically no 
factories in it, introduced the bill. Some of the newspaper 
men came down to speak to me about it, and I said, "Well, it is 
impossible for me to imagine what he can possibly have in his 
mind. He forgets entirely that I am the father of this par- 
ticular Act, and that I put it on the statute books, so far as the 
lower house in Albany is concerned; and if he has an ounce of 
brains he ought to know that I would let this Capitol crumble 
around me before I ;would compromise with this principle in the 
slightest degree." 

I appointed a commission in 1913 that studied first, and after- 
wards proposed, the Child Welfare Act. We took a progres- 
sive step that has been followed by other States in the Union. 
We took the unfortunate child which had been the beneficiary 
of charity through institutional training and we provided a sys- 
tem whereby that child remained home with its own mother and 
she instead of the institution became the agency of the State 
to protect it Did that beneficent measure have Republican 
support or Republican sympathy? No<, the Republican leader 
of the Assembly in arguing against it reached over the aisle 
to me and said, "What about the grass widows, and what about 
the children of the drunkard?" That was his conception of 
it. That u was the Republican idea of it, and that it was pater- 
nalistic. If it is to be done at all, they said, it must be done as 
a matter of charity not as a matter of State duty, which was 
the Democratic idea and the Democratic policy. 

Somebody may , raise the question that Democrats only 
thought of these things, that they did not think of business. 
That is not true. The present banking code was enacted by 
the Democratic Legislature of 1913. That has been time and 
time again referred to as the most progressive act of its kind 
probably in this country. 

I am going to anticipate from the audience a very natural 
question this question should, I presume, particularly come 
from our visiting delegates of other States, The question is 




Ax TWENTY-ONE AND ALREADY ACTIVE IN POLITICS 



HIS CAMPAIGN SPELL 119 

this: If everything that you say is true, how do you account 
for Republican success in a State like this? That is a natural 
question. I will answer it for you. The answer is this: The 
Republicans have a world of money, no end of it, and they can 
draw it from all the four quarters of the State by a single 
motion. And they know how to use it. They maintain in Albany 
a press bureau, and that press bureau circulates, broadcasts 
throughout the State, into all the newspapers, even to the very 
point of supplying the paper with the set-up type, ready to print. 

We know the power of propaganda. Democrats know how 
it was used in 1919 in this country. I heard Dr. Wise from 
the platform of the Wieting Theatre in Syracuse make the state- 
ment that the very day that Woodrow Wilson put his foot on 
French soil there was a newspaper of the Republican National 
Committee which started to discredit its own President at a 
great crisis in the country's history. There is no doubt about 
that, and what was published in papers in this country was sup- 
pressed in France. France had a greater regard and a greater 
respect for the leading representative of the greatest country in 
the world than the country itself had. 

The Democratic party has the great numbers and the great 
crowd, but look how often they are led away from home by 
false stories that come as a result of paid propaganda, the 
result of actual payment in money to misrepresent. Nothing 
strikes as forcibly at the foundation stone of democratic gov- 
ernment as a wilful and deliberate misrepresentation of facts. 
A man who cannot win any other way has not any place in the 
public life of this country; if he cannot win on the record and 
on the facts, he ought to stop. Because if you carry misrepre- 
sentation to its logical conclusion, in the final analysis it means 
that the greatest liar becomes the greatest man. 

Something was said earlier in the evening about women being 
naturally Democrats. I think the twenty-year history of the 
performance of the two parties in this State could well be put 
out, as abundant reason for asking women to affiliate with the 
Democratic party. 

In conclusion, and summing up in a few words, and viewing 
that record, having in mind that history, it is just this: It is 



120 ALFRED E. SMITH 

the point of view with which you approach a thing the Re- 
publican party in this State by its history and its record believes 
that law in a democracy is some divine and eternal thing that 
is designed or prepared to protect money, whereas, on the 
other hand, the Democratic party believes that law in a democ- 
racy is the expression of that particular thing that does the 
most good for the greatest number and goes the furthest to 
relieve and to protect and care for the great mass of the peo- 
ple who, after all, make up the country* 



CHAPTER XXII 

THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET 

Smith's interest in what Albany so vaguely terms budget 
reform the dullest of characterizations for the liveliest of 
themes began in the Legislature. 

Its first public manifestation is to be derived from the 
records of the constitutional convention. This body had ap- 
pointed a committee on State finances, and in that committee 
there was warm debate on the subject of an executive budget. 
Should such a thing be introduced into the State Constitu- 
tion ? Might it not be best to ignore the topic by not report- 
ing back upon it to the convention at all ? 

One of the most closely reasoned and cogent reports of the 
whole convention advocated an executive budget and it was 
presented by Henry L. Stimson, who had been Taft/s Secre- 
tary of War. Smith followed Stimson in dealing with this 
budget problem* In an address manifesting perfect mastery 
of the intricacies of it all, he showed that the executive 
budget as then submitted failed to take into account the 
chief cause of extravagance in the State government the 
absence of a check upon the passage of local and private bills. 
These were too often passed to favor representatives (chiefly 
from up the State) whose political life depended upon keep- 
ing pre-election promises to obtain State appropriations for 
local improvements. Smith's citations of such bills and his 
satirical comments on them tickled the risibilities of the con- 
vention and pricked the knowing ones into discomfort. Smith 
advocated an amendment based on what he called "Court of 



122 ALFRED E. SMITH 

Appeals language" to check this extravagance by requiring 
a two-thirds vote for the passage of such bills. In the form- 
ulation of his amendments to the financial sections of the 
constitution, Smith displayed an uncanny capacity for fram- 
ing legal language "fool-proof and tight." 

A number of Smith's amendments to the financial sections 
supplementary to the Executive Budget were accepted by 
Chairman Stimson. "If you keep on making amendments to 
the Constitution, Al," said one of his colleagues, "so much 
of it will be your handiwork you will have to support it at 
the polls." 

Smith began his own remarks by reminding them that 
upon this question of State appropriations he probably spoke 
with as much personal experience as any man in the conven- 
tion certainly with more than most of the delegates. He 
reminded them that he had been chairman of the committee 
on ways and means in 1911. He had been a member of it 
ever since with the exception of the year 1913 when he was 
Speaker and could not be on that committee. 

"So that I can speak," he said, "from the practical side 
rather than from the theoretical side. I am in accord with 
the committee on the preparation outside of the Legislature 
of a budget and its submission to the Legislature. But the 
proposal set forth by the committee on finance and so well 
and so ably explained by the gentleman from New York to 
my way of thinking does not go half far enough." He de- 
veloped his argument in this way : 

That proposed budgetary reform reaches only about one-half 
of the appropriations of the State. Now I take it that the budget, 
so-called, will be what is known to-day as the Appropriation 
Bill, or the bill commonly known as the one that makes pro- 
vision for the maintenance of government. 

In this year just passed that bill amounted to $32,000,000, but 
there were $63,000,000 appropriated by the Legislature, so that 



THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET 123 

there are $31,000,000 still left to be taken care of by the system 
that so much fault has been found with. 

Now it may be urged that that is something for the Governor 
to take care of, but I submit to this Convention that any man in 
the Governor's chair, no matter who he may be, will be interested 
in the first instance in having his budget that he recommends 
to the Legislature as low as he can possibly make it. Now that 
is practical, hard, common sense, and if we are unwilling to 
recognize that we will never get anywhere in our discussion of 
the proposed method of handling the State's finances. 

It may be urged that all the special bills could be included 
under the head of construction., if they belonged there ; improve- 
ments, if they belonged there; but no Governor will ever put 
them in there. Why? Because you have by the terms of your 
own bill provided another way of doing it; a way which takes 
away from him any criticism that may come to him for initiative 
or suggestion, in the first instance, of this particular appropria- 
tion, so that the $31,000,000 this year, had this been in effect this 
year, the $31,000,000 of the $63,000,000 would have come tinder 
the heading of what you refer to on lines 17 to 25, on page 3 
of the bill as "further appropriations." 

Now about that there can be no dispute. The bill the chair- 
man spoke about for the bridge in Wayne county, the Governor 
would never put that in the budget. That would belong among 
the bills for further appropriation. 

MR. STIMSON Will the gentleman yield for a question? 

MR. A. E. SMITH I yield. 

MR. STIMSON I did not mention the Wayne county bridge, 
but I suppose you refer to the one I did refer to last winter. As 
a matter of fact wasn't that vetoed by the Governor ? 

MR. A. E, SMITH Yes. 

MR. STIMSON Would it not be taken care of in the same way 
under the system? 

MR. A. E. SMITH The Governor would never include it in 
the budget. That's my point. 

MR. STIMSON But he would take care of it. 

MR. A. E. SMITH Yes, precisely; but there are so many that 
he did not take care of that I want to see about them and when 



124 ALFRED E. SMITH 

I get down to it I will explain it to the House. What happened 
to Wayne county should have happened to several other bridges 
and creeks and normal schools; but it did not happen and I 
propose to show to the Convention that it was the intention, i I 
am able to read simple English, it was the intention of the Con- 
stitutional Convention of 1894, that no such bill as the Wayne 
county bill should pass this House by seventy-six votes; and 
the Committee has failed, so far as I am able to see, to cure 
that situation, although it can be easily cured, and it was intended 
that it be twenty years ago, as I propose to try and make it 
today. 

Now, when I submitted my Proposed Amendment requiring 
the heads of the departments or the commissioners to make their 
requests to the Governor under oath, I did not then have in mind 
any budgetary system that would be prepared outside of the 
Legislature itself, I had in mind simply publicity the incor- 
poration, so to speak, of all these facts in the Governor's annual 
message. The Governor is now required by law to submit to 
the Legislature, at its first annual meeting, a statement of the 
financial condition of the State. It is because that makes no 
mention of proposed appropriations that nobody has ever been 
interested in it. When it is read to the Legislature there is not 
a man stays in his seat. It is printed and on the desk of the 
members, and, except for the purposes of discussion on very 
nearly every other part of it, except the financial article, it is 
never heard of again. 

So that if I were to say that a budget should be prepared by 
any person I would say the man to prepare it would be the Comp- 
troller, because the Comptroller can have no possible interest 
in it And, again remarking that if we want to take a good com- 
mon-sense view, good, hard, practical facts, let us now admit 
that the Governor does have an interest in some departments 
as against others. All Governors in that respect are alike. They 
have all made their personal appointments, going back as far as 
I can remember. Every Governor has had at the head of some 
of the departments of the State somebody that he personally 
appointed for reasons best known to himself. And under this 
system, to say the least, there exists the temptation to the Gov- 



THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET 125 

ernor to see that these particular departments of the State have 
all that they want, no matter who has to suffer for it. So that, 
if there is anybody outside of the Legislature to prepare and 
present a budget, in the ordinary course of affairs, in the ordi- 
nary course of good business, it ought to come from the fiscal 
officer of the State the Comptroller. 

And it should contain a comparison with former appropria- 
tions for those specific items. And, more important than any- 
thing else and above everything else, it should put down in 
black and white just how much money there is on the first day 
of that January to the account of each one of these particular 
funds. That is the one big thing that it should contain. There 
is no machinery in the Governor's office for it. After all, it will 
have to come from the Comptroller. Look over the list of the 
Governor's employees. With the exception of the stenographers 
and typewriters and the telephone operator and the pardon clerk 
and his assistant, every single attache of the Governor's office 
comes into office with him and retires when he retires. 

MR, BRACKETT The military secretary, too. 

MR. QUIGG Mr. Chairman, will Mr. Smith yield for a 
question? 

THE CHAIRMAN Will the gentleman yield for a question? 

MR. A. E. SMITH Yes. 

MR. QUIGG Does the gentleman realize that in using the 
term "Comptroller" he may be mistaking himself and us, until 
we know what the plan of the Committee on Governor and Other 
State Officers is ? If the Comptroller is to be merely an auditor, 
as I understand is the idea, he is assigned to that one thing. If 
he is to be the fiscal officer of the State, or, as it were, Secretary 
of the Treasury what the Comptroller is now the gentleman 
is talking about another officer, and I should like to inquire just 
what he means by the use of the word "Comptroller"? 

MR. A. E. SMITH Well, by "Comptroller" I mean the posi- 
tion that the Comptroller now holds toward the departments of 
the State, the fiscal officer. Now, whoever you may decide is 
hereafter to be that fiscal officer, whether he is to be known as 
the Secretary of the Treasury or the Comptroller or the head 
of the department of the treasury, he will be the man that will 
be in a position, as I see it, to properly supply this information. 



126 ALFRED K SMITH 

Now, as a matter of fact, where does this information come 
from now? Does it come from the Comptroller's office? Not 
at all. The Comptroller after his election is an individual man. 
Elected in November, after a hard and strenuous campaign, he 
goes away for a little while; takes a well-earned rest, comes 
back in time to engage in the pomp and ceremony of the installa- 
tion of the new State officers. 

Now, who is it that prepares this budget ? Who is it that does 
the work now required of the State Comptroller under the 
Finance Law? The experts in the office of the Comptroller. 
There are fifteen or sixteen men in the Comptroller's office today 
who have been there upwards of twenty years. 

The government changes. Comptrollers come and Comp- 
trollers go; Governors come and Governors go with them; but 
these men who are experts in the different lines of the State 
finance have been there over twenty years, every one of them; 
and that is the resort to which the Governor will have to go for 
his information. If he was in office for a year, not to speak of 
a month, that is where he would have to go ; and experience has 
so taught every man in the Legislature that he does not even go 
to the Comptroller himself, any more than the Finance Com- 
mittees of both of these Houses consult with the Comptroller. 
Everybody knows that that is not so. In the Legislature, the 
different committees, the Finance Committees, they send for the 
men who are at the heads of these different departments and who 
are experts in. them. If you want to 1 find out anything about any 
financial plan, you send for Deputy Comptroller Wendell, who 
has been in the Comptroller's office for twenty years, and who 
knows all about it ; and it is the same with the other department 
heads over there. So that after all while this may appear to be 
the result of action by the Governor, while it may appear an 
executive budget, it will have to come from the office of the 
Comptroller. 

Now, there is another weakness about it. We must bear in 
mind that about 80 per cent of your budget is statutory. Where 
the abuses have crept into the finance matters of the State in 
the past has been upon the initiation of new work, the committing 
of the State to some great public improvement which is going 



THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET 127 

to cost a great deal more money than is appropriated for the 
coming year. That is a very popular move in the second year 
of every Governor's term. If he is not re-elected he finds it con- 
venient to pass two-thirds of the buck to the next fellow. If he 
is re-elected he is all right. So he does not hesitate to commit 
the State to a series of local and private improvements which 
may cost a half a million or even a million dollars, although 
against his financial record there is only chargeable $50,000 
because he only desires to have the plans drawn while he is 
Governor. Now, that is a fact, and that comes within the budget, 
and absolutely no remedy appears anywhere in this bill for that 
condition, and that is the one thing that needs remedy more 
than does the budget, because the budget, as I said before, is 
practically 80 per cent, statutory. There can be no change in 
the salaries fixed by statute. 

MR. BRACKETT Statutory and mandatory. 

MR. A. E. SMITH And mandatory. Invariably different 
things come up for which the Legislature shall make provision. 
Now, take the Governor's own office, starting with the Executive 
Department. The only one item that is what we call a liquid 
appropriation, and subject to any change is the office expenses, 
postage and expressage and documents and papers and things of 
that kind. All the rest is fixed by statute. So that when we are 
bringing under the supervision of the executive in the first in- 
stance that part of the appropriation that needs the least regula- 
tion, we are leaving free to the Legislature and to the Governor 
to do as they please after the Appropriation Bill is passed. 

Now, in my bill, No. 345, which I am going to ask the Com- 
mittee of the Whole here to incorporate in this proposal, I pro- 
vide that every head of a department and every State office or 
head of a bureau shall swear to his request. 

Now, gentlemen, speaking from what I said a few moments 
ago, as a personal experience, that is the one great thing that 
you have got to do. If you do not do that, all the rest of this 
estimating by the department heads to the Governor means no- 
thing. That is a question of opinion, and no Governor will set his 
opinion up against the head of the department that he has given 
full responsibility for the success of its undertaking. 



128 ALFRED E. SMITH 

There is a popular imagination probably that when the requests 
come over to the Legislature for appropriations from the dif- 
ferent departments the Legislature accepts them just as they 
come from the department. Why, that is not the fact. If that 
was the fact, upwards of $15,000,000 more than has been appro- 
priated for the last five years, to my own knowledge, would have 
been appropriated every year. 

The Legislature, through its Committee on Ways and Means, 
has, first, a check upon that; secondly, through its Finance 
Committee of the Senate, it sends for the head of every depart- 
ment and goes over the items with him, item by item, and where 
an item differs from the bill of last year he must give his reasons 
for it. That is not any more than a Governor can do or, at 
least the Governor cannot do any more than that ; but when you 
say to the department head, "You swear to that statement," he 
will make a little closer study of it than he does at the pres- 
ent time. 

One of the troubles at the present time, and has been, to my 
knowledge, for as long back as I can remember, is that the 
department heads themselves pay no attention to these matters. 
In every single department of this State you will find some man 
who has been there for a great many years, who has charge oi 
the finances, and let the chairman of the Ways and Means Com- 
mittee summon the head of a department to come before him 
in relation to his appropriations, and what do you see? You 
see the department head walk in, and behind him his clerk with 
a package that big in his arms, and you may direct your inquiry 
to the head of the department, and he will invariably turn around 
and say, "What about that?' 7 

Now, that is the fact. These department heads will have these 
itemized statements that they give to the Governor prepared 
just as they have been prepared right along, by the clerks, and 
some of these clerks have attained some of their reputation for 
ability by being able to convince the Legislature that they need 
a little more money every year. 

Now, about that there is no question. 

Now, it would be no insult somebody said it would be an 
insult, or inferred that it would be, or that the oath would be, or 



THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET 129 

% 

the opinion would not be of any use. I say now that there is not 
a head of a State department here that will put his name down 
on paper and raise his right hand up and say that what that 
paper contains is necessary, unless he reads it first; and that is 
where you get your safeguard over appropriations. 

You will compel the department heads to become more ac- 
quainted with the fiscal business of their departments rather than 
the politics and the construction work, whatever it may be. 

AFTER RECESS 

MR. WICKERSHAM Will the delegate yield for a question of 
information? 

MR. A. E. SMITH Yes. 

MR. WICKERSHAM What is it that this official is to swear 
to ? What is it on which you lay so much stress ? 

MR. A. E. SMITH Swear to- the necessity for the conduct of 
his department for the next fiscal year. 

MR. WICKERSHAM Swear that, in his opinion, it is necessary 
for that particular purpose that is indicated? 

MR. A. E. SMITH That is right. I claim he can do that. I 
claim that he can find that out, as to necessities, almost to a cer- 
tainty and then he need only swear as to his opinion on desir- 
able appropriations, stating why he would like to have them and 
what reform he seeks to- .work out by them, what new activity 
he proposes to enlarge upon or improve by the appropriation 
of additional money for that particular purpose. 

Now, starting with the Governor's office, the Governor can, 
with the exception of two items in his .whole office, make affi- 
davit to the necessity o-f the appropriation for his department. 
Every one of the commissioners could do it. The Superintend- 
ent of Insurance and the Superintendent of Banks can tell to a 
certainty what is required to run their departments for the com- 
ing year. And it would have another effect which I think 
would be very good. After that official has sworn to the neces- 
sities for the next fiscal year,, it would be rather difficult to get 
him to change his mind; and they have been known to change 
their minds as to the necessity, particularly when there is found 



130 ALFRED E. SMITH 

number one, two or three on a civil service list, some individual 
that is "entitled to consideration." 

MR* CULLINAN Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman give k way ? 

MR. A. E. SMITH Yes. 

MR. CtiLLHSTAN Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask you with 
reference to three topics, and, from your standpoint as an active 
member of the Legislature, I would like to get your views. 
First, last winter Mr. Adler introduced a bill entitled "An act 
to amend the legislative law, relative to financial information 
for the use of the legislature and the preparation of the annual 
budget and appropriation bills/* 

I would like to get your views on that measure and the 
reasons why it did not become a law. 

Second. As to the advisability of [wiping out these balances 
of appropriations after three months, instead of the two years' 
clause at the present 

Third. What in your judgment would be the practical effect 
of having the Governor or State officers come before the Legis- 
lature? 

I would like your opinion on those three propositions. 

MR. A. E. SMITH Mr. Chairman, I will take the last one 
first This proposeed amendment to the Constitution provides 
that "the Governor, the heads of such departments and the 
Comptroller shall have the right, and it shall be their duty, when 
requested by either house of the Legislature, to appear and be 
heard in respect to the budget/' and so forth and so forth. 

That really makes no change in the present system. The 
Governor has that right at the present time; he has always had 
that right The legislators themselves the legislative commit- 
tees have the right now of subpoenaing, under the Legislative 
Law. If they desire to find out something about any matter 
at all pending they can subpoena a man and compel him to 
testify. 

So that I think that answers that point, I fail to see how 
that makes any change. The Legislature can demand this 
information, and if it is refused, it can, with propriety, jvith- 
hold the appropriation. 



THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET 131 

I believe, myself, that the Legislature to-day has a greater 
power than will be given to the Governor even by this. This 
seems to be more in the nature of a request, .whereas the Legis-* 
lature can now subpoena and can compel the witness under 
oath to -testify as to any fact, in relation, to any pending proposi- 
tion, whether it be an appropriation bill or any other matter. 

That is very carefully safeguarded at the present time, and 
that may also answer the question of why the Legislature did 
not pass the Adler Bill. 

Because it seemed to me it seemed I suppose it would seem 
to me to be unnecessary, all that power residing at the present 
time in the Finance and Ways and Means Committees of the 
two houses, 

Now, the second one, I 

Ma. CULLINAN Whether the appropriations should 
MR. A. E. SMITH (interrupting) Oh, yes; yes. Well, the 
part of this bill that proposes to have the appropriations lapse 
three months after the fiscal year is a very, very good thing, 
that should be done ; very necessary. Two years is too long a 
life to give an appropriation of the character of office expendi- 
ture and travelling expenditures. The department should be 
compelled in the single fiscal year to have that reappropriated ; 
if you didn't do it for any other reason, it would call attention 
to it, the fact that it is being reappropriated. 

Now, in the report set forth in Document 32, one of the essen- 
tials of the report is to require information, to get information, 
that it may be public. I claim from my knowledge of the 
handling of the finances of the State that you cannot get real, 
genuine information unless you require some responsible person 
to swear as to his opinion, as to its accuracy. What will go on 
under this .will be exactly the present system. The clerk in 
charge of the department will unquestionably draw up that 
statement and -send it to the Governor. In the first instance it 
will be misleading because more will be put in there than will be 
actually required, ;with the hope in the first instance on the part 
of the friends of the Governor that he may be able at the very 
beginning of his term to make a financial record of pruning 



132 ALFRED E. SMITH 

down and cutting down so that they can say here is what the 
department has requested; look at it; thirty-seven millions; but 
here is what an economical Governor suggests to the Legisla- 
ture, only thirty millions seven millions less. The temptation 
to do that will unquestionably exist 

Now, under your proposal you prevent the Legislature from 
increasing the items, but, after the budget is passed, there is no 
check whatever on the Legislature from passing another appro- 
priation bill for one of the identical objects, and no official of 
the State will be ready to give his sanction to that special bill 
if it increases the cost of his department, after he has previously 
sworn to the necessities. 

Now, suppose this had been in the Constitution this winter? 
A bill came in here from one of the State departments and 
passed the Assembly with a, certain amount in it for a given 
purpose. When it went to the Senate $22,000 was added to it 

It came back and was concurred in by the Assembly and went 
to the Governor and he signed it. Now if the retiring State 
official had, over his signature and tinder oath, made the state- 
ment that $22,000 less than that was all that was necessary for 
his department for the next fiscal year, that "twenty-two" could 
not get in very well unless everybody knew exactly how it was 
getting there and why it was put there. 

MR. WICKERS HAM Is there anything to prevent the Governor 
in making up this budget recommending a reduction in the num- 
ber of places, or in the rate of salaries, so that the suggested 
budget by him would be an indication to the Legislature of the 
direction in which economy might be practtised, 

MR. A. E. SMITH Yes, he can do that now. 

MR. WICKERSHAM Yes, but in connection with the budget 
it would be more effective, in that it would call the attention of 
the Legislature more distinctly to it, would it not? 

MR, A. E. SMITH Why, no more strongly than it is called 
at the present time. The Governor this year said: 

"The increase, on an unprecedented scale, in the number of 
State officials and employees, and the reckless increase in salaries 
in nearly all departments during the last four years are explain- 
able only by the existence of a deliberate plan to fasten the 



THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET 133 

control of a party upon the State by the use of a vast amount 
of official patronage. The present condition of the State's 
finances demands an immediate and drastic revision of the 
State's payrolls and requires that unnecessary offices, depart- 
ments and commissions shall be abolished. Service should be 
rendered to the State on the basis of efficient and economical 
private employment/' etc. And he goes on and mentions several 
ways he expects to do that. But before the session was over lie 
attempted to defeat it himself. 

Now, I said in the opening of rny remarks that the budget as 
we understand it, or the appropriation bill, would carry only 
one-half of the appropriations. This year it would have been 
thirty-two millions of the sixty-three millions that were appro- 
priated. You say here that neither house shall consider That 
means that they cannot even have a committee meeting- on the 
other thirty-one millions until they have passed the budget. Now, 
in order to have plenty of time, and the time the Legislature 
would require to deal with the thirty-one millions that I speak 
of, the appropriation bill must pass before the first day of 
April, the session to last until the middle of May. 

It must pass before the first of April. Now, by leaving in 
here the power in the hands of the Legislature to initiate appro- 
priations, after that, what becomes of that first budget? Sup- 
posing we had the condition that obtained here this winter, 
where every single department of the government was changed 
around. Why, by the first of May you would not know] that 
budget if you saw it. But there it would stand, probably Chap- 
ter 2, or 3, of the Laws of 1915, and by the first of May there 
would not be a shred of it left and where would the taxpayer 
then be when he wanted to find out what the budget of 1915 was ? 
Instead of being able to turn to one bill containing all the expen- 
ditures, he would have to read the session laws through to find 
out what happened to it afterwards by subsequent legislation. 

Supposing on the first of March your budget calls for three 
State Tax Commissioners at $7,500 apiece, and three deputies, 
at $5,000 apiece, and three secretaries. About the 20th or 25th of 
April the Legislature, in its wisdom, or maybe upon the request 
of the Governor, may see fit to reduce the Tax Commission to 



134 ALFRED E. SMITH 

one member. As soon as that bill is passed you have to amend 
the budget, if it had only just become a law. Now I cannot offer 
any remedy for that I am going to be very frank about it. 
I cannot offer a remedy for it because if I attempt my remedy 
for that, I am going to foreclose the Legislature from dealing in 
any way, shape or form, after the budget passes in the first few 
months, with the structure of government, so that they would 
practically be reduced down to amending the penal code and the 
civil code and such other laws as would not require any money to 
enforce or any additional officials to enforce them. 

Now about the ISth of April if the Legislature decides to put 
new duties upon the Commissioner of Labor or upon the Comp- 
troller, or upon the Superintendent of Banks, or upon any other 
of the officials, what have they got to do ? You cannot send them 
out to do a job and give them nothing to do it with. You have 
got to make an appropriation. That comes afterwards in a 
special bill What then happens to your budget? Again I 
say, you have got to go all through the session laws to find 
out just what ;was the record of a particular administration in 
making provision for the support of government. 

MB. PARSONS Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield for 
a question? 

THE CHAIRMAN Will the gentleman yield ? 

MR. A. E. SMITH Yes. 

MR. PARSONS The gentleman has stated that there would be 
thirty odd millions of appropriations which would not be covered 
by this budget I do not find in the records of previous years any 
such sum. Take the appropriations for the fiscal year ending 
September 30, 1914, which are found in the Comptroller's report 
for this year. The appropriation bill for the preceding year was 
$29,518,069.25; the supply bill, $2,201,482.05. The special bills 
I understand by that that it means construction, does it not? 

MR. A. E. SMITH No, not necessarily. 

MR. PAJRSONS I mean, some items would be considered as 
construction? 

MR, A. E. SMITH No, a great deal of it is construction and 
improvement of existing structures. 

MR. PARSONS Now, the special bills, the total is $16,895,- 



THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET 135 

442.87, but of that all except $8,849,193.34 is for canal fund 
appropriations and the sinking fund installments, so that those 
special bills really amount to only $8,849,193.34, and included in 
those are the construction items. Now this proposed amendment 
intends that in the budget there shall be included all the con- 
struction and improvement items. 

MR. A. E. SMITH It does not say so. 

MR. PARSONS It says "all the financial needs/' 

MR. A, E. SMITH Oh, no, it don't say anything of the kind; 
"the needs of a department, classified according to relative im- 
portance." Just the needs of the department 

MR. PARSONS Well, every construction take the Education 
Department If it needs additional construction, it is a need of 
the Education Department, is it not ? 

MR. A, E. SMITH Why, no, not under the system that has 
been operating here. You are not changing the system and when 
I get down to the private and local bills I will show you why you 
are not changing the system. 

MR. PARSONS How much did the private and local bills 
amount to? 

MR. A. E. SMITH Why, about fifteen millions. 

MR. PARSONS The private and local bills ? 

MR. A. E. SMITH Yes. The private and local bills are of a 
kind that the Governor will not take responsibility for in the first 
instance. 

MR. PARSONS Well, will the gentleman point out to me where 
it is provided that local bills amounting to $15,000,000 appear in 
the 1914 appropriation ? 

MR. A. E. SMITH Why, the whole supply bill has practically 
been a private and local bill. 

MR. PARSONS But the supply bill is only something over 
$2,000,000. 

MR. SMITH That was in 1914. 

MR. PARSONS Well, in 1915, the supply bill was $5,090,T 
231.42 not $15,000,000. 

MR. A. E. SMITH When I say the special bills, I mean they 
all run up to $15,000,000. 

I regard the maintenance and construction of the highways, 



136 ALFRED E. SMITH 

the maintenance item of the highways an item that would be 
under dispute and that would come in afterwards, No^ let me 
show you why that is so. 

MR. PARSONS What is there in this proposition 

MR. A. E. SMITH The Governor in his message says, in his 
special message said to the Legislature on the 4th of February, 
dealing with the finances of the State, in which the celebrated 
$18,000,000 came into play, he said, the State is spending $100,- 
000,000 in the improvement of so-called State highways, and in 
order that the property of the State shall be conserved it has been 
necessary to expend out of the treasury each year a large sum of 
money for the repair and maintenance of the highways which 
have been improved. Last year over $2,000,000 have been spent 
for that purpose, this year $5,000,000 are requested, but if the 
last appropriation is not exceeded we will be required to appro- 
priate $2,000,000. But what did we appropriate? Four million 
four hundred thousand dollars. Now, that was in face of the 
statement that was made and not contradicted that the present 
organization of the Highway Department was unable in one year 
to spend more than $2,000,000, and the statement was made and 
never contradicted that the State Highway Department, with 
the money that they had left over and above that $2,000,000, 
bought stone and oil and stored it away outside of the city of 
Buffalo for the repair of the roads for the next year, notwith- 
standing that $4,400,000 was appropriated for that item. 

That $4,400,000 is the thing that I speak of, it will be in the 
special bills because no Governor, after being in office a month or 
two months, would undertake to say whether it requires two, four 
or more millions, but he would let the Legislature decide that and 
he would deal with it himself afterwards. 

MR. PARSONS But it would be in the statement of the depart- 
ment as some of the needs of the department, wouldn't it? 

MR. A. E. SMITH Yes, it will be; no dojibt about that, and if 
you leave it to the Highway Commission it would be up to the 
top figure. 

MR. BRACKETT May I file a caveat as a point of order 

THE CHAIRMAN Mr. Brackett I don't know of any such 
practice, but I have no doubt permission will be granted. 



THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET 137 

MR* BSACKETT If the questioning and argumentation, back 
and forth under the guise of argument, which greatly delays the 
game, continues, I am going to hereafter make objection* 

MR. A. E. SMITH Now, I want to pass on to Section No. 21. 
The Appropriation bill. "No money shall ever be paid out of the 
treasury of this State, or any of its funds or any of the funds 
under its management, except in pursuance of appropriation by 
law." Now, stop there. Now, one of my proposals would amend 
that to read this way : "No money shall ever be paid out of the 
treasury of this State or any of its funds or any of the funds under 
its management" and I add the words "nor any obligation in- 
curred except in pursuance of an appropriation by law." Now, 
what I am seeking to do by that is to prevent the department 
heads and bureaus of the Government from incurring the liabil- 
ities where no appropriation has been made for it. Now, that is 
the present law, it is the State Finance Law, but nothing ever 
happens about it for the simple reason that the appropriation bill, 
when it passes, legalizes that action. The reason why I want it 
in the Constitution is that there will be the same safeguard around 
the highways where an obligation has been incurred with no 
appropriation as there is now about the payment of money of the 
State funds without appropriation. 

I will show you exactly what I mean. Take the supply bill of 
19 yes, page 9, under the heading of the Civil Service Com- 
mission, for deficiency in appropriation for actual and necessary 
traveling expenses of the commission, its secretary and other 
employes of the commission, in the performance of their official 
duties $1500.^ Now, that was incurred without appropriation. 
And what happened? That department owes it to somebody, 
there is nothing for the Legislature to do but to pay the just 
debts of the State and then give it the expression of law by 
writing it into one of the bills and, as Mr. Wadsworth says, 
they have the effect of law and that legalizes their action. 

Now, another illustration it runs all through the bills in the 
State Probation Commission, for books, stationery, printing, sup- 
plies, postage, etc., my memory happens to be keen on this item 
it was denied by the conference committee of 1914, and they were 
told by that committee that they had enough money for that pur- 



138 ALFRED . SMITH 

pose. But they went on and incurred the indebtedness just the 
same, They came along next year and had it legalized by the 
appropriation bill page 54, lines 10 to 13 of the bill, as a 
deficiency in the appropriation for expenses of delegates to the 
National Prison Congress, They asked for that, apparently, 
but did not get it, but they went on, and attended the Congress, 
and came back the next year under the head of the deficiency. 
Now, there could be no deficiency in that if it was ever appro- 
priated* The trouble is it was never appropriated and it was 
afterwards called a deficiency in traveling expenses and that 
thing will go on continually in this State unless you put into the 
Constitution that no obligation shall be incurred except in pur- 
suance of an appropriation by law. 

It is going to have another good effect; it will stop the increas- 
ing of salaries in departments until the Governor and the Leg- 
islature can act first 

MR. CtnxiNAiT Mr. President, will the gentleman give way ? 

MR. A. E. SMiTHYes. 

MR. CULLI^TAN* Doesn't what is known as the Higgins Law 
prevent the incurring of the expenditure to which you call our 
attention? 

MR. A. E. SMITH I so stated, Judge, but the great trouble is 
that this legalizes the violation of it because this then becomes 
law. I don't know, if it is in the Constitution I presume some- 
body could attack the legality of the enactment. That would be 
the difficulty. 

Now I come down to what I regard as probably the most im- 
portant thing about the bill, m Document 32. The Committee has 
spoken strongly about log-rolling methods in the Legislature to 
secure appropriation bills. On one page they deal with the 
manner of a passage of a bill in the Senate with only two mem- 
bers voting against it, but you haven't done a single thing to 
cure that. There is absolutely no cure for that. These special 
bills will never be in the budget ; they will be in the class of bills 
that you refer to beginning on line 17 of page 3, neither House 
shall consider further appropriations until the appropriation bills 
sent by the Governor have been acted upon. Now after that is 
over and the fixed charges of the State are comprehended, the 



THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET 139 

budget or appropriation bill is finished, then comes the log-rolling 
all over again, and you haven't done anything to prevent it and 
you can do something, it can be prevented. 

Now, in 1894, there was written into the Constitution, Section 
20 of Article III, and it reads as follows: "The assent of two- 
thirds of the members elected to each branch of the Legislature 
shall be requisite to every bill appropriating the public money or 
property for local or private purposes." 

That is the present Constitution. Now, there is no question as 
to what that means. But the courts, in their decisions, have de- 
feated its purpose, because they have held that while an appro- 
priation may mainly benefit a single section, it may, at the same 
time, benefit the whole State. 

So that they have defeated its purpose. Of course, every 
dollar spent in this State upon an improvement, it would be 
difficult to say it did not include the State; but it mainly benefits 
a single locality, and it was the intention of the Constitution 
framers in 1894 to require that that class of bills receive a two- 
thirds vote in order to pass. 

I propose a constitutional amendment today. I say: "The 
assent of two-thirds of the members elected to each branch of 
the Legislature shall be requisite to every bill appropriating 
public money or property for local or private purposes," and 
now, I add this "or for State purposes when less than the whole 
State is to be directly or mainly benefited by the expenditure of 
the moneys appropriated, except appropriations for the repair 
and maintenance of the canals, or the support and construction 
of State institutions," 

The reason why I make the exception is that I hold the canals 
and their maintenance and repairs and their construction to be 
a State-wide purpose even if a single locality may be benefited by 
it, and I maintain and I hold that the construction and the equip- 
ment and the care of the institutions for the insane is a State-wide 
purpose, even if the construction of one building or a set of 
buildings in a single locality may be deemed by some I won't 
imagine that there are some who do but it may be deemed by 
some to be mainly benefiting one section. 

MR. M. SAXE Mr. Chairman. 



140 ALFRED E. SMITH 

THE CHAIRMAN Mr. Saxe. 

MR. M. SAXE Will the gentleman yield? 

MR. A. E. SMITH Surely. 

MR. M. SAXE Merely for the purpose of an explanation. Why 
does the gentleman exclude highways from that definition? 

MR. A. E. SMITH Well, because there is no specific appropri- 
ation made, nor can there be any made for any given highway. 
That is the reason. There is no occasion for including highways 
because the Legislature does not appropriate a sum of moneys to 
improve the highways in Herkimer county or in Orange county. 
That is apportioned and must be apportioned under the referen- 
dum by the State Commissioner of Highways. 

Now, that is the class of bills that all the log-rolling takes place 
on. That is the class of bills that the greatest possible pressure, 
pressure of all kinds is brought upon the Legislature to pass and 
upon the Governor to sign, these private local bills. 

Now, in the Governor's special message to the Legislature, he 
said, that the present condition of the finances of the State was 
such that no new work should be undertaken. "Appropriations 
for the starting of new activity can wait The extension of 
present activities can wait In most cases additions to existing 
institutions can wait. Many other propositions, desirable in 
themselves and justifiable under other conditions can wait and 
should be compelled to wait." 

Notwithstanding that, notwithstanding the fact that it was 
presented to the Legislature that we were looking squarely in the 
face of an eighteen million dollar direct tax, the Legislature 
went right on, passing special, private and local appropriation 
bills, and the Governor signed a great many of them. 

Now, let me give you an idea of what I mean by the kind of 
bills which require a two-thirds vote on. 

"An act to provide for the reconstruction of the old portion of 
the Potsdam Normal and Training School/' Now, education is 
a State-wide purpose; there is no doubt about that. But the 
reconstruction of a normal school in one section of the State, in 
Potsdam, in St. Lawrence county, it seems to me, is rather local 
in its nature. I picked that out first because that is the best one 
of them all. That is the one that I probably would stand for first. 



THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET 141 

Here is one that, to my way of thinking, is a monstrosity; 
an act that commits the State to an initial expenditure of $150 } ~ 
000 for straightening out Olean creek. That is purely a local bill, 
and by its express terms, to show that it is local, the city of Olean 
proposes to expend as much as the State does for the same pur- 
pose. They acknowledge by their own bill that it is a city pur- 
pose, for the city of Olean; they "fifty-fifty" it with us. Now 
what do they do for the protection and the safe-guarding of the 
tax-payers in Olean? For their $150,000 they propose a refer- 
endum to the taxpayers ; but for our $150,000, that is immediately 
available. The minute the taxpayers of Olean say "yes," we 
have to say "yes." Now that is a great public improvement in 
the interest of a taxpayer over in Flatbush or down in Brooklyn 
or down in Richmond. Everybody can readily understand the 
great State necessity that exists for straightening out that creek, 
If that creek is not straightened out, then property on Manhattan 
Island has got to depreciate ! Unquestionably that bill is a bill 
that comes under section 20 of the old Constitution and should 
require the assent of two-thirds of the members of both Houses. 

Here is a bill making an appropriation to reimburse Philip 
Becker for money that he paid to the State for a grant of land 
under water. That is a private bill. I haven't any quarrel with 
"Phil" ; it probably belongs to him, but it is a private bill. 

"To provide for the construction of a bridge over the Barge 
Canal in the Village of Lyons, and making an appropriation 
therefor/' The history of some of these bills should be known in 
order to appreciate the abuse of this special legislation. Some of 
these bills have been introduced so often that you do not have to 
introduce them any more ; you can leave them up in the back of 
the chamber and they will find their way into the bill-box them- 
selves. ( Laughter. ) 

Here is one making an appropriation and a reappropriation for 
continuing and completing the construction of a bridge over the 
Black River and the Moose river at Lyons Falls. Here is another 
to provide for the construction of a foot-bridge on the north and 
south walls of Lock No. 3 of the Cayuga and Seneca Canal. That 
is absolutely a local bill. It is either a local bill or it is a part 
of the canal construction. It cannot be anything else. If it is 



142 ALFRED E. SMITH 

local, it should be paid for by the locality; if it is a part of the 
canal, it should have been paid for out of the canal money. There 
is no possible way that you can justify that payment by the tax- 
payers of the whole State. 

Here is one to provide for lowering another bridge one of 
them is too high. 

MR. WADSWORTH Did they pass ? 

MR. A. E. SMITH They became laws. 

Ma. WADS WORTH All of them? 

MR. A. E. SMITH All of them, all except the Lyons Fate 
bridge. That has only been introduced three times ; that is not 
old enough yet, (Laughter,) That is one that has not reached 
the proper age; it has not ripened. 

Here is one to provide for the removal of a farm bridge over 
an abandoned section of the canal $12,000, The small amount 
of that indicates clearly that that is a special, local, private bill ; 
because if the State was to adopt the general policy of taking 
down all bridges over the abandoned canal and filling the place 
up with concrete, it would cost a couple of million dollars. But 
in this particular section of the State, in this one place, for the 
benefit of the farmers of this particular community, a wood and 
iron bridge is to be removed and a solid concrete roadway to be 
built right across the bed of the old canal. That is purely a local 
bill and it is interesting it just occurs to me at the time of the 
discussion of it the man that introduced it said that it was put 
there to let the farmer get to the other side quicker. He had 
to go a couple of blocks if that was not done. 

A bill to provide for the construction of a bridge over the 
Oswego river at Minetto purely local. 

MR. D. NICOLL May I ask a question ? Why wouldn't all your 
objections be met if, instead of striking out all on page 3, as you 
now suggest, you provided that as to these further appropriations 
as to the budget, they should not be made except by separate bills, 
as the amendment now reads, and with the further safeguard that 
they should require the assent of two-thirds of the members 
elected to the branch of the Legislature? 

MR. A. E. SMITH No; that would be too much power; it is 
giving too much power to the minority. The minority could hold 



THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET 143 

up the whole constructive program of the majority because they 
could stop any bill that made an appropriation for carrying out 
its purpose, and under the plan suggested here, all such bills will 
have to carry appropriations, because early in the session the 
budget will have passed, and I don't believe in giving the minority 
of a body the power to obstruct or hold up legislation of the ma- 
jority. That would not be in keeping with our ideas of good 
government. 

MR. D. NICOLL But if the appropriations are necessary, the 
minority would yield. 

MR. A. E. SMITH They may not. Supposing it should hap- 
pen to be the kind of a bill that would enlarge, for instance, the 
Court of Claims, creating two new judges at six thousand a piece. 
That would be an appropriation of which the minority could say, 
"No, we don't want the two judges." I only want this two-thirds 
to apply to what the people intended it should apply to twenty 
years ago local and private bills; and the language that I use 
in my proposed amendment is taken right from the Court of 
Appeals where a section is mainly or directly benefited. That is 
the point. 

My bill, No. 343, found its way into the form of the amend- 
ment that I suggested to Section 21, which I think there can be 
no possible objection to. That is the one that prevents any officer 
or any department head from incurring an obligation without an 
appropriation. 

So that summing it all up so that 1 may conclude, the fault 
that I find with it is that it simply gives constitutional authority 
to the present law and the present practices. With the excep- 
tion of taking away from the Legislature the right to increase an 
item or to add an item, something that they seldom do, as I 
said before, they have the same powers. 

It contains no method for ascertaining facts. It is just an 
estimate. I seek to cure that by the oath ; and its principal defect 
is that it does not go to the great body of fluid appropriations. 
Those are subjected to change from year to year and can be made 
to a certain size to meet certain political conditions, if you please. 
It makes no provisions for any control over these appropriations 
whatever. They are thrown into the Legislature to be acted upon 



144 ALFRED E. SMITH 

just as they are at the present time, after the passage of the bud- 
get, and without my amendment requiring the two-thirds vote all 
the private and local bills, you have the whole system open to the 
same log-rolling that has taken place in the past ; open to the same 
criticism that has taken place in the past ; and I hold again now, 
and I claim that I am exercising only plain common sense when 
I say that no Governor will put this character of bills into the 
appropriation bills, in his estimates, and certify to it that the 
needs of the State will require it, and the same situation will exist 
as before. You have left it open to the same abuses, and you 
have left it open to the old-fashioned criticism, and the only way 
to cure it, and the only t way to do away with that criticism is by 
the adoption of my amendment, and if you do not adopt h you 
have onty completed about one-third of the job. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

REORGANIZING THE STATE GOVERNMENT RETRENCHMENT 

It was a tense moment in New York political history when 
the Reconstruction Commission met to organize at the City 
Hall. The Governor made an address with some emphasis 
and made a plea for the adoption of an extended welfare 
policy. He took up other reforms, to be sure, but he dwelt 
likewise upon the need for reduction of the cost of govern- 
ment, unless some way were found to increase revenues. In 
response, the Reconstruction Commission appointed a Com- 
mittee on Taxation and Retrenchment. 

This committee studied each department of the State gov- 
ernment. It exposed the cumbersome character of the whole 
structure. It should be mentioned that this committee was 
headed by Alfred E. Marling, then President of the New 
York State Chamber of Commerce, a lifelong Republican. 
Among" its members were Michael Friedsam, Mortimer L. 
SchifF, V. Everit Macy, Arthur Williams, Charles P. Stein- 
mete, Bernard Baruch, John C. McCall, Charles L, Sabin, 
men of reputation in the business and financial world. 

The committee submitted its report in October, 1919. In 
its bold retrenchment policy which advocated cutting down 
many needless jobs held by Democrats and Republicans alike, 
the Governor supported the committee without a suggestion 
of political consideration. Seldom has the sincerity of a man 
been tried as his was when he faced these business men and 
put no other test to their recommendation than the most 
efficient method of running the State's business. 

(145) 



146 ALFRED E. SMITH 

Briefly the Commission's program comprised three consti- 
tutional amendments, 

L The reduction of the 189 agencies of the State with 
their overlapping and costly functions to a compact organiza- 
tion restricted in future by the Constitution to twenty depart- 
ments, and a short ballot consisting of the Governor, Lieu- 
tenant Governor and the Comptroller. This amendment is 
known as the consolidation amendment. 

2. An Executive! Budget System, 

3. The lengthening of the present two-year term of the 
Governor to four years. 

The aim of the program was to simplify the structure of 
the State government and to give the Governor the needed 
initiative and authority so that if he fails he has no alibi. 

The Commission advocated many statutory consolidations 
of the departments and bureaus which by eliminating dupli- 
cation and waste would immediately effect savings. They 
would, in addition, pave a constitutional way for the reorgan- 
izations to be brought about by the constitutional amend- 
ments, which required the successive approval of two legis- 
latures with a different Senate before they could be sub- 
mitted to the people. 

Amendments were first submitted to the Legislature of 
1920, 

Business and civic organizations of the State studied its 
findings. The earliest of such studies was made by the City 
Club of New York, which appointed a, Committee on Recon- 
struction with ex-Governor Charles E. Hughes later Secre- 
tary of State, as its chairman, and Congressman Ogden Mills 
as its vice-chairman. The committee consisted of some of 
the ablest lawyers of the city and experts on government. 
After weeks of study it published its report favoring the 
recommendations. 

On December 8, 1919, was held the meeting of the City 



REORGANIZING THE STATE GOVERNMENT 147 

Club of New York at which Smith spoke. Mr. Hughes also 
spoke from practical experience as State Executive and he 
advocated the changes recommended just as Governor Smith 
had done. 

Smith sincerely appreciated the compliment paid him by 
the City Club "to come here practically at the end of my first 
year as Governor." It had been suggested to him that any- 
body may be invited to come to the City Club just after being 
elected. It meant something to be asked after a year in office. 
It at least indicated how well the City Club understood that 
Smith as Governor was "trying hard/* He went on : 

I appreciated after I arrived at Albany in fact before I left 
New York this time a year ago that there would be the neces- 
sity for a study by some commission, made up of men aiid 
women who had given of their time and of their thought to the 
problems which confronted the country during the war, to the 
problems which we had to meet after the war unemployment, 
proper housing, health measures, and conditions due to- the ter- 
mination of the war, but this particular study of retrenchment 
was suggested more by the fact that the State was obliged to 
resort to an Income Tax in order to meet its expenditures than 
from any other reason. When I arrived in Albany on the first 
of January, according to the Comptroller's figures, the State 
was some $25,000,000 short in its anticipated revenues by com- 
parison with the actual needs for the operation of the govern- 
ment for this fiscal year. 

It was a golden opportunity to resort to an Income T^x be- 
cause no political party could be blamed for it It had to* be 
passed by a Republican Legislature and accepted by a Demo- 
cratic Governor to become a law and everybody thought that 
it was the only thing to do. Not for that reason alone, though 
that supported the contention, but also for the reason that the 
time had arrived in the history of the State when it became 
necessary to resort to some form of direct taxation which would 
let the citizen of the State understand that he was contributing 
to- its support. 



148 ALFRED E. SMITH 

So that the time arrived in the history of the State [when it 
was not only necessary to find a way of financing the State, 
but to find a way of doing something for the various munici- 
palities of the State, and at the same time impressing upon, 
the citizens the necessity for a greater interest in the busi- 
ness and affairs of the State. 

It was apparent to- everybody that as soon as we adopted 
the principle of taxing the incomes that, unless there ,was some 
check on the other end of the string, the temptation would be 
very strong upon the Legislature year after year to move that 
tax up a quarter, a half or a point; and it was with this thought 
in mind that the Reconstruction Commission began the study 
of a reorganization of the State Government, not so much for 
the cure of the evils which exist to-day but to prevent a re- 
currence of them. 

I believe, and I think we all believe, that one of the reasons 
for the high cost of living to-day is the heavy taxation on 
the business of this country. It is passed along to the ultimate 
consumer, and in the last analysis these taxes t w;ill be paid by 
every citizen in this State, whether his income comes up to 
the amount stipulated in the statute or not. 

Now, the great trouble is this: The State o-f New York 
in twenty-five years has grown apace; it has 'embarked in 
new lines of endeavor; it has taken upon itself new duties 
and new obligations; and it has attempted to do it with ma- 
chinery which was constructed fifty years ago. The govern- 
ment of this State is not understandable to the man on the 
street; it is a very difficult thing for a man in public office 
to get a proper understanding of it. One must have been in 
Albany for a long while and been a real good, student and paid 
close attention to it, or he will not understand it 

I thought I was around Albany a long while, with my twelve 
years in the Legisature and one year in the Governor's office; 
and I found out only a few months ago that we had a commis- 
sion in this State known as the Board of Geographical Names. 
I heard of it when a man resigned and it became my duty 
to appoint his successor. I made a little investigation, and I was 



REORGANIZING THE STATE GOVERNMENT 149 

sure after I had the matter explained to me that the duties 
being performed by that Commission undoubtedly should be 
performed by the Department of Education or by somebody 
in that Department ; but there was a separate Board for it. 

I t was amused about two months ago to pick up a newspaper 
one day and find that the State of New York bought $560,000 
worth of land in the Adirondack Mountains, purchased through 
the Land Board. Nobody around the capitol around the execu- 
tive office, surely knew anything about it. 

The government of the State to-day is conducted by 189 
commissions and boards of different kinds, spread over the 
State. The diagram whch accompanies the report of the Recon- 
struction Committee best illustrates it. This report proposed 
to put the work of these 189 boards into eighteen State depart- 
ments and to give the Governor the certain control over the 
State departments. For instance, take the deparment of Mili- 
tary and Naval Affairs. As that department stands to-day, we 
have the Adjutant General appointed by the Governor; we 
have the Major General, and the Commander of the Naval 
Militia. The appointment of these officers is as far as the 
influence of the Governor reaches. But look at all of the boards 
and commissions in the State which really belong under that 
title: the Monument Commission of Miles' Irish Brigade, the 
Adjutant General, the Armory Commission, the New York 
State Monuments Commission, two soldiers* institutions, the 
National Guard, the Naval Militia, and the supervision of 
expenditures of State money by the G. A. R., and the Spanish 
War "Veterans. 

For years back the practice in Albany has been to either 
create a new commission or to put a duty into some department 
which is in no way related to it For that reason, we have the 
Secretary of State collecting the automobile tax. We have 
the State Board of Tax Commissioners collecting the corpora- 
tion tax; and now the Comptroller is going to collect the 
income tax; so that the tax collecting functions of the State 
Government are spread out; and the Comptroller's office has 
ceased to be what it was intended to be at the time the first 



ISO ALFRED E. SMITH 

Constitution was adopted it is no longer an auditing office, but 
a great, big administration office, performing functions which the 
people of the State look to the Governor to perform. Nobody 
comes to Albany to complain to anybody but the Governor. I 
meet them all: I have to listen to all. And it is difficult to make 
people believe that there are these different agencies of govern- 
ment which are not under my control, for that matter, under 
control of anybody. 

I said a moment ago that this report was intended not only 
to show how to cure the mistakes of the past, but to prevent 
them in the future. Mistakes are made every year. 

At the last session of the Legislature, or the session before 
the last, there was created a new commission to look after 
narcotic drug control. 

In my annual message to the Legislature, my first message, 
I recommended that this Commission be abolished because the 
appointments had not yet been made, and I also recommended 
that the function of the Commission be transferred to the 
Department of Health, where it belongs. It would be very 
easy to give the Health Department the control of narcotic 
drugs, but the Legislature did not see it that way. So, after I 
appointed a Commissioner, the Legislature gave him $51,000 to 
perform all of the functions of his office, including his salary and 
the salaries of his deputies and his and their traveling expenses. 
I regarded it as money wasted, whereas if the function was 
placed in the Health Department the State might get some return 
for the money appropriated and expended. 

There has been some criticism of the report on the ground 
that it was taken from the Constitutional Convention, of 1915; 
and somebody said I spoke against the adoption of that Con- 
stitution. That is true; I did; but I favored this particular 
part of the Constitution. And when I was called into the 
Speaker's room for conference with Senator Root and George 
W. Wickersharn and the leaders of the Convention, I frankly 
told them I thought they made a grave mistake in not sub- 
mitting that Constitution in sections. They insisted that it be 
submitted as a whole, and with the Apportionment article con- 
tinued in it, I voted against it I felt so strongly against that 




THE FIRST PICTURE OF HIM 



REORGANIZING THE STATE GOVERNMENT 151 

Apportionment article, and I felt its injustice so strongly, not 
only the injustice to this city but to every other city of the 
State, that it put me against the whole program. 

Now, there will be no real arguments made against this 
report. There is no influence in the State working against it. 
This is in the interest of the State; it is in the interest of the 
people; it is in the interest of the taxpayers. My only fear is 
that politics might creep into it. If there is anything I can do 
to assure the Republican legislators that they can. have their 
full measure of credit if they jvill pass it, I stand ready to do 
it. The only fear I have for it is that there may be the disposi- 
tion on the part of the leaders of the Legislature to feel that 
if they adopt this program they will be recognizing the work 
of the Reconstruction Commission, and that they will be doing 
something which may be of some political benefit to me. Now, 
if all the candidates for Governor ;yrill get together in one 
room, and talk it all over, I will sign any release the rest of 
them will sign. 

Another criticism which will be made was made in 1915. 
Some fellow will jump up and say, "It makes the Governor a 
czar." Well, it does nothing of the kind. The President of 
the United States is not a czar, but he names his whole cabinet. 
The Mayor of the city names his whole cabinet. In fact, the 
charter has every city commissioner's term conterminous with 
that of the Mayor, and they automatically go out on the expira- 
tion of his term. 

From the standpoint of economy there is no doubt in the 
minds of reasonable men that the waste in this State is due 
entirely to the duplication of effort on the part of the different 
departments. Inspectors of all kinds are constantly traveling 
through the State. The State of New York is the greatest 
patron the New York Central Railroad has. We probably 
pay out more money for traveling expenses than the combined 
outlay of any five concerns in the State. You must remember 
that every Board created, and every Commission has to have 
a secretary and an assistant secretary and a stenographer. A 
great many good people ^work for the State for nothing on 



152 ALFRED E. SMITH 

these Commissions, but they must have help* They must have 
secretaries, and it would be hard, practically impossible, to 
estimate what a saving there would be in consolidation and 
elimination; but I am sure if you consolidated all the business 
of this State into eighteen Departments and fixed the Constitu- 
tion so that hereafter every new activity of the government 
must go into one of these Departments, you would materially 
cut down the cost of the State government. 

There is requested by the different Departments for the 
coming fiscal year $141,200,000. That is not extraordinary, and 
it is not out of the way. The State of New York has felt 
the high cost of living, the way every one else has. You cannot 
feed and clothe the patients in the State Hospitals and other 
State institutions at the price which you did even two years ago. 

The real fact is, that the State is not paying enough money 
for the service it is receiving. 

So that we want to banish from our minds the idea of cut- 
ting down the expense of the State by any other means than 
what is comprehended in this report, because the consolidation 
of these departments will, without doubt, decrease the cost of 
running the State, because it will be another class of employees 
eliminated. 

After we have reconstructed the State Government, as I 
hope we are going to do, we ought to have a little committee 
to look over the laws of this State and find out if there isn't 
some way to have the Governor working at things which mean 
something to the people of the State. 

Years ago when I say years ago, I mean long before the 
time of Judge Hughes or myself I am informed that the Gov- 
ernor had very little work to do-, but after the adjournment of 
the Legislature he was practically free until it was time to 
write his message. Well, I can imagine that that would be 
so, because the activities of the State Government twenty-five 
or thirty years ago in comparison with to-day were very small, 
so it was a common thing to pass a statute and say, "With the 
approval of the Governor/* "Countersigned by the Governor," 
so that the Governor finds himself to-day spending the largest 



REORGANIZING THE STATE GOVERNMENT 153 

part of his time signing his name, and under the law he is 
the only one who can do it. Now, for instance, every time the 
New York Central Railroad appoints a policeman on their rail- 
road I must sign his appointment, so that the other night I 
found a large bundle of certificates of railroad appointments 
that I had to sign. Every man who is let out of prison cannot 
get out until the Governor signs the parole sheets, even, at the 
expiration of his term, after he has satisfied the State for his 
offense; he cannot get out until the Governor signs that paper. 
When the Legislature created the State Constabulary, for some 
reason of its own and which I never could clearly understand, 
it prevented the Constabulary from entering any of the cities 
of the State except by the direction of the Governor, so I find 
myself the State Police Commissioner when it comes to the 
activities of the Constabulary within the cities ; and I have had 
this happen; the President of the Common Council and the 
Police Commissioner certified to me that the city did not need 
the State Police, and the Mayor certified that it did. Where- 
upon the Mayor charged the Police Commissioner with being 
in league with the strikers, and the Police Commissioner said 
that the Mayor ( was a friend of the manufacturers; so there 
wasn't anything left in the world for me to do but to send 
the Superintendent of the State Police to that city and let 
him stay down for three or four days and decide for himself 
whether his forces ought to go in or not 

Every time the State makes a lease Public Service Com- 
mission hired gas-testing station over in Queens at a rent of 
$55 a 7 ear I have to sign four copies of that lease before it 
means anything. The Governor has to pass upon the contract 
for removing the ashes from the power house, and when the 
contractor who had it found himself thrown into ;war~time 
prices, and unable to go on with it, he came over to the Execu- 
tive Chamber and the only man he could sit down ;with to talk 
about the cost of moving those ashes was the Governor. So 
we want a committee, after we have got this reconstruction job 
out of the k way, to just go through the statutes and see if the 
Attorney-General or the Secretary of State cannot sign some 



154 ALFRED E. SMITH 

of the leases and contracts to move the ashes, and leave the 
Governor to direct his attention to the great, big problems, the 
big things that the State is interested in, like the Health De- 
partment and the care of the insane and the mentally deficient, 
great questions of conservation, water power development, or 
any number of such questions which nobody is studying because 
no living man can do it and attend to routine work at the same 
time. 

Now, I think I have briefly summed up the situation. This 
is the best place I can find to make a strong appeal for non- 
partisanship in dealing with this report I believe that I enjoy 
some little reputation for keeping my word. I will give it I 
will give it to the Legislature that if they will come in with 
me, take this report, do the best that they can with it, I am not 
going to be like the fellow who insists on getting his bill the 
way it is printed because usually that fellow don't want the 
bill. If they won't take it all, I will go along with them as far 
as they will gO', and I will promise them now that at no tim'e 
in the future will it ever be referred to by me or by anybody 
over whom I have any control as any program of mine. The 
fact of the matter is: it is not my program. The real truth 
about it is I could not think that all out myself. I wouldn't be 
able to do it; I wouldn't be able to write that report in all the 
years I was in Albany. It comes from an absolutely non- 
partisan commission, and it is the joint thought of men who 
are interested in the welfare of the State jwithout regard to 
parties, Democratic or Republican. 

Now, if the Legislature will meet me in the spirit which I 
feel toward this Commission, and toward the Legislature, we 
will get it across. 

Reorganization and retrenchment of the State government 
being essentially a business problem, the Governor naturally 
turned to organizations of business men versed in practical 
affairs for aid in getting his program accepted by the legisla- 
ture. He addressed many Chambers of Commerce and busi- 
ness organizations in the course of his campaign for the 



REORGANIZING THE STATE GOVERNMENT 155 

amendments. Soon after the legislative session opened he 
spoke with Senator Sage, the Republican chairman of the 
Senate Finance Committee, at a noon-day meeting of the 
Merchants' Association in New York. The speech is 
permeated with his characteristic good temper in the pres- 
ence of an adversary and was received with great approval. 

As the 1920 session of the Legislature proceeded it was 
evident to the Governor that his program would be blocked 
by the Republican legislators. His speeches, therefore, be- 
came more aggressive. He presented his arguments in the 
fighting vein of the campaigner. 

He spoke in many cities and several times in New York, 
but without avail, except to secure the passage of that one of 
the three amendments which consolidated the 187 agencies of 
the Government into twenty and adopted the short ballot. 



CHAPTER XXIV 
EX~GOVERNOR SMITH IN ALBANY 

With the Harding landslide the Governor was able for the 
first time in twenty-one years to consider his personal affairs. 
He had to work for a living. He became chairman of the 
Board of Directors of the United States Trucking Corpora- 
tion, a business to which he came naturally, as hiq father was 
a truckman. As a private citizen he displayed the fitting 
restraint and dignity of an ex-Governor* He refrained from 
any partisan criticism of his successor. He did all in his 
power to co-operate with him. Regarding the reorganization 
program as a non-partisan matter approved by the leaders 
of both parties alike, he broke his silence and responded to 
the appeal of the New York State Association, a civic organ- 
ization of state- wide character which continued the fight for 
the constitutional amendment, to speak at a hearing before 
a joint legislative committee on the subject. It was his first 
appearance In Albany after his defeat for re-election. 

The announcement that ex- Governor Smith would appear 
at the hearing sent a thrill through Albany. The people of 
the State Capitol City loved him no less than his own towns- 
men have always loved him, Albany was the scene of his 
fourteen years* public career. He regarded It as his second 
home. 

When the Governor arrived at the station he was surprised 
to see a large gathering of the citizens. They gave him an 
enthusiastic greeting. His trip through State Street to the 

(156) 



EX-GOVERNOR SMITH IN ALBANY 157 

Capitol building was a triumphal procession. The Senate 
Chamber where the hearing took place was packed to the 
doors. Representatives of important business and civic or- 
ganizations and publicists of both parties appeared in favor 
of the amendment. But the audience was tense with ex- 
pectancy to hear the former Governor. He was introduced 
by Adelbert Moot, the President of the New York State 
Association. When he rose to speak the Senate Chamber 
rang with prolonged cheers. 

Contributing to the good cheer and the congenial atmo- 
sphere was his informal and friendly approach to the repre- 
sentatives of the opposition party on the committee. He 
would refer to their common experience in past legislatures 
to make his point, and the Assemblyman or Senator involved 
would respond with a knowing chuckle or a smile. 

While waiting for the hearing to begin, news was brought 
to him that the emergency rent laws (the outcome of the 
Special Session of the Legislature which he had called in 
1920 and which he had signed) had been that day upheld 
by the State Court of Appeals as constitutional, and legisla- 
tors and spectators gathered round to congratulate him. The 
old colored veteran page in the Senate Chamber guarded 
with his very life the seat he had himself selected for his 
Governor, and he would permit no one but himself to usher 
him and provide for him the now proverbial glass of ice 
water he always uses when he speaks. 

Smith was heard in tense silence as he began : 

I said when I left the Capitol that if I returned at any time 
it would be to debate constitutional questions ; that the ordinary 
everyday matters were not of so much importance. 

I was interested in listening to the chairman repeatedly call 
for the opposition to the proposed constitutional amendments. So 
far as the amendment that has to do with the reorganization of 
the government itself, the budget and the four year term is con- 



158 ALFRED E. SMITH 

cerned, there was in the chamber the silence that might be ex- 
pected, because the opposition to this has never come out into the 
light. You have it before you now as the result of an attempted 
campaign of opposition to it. 

The twenty-five minutes or so that was given to the opposition 
I would not say was lost, because we are willing to sit around the 
table and discuss everything, but it was given entirely to a mis- 
understanding of the provision that has to do with the inspection 
of state institutions. Nothing that appears in this amendment 
has anything at all to do with any of the work of the Department 
of Education or anything that it is doing or attempting to do in 
the interest of mental defectives that are in our school system. It 
has only to do with the people who become the wards of the 
state, and there is created by it simply a department with one 
presiding official. 

It would be supposed from the character of the argument from 
the opposition that the mental deficients and the insane were all 
going to be put into one building and all cared for by the one 
man. No such thing is contemplated. In fact, no such thing is 
even possible under its provisions. But it is possible for the state 
to have one great department of government that can deal with 
that whole subject and let it be divided as the Legislature sees fit 
to divide it into the different bureaus and the different depart- 
ments presided over by as able men as the State can find in its 
different lines of endeavor. 

There is nothing new about that. The city of New York suc- 
cessfully carries it on through its Department of Public Welfare, 
but it does not mean that the wards of the charity hospital are 
in the same room and are receiving the same supervision that the 
addicts of narcotic drugs are, or the feebleminded who come 
under the supervision of the city. 

I think that it is agreed by everybody that we are struggling 
along in this state under a constitution that we have grown away 
from. Is there a man in this room who was present in the Con- 
stitutional Convention of 1915 who is ready to dispute that 
statement ? 

ASSEMBLYMAN MARTIN" You and I didn't have very good 
success amending it. 



EX-GOVERNOR SMITH IN ALBANY 159 

GOVERNOR SMITH We did our best, Judge. 

ASSEMBLYMAN MARTIN The people did not think so. 

GOVERNOR SMITH 'You know why they did not, better than 
I do, and you know as well as I do that it was not anything that 
had to do with the reorganization of the government that inter- 
fered with the passage of the constitution. 

ASSEMBLYMAN MARTIN I agree with you on that. 

GOVERNOR SMITH Then we are all right, as far as that is con- 
cerned. 

ASSEMBLYMAN MARTIN We agree on that point. 

GOVERNOR SMITH You know it does not make any difference 
how good a document is, you can overload it; and when you ex- 
cite the suspicions and the passions of the people against an en- 
tire document, that which is good has to go with the other part. 
We have naturally in this state a great many people who do not 
believe in doing anything. You have always got to count them 
in. They start with the forces of reaction, before you begin to 
move at all. They are the ones who say, " Now, let's ;wait." I 
know men who have sat in this chamber in my time and who 
would be entirely satisfied if the Legislature adjourned before 
Lincoln's Birthday, feeling that if nothing happens at least no- 
body is hurt. There may nobody be helped, but nobody is hurt. 

We are trying to fit the activities of a great state into a set of 
constitutional machinery that was manufactured before anybody 
in the room was born. Do not make any mistake, gentlemen of 
the committee, about the attitude of the people of this State 
toward this question. I speak to Senators who were here last 
year, and you know that you would not 'have this amendment 
before you this year unless you became convinced that the people 
of this State want it. Why do I make that statement? Why do 
I put so much force behind it? 

Because the chairman of the Finance Committee of the Senate, 
speaking for the Senate, because, when he spoke he said, "We," 
left Albany and started a tour through this State in opposition 
to these very proposals, and I am certain that I violate no con- 
fidence when I tell you that I sat in the Wolverine Express with 
him on a Monday afternoon a year ago, after we had both ad- 
dressed the Merchants' Association in New York, and he told 



160 ALFRED E. SMITH 

me to take a little quiet time for myself and not to be over- 
anxious about this reorganization, that nothing would come of 
it. 

But if you make a memorandum of the date upon, which the 
Senator made his Rochester speech, and look at the date of the 
introduction of the amendment, you will find that after he left 
Albany and went around the State a little bit and gathered up 
a little public sentiment he came down and introduced for the 
consideration of this house and the Assembly amendments car- 
rying into effect the very things he declared against, speaking 
for the Senate. 

A great deal of fun has been poked at the reconstruction 
theory by the opposition of the members of the boards and com- 
missions that we have in the state. Let us not underestimate. If 
you think there are not as many as we think there are, sit in the 
Executive Chamber for two years and be obliged to confer with 
somebody from everyone of them, and by the time you have 
finished, 180 or 187 will look too small to you. You will think 
there must be more. 

I am taking* a good, cold, practical common-sense view of it, 
and if there is any man in this state who can give me any good 
reason why the people of this state should elect a 1 State En4 
gineer I would like to hear it I never heard it from anybody. 
I have a great deal of difficulty in finding any number of people 
that know who he is. The same thing applies to the Secretary 
of State. The same thing applies to the State Treasurer. Still 
we go on in solemn fashion every two years putting forth can- 
didates for all of these State offices, 

Is there any reason why we should have in this state five or 
six different tax collecting agencies? I notice Senator Knight's 
face when he says, "We are going to change it," but let me go 
back a couple of years over a little bit of history, and he knows 
about it, too>, because he was right here with me. He knows the 
things that Governor Whitman started out to change, and he 
knows what happened to the Governor's proposals. The one 
constructive feature, the one big idea in Governor Whitman's 
first message to the Legislature, was the consolidation in the 
interest of a greater efficiency and economy of the different tax 



EX-GOVERNOR SMITH IN ALBANY 161 

collecting agencies. But there was another state official elected 
the same day that the Governor was and he had just a little more 
patronage to give out than the Governor had, and he came over 
here to this building and he put the blocks to the Governor, and 
you remember it. 

ASSEMBLYMAN MARTIN Do you want to keep on electing 
him? 

GOVERNOR SMITH Who? 

ASSEMBLYMAN MARTIN That official you are talking about. 

GOVERNOR SMITH I do not think the personality enters into it. 

ASSEMBLYMAN MARTIN I mean the system. 

GOVERNOR SMITH The Comptroller? 

ASSEMBLYMAN MARTIN I did not say who it was. 

GOVERNOR SMITH You know who it is and you know how 
successful he was and you know what it meant to the State when 
they both fell out and the Governor was deprived of the advice 
he ought to get from the Comptroller's office, and you know how 
dearly the taxpayers paid for the mistakes that grew out of the 
quarrel between them. 

However frequently in the course of the ensuing remarks 
the former Governor was interrupted by outbursts of laugh- 
ter, he strove to ridicule rather than to be amusing. He 
drives his points home. In doing this he does not resort to 
devices that are literary. He expresses himself if there be 
any meaning in the term athletically. His forms of speech 
are gestures of themselves. The least attentive reader gets 
from this speech, for instance, the impression of a man in 
action. He has no time to exploit melodramatic or historical 
allusions. His speech, however carefully prepared, is not 
cooked up as if it were a feast. It is an argument not a 
dry, dull, ill-informed argument which must be conclusive. 
The effect upon a hearer has to be such that no subsequent 
speaker can weaken the force of it. From this point of 
view, Smith is a genuine orator, but he is not ornate, like 
Edward Everett, or overwtielrning, like Webster, or stormy 



162 ALFRED K SMITH 

like Douglas. He is simple, straightforward, direct, lucid 
and above all well informed. Nobody ever listened to him 
on a platform, perhaps, without feeling that Smith knows 
what he is talking about. Consider the rest of this speech 
by way of illustration : 

I was going to say something about efficiency but it is related 
also to the question of economy in administration. What man 
can give us any reason for having four or five commissions deal- 
ing with prison matters in this state ? We have a commission on 
prisons. We have a Superintendent of Prisons. Then we have 
a Board of Parole and for fear that may not be enough we have 
a Probation Commission. Now the day that the Board of Parole 
leaves Sing Sing, on their way out they are liable to meet the 
Commission on Prisons going in. 

Does it look to efficiency? Does it look to responsibility in 
government? No, it looks to confusion* What happened in the 
last six months that shows that confusion? The Commission on 
Prisons after the plans had been drawn for the new death house 
at Sing Sing found a provision in the law that gave them the 
power to say whether or not it was to be done, and they decided 
to hold it up. I summoned them to the Executive Chamber and 
discussed it with them in the presence of the State Architect and 
the Superintendent of Prisons, and we were all agreed that the 
building should be built, as long as the plans were all drawn, and 
about to submit them for public letting, and the Commission on 
Prisons changed its mind about it, and there we are. 

We have got the death trap down on the Hudson River years 
after the Legislature declared its purpose, years after the State 
speaking through its law-making body declared that they desired 
a new building built, and the old one is still standing there. On 
the 6th of last December five men were put to death there on 
one night, and the inmates of the death house awaiting execu- 
tion could hear the buzz saw when the surgeons were cutting the 
tops of the heads off of the men that had been executed. Bar- 
barous ! It is something that belongs to the dark ages. Can you 
remedy it ? You can, providing you get the commissions to stay 
in harmony long enough to let you do it Is there any reason for 



EX-GOVERNOR SMITH IN ALBANY 163 

it ? Would a good business institution stand for it for a minute ? 
Why should the State stand for it? If the State could have a 
single department of correction presided over by some able 
citizen appointed by the Governor and responsible to him why is 
not that man able to carry out all the duties the State feels it is 
best to perform toward the people that are guilty of infractions 
of the law? 

Why should there be a different notion in one part of the 
State as to how an institution should be run as against another 
part of the State? I think if you will take a simple man's view 
of it I can tell you why, in my opinion, it started in that way. 
It is so old and belongs to a time so far back that the State was 
not able to function in any other way. But with the modern 
means of transportation, with the automobile and the regularity 
of trains, is there anybody willing to say that one man, properly 
equipped and properly trained could not from this very building 
preside over all the correctional institutions of the State ? I am 
satisfied that he could, and I have had it proven by practical 
experience to my satisfaction. 

I think the most salutary part of this scheme is the part of it 
that prevents the creation of any more commissions. After you 
have established eighteen departments of the government to take 
care of every conceivable thing that the State can ever take care 
of, why should not any new activity be put into one of those de- 
partments ? Isn't it a fact and if we want to be square with our- 
selves will we not admit that the creation of commissions in the 
past has been to, take care of some particular political situation ? 
What was in the minds of the legislators when they created a 
Department of Narcotic Drug Control? What was In their 
minds when they were enacting three or four new sections to the 
Public Health Law, and the original bill gave to the Commis- 
sioner of Health the execution of the additional duties compre- 
hended in. these three new additions to the law that he was super- 
vising? Here we have a Department of Health with sanitary 
supervisors spread out throughout the State in inspection dis- 
tricts, with a costly machine already installed in this building, and 
we create the Department of Narcotic Drug Control for the 



164 ALFRED E. SMITH 

purpose of enforcing three sections of the Public Health Law. 
We have to sit down here in solemn conclave and find an office 
for them, and find a place for them to function, and have to 
supply them with all the secretaries and all the help that they 
need, just as though we were beginning something new in the 
State of New York, instead of doing a duty that the state has 
performed for a number of years the preservation of the public 
health. 

The abolition of the Narcotic Drug Control Department is 
now included in the program of economy. I recommended 
twice that it be abolished, and so solidly entrenched and so 
necessary was it for the State that it lasted during my twio 
years. 

I think that the general scheme of a constitutional amendment 
to reduce the number of elective offices and provide for the cre- 
ation of these eighteen departments of government is pretty well 
understood throughout this state. I believe that the members 
of the Legislature understand it pretty well. I believe that- it was 
because they understand it that we have it before us this year, 
not as a new proposition but for second passage prior to its sub- 
mission to the people of the State for adoption. 

I will pass to the second amendment, and that has to do en- 
tirely with the constitutional provisions that have to do with the 
inspection of our Prison and Hospital Departments. I regard 
them simply as companion bills, or companion measures, to the 
whole general reorganization scheme, and of themselves they 
create no State policy. They simply take out of the fundamental 
law certain fixed things that have been in there for years and 
which I do not believe should ever have been in there, and they 
leave the Legislature free to deal with those departments, under 
this one commissioner, in any way that it pleases. 

That brings us to the budget system. The proposal for an 
executive budget was defeated last year by one vote in the 
Senate. Reading Senator Sage's speech about it, I cannot help 
saying that the whole proposition has been grossly and gravely 
misrepresented. Now, I would be the last man in this State who 
would stand in this chamber or in this building and urge any- 
thing that would take take either power or dignity from the 
Legislature. 



EX-GOVERNOR SMITH IN ALBANY 165 

I have as clear an understanding of it as any man in this 
State. I understand it as a branch of the government. I under- 
stand it as the essential of representative democratic government. 
I believe that what it ultimately does is all right, anyway, 
although we may quarrel while the session is on. That is my 
faith in it. That is the best expression of faith that I can give 
you. I think it is all right, and I would be the last one to suggest 
anything that would detract in the slighest degree from its 
power, and nothing in the budget system, as proposed, takes any 
power away from the Legislature. 

Now, what does it propose ? It proposes that after the govern- 
ment is organized into eighteen departments that the Governor 
and the heads of the departments, under appointment by him- 
self, and I will explain the necessity for that when I come to 
the four-year term, sit down and make up a budget. What is a 
budget, as we understand it ? A budget is the necessary expense 
of running the State. It is overhead. It is that which you 
cannot get away from. Just exactly as the family sits around 
the table once a month and you put down the rent, the gas bill, 
the morning and evening papers, .and the things that you have 
got to have, and then you talk about the luxuries afterwards. 
It means that that budget will be prepared by the Governor 
and the heads of his departments and submitted to the Legis- 
lature, and it will have the power of reducing but not increasing 
any item. Is there any reason why they should increase it? 

SENATOR WHITLEY What about an outgoing Governor? 

GOVERNOR SMITH You have the same proposition in the city 
of New York with an outgoing Mayor, and the same proposition 
in Washington. It becomes the duty of the Governor and he 
will establish within his department, and he will have to, a 
scientific budget-making department. You know why you 
haven't got it now. Every Governor has got to regard the 
present budget system as a kind of a joke. If he knows anything 
he cannot do anything else, because that is what it is just a 
joke. 

Do you remember the dinner 'down in the Ten Eyck the night 
the newspaper men gave the dinner, and George Janvrin, the 



166 ALFRED E. SMITH 

policeman, ran in and said: "One minute; stop! Don't eat the 
soup. Don't eat that soup. Wait a minute." Everybody sat back 
to find out what was the matter with the soup, and the policeman 
went down in the kitchen and brought the chef up with his white 
cap and white jacket, and he said, "He is under arrest for poison- 
ing the soup." The chef explained that he didn't poison the soup, 
he only threw something into it at the instigation of Senator 
Sage, and when he was asked what it was he said, "The Gov- 
ernor's Budget." 

Could you imagine me wasting my time preparing a budget? 
There is not a man in this chamber or in the Assembly that has 
any regard for my ordinary common sense who would suggest 
that I ought to draw a budget under present conditions. I 
would not know it twenty minutes after it came up here, nor 
would the man who drew it, so don't let us talk about any execu- 
tive budget system that we have, because we haven't got any. 
Senator Sage himself was responsible for the statement that 
there are not twelve men in the Legislature, not twelve, who 
know where the money is coming from to support the budget 
that they all get up and vote for. 

SENATOR KNIGHT : Didn't he say ten ? 

GOVERNOR SMITH : Twelve, and he didn't divide it, and I don't 
know how many were in the Senate and how many in the 
Assembly. 

After the Governor and the heads of the departments have 
agreed upon what is necessary for the overhead of the State, 
what reason is there for increasing it in the Legislature? What 
State purpose is served by increasing any of the items? You 
may say that we deprive the Legislature of the right to increase 
them. Not at all. We do say that when they do it they do it out 
here on this floor and in the open by a single bill, so that it can 
be decreased. Nobody would want to take away policy-making 
from the Legislature, for it costs money; and every new policy 
and every new activity of the State naturally costs some money. 
Nobody intends to take that away. 

It was never intended by any provision of these amendments. 
After you have made provision for the support of government 
you have put down in black and white everything that, in the 



EX-GOVERNOR SMITH IN ALBANY 167 

opinion of the Governor and his department heads, is absolutely 
necessary, and you have had your opportunity to reduce it where 
you thought it was extravagant. You have thereafter all the 
opportunity and all the chance that you desire to embark upon 
any new endeavor, and if you desire to increase the salary of the 
janitor of Agricultural Hall you can even do that, but you have 
got to do it by a bill and not by writing it into the big bill of 
six hundred pages or more, which nobody reads. Why should 
the Legislature tell a department head that he ought to pay 
somebody more money than he thinks they are worth? 

It is a matter of good practical politics, and we have all had 
our day at that, and wouldn't it be a good thing to be able to 
say to the army of men that come after you, "See the Depart- 
ment head, he understands the value of your services, and if you 
are entitled to a small increase he will give it to you. Don't 
come up to the Senate. We are a legislative body. We are not 
running the Highway Department. We are simply providing 
for its maintenance, and we do not go any further." 

Would it not release time 'to debate upon the floor of both 
Houses larger and more important things which mean more to 
the State, some of the brains and some of the time that has now 
got to be spent by legislators in going over the picayune things 
at the request of constituents and admiring friends as to how 
much the janitor of Agricultural Hall is to get next year? 

Won't the State benefit by that? So far as I am concerned 
there would be no question. 

Don't let anybody talk to you about the executive budget system 
interfering with the power of the Legislature. No suggestion 
of that kind appears in the amendment. 

He was heard attentively. His listeners knew he was 
speaking from experience. Smith has this immense advan- 
tage as an orator he can draw upon his own, record for his 
material. There never was a piiblic speaker who needed 
"literature" so little. He has lived with his subject, what- 
ever it be. Not that he subjects an audience to the fatigue 
of merely receiving information, as if they were empty jars 
to be filled. He expounds, he reveals. His speeches are 



168 ALFRED E. SMITH 

chapters from the story of his life. He is like a commander 
who can teach the art of war from the recollections of his 
own campaigns. For example 

After you have made that provision for the support of govern- 
ment that the Governor and his executive heads believe should 
be made, you can go as far as you like, if you can get twenty- 
six votes in the Senate and seventy-six in the Assembly. It 
doesn't make any difference whether you are appropriating 
$L25 or $60,000,000. 

What position do you put the Governor in under the present 
system? He has to take your appropriation bill or leave it. He 
has either to cripple a department by cutting out the amount or 
take whatever you say about it. I do not believe that that is the 
general public understanding of the function of the Legislature. 
Certainly, the Governor has to answer for it, and the present 
Governor made a vigorous campaign on the question of economy. 
I am in hopes that he will be able to make good, but he cannot 
do it himself. He has promised something that he knows in his 
heart and soul he cannot personally deliver. He has got to rely 
upon somebody else. Is that right? Is it fair to him? Is it 
what the people of the State expect ? 

Now then, we come down to the four-year term and the con* 
trol by the Governor when he comes into office. Prior to 1894 
in the city of New York you had the identical situation 'that 
you have in this State. You had commissioners of important 
departments in that great city government appointed for given 
terms. 'Some of them exceeded the term of the Mayor. The 
Legislature itself declared that no man could be held responsible 
for the government of the city of New York unless he was given 
that freedom of selection which permitted him to surround him- 
self with men of his own choice. 

President Harding was inaugurated President of the United 
States last Friday. He 'brought into office with him, and de- 
clared it throughout the land, a Cabinet of his own selection to 
take charge of every activity that comes under him as President 
of the United States, and the people are looking to him. What 
have you got here? 



EX-GOVERNOR SMITH IN ALBANY 169 

You elect a man for two years. He comes in here, and he 
finds himself surrounded on all sides by men appointed for all 
kinds of terms, many of them longer than his own. They are 
out of sympathy with him but glad to see him arid unwilling 
to do anything for him that they do not actually have to do. 
What man who never served in the Legislature, or never had 
any experience, can get any understanding of this government in 
a year ? I do not believe that the man lives, and I do not care 
how much of a lawyer he is. I do not think he lives. I have 
sat around this building and I have watched Governors who 
have come here since 1903, and I know the number that we 
have elected in that time who came here without any under- 
standing of the job that they came to. Some got it in the year 
and some more never got it. 

At the end of the year he is projected into a fight whether 
to retain his place or stand up and say, "I have enough," or lie 
down. IJnder the primary system he begins to run about a week 
after the 4th of July, and he is not any good to himself or the 
State for about three months, and then after election, unless 
he is made out of something that humans are not made out of, 
he has to go away and lie down and sleep for himself or he will 
die. So that out of twenty- four months you automatically elimi- 
nate six months of his usefulness by compelling him to run again. 

Let us go back a little bit and see when the two-year term 
was fixed for a Governor. There was not very much to this 
State at that time. It had very few activities. It is well known 
of some of our Governors that as soon as the Legislature ad- 
journed they went home home to the Executive Mansion? 
No, home to where they lived, and they stayed there until the 
Legislature was about to convene again. That was possible in 
the good old times when Governors rode around behind their 
four horses and did not have any work to do. But with the 
present activities of the government, the present business of 
this State, and with its enormous expenditures and its widely 
divergent lines of endeavor, all requiring his time and all requir- 
ing some study, why elect him for two years? He is of no use 
to the State until he has been in for some time, unless he has 
been around here for a long while. 



170 ALFRED E. SMITH 

You made the term of the Mayor of New York City in 1904 
four years, for that reason, and it was urged on the floor of 
this House and on the floor of the Assembly that if we were 
to get continuity of effort and endeavor in the city of New York 
it had to be done by extending the term of the Mayor, and 
that is why you made it four years instead of two years, and 
that was done seventeen years ago. But the State, afraid of prog- 
ress, afraid of anything new, and moving along behind the 
footsteps of that fellow who wants nothing done, nothing done 
at all, is living in an age long past, and electing the Governor 
for two years. 

Senator Sage said, "If he is a good Governor he can submit 
himself again," forgetting that it takes him six months to sub- 
mit himself. You would think all you had to do was just say, 
"All in favor, say Aye," If you could only elect him that way, 
there would be nothing to it. That is not the w.ay it is done, 
however, and we have to take a count by our political system. 

I have said nothing at all about the question of the right of 
the Governor to name his own aides and assistants. It ought 
to be. It ought to be. A man who comes into this building as 
the Chief Executive of this State is entitled, by every fair process 
of reasoning, to be surrounded in the great departments under 
him by the men of his own selection. A great many of the 
Governors believe they ought to be anyway, and what do they 
have to do to bring it about? They have to turn the 'department 
inside out for about six months while it is undergoing a process 
of reorganization, as referred to in 'high class language, but 
by bills that have been designated by the vulgar term of "Ripper." 

In urging this, gentlemen, I assure you that I have no par- 
tisan purpose. There 'is nothing that I could say to you this 
afternoon, nor could I find words to say it, that would have 
you feel as strongly as I do that I have no partisan purpose in 
coming up here to talk on this reorganization. I have had all 
the elective or appointive places that I will ever hold while I am 
alive. I have discovered in two months that I am a very good . 
truckman, and I am in that business. I am here to do what I can, 
doing it upon the time of the men who pay me, for the State of 
New York, largely from a sense of gratitude to it and largely 
for what return I can make for what it did for me. 



EX-GOVERNOR SMITH IN ALBANY 171 

This is backed up by men of all parties. I spoke for it from 
the same platform with Secretary of State Charles E. Hughes, 
and nobody ever accused him of being a member of Tammany 
Hall. I spoke from the same platform with Henry L. Stimson, 
right on these very things we are talking about this afternoon, 
and from the same platform with Martin Saxe, Republican 
Senator, who I understand is here today in advocacy of the very 
things that I am talking about. So r do not let us get any political 
notion about it. There are plenty of political bills up here I 
could come up and talk about, if I wanted to create a little storm 
or a little uprising on the political horizon. I regard this as 
being something above party and a matter of duty for citizens 
who are interested in getting this government right, and I do 
not think there is a man in the Legislature, possibly with the 
exception of that rare individual 'here who must disagree in 
order to preserve the eternal fitness of all things who does not 
believe way down in the bottom of his heart and soul that this 
is right and that it is in the interest of the State of New York. 

That is the reason why it got such undivided support and 
that is the reason why it attracted to its cause men of every 
party, and of all parties, and men who know nothing about 
parties. That is the reason why merchants' associations, cham- 
bers o commerce, boards of trade and civic organizations from 
one end of the State to another have stood up so strong behind 
it, and that is the reason why Nathan L. Miller, the Governor 
of New York, accepted a position on the Executive Committee 
of the non-partisan group which urged its passage by the 
last Legislature because he knew it was right. 

I submit it to you. I feel that the Legislature will pass it on 
to the people and let them vote upon it. If there is a funda- 
mental question of our democratic government involved in it 
let them settle it 

It will be seen from what has gone before that Smith 
does not "orate/ 1 Neither does he try to come down to the 
level of his audience. Smith, indeed, has a profound respect 
for the intelligence of any audience and this is the secret of 
his effectiveness. 



172 ALFRED E. SMITH 

After the speech he was seen paying visits to the Republi- 
can chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the 
Assembly. He held a mysterious conference in the minority 
leader's office in the Senate. When he was on the way back 
to New York it leaked out in Albany that he had used the 
hour before train time to see that a widow with two children 
employed in one of the State departments (who had been 
slated to be dropped from the payroll) was restored to her 
place. 

In spite of his effort, the consolidation amendment failed in 
the Republican Assembly of 1921 although carried in the 
Senate. The reorganization program became an issue in the 
1922 campaign for the governorship. Miller; and Smith de- 
bated it in their speeches everywhere. 

Promptly on his return to the governorship in 1923, Smith 
resubmitted the amendments to the Legislature, He again 
took his case direct to the people. He made a series of 
speeches to audiences in every part of the State, beginning 
with the State League of Women Voters in Albany in 
January, visiting Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and Utica, 
He wound up with an appeal before a joint audience of the 
City Club and the Women's City Club of New York. 

Conferences on the consolidation amendment were re- 
quested by the Republican Assembly leaders. There ensued 
a few minor concessions to their views. It triumphantly 
passed the 1923 Legislature, Once again it was launched 
on its journey to the people. 

But on the Executive Budget and the Four Year Term for 
the Governor the Republican Assembly has remained ada- 
mant. No persuasion of their own leaders, no eloquence of 
the Governor, however logical the argument, has yet con- 
vinced them of the wisdom of submitting these questions 
to the people. 



CHAPTER XXV 
ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DESPOTISM AND DEMOCRACY 

Never will Smith forget a meeting of the Community 
Council a body originally subsidiary to the Council of 
National Defense. The business of that gathering was dis- 
cussion of a subject concerning which the memories of Gov- 
ernor Smith were exciting the price of milk as it affected 
poor people. 

He had been asked to meet this audiencd so that he might 
speak direct to the people from the standpoint of the State 
as a whole. The first thing to meet his eye when he got upon 
the platform were diagrams and figures tending to illustrate 
to the audience the cost of the distribution of milk. 

Smith began by saying that the question of milk produc- 
tion, milk transportation and milk distribution was a question 
to be considered not from the economic standpoint but from 
the standpoint of public health. There was wild applause* 
The incidents attending that meeting, the circumstances con- 
nected with the milk strike and the episodes preceding and 
following, left a deep impression upon the public as well as 
upon Smith. 

It was characteristic of him to exploit this episode before 
a gathering of the National School of Democracy at the 
Town Hall early in: 1923. He was reviewing the record of 
New York State in the matter of progressive legislation. 

At the beginning of his term of office, he reminded his 
hearers, there had been a "milk strike." There was a dis- 

(173) 



174 ALFRED E. SMITH 

agreement, he explained, between the association representing 
the producers and the consumers of New York. "Some- 
thing," he said, "unheard of and unthought of and not 
regarded as possible in this advanced day, took place in 'this, 
the metropolis of the western world/ " The whole city of 
New York was deprived of over fifty per cent, of its milk 
supply for a week or more. Nothing could reveal more 
clearly the retentive quality of Smith's mind, his faculty for 
lucid narrative, his mastery of his medium as a speaker, 
than the account he gave them and that merely by way of 
illustrating a point of those exciting events. 

He showed how he had lived with the subject; gave in- 
stance after instance, then cited the Night Work Bill to 
prove that the question of "Constitutionality," so often 
raised against a liberal measure, could be met in this case, 
too. 

Let's see how far the state has gone and how far the Court 
of Appeals of the state has been willing to go, ;whett the ques- 
tion involved was one of public health or public welfare. In 
1904 the Legislature passed an act prohibiting women, from 
working in factories of this State after a certain hour at night 
and before a certain hour in the morning, commonly called the 
Night Work Bill Judge Gray, the presiding justice of the 
Court of Appeals, declared that act to be unconstitutional back 
in 1904 upon the ground that it interfered yvith the liberty of 
women to contract to work whenever they pleased. There was 
nothing before the court except the bare statute. 

But in 1912, eight years later, when the same identical bill 
was passed, word for word, and it was backed up by testi- 
mony and evidence taken by the State Factory Investigating 
Commission, containing the sworn affidavits of our most 
eminent physicians that night work for women was dangerous 
to their health, the very same court on the identical bill in 
an opinioa written by Judge Hitchcock, declared the act to 
be constitutional, and took occasion in the written opinion to 



DESPOTISM AND DEMOCRACY 175 

say that that change in opinion in the Court of Appeals was 
due to the fact that the Court had before it documentary 
evidence under oath from a member of the Legislature indi- 
cating that the bill was in the interest of public health and 
was therefore predicated on the State's police power to 
protect the health and welfare of the women of the State. 

I hold and I don't believe there is a lawyer in the State that 
will contend otherwise that you can say with equal force to the 
Court of Appeals, "here are the documents; here is the testi- 
mony, and here is the evidence that the regulation by the state 
of the production, transportation and distribution of milk and 
the fixing of its price by the State is in the interest of the public 
health and comes under the State's broad police power/' 

Now before I pass to the next subject let me say that any- 
thing and everything that can possibly be done to find a per- 
manent solution of this question has been done by everybody in 
the State, private citizen and official alike, except the law-mak- 
ing body. It is right up to them. There is nothing further that 
I can do. There is nothing that the Council of Farms and 
Markets can do even if it was functioning properly, which it 
is not, and why it is not functioning properly I will try to ex- 
plain to you in a few minutes. And I say that all the power 
that can be brought to bear in this State is worthless unless 
the Legislature will confer upon some agency the power to do 
the acts comprehended in the bills for milk control that are now, 
pending in both houses. 

At the meeting of the Community Council in December, 
Smith spoke at some length about the Council of Farms and 
Markets. It is a curious institution. Smith wonders if any 
other state in the Union has anything exactly like it. It is 
apparently out of the control of everybody. He explained: 

The Governor of the State means nothing to them. I can get 
a respectful reply to my letters telling me that they will receive 
consideration, but that is all I can get Let us go back and find 
how it came about. For years we had in this State a Depart- 



176 ALFRED E. SMITH 

ment of Agriculture whose function it was to promote in every 
way the science of agriculture in this State and to provide for 
the enforcement of pure food acts. In 1914 there was created 
a Department of Farms and Markets. The underlying theory 
of its creation was to devise a ways and means and to bring into 
action machinery that would bring the farm closer to the city 
and bring the producer and the consumer closer together and 
eliminate some of the unnecessary evils of the middleman who 
was sending the cost of food so high up in this State. Starting 
at this point with this as its purpose, it was organized in 1914. 

Well we have interests in this State. The farming interests 
of the State are very powerful and they are very thoroughly 
organized, and under our constitution they can elect more peo- 
ple to the Legislature than we can, no matter what our popula- 
tion may be. We can grow in this State to forty millions but 
we cannot get any more -representation, and this is fixed in our 
Constitution and seems to be irremovable. You certainly can- 
not pass a bill for an amendment to the Constitute*! changing 
that condition when the very beneficiaries of it are the men 
who have got to vote for the bill. And I might say here to- 
night frankly that it makes no difference whether they are 
Democrats or Republicans. There seems to be no question of 
politics here; it seems to be a question of interests and it su- 
persedes, goes ahead of political consideration. 

These interests came together and they decided to get con- 
trol of the Department of Agriculture and the Department 
of Farms and Markets, and when I say "control," I mean effec- 
tive control, that kind of control that tells the other fellow, 
"You keep out You cannot come in." So they conceived the 
idea of erecting a regency over agricultural matters, such as 
we have over education a ridiculous proposition, comparing 
regulated business with the function of education. 

Education upon the one hand standing out as the most sacred 
duty that the State owes to its people, and agriculture on the 
other, a business, stimulated, of course, but regulated, it seems to 
me, in the interest of all the people. So this regency was created 
and the Council of Farms and Markets was erected by act of 



DESPOTISM AND DEMOCRACY 177 

the Legislature, one member from the Judicial District of New 
York, the Commissioner of Markets, and representatives of 
each of the nine judicial districts and one member at large^ 
making a board of eleven members, brought into existence by 
the Legislature itself and appointed by it 

Strange to say, when the original bill was brought before the 
Governor, the Governor very heartily subscribed to the beauti- 
ful theory of this regency. He was in harmonious accord with 
lifting agriculture out of the mire of partisan politics and put- 
ting it upon the high and elevated plane that was promised* 
except when he said that, he also said, "I will appoint the first 
council and after I get finished you can do what you like with 
it" 

Accordingly, we have this unique situation that the agricul- 
tural, market and farming interests of the State are presided 
over by this regency. This Council created a Division of Agri- 
culture and a Division of Farms and Markets and they appointed 
two men that get along as t well together as a tame cat and a 
bull terrier. And we were coming towards election and it ;was 
necessary to have political fences built, and therefore the depart- 
ment was created practically by statute, not by any trained 
mind, not by any man that brought any scientific thought to 
what he was doing; no such man was put at the head of the 
department, but by this, that or the other fellow, and they ( were 
arbitrarily written, into the law so that there would be that much 
political patronage no matter what else happened and conse- 
quently we find the Department of Agriculture manned by a 
floorwalker from an Elmira dry goods store ! 

I know all about that Department There was nothing new 
in it to me. I sent for the Agricultural leaders of this State. 
I know them all I have known them for years. I can talk to 
them. I brought them right to my own home and I talked to 
them right from the shoulder and they knew that I was right 
They knew that I knew what I was talking about because I 
called a spade a spade. I told them what I knew, and they 
knew I knew what I was talking about and they ail agreed with 
me that the condition ought to be remedied. We had a bill 



178 ALFRED E. SMITH 

drawn that was calculated to remedy this condition and intro- 
duced it in the Legislature last year. 

It went along from day to day, the Agricultural interests and 
the Bureau of Farms and Markets were talking to the Speaker 
and the majority leader and they talked to the other leader. So 
finally the day came when I said, "Let us get down to- business. 
We have conferred about all we are going to about this. It is 
coming close to adjournment What are you going to da about 
it ? And I asked the Chairman of the Council of Farms and Mar- 
kets to go and get the decision and he came down and opened 
the door of my office and he said, 'Nothing doing/ I sai'd, 
'What is the reason. No reason given? 3 'No reason/ " 

But you know what it is. There is too much patronage there. 
It cannot be disturbed. So the Legislature turned it down and 
the same conditions continued to exist in the Council of Farms 
and Markets. I was in this predicament. I knew it; the agri- 
cultural interests of the State knC;W it. We did the very best 
that we could do to get publicity for it but it was difficult So 
I bided my time until the day arrived and I appointed the Chair- 
man of your meeting tonight to go into the Department and 
open it up, and he went in there and he did open it up, and he 
brought forth a report that has been inquired about and hais 
been asked for in every State of this Union, He has laid the 
whole thing "bare, not only incompetency, not only lack of 
ability but what approaches upon scandal, is disclosed in that 
report 

If the same report came from a department presided over 
by men that come from a well-known organization in New 
York that I belong to, there would not be room enough in the 
city prison for them. There it is. It has been in the hands of 
the Legislature since the middle of January. Specific recom- 
mendations are made to cure palpable evils, evils that stand out, 
evils that nobody can dispute. Not a single member of the 
Council of Farms and Markets up to and including this minute 
has attempted to make any kind of an answer to it They have 
simply rested back perfectly quiet and the bills carrying the 
recommendations into effect are introduced in both houses and 
there they are asleep. 



DESPOTISM AND DEMOCRACY 179 

Now let us see what that has to do with this. There is no 
more important department of this government than this Coun- 
cil of Farms and Markets. Aside from the Educational Depart- 
ment and the Department of Health this is the most important 
public department that the State is supporting. If properly 
managed, if properly handled, if properly directed, if intelli- 
gence was displayed in its management the very least that the 
people of this State would get from it would be an accurate 
knowledge of what it is doing on this important question of 
food production, transportation and distribution. It is a mortal 
sin to have to support this department with the very generous 
appropriations that it gets and then not have it function. It is 
one thing to be denied the service but it is an entirely different 
thing to pay very well for it and then not receive it 

There is asked for in the budget for 1920 for the agricultural 
activities of the State and its supervision $3,155,420. Now that 
is what it costs to run the department and aside from the en- 
forcement of regulatory statutes absolutely nothing is being 
accomplished by it. 

The Police Departments of the different cities, the sheriffs, 
the district attorneys, any ordinary police force could enforce 
the regulatory features of the law but the great, prime moving 
reason- for its existence and for this enormous appropriation, 
the stimulation of agriculture, the regulation of the production 
and distribution of food, is being entirely lost sight of and 
nothing is being dene by this enormus political machine. It is 
responsible to no branch of government, responsible to nobody. 

The audience listened in something like amazement. Smith 
grew even more emphatic. There is not a man in the Legis- 
lature he said willing to stand up and defend this condition. 
They can make no answer to the people. They have made 
no attempt to do It. 

But, he continued, that is not all : There are a number of other 
very important legislative matters pending that affect the health 
and well-being of the people of this State that have been recom- 
mended by me in my first message or in subsequent messages. 
I have asked for legislation to define the State policy with regard 



180 ALFRED E. SMITH 

to the development of water power. During the month of July 
I went up on the canal between the City of Albany and Cham- 
plain. As we rode along in the boat, on the left bank of the 
canal, going north, great big industrial establishments and great 
big" factories were 'using all of their energy turning all their 
wheels bringing forth every ounce of their product with power 
developed from the water on the left bank of the canal. On 
the right bank, the property of the State of New York, that 
which belongs to us, with the identical water power, equal in 
force, equal in value, Is running to waste. At two points of 
the canal within striking distance of the City of Albany sufficient 
water is running over the dam to generate electricity enough 
to light the City of Albany, the City of Troy, and two other 
cities. What is the matter? What is the trouble? 

What great business concern, Smith now asked his hearers, 
would sit by and permit that great waste? Here is the 
problem, he added : You have three groups of men in ,the 
State studying water power. The first group is made up of 
men who give the right to develop this to private individuals 
for a small return. The second group believe in development 
by the State and thenj turning It over for private lease there- 
after. The third and the right-thinking not radical group 
believe in development and ownership by the State ! 

I stand with group No. 3. There is no question about where I 
stand. I have put it into my public messages and into my public 
papers. I fought for it for years in Albany and I was the instru- 
ment that kept out of the Constitution when it was written for 
submission to the people the part which omitted to provide for 
electrical development. Bills declaring that policy are lying in 
Albany alongside of the Milk Commission bill and the food 
bill. And it will die the same death unless there is an arousing 
public sentiment clearly indicating that the people want the 
development of their water power resources along these lines. 

Smith told them next he had asked for amendments to 
the Workmen's Compensation Act extending its benefits to 



DESPOTISM AND DEMOCRACY 181 

men suffering from occupational diseases. "Perfectly simple 
thing!" he exclaimed. There is absolutely no reason why 
the act should not give relief to the wife, the children, and 
to the man himself who suffers from any disease because of 
his occupation. Smith said that in his message the previous 
year. 

And one of the most prominent representatives "only 
Tuesday of this week" said it was "passed last year !" Smith 
looked at him for a minute. "Did you read my message this 
year?" he asked. The other said he had not. "Do you 
think 55 asked Smith, "I sit in my office this year recommend- 
ing what had been passed last year?" That, he said bitterly, 
is how much attention it received! 

I have for years urged the creation by law of a Wage Board 
to correct what to my way of thinking is a great industrial 
injustice. I advocate Wage Boards for the fixation of living 
wages for women and children in factories and mercantile estab- 
lishments; exactly as the State regulates their employment. In 
the interest of public health, this State can, with equal force say 
to anybody that it is just as cruel and just as inhuman to under- 
pay a woman as to overwork her. I have heard no argument 
against it. It is simply put down on the list of bills not desired 
by certain reactionary interests the Manufacturers* Association. 

They have organized in the City of Syracuse and call their 
organization the League of Americanization. Under the guise 
of spreading the doctrine of America's free institutions, they 
are throttling free speech and issuing an insidious propaganda 
against the legislation introduced for the health and well-being 
and morals of the people of this State. 

An organization that starts out with its avowed purpose, throt- 
tling free speech and shutting off debate and preventing men by 
the power and influence of their machine from expressing them- 
selves has to have its allies. Of itself it is not a very potent 
force and it usually comes to the place where you least expect 
to find it looking for an ally, so that everybody may be lulled 
asleep. 



182 ALFRED E. SMITH 

There is a man in New York City, Smith reminded them, 
by the name of Hearst. "He makes the finest kind of an 
ally that they can have at this time. And make no mistake, 
he is the kind who is very effectual! In what way? All 
last Summer and last Fall when there was nothing that any- 
body could do, when there was nothing that the Governor 
could do, his morning and evening newspapers carried whole 
columns and cartoons about the awful condition down in 
New York." Smith spoke in his best manner as he made 
these sarcastic remarks. He enlarged upon Hearst : 

That was the time that he was venting his spleen against the 
Governor personally because the Governor was only satisfied to 
regard him as a friend but wouldn't look upon him as a boss. 
Now that we are in the front row trenches, now that we are 
battling, now that we are face to face with the real common 
enemy of the interests of the people who want this legislation, 
where is Hearst? The day of the hearing, up in the corner of 
his Gazette, was just about an inch saying it happened; and 
just because the rest of the newspapers carried in broad head- 
lines that there was real activity, he came out the next night 
with a whole page editorial denouncing the Governor, saying 
the Governor was insincere. 

In desperation to try to make somebody believe that there 
was really something to his own paper, he has to advertise in 
two column sheets in the other newspapers. This is supposed to 
be a letter from a school teacher. I know as many school 
teachers personally as any man in the United States, and I know 
their habits of thought, and I feel a certain security tonight for 
the future of this State and the future of this country because I 
believe that school teachers think along right lines. 

Of course, you can take that either way you please. I am 
reading it, jumping over you know, like years ago up in the 
Assembly, poor old Ed Merritt, from St. Lawrence County, who 
was the majority leader, and he had argument one day with 
a man on the floor. This man was reading a certain bill and m 
reading the bill he was jumping from one place to another in it. 




AT EIGHTEEN AND IN THE REAL ESTATE BUSINESS 



DESPOTISM AND DEMOCRACY 183 

Ed said to him, "Now wait, now wait, don't do that. Don't read 
that bill that way. That is not the way to read it. You can't 
get regular sense out of it in that way. If I read the Bible the 
way you are reading that bill, let me show you what I could 
find in the Bible?" So he said, "I will open the Bible and I 
read at the top of the page, 'And Judas went out and hanged 
himself/ Then I will open at the top of another page and I see, 
'And Christ, speaking to the multitude, said, *Go thou and do 
likewise/ " 

That won't happen in my manner of reading because I will 
take each subject as it stands. This school teacher says, "Edi- 
torially the New York American is in a class by itself/* 

"The New York American is a mighty educational force 
among the people. I express admiration for the wonderful work 
that it is doing for Americanization among our school children." 
Let me say here tonight because I like to say it; I like to say 
it because it is so true ; I like to say it because there is so much 
meat in it, exactly what I said from the platform in Carnegie 
Hall that was printed broadcast throughout this country and 
went right out into his own home in California, if the Hearst 
newspapers and their editorials were the textbooks for the 
children in our public schools, what would they have to believe 
about America? They would have to believe that no man, no 
matter who he was, ever was elevated by the voters of his own 
people to important public office and thereafter remained true 
to them. 

Speaking about the unrest, Smith added, it is quite natural 
**af ter a great conflict such as the whole world was engaged 
in, practically the whole world for four or five years/* that 
from it must come some unnatural conditions. The govern- 
ment took a particular control over the country., over the 
business of the country, justified only by the power of the 
President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and 
Navy, justified tinder our constitution and under our laws 
only by the stress and emergency of war and as soon as the 
Government realized its grip, there had to come certain forms 
of unrest and of dissatisfaction : 



184 ALFRED E. SMITH 

What is our duty? Our duty as a people and as a State is to 
allay it, it it can be; listen to it that which is right, that which 
has behind it justice, should be, 'if it can be, remedied by the 
government itself, but you can't do it by throttling up free 
speech. You can't do it by taking the bills and putting them 
into the waste paper basket and denying the representatives of 
the people a free opportunity to talk about them. Nothing that I 
can think of would go further to promote that unrest and to 
give a real reason for it, even though an artificial one may now 
only exist. 

Everybody has the freedom of expression through representa- 
tives and by communicating with them and letting them know 
that there is behind these bills this bill for a milk commission, 
the bill for food control, the bills for proper inspection of cold 
storage warehouses, the bills for licensing dealers in food so 
that the State can have some grip upon them, the bill for mini- 
mum wages, the bill for the development of water power, the 
bill for the extension of Workmen's Compensation, bills regu- 
lating and changing and reorganizing the Council of Farms 
and Markets, bills making stronger, making better and more 
effective the Workmen's Compensation Act, increasing the 
amount of money to be given to the widowed woman for her 
children upon the death of her husband by accident all these 
things are matters of concern to every man, woman and child 
in the State. 

It is with you. I say to you from the bottom of my heart that 
I believe we are right. I wouldn't hesitate for a minute, if I 
thought there was anything about this legislation that wasn't 
for the best interests of this State and its people I would let it 
fall myself even in the face of adverse criticism from those 
that wouldn't understand it, but I believe it is right, and that 
is why I am standing for it, and I have a heart full of gratitude 
for everybody that came tonight to make this meeting a success 
so that this message going through the press may be heard 
throughout the State. 



CHAPTER XXVI 
AGRICULTURE 

A wide-awake legislator of eleven years* experience at 
Albany learns many things about the State government 
which is a sealed book to the ordinary citizen. If he happens 
to be a good mixer, the legislator gets an inside track on the 
State's agricultural policy reserved only to the knowing few. 

Assemblyman Smith frequently attended county fairs and 
the State fair, the big yearly event for the farmer folk. He 
enjoyed a large acquaintance among the leaders of the farm- 
ers and in the unreserved intimacy of a social hour among 
them, he learned the truth about agricultural conditions and 
the underlying reasons for certain State policies affecting 
them, withheld on formal occasions or in prepared public 
speeches and statements. 

From this illuminating social intercourse a conviction grew 
upon him that the rank and file of the farmers were being 
duped. A group of politicians who claimed to represent the 
farmers and who built up a political machine in the Republi- 
can party; in their own interest and not for the benefit of the 
rural population of the State comprised a ring. He saw the 
jobs manufactured in special legislation for these leaders and 
their friends. He watched appropriations flowing in their 
direction but he saw little done that was of substantial ad- 
vantage for the mass of the farmers who were in need of 
real aid. 

With a rich store of this knowledge in the back of his 
head, Smith advocated an agricultural policy which hit the 

(185) 



186 ALFRED E. SMITH 

professional political elements among the farmers where they 
lived. They knew it. They resisted his efforts. They were 
aided by the legislators of the Republican party which used 
this agricultural machine to roll up the rural vote on election 
day. 

The agricultural section of his first message indicated 
his point of view and suggested a policy which he was soon 
to make irritatingly concrete to the agricultural political 
crowd in} a special message which he sent to the Legislature 
on April 7, 1919. He proposed to eliminate useless jobs and 
to make out of a patronage-ridden inefficient department an 
effective agency working in the interest of the agricultural 
population of the State. Hence he wrote in his plea to the 
Legislature: 

I desire to call to your attention a condition in the Depart- 
ment of Farms and Markets that, to my way of thinking, needs 
remedy. 

The Council of Farms and Markets was created by an act 
of your honorable bodies in 1917. It was patterned after the 
State Board of Regents and was intended to create a condition 
in the agricultural affairs of the State that would take them 
entirely out of the realm of partisan politics. The bill provided 
that there should be two divisions, one headed by the Commis- 
sioner of Agriculture and one by the Commissioner of Foods 
and Markets, both appointed by the Council, and provided numer- 
ous functions which, should be carried out by the Council itself. 
It also created a number of Bureaus to be under the direction 
of the two Commissioners. It is apparent to all that the plan 
has not worked well in operation. The Council itself has been 
unable to perform many of the functions given to it, and instead 
of being an advisory body, as undoubtedly was intended, it has 
been loaded down with administrative duties, which it has been 
unable to carry. It is agreed by everybody interested that the 
plan of two administrative heads and divided authority has also 
failed. I have reached that conclusion after taking counsel 
with many interested in agriculture, food distribution and farm- 



AGRICULTURE 187 

ing interests generally, I have held meetings of the various 
agricultural societies and groups throughout the State and have 
confirmed my opinion that the only way to get this important 
function of our government out of the political arena and give 
it stability and permanence is to confer the power upon the 
Council to appoint a single head to be responsible to the Council 
and to the public at large for the proper functioning of the 
various bureaus, which are necessary for the best interests of 
this department. I believe that the Council as composed today, 
if left to itself, can find a man forceful and able enough to 
reorganize the entire department, which is undoubtedly over- 
manned, extravagant, theoretical, and too far removed from 
the very people it was intended to assist. As it stands today, it 
lacks force and initiative and seems to be chiefly concerned in 
the enforcement of regulatory statutes. While that is abso- 
lutely necessary, it is also necessary that the Department initiate 
movements looking towards stimulation of production and a 
solution of the questions of distribution. It is not my purpose 
to outline what, in my opinion, could be done to make more 
efficient this important bureau of our government, but I do feel 
free to say that the eighteen bureaus with high-salaried directors 
and assistants, for the most part new men placed over the heads 
of old employees of the department, have produced an organiza- 
tion top-heavy and unwieldy. I believe very firmly in the effic- 
iency of a single-headed Commission. I believe that the agri- 
cultural law should be amended so as to continue the present. 
Council of Farms and Markets as now constituted, b.ut that 
their functions shall be purely advisory, and that they be given 
the power of appointing a single Commissioner of Agriculture 
with a salary ample enough to induce a man o the highest attain- 
ments in these lines to take the position. I believe also that he 
should be given absolute power to revise the division of work in 
the department and that he should not be hampered by the pres- 
ent provisions, which continue in existence the various bureaus 
making it mandatory for him to continue the functions as they 
now exist and being unable to direct the departments as he 
chooses in the best interests of the State. I therefore call to 
your attention the advisability of immediately enacting a measure 



188 ALFRED E. SMITH 

feH i 

to revise the law so as to embody the changes stated, and appro- 
priate a lump stun of money sufficient to enable the new com- 
missioner to reorganize and revise in any way in which to his 
judgment is best, the various bureaus. To accomplish this prop- 
erly, I stand ready to veto the items in the general appropriation 
bill for this department and to sign a bill embodying the above 
suggestions and making appropriation generously sufficient for 
the reorganized department to carry on its work for the fiscal 
year beginning July 1, 1919, My sole desire is to do what is 
best for all the people of the State, and I can attribute to your 
honorable body no less desire. I therefore ask your immediate 
consideration of the bill embodying the above suggestions, which 
has been prepared and which will be introduced immediately. 

He supported his recommendation by a number of impar- 
tial studies of the department. Particularly enlightening was 
the report of George Gordon Battle appointed by the Gover- 
nor Commissioner under the executive law to investigate the 
organization and management of the Department of Farms 
and Markets. He gave chapter and verse proving inefficiency 
and even questionable practices. Again the Governor urged 
his reorganization program in his messages transmitting the 
report. 

He made, in fact, a number of public addresses on his 
agricultural policy. At a meeting of the New York State 
Agricultural Society on January 20, 1920, he set forth his 
aims and his program in the following address : 

As the Governor of the State I am personally dissatisfied with 
the present organization of the agricultural interests in this 
State, By that, I mean that I am not satisfied with the regency 
idea as attempted to be carried out by the Council of Farms 
and Markets. I do not believe that it is successful. I do not 
believe that it is doing for this State what could be done for it 
with a similar appropriation. I believe that our agricultural 
interests will best be promoted by a single, responsible head I 
would look to a Commissioner of Agriculture in this State as 



AGRICULTURE 189 

probably next to the Commissioner of Education being the most 
important single official in the whole State, and if we can 
afford to pay a Public Service Commissioner, of which we have 
to have five to make up a Board, a salary of $15,000 a year for 
the regulation, the very meagre regulation that the law permits 
them to exercise over public service corporations, we certainly 
can spend $20,000 or $25,000 for the biggest agricultural expert 
that this country has and put him at the head of the agricultural 
interests of this State, and give him some power along with 
some responsibility. There is nothing very radical about that. 
It was the accepted procedure in- this State for a good many 
years and under certain commissionerships it was highly satis- 
factory. . . * Now we have an elaborate regency, all 
very good men. There is not any doubt about that Stand 
them here on the Assembly floor and representing the various 
judicial districts of the State, they are probably the foremost in 
their districts, but you cannot carry any job to a successful con- 
clusion that is handled by 6, 7, or 10 men. We have been all 
through that. The government has been through it. We had 
the lesson brought home to us with a great deal o force during 
the period of the war. When we were fighting we had to bring 
to our men the very best that we had, and invariably that led 
us to the idea that a single-headed responsibility, one man you 
can look to, that you can hold responsible, and consequently 
give him responsibility and power. The law as it reads today 
attempts to give certain power to the Commissioner of Agri- 
culture, to the Chief of the Division of Agriculture and the 
Chief of the Division of Foods and Markets, but all that power 
in the last analysis is exercised through the Council. What is 
that power? Nothing more than a wonderful bureau of 
investigation, absolutely lacking in initiative, which is the 
one great thing we need, the one big thing the State desires, 
the one thing that you can expect from a single, responsible 
commissioner and that you will never get from a council of this 
kind. It is idle talk to say you can erect a regency over agri- 
culture as you do over education. There is nobody pulling 
against education in this State. It is an entirely different sub- 
ject. It is another matter. If you want to find some way of 



190 ALFRED E. SMITH 

perpetuating a good commissioner when you get him in office, 
either elect him by the people for a long term, or have him 
elected, if you please, by the Legislature for a long term. If 
yon get the right man it makes very little difference how you 
get him. In the last analysis when all is said and done, the 
regency over education is wholly an advisory body and the real 
moving spirit after all is the single-headed commissioner of 
education controlling his deputies in the various activities of that 
great department. I would have the Commissioner of Agriculture 
be the man who would have something to say about the appro- 
priation of every dollar of State money for agriculture in this 
State. The present Council has not got it, You have a number 
of agricultural schools spread out all over the State, their man- 
agement resting in the hands of their respective Board of Man- 
agers. No co-ordination whatever, separate and distinct agen- 
cies all operating according to their own notions and their own 
ideas, removed entirely from any central authority or power, 
in many instances resulting in constant quarreling between the 
Manager and certain of the Directors as to procedure. Par- 
ticularly is that noticeable in the school at Farrningdale. 

In the budget of 1920 I have recommended for agricultural 
schools, including the Experimental Station at Geneva, $2,159,- 
730. That is a very generous and a very liberal appropriation. 
There is no one in this State who controls it after it is ap- 
propriated. 

The Speaker mentioned the State Fain I would have the 
State Fair come under your Commissioner of Agriculture. 
That is where it rightfully and properly belongs, 

I would have a Bureau of County Fairs within the Depart- 
ment of Agriculture and I predict that unless that is done, in a 
short time your county fairs are going to lose all the semblance 
they ever had of educational institutions so* far as agriculture 
is concerned. Now, I would be the last man in the world to 
say the children of the countryside were to be deprived of that 
week of amusement The $250,000 appropriated by the State 
to the various county fairs is .well spent if it serves no other 
purpose except a week of recreation for women and children 
in the country, but they could attend and agricultural education 



AGRICULTURE 191 

could retain its place at the fair just the same. There is no 
reason why the horse race and the performing bear and the 
frankfurter man should be the whole show. They have their 
places, but until you have intelligent direction in your county 
fairs, you are wasting time and money so far as education is 
concerned, so far as any effort on the part of the State for the 
promotion of agriculture is concerned. You are wasting money, 
and I speak from some experience. In 1918, the fairs of 1918, 
I was one of the large side-shows, I was advertised ahead of 
time and billed ahead of time. "We have with us today the 
Tammany candidate for Governor" a drawing card. It meant 
something for the gate receipts. I was perfectly willing to 
offer myself for exhibition, and I, therefore, speak of our county 
fairs with some knowledge of what takes place there. 

When you take the Department of Agriculture and the De- 
partment of Markets out of politics you will find that the heads 
of the bureaus will be men with some peculiar qualifications, 
some peculiar training either in experience or education, to man 
these bureaus. Is that the case today ? Everybody in this room 
knows it is not. There is no use fooling ourselves about it II 
I was asked what I would do about it, I would say this : That if 
the Legislature is willing, I will stand for a lump sum appro- 
priation made to the Department of Agriculture for its reor- 
ganization from top to bottom and allow some men who under- 
stand the business to reorganize that big department from top 
to bottom and let us have some confidence in it. Let us be will- 
ing to leave with them the State's money for that reorganiza- 
tion, and let me make the prediction that if you don't do it you 
are just continuing a cumbersome machine in the government 
of this State that will never get any place. 

A survey of Smith's efforts in the farmers' interests indi- 
cates that this city-bred man was deeply interested in the 
needs of the rural communities and made substantial contri- 
butions in their behalf. He approved generous appropria- 
tions for the State's agricultural schools. 

He approved the building of the Coliseum at Syracuse for 



192 ALFRED E. SMITH 

the holding of annual conventions of the dairy industries of 
the State. 

He stimulated the building of good country roads in the 
rural districts by approving a dollar for dollar subsidy by 
the State for rural county road construction. 

In 1922 he came to the relief of the farmers by approving 
an appropriation of five million dollars to reimburse them 
for the slaughter of their tubercular cattle by the State. Half 
of this sum was incurred by the preceding administration and 
he risked the charge of extravagance by adding so large a 
sum -to his annual budget. He was unwilling to make an 
economy record at the expense of the farmers who could not 
stand the financial strain of an unpaid State debt. 

The Rural Health Bill passed as a result of conferences 
with leading medical authorities of the State called through 
his initiative and meets one of the most neglected needs of 
the rural communities in the Stated-proper medical attention 
and hospital facilities in communities where doctors are not 
attracted to practise. 

Efforts of the State Education Department and public 
spirited citizens to pass legislation enabling rural communi- 
ties to unite and to co-ordinate their school facilities to secure 
for country children the modern educational facilities city 
children enjoy, have found him a consistent supporter, and 
just recently he approved legislation promoting co-operative 
marketing among the farmers of the State to enable them to 
enjoy the benefits of common effort which the co-operative 
movement among the Western farmers has clearly demon- 
strated. 

In his policy for the farmers he has been no less the 
progressive than he is in his program for justice to the 
industrial workers. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

WELFARE LEGISLATION DEBATE ON THE BARNES 

AMENDMENT 

No question considered by the constitutional convention 
was more basic and far-reaching in its effects on State policies 
dealing with social problems resulting from an industrial 
society than that presented by the Republican leader from 
Albany County, Mr. William Barnes, His influence in the 
Republican party extended throughout the State and even 
to the national organization. Mr. Barnes was the leading 
opponent of Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive party 
in New York State. In the National Convention of 1912, 
Mr. Barnes was a tower of strength for the Republican Old 
Guard. He had helped considerably to win their fight for 
control of the Republican organization. 

Barnes submitted a proposition in the form of a constitu- 
tional amendment that "the Legislature shall not pass any bill 
granting hereafter to any class of individuals any privileges 
or immunities not granted equally to all the members of the 
State/' 

He later accepted the following amendment to his own sub- 
mitted by Mr. Olcott: "The Legislature shall not grant 
any privilege or immunity not granted equally to all the 
members of the State/* 

In an eloquent address Mr. Barnes defended his thesis by 
declaring that it represents the theory of equality upon which 
American institutions are based. In recent years, he con- 

(193) 



194 ALFRED E. SMITH 

tended, the social legislation advocated by popular leaders 
and passed by legislators was in violation of this American 
principle. 

Mr. Barnes* address was an exposition of ?n abstract 
conception of equality. It had all the logical cogency of an 
Eighteenth Century political philosopher. He classed the 
advocates of social legislation as potential socialists who, 
with the same tools that Bismarck used against the socialists 
of Germany namely social legislation to buttress an auto- 
cratic state were leading free America into the autocracy 
Bismarck had desired for Germany. Like Bismarck,, instead 
of combatting socialism they were strengthening the move- 
ment. For every violation of the principle of equality natu- 
rally tended to establish its opposite, the principle of privi- 
lege which led to autocracy. , 

The implications of this amendment were clearly grasped 
by the progressives in his own party like General Wicker- 
sham, Henry L. Stimson and Herbert Parsons. They 
pointed out that this amendment if a part of the Constitution 
of the State would prevent further labor and humanitarian 
legislation like Workmen's Compensation, Child Welfare, 
and other labor legislation relieving the injustice to the work- 
ers arising from modern social and industrial conditions. 

The debate represented a clash between a, static conception 
of government and of society held with profound conviction 
and tenacity by groups which Mr. Barnes led, powerful in- 
dustrial and rural interests and a dynamic conception of 
society and government held by the progressives who* recog- 
nized the need of adapting laws to changing conditions and 
who realized that such changes resulted in the grossest privi- 
lege and in actual inequality by adhering to an abstract 
equality. 

To remedy these abuses of actual inequality was the pur- 
pose of social legislation. They contended for the need of 



WELFARE LEGISLATION 195 

adjustment in a democratic society. They repelled the no- 
tion that such adjustment was inconsistent with real freedom 
subject to the general welfare. 

Smith participated in the debate on the progressive side. 
His speech was one of the most powerful justifications of 
social legislation presented in the convention. 

To give only a brief excerpt : 

The second clause providing for or authorizing the expenditure 
of public money: It is said that that has reference to two 
things. First we will take up the so-called mothers' pension. 
That is a wrong name for the act. There is no pension to a 
widowed mother. The State long years ago adopted the policy 
that it was, through its civil divisions committed to the care 
and education of the homeless and destitute children of the 
State. The formation of the child welfare boards ,was simply a 
change in the method no new policy but a change in the 
method. Rather than have the institution the agent of the 
State, the State decided that work could best be done by the 
mother if she was a fit and proper person, and forthwith It 
transferred that agency from the institution to the mother her- 
self. The mother, as such, receives no money; or, rather, not 
one dollar is contributed to her for her support Everything 
she does, she does as the agent of the State, just as surely as 
did the institution do it, and for the care and maintenance of 
her children, her home is temporarily turned into a State insti- 
tution. Now in regard to pensions, a pension is not a payment 
of money for services not rendered. As long as there has been 
in any civilized community a pension, whether it be private or 
public, the theory of it was that it was an increase in salary to 
be paid to the man between the time he was able to render ser- 
vice and the time of his death. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

THE PUBLIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE STATE'S WATER 
POWER 

Smith stood like a rock against the private exploitation of 
the State's water powers. Nothing could in his opinion 
prove more detrimental to the public welfare. The consti- 
tutional convention afforded him a capital opportunity to 
prevent private interests from capturing these precious natu- 
ral resources of the State. 

Smith was not present when the report of the article on 
conservation was proposed. He was on hand very soon to 
make a forceful plea and to effect two amendments directed 
toward truly conserving the State resources. His speech 
and the incidental debate arising from it illustrates his knowl- 
edge of past legislation on the subject, his persuasive debat- 
ing power and his influence over a deliberative body. He 
succeeded in securing two amendments to the conservation 
article, the first designed to prevent representatives of 
private power and of related interests from qualifying as 
conservation commissioners and the second made State 
development of water power possible under the constitution. 

This story can best be told by Smith himself: 

It was a matter of regret to me that I was unable to be present 
on the day this proposed conservation article was reported from 
the Committee of the Whole to the Convention for passage. 

It seems to me we are setting the clock of progress, in the 
matter of the development of our natural resources, back at 

(196) 



STATE WATER POWER 197 

least ten years by our action. I hold the Constitution should 
contain nothing except the bare statement, included in the 
report of the State Officers Committee, that there should be a 
conservation commission appointed by the Governor by and with 
the advice and consent of the Senate, and the make-up, member- 
ship and the details of how that commission is to be composed 
should unquestionably be left to the Legislature in order that 
it may deal with the new problems that arise from time to time. 

There is a long history connected with this question of water 
power development in this State. It goes back to the year after 
the last Constitutional Convention. Beginning in 1895, it was 
the policy of the State, or, rather the State lacked a policy with 
regard to the treatment and the development of its water power 
resources. As a result of that lack of policy, from time to time 
the grants of water power in the Niagara river were such that 
in 1905 or 1906 it was necessary for the Federal Government 
to step in and put its hands on Niagara Falls in order to prevent 
it from being despoiled by the water power interests of this 
State. - , 

At the time the so-called Burton Act was pending in Congress, 
it was Horace MacFarland, I believe, the President of the 
National Civic Federation, who made the remark that New 
York State's record with regard to her water powers in the past 
was very bad; that the State itself had jobbed out all the sacred 
glories of Niagara for no return or recompense whatever to 
the people. 

An instance of how some of the grants on the Niagara river 
were made can be imagined from one single grant that in the 
terms of the contract read that the quantity of water to be 
taken was that which would pass through an opening or a ditch 
two hundred feet wide by about fourteen feet deep. 

The agitation for the preservation of Niagara and the other 
water powers of the State was so great that Congress authorized 
a treaty between this country and Great Britain, limiting or 
holding back the amount of water that could be diverted from 
the Niagara river for water power purposes. Immediately after 
the passage of the Burton Act, and the ratification of the treaty, 
the water power interests of the State turned their attention 



198 ALFRED E. SMITH 

from Niagara Falls to the St. Lawrence river, and in 1907 there 
passed in the Legislature, and it became a law, what was known 
as the incorporation of the Long Saulte Development Company. 
Under the terms and the provisions of the charter they were 
permitted to dam the St. Lawrence river at the Long Saulte 
rapids. The conservation engineers conservatively estimated that 
at that point in the St. Lawrence river there was capable of 
development a million horse power, which, under the terms of 
our treaty with Great Britain, five hundred thousand of that 
horse power belonged to the State of New York, because the 
boundary line between this State and the Dominion of Canada 
was approximately in the center of the river. 

The bill went down to Governor Hughes and he hesitated to 
sign it. He sent it back to both Houses for amendment, requiring 
that a certain percentage of the horse power therein developed 
was to be paid to the State of New York. 

He was entirely without knowledge of the subject, as were 
a great many members of the Legislature. Nobody really dreamed 
at the time that there was granted to this power development 
company 500,000 horse power, the return to the State on which 
was something in the neighborhood of $25,000 a year. Anybody 
who knows anything about hydraulic development can understand 
very readily the value of 500,000 horse power. 

Now, immediately after the signing of that act, Governor 
Hughes realized what he had practically given away to the water 
power interests, and he insisted upon the passage of a bill imme- 
diately after that which very clearly defined what was to be the 
future policy of the State. 

After continuing with this subject in the minutest detail, 
Mr. Smith met arguments in debate, and then proposed 
his amendment, which was carried.. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

THE LITERACY TEST AND A HUMOROUS INCIDENT IN THE 
CONVENTION 

Whenever an attempt was made to abridge the rights of 
the mass, whether citizens or immigrants, Smith's voice was 
heard on behalf of the rank and file. In the debate, which 
waxed very warm, on a proposed constitutional article pro- 
viding for a literacy test of voters, Smith relieved the tension 
by the following bit. Referring to the previous arguments in 
favor and in opposition to the literacy test, he said: 

Now, I do not know any better food for the Socialists and 
the Anarchists or any better thought that the wild-eyed Socialist 
can have in his mind and shout from the street corners, that 
goes to the foundation of the State and the dissolution of the 
Union, than to be able to point to the fact that a man owning 
property, participating in the benefits of the government and 
upholding the government, is refused a voice in the management 
of that government through the ballot, simply because he cannot 
read English. We have sent one Socialist Congressman from this 
State, one Socialist is sitting in the Congress of the United 
States from this State, and the reason it took them so many 
years to elect one is because we have by their constituency 
taught them that all men are equal in this State, that they have 
the same opportunity and the same chance with their neighbor. 
During my membership in this House, a Socialist from Schenec- 
tady sat on this bench and when he found that the debate was 
open, free and unrestricted and he was enabled to participate 
absolutely freely in the discussions that came before the Assem- 

(199) 



200 ALFRED R SMITH 

bly, and he found that seventy-six votes and seventy-six only 
did anything in this chamber, he went immediately down to the 
Ten Eyck barber shop and got a hair-cut. (Laughter.) 

Now, in 1908 or 1907, there was written into the election 
law a provision that in New York City or the Metropolitan 
district, a man had to sign his name when he came to register. 
I opposed that very bitterly, in this House. I watched its opera- 
tion and it was a surprise to me to see the number of men who 
were able to speak the English language, that were not able to 
write their names in English. Some of them were fathers of 
families. One I have particularly in mind whose son is as bright 
a lawyer as any practising at the bar in the city of New York 
to-day, and I would not advise him to take his hat off to anybody, 
and his father struggled through the long days and nights to 
educate the son and the rest of the family and he was not able 
to read the language, although he fluently spoke it. And there 
are a lot of good readers and writers residing down in Mr. 
Osborne's Riverside neighborhood that cannot only write their 
own names but somebody else's as well. 

He meant in the State Prison at Sing Sing ! 
Speaking in New York City eight years later he defined his 
conception of citizenship: 

Now, let me see what a good citizen is. How do we measure 
him? What is the yard stick? What is the standard? I come 
from a good, old-fashioned neighborhood where the city began. 
In that neighborhood I met a great many of our citizens in my 
time, and it gave me my idea of a good citizen. I believe him 
to be the man who puts everything he has in him into the job 
to which he is dedicated that helps to keep open the channels 
of trade and of commerce, who raises a family and gives them 
all that he possibly can to let them have the benefits of an 
education which he himself was probably denied. A man who 
pays obedience to his church, who obeys the laws of the State 
and the ordinances of the city that is my idea of a good citizen. 



CHAPTER XXX 
DEFENSE OF SOCIAL LEGISLATION 

Congressman Herbert Parsons proved a tower o strength 
to the progressive forces in the constitutional convention 
interested in adopting the constitution to changing social and 
industrial conditions. It was he who submitted an amend- 
ment providing that "the Legislature shall have the power to 
regulate or prohibit manufacturing in tenement houses." 

Mr. Parsons stated the purpose of the amendment in the 
opening of his speech. It was desirable, he said, to insert 
in the constitution some such provision as this in order to 
overcome the Jacobs case, cited by the Court of Appeals 
some years previously. The Court held that it was uncon- 
stitutional for the Legislature to pass a bill to prohibit manu- 
facturing of cigars in tenement houses. The result of that 
decision had been to raise a doubt as to the power of the 
Legislature to deal with sweat shops. 

The amendment was opposed by Mr. Barnes on his general 
theory of not abridging the right of individual freedom. 
Other upstate delegates feared that the Legislature might 
define a tenement so as to prohibit cheese-making in a one- 
family home. Others feared prohibition of manufacturing 
in homes tinder housing conditions in small towns which 
were not socially harmful. After some parleying among the 
delegates as to the definition of a tenement house under the 
statute, and concerning the scope and implication of the deci- 
sion in the Jacobs case made famous by Theodore Roosevelt 

(201) 



202 ALFRED E. SMITH 

in his Progressive party campaign of 1912 for social justice, 
Smith took the floor and clarified the atmosphere with the 
following address: 

MR. A. E. SMITH I just want to make answer to one or 
two suggestions which have just been made. I think that the 
history of the operation of the Legislature, or the dealing of 
the Legislature with this question, of tenement manufacturers, 
has been long recognized as along wise and sane lines, and that 
there can be nothing to the contention of my friend, Mr. Leggett 

If, however, this Convention believes that at any time in the 
future the Legislature would be so stupid in its handling of this 
question as to provide that a man could not make cheese up in 
his house on the farm, why then they had better not put this 
into the Constitution, but I don't think you can get many men 
to follow Mr. Leggett's idea along that line. 

All legislation on this question is after investigation; it is 
with a knowledge of the facts. No man would come to Albany 
and put a bill in the box prohibiting manufacturing in tenements 
right away. You could not pass any such bill as that. I would 
be the last man in this Convention to vote for any such bill as 
that. But what we want to do is to leave the power with the 
Legislature for the proper regulation of something that it has 
been doing right up to the session before" the last. 

Now, my friend, Judge Dunmore, refers to it as social reform. 
It is not social reform. That is not the theory which is behind 
legislation which regulates manufacturing in tenement houses. 
It is for the welfare and the benefit of all the people of the State 
and the health of the community, as I will show in a very few 
moments. 

Now, Mr. Barnes, of course, quotes a decision with which 
none of us disagrees, but sometimes it is more interesting to 
know the facts that led up to the decision than it is to read the 
decision, and it is more interesting to find out whether it could 
apply to an entirely different set of circumstances. 

Now the facts that were presented to the court, to just take a 
second of your time, in the Jacobs cigar case, were these : The 
facts as they appeared before the police justice were these. The 



DEFENSE OF SOCIAL LEGISLATION 203 

relator at the time of his arrest lived with his wife and two 
children in a tenement house in New York City, in which three 
other families also lived. There were four floors in the house 
and seven rooms on each floor, and each floor was occupied by 
one of the families living independently of the other, who did 
their cooking in one of the rooms so occupied. The relator at 
the time of his arrest was engaged in one of his rooms in pre- 
paring tobacco for making cigars, but there was r.o smell of 
tobacco in any part of the house except the room where he was 
thus engaged* 

So that the evident intent of the statute held unconstitutional 
here was for the protection of the health of the other occupants 
of the house, and the facts are such as to establish that there 
was no occasion for such a statute in this particular case, and 
the gentleman from Albany would not hold that that wo*ild be 
true in the light of the facts about tenement manufacturing that 
were disclosed in the recent investigation. 

Now, the State has undertaken the regulation of tenement man- 
ufacturing. That is not a new thing. That has been in the 
Labor Law for some time. Section 100 of the Labor Law provides 
for the licensing of tenement houses in which there is altering, 
repairing or manufacturing of articles of any kind. But, as the 
Congressman told you, because of the great number of tenement 
houses, because of the great number of apartments into which all 
of these tenement houses are divided, a proper regulation o it by 
the State is nearly impossible. The corps of inspectors that would 
be required would be more than that activity on the part of the 
State would warrant. 

There has never been any question of any legislation tinder 
the police power, where it could be shown that the regulation 
was for the health of all the people of the State. For instance, 
we provided by law some time ago that certain articles of cloth- 
ing were not to be manufactured in tenement houses and we 
excepted from that articles that had to be laundered before they 
were worn, consequently showing that the Legislature some time 
ago, before the days of the Factory Investigating Committee, 
had in mind the care and the protection of the genera* health of 
the people of the State in dealing with this question of tenement- 



204 ALFRED E. SMITH 

made goods, so that germs of disease might not be carried from 
the tenement in clothing and stuff there manufactured, and any- 
thing that was laundered was exempted from it. 

Now, as a result of our investigation, we undertook to amend 
the Labor Law, and it is contained in Section 104, and I believe 
that it comes dangerously close to the reasoning in the Jacobs 
case, but the Court of Appeals in its recent decisions in all of 
these kinds of laws have taken into consideration all the facts. 

Judge Hiscock in his opinion in the night-work case distinctly' 
said that the opinion of the court was influenced by the evidence 
that was produced to show the public necessity for some of these 
rather drastic regulations. 



CHAPTER XXXI 
SMITH AND LABOR 

In a gathering of laboring men Smith is always at home. 
During his two terms as Governor and often as legislator 
it was his custom to address the annual convention of the 
State Federation of Labor. With the humane legislative 
program of the American labor movement he is largely in 
sympathy. When the Governor appears before them their 
greeting is genuinely fraternal. The friendliness of the 
atmosphere, the feeling that he is among his own people is 
impelling. His speech is filled with the vernacular that 
working men understand. He and his audience have a good 
time together. 

What follows are extracts from his addresses before the 
State Convention of Labor at Syracuse in 1919 and at 
Binghamton in 1920. They cover the labor and social wel- 
fare program of his first administration. 

In the morning address at the Syracuse Convention of 1919 
he made some pertinent remarks on the contribution of labor 
during the war and upon its obligations to meet the post-war 
problems, especially housing. 

In the afternoon session he had a heart-to-heart talk with 
the members of the joint legislative conference. This body 
was organized to carry out the legislative program adopted 
by the convention itself. The talk was not merely a historical 
retrospect of the relation of judicial decisions to a progressive 
labor program. It was a statement of Smith's position on 
the major labor and social welfare measures he advocates: 

(205) 



206 ALFRED E. SMITH 

I view the matter of labor legislation from an entirely differ- 
ent attitude from the one in which I have seen it regarded dur- 
ing my time in Albany, not only as Governor for the last seven 
months, but as a member of the Constitutional Convention and 
as a member of the Assembly for twelve years. I view labor 
legislation from the standpoint o-f the benefit that I see it bring 
to the State itself. 

During my years in Albany I have had members of the reac- 
tionary forces from time to time say to me: "Haven't you done 
enough this year for labor? Why not let this go over until 
next year ?" 

My attitude to t ward that line of questioning and that particular 
attitude has been that nothing has been done for labor itself; 
what has been done has been done as a matter of State policy 
for the benefit of the State. 

We spend in a year countless hundreds of thousands, yes, and 
millions of dollars for purposes of conservation. We conserve 
the animal life of the State, we conserve the forests; we con-* 
serve the State property wherever it may be. But wo have 
given little thought to the conservation of the State's greatest 
asset, and that is the health and the strength of its men and 
jvomen, 

As I have declared in the Legislature, and in the Constitu- 
tional Convention, and from the public platform in the course 
of my various campaigns, the State is not in the last analysis 
made up of great industrial centers, it is not made up of great 
farm lands, great forest preserves, big cities and villages; the 
State, after all, is people, and if its people are not healthy, 
vigorous, and happy in their work, the conservation of all the 
rest does not mean much to the State in the end. 

Now, we ought to have gained much from the experience of 
the recent great world conflict The Selective Draft Act, some- 
thing new to this country, something not kno^vn or heard of in 
this generation, or ever before the Selective Draft Act, for 
example, brought out the fact that one-third of the men between 
the ages of twenty-one and thirty-one, who were called to the 
colors by the country, were physically unfit to fight I cannot 



SMITH AND LABOR 207 

believe that as a State or as a nation, we can afford to allow 
a lesson of that kind to go by unnoticed and simply enter into 
a declaration of peace and go back to our old habits and cus- 
toms and let the world move along as it did before the conflict 
I cannot believe that our industry, our American people, ;will 
be so blind to their own advantages as to neglect the teachings 
that come from a lesson of that kind. And the lesson shows us 
the need of legislation for conserving the health of our people. 

In ten or fifteen years there has been a very deci<Jed change 
in, public opinion with regard to labor legislation. There can 
be no doubt about that We have abundant reason today to say 
that we are making substantial progress. When I entered the 
Assembly first in 1904, some of the labor legislation that after- 
wards came from the Factory Investigating Commission, of 
which your vice-chairman, Miss Dreier, was a member, could 
not have passed either House in Albany, could not have received 
any real support It was looked upon as revolutionary. I think 
the Court of Appeals decision in the night work case for .women 
is the clearest indication of the change of attitude, not only on 
the part of the people themselves, but on the part of the highest 
judicial tribunal in the State. 

The law that was in 1904 regarded as a violation of the Due 
Process Law of the Constitution was ten years later declared 
to be unconstitutional upon the same set of facts. So there has 
been apparently, a general loosening up of the attitude of the 
people throughout the State, and particularly of the courts, to- 
jyard labor legislation. 

I speak, of course, about court decisions absolutely as a lay- 
man. I am not a lawyer, but nevertheless I have ideas of my 
own, and my idea is that the Due Process of the Law clause 
in the Constitution was never intended to prevent the State 
from enacting legislation to safeguard the health and welfare 
of the people of the State. The "liberty" spoken of in the Four- 
teenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, that afterwards 
was incorporated in the Constitution of this State, meant the 
liberty of the person. It was put into the Constitution imme- 
diately following the Civil War as a guarantee to the people 



208 ALFRED E. SMITH 

that blood was shed then for a real constitutional right, and that 
liberty meant the liberty of the person. It meant that no person 
could be detained in any place against his will, or (without due 
and orderly process of law. 

But the courts afterward construed that word "liberty" to 
mean liberty of contract as well as liberty of person, the liberty 
not only to move freely in your person, but to live your own 
life in your own way. And the Court of Appeals said, in its 
first decision on the night work case for women, that the Leg- 
islature could not enact any law that t would in any way abridge 
a woman's liberty to contract to work whenever she pleased 
whether it be in the night time, or in the day time, Sunday, or 
any other time. But the same court afterwards sustained ,the 
very same law upon evidence before the court adduced by a 
committee that was itself the creation of the Legislature. This 
evidence held that that law was enacted to safeguard the health 
and the welfare of the .women of the State, and to protect the 
health of the future citizens of the State, and that therefore it 
was a proper and lawful exercise of the police power of the 
State in the interest of the public welfare. 

Speaking of the legislation .which interested the women of 
the Women's Conference, and interested labor, and, for that 
matter, interested the State itself, there were a number of im- 
portant measures introduced and passed in the Senate during 
the last session of the Legislature. Seated on the platform is 
Senator Davenport from Utica. Senator Davenport and myself 
belong to opposite political parties, but I want to pay this tribute 
to him in- this public place, that when it came to legislation in 
the interest of men, women and children in this State, Senator 
Davenport was neither a Republican nor a Democrat; he was 
a State Senator with a proper understanding of legislation. 
And I think I conferred. with him during the legislative session 
about as often as I did with any member of my own party. 

The Health Insurance bill t was his own act. He passed it in 
the Senate. I will not speak upon it because he is full of the 
subject, knows a great deal more about it than I doi, and has 
given it a much greater study than I would be able to give it, 
with all my other duties. 



SMITH AND LABOR 209 

The eight-hour law needs no discussion. It passed the Sen- 
ate and was not reported from the Committee on Rules of the 
Assembly. 

The amendments to the Workmen's Compensation Act, ex- 
tending the benefits of that act to men suffering because of oc- 
cupational diseases, also passed the Senate, but it was not 
reported from the committee in the Assembly. 

As for the extension of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 
there is no doubt in my mind that the framers of the original 
constitutional amendment permitting the enactment of work- 
men's compensation insurance in this State believed that it 
could be applied to occupational diseases. The problem hinges 
on that word "injury." Now an occupation can injure a man 
in ways other than by accident A man who suffers from lead 
poisoning because of his occupation is injured by that occupa- 
tion just as much as if he jwas accidentally hit with something 
in the performance of his duty. This was discussed at very 
great length in the Constitutional Convention, and my recollec- 
tion of it is that the ablest legal minds in the Constitution held 
to the theory that the Legislature could enact legislation ex-* 
tending Workmen's Compensation Act to take care of occupa- 
tional diseases. 

It proves nothing that the attempt to write it into the Con- 
stitution was defeated. There were attempts made to write 
numerous things into the Constitution that the body itself agreed 
could be done by the Legislature. It was offered simply to 
safeguard the constitutional provision and to take out of it 
any possible element of doubt that may exist regarding the 
ability or the power of the Legislature to extend any of this 
labor legislation. In fact, there was introduced in the Con- 
stitutional Convention a provision jvhich specifically said that 
that section of the Constitution dealing with the due process 
of law had no application to legislation that was enacted tK> 
protect the health or welfare of workers. This opinion jyvas 
laid before before the Committee on Industry, Labor and Indus- 
try, of the Constitutional Convention as a resolution, and was 
reported from that body, although my recollection is that it 
was not adopted by the convention itself. 



210 ALFRED E. SMITH 

The same thing applies to the minimum wage law for women 
and children. While the attempt was made in the Constitution 
to write into that document in so many words the delegation 
of power to the Legislature to enact it, the belief still exists 
that it can be enacted and should be enacted. It also is one 
of the bills that passed the Senate and was lost in committee 
in the Assembly. It gives us no new principle in the govern- 
ment of the State. The municipalities themselves are fixing 
minimum wages for their own employees. A strange thing 
about it, a strange thing about all the labor legislation, is that 
there was practically no debate upon it. The opposition, if 
there existed any, ,was never made known. You know you 
can't conduct a one-handed debate. In order to have a debate 
there must be two sides presented. I never heard anybody 
make an argument against the creation of wage boards. 

I remember in the Constitutional Convention one of the 
members talking against it read about something that happened 
in England in 1320, when there was a movement on the part 
of Parliament assisted by the Crown to fix the price of pro- 
visions or supplies of some kind, and that ;was urged as an 
argument against the creation of wage boards to fix minimum 
wage rates for women and children. 

This legislation means progress, and I do not have to tell 
a man or woman in this hall to-day that progress is hard to 
make. It is very difficult. Take any great labor reform and 
make a study of how long it took to enact it in this State; the 
Workmen's Compensation Act, probably the most forward 
looking piece of legislation of its kind ever enacted in this 
State, was a long time being put through. The people them- 
selves at a general election were obliged to amend their own 
Constitution before we could get that legislation and organize 
a commission in this State. But I am optimistic enough to 
believe that we have arrived at a point in this discussion jwhere 
public sentiment will be strong enough behind this progressive 
legislation to put it through. 

There is one other subject that I want to speak about, and 
that is the operation of the State Fund and the State Industrial 



SMITH AND LABOR 211 

Commission. When I came into office I had in mind that 
during the campaign I spoke very vigorously against the law 
that provided for direct settlements between the insurance 
companies and injured men or women. I fought it in 1915. I 
was in the minority, the steam roller crushed us down the 
Senate's aisle, and the law went into the statute books of this 
State. After an investigation of some of the awards made 
by agreement between the injured and the insurer we produced 
sufficient evidence to put through a bill abolishing the direct 
settlement at the last session of the Legislature, something I 
didn't think was possible to do, but the evidence was so strong 
that they couldn't get away from it 

I .want to say here to-day that I have confidence, absolute 
confidence, in the State Industrial Commission. Nevertheless, 
I owe it to the Commission, and in this the Commission,, 
stands with me; I owe it to the working people of the State 
and I owe it to the business people of the State, to have that 
law such that industrial insurance must either cost less to the 
manufacturers of the State, or the injured man must get 
more. A comparison between the rates in this State and the 
rates in the State of Ohio shows that either our manufacturers 
are paying too much, or our injured men and women are 
getting too little. One of the two things must be the fact, and 
before we finish we will find out just ;what the real situation is 
and do what can be done to remedy it either by administra- 
tion, which the Commission is no\v doing, or by legislation if 
the Commission cannot remedy it by administration. 

His 1920 "annual message to the State Federation of 
Labor," as he termed it, accounted for some of the progress 
made in furthering the Governor's labor and social welfare 
program which the Federation actively endorsed and sup- 
ported. Among other topics, he referred to a statute in 
which labor was deeply concerned. It permitted the State 
to extend the benefits of workmen's compensation insurance 
to men who suffer because of occupational diseases. Smith 
felt that it was the intent of the constitutional amendment 



212 ALFRED E. SMITH 

permitting workmen's compensation laws, to legalize this 
part of the statute. Some lawyers thought the amendment 
had reference only to accidental injury. Nevertheless Smith 
thought and said that a great deal had been accomplished 
when statute law was made to recognize the constitutional 
amendment as comprehending illness brought about by an 
occupation which in itself and by its very nature is harmful 
to the health of the worker. 



CHAPTER XXXII 
ON LIVING WAGE FOE. WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN INDUSTRY 

The reports of the State Factory Investigating Commission 
made a profound impression upon leaders of progressive 
thought throughout the State. Even after its influence was 
registered in the enlightened labor laws of 1911, 1912 and 
1913, its studies continued to stimulate thought and action 
along humanitarian lines. In the debate on the living wage, 
Smith based its necessity for women and children upon the 
results of the Commission's investigations. 

His address on the living wage in the Constitutional Con- 
vention presents a cause for which he was to wage many a 
battle with his political opponents. The fight is still on. 

THE CHAIRMAN Mr. Smith has the floor on general order 
No. 55. 

MR. A. E. SMITH Mr. Chairman., this is Intended to give to 
the Legislature the power, either by its own action or through any 
properly constituted agency, to prescribe a living wage for women 
and children employees. This comes to this body as a rec- 
ommendation from the State Factory Investigating Commission. 
It was continued in 1913 after being in active operation for two 
years for the express purpose of investigating the question of 
salaries and wages paid to women and children employees in mer- 
cantile establishments and in industrial occupations. 

The exact wording of the report subscribed to by the majority 
of that Committee, and, as I understand it, by the minority rep- 
resentatives as well, removing it entirely from the question of 

(213) 



214 ALFRED E. SMITH 

politics, was, briefly, as follows: "After careful deliberation and 
study of the results of its investigation and the testimony taken, 
the commission has come to the conclusion that the State is jus- 
tified in protecting the underpaid women workers and minors 
in the interests of the State and society. It finds that tfiere are 
thousands of women and minors employed in the industries 
throughout the State of New York who are receiving too low 
a wage to adequately maintain themselves in health and decent 
comfort. The commission believes that this unjustly affects the 
lives and health of these underpaid workers and believes that it 
is opposed to the best interests and the welfare of the people of 

the State." 

The evidence taken was something like this : Let me read you 
one or two paragraphs from the evidence : 

Subject: "Living on Six Dollars a Week," by Esther Pack- 
ard, one of the employees of the commission. "How do they 
manage to do it? In what mysterious ways do girls stretch a 
less than a living wage into a living one?" is the question which 
the public most often asks when it hears of girls living on five, 
six and seven dollars a week. 

"Miss C. W." this is an actual conversation had with a work- 
ing girl in a department store. The names are not mentioned. 
The initials are given and all the facts, the right names, the 
addresses, all the circumstances and the name of the department 
store are in the possession of the Factory Investigation Commis- 
sion. "Miss C. W., a department store clerk, answers quickly, 
When I have to pay for a pair of shoes or something like that, 
I don't buy meat for weeks at a time.' 'You see yourself the 
only thing that is left me to economize on is food/ says another 
department store clerk; 1 never eat any breakfast at all. By 
experience I found that was the easiest meal to do without/ 
Annie B. reasons thus: "When I don't spend any money on 
pleasure and only what I absolutely need on clothes, how else can 
I economize except on food? What else is there to do T " 

The State, not in the interest of the worker, not in the inter- 
est of, the individual, or a class of individuals, but 'in the interest 
of the State itself has undertaken to regulate this question of 
woman and child labor. If it is essential to fix the number of 
hours that they are to work and fix the time that they are to 



ON LIVING WAGE -215 

work, prevent them from working in the night time, is it not 
only natural to say that the State should have power to say that 
they shall not be worked at a salary less than sufficient to keep 
them in health and in decent comfort ? 

Now, one of the arguments against the minimum wage that 
can be dissipated into thin air by a wave of the hand is the argu- 
ment that it may some time be made to extend to men. 

Everybody around this chamber knows that by labor unions 
and by labor organizations men have it in their power, and they 
do to-day, exact a certain minimum wage. I had the personal 
experience one time as a trustee of public buildings upon the 
repair work on this capitol after the fire. I found that the 
Bricklayers' Association of this country had fixed the minimum 
wage for this county; that it was a different one for New York 
county ; varying, I presume, with the cost of living or with the 
surrounding conditions. They had the strength and the force 
because of their organization to demand a minimum wage, and 
it is fixed, if not by law, it is so thoroughly fixed by custom, that 
you cannot conduct a public work or a public operation in this 
State without a full recognition of that fact. 

Women and children have no organization. No woman goes 
to work, or no young girl goes to work with the Intention of 
forever working in the department store or a shirt factory or in 
a shirtwaist manufactory. She goes there for a start in life. 
Her ultimate desire is the desire of all women, that she have her 
own home and her own family. Consequently they never organ- 
ize. Consequently they are without the power to present their 
claims, and it is proposed by this Legislature that the State itself 
help them to present the claim. 

A great many people say a minimum wage interferes with 
individual bargaining and it interferes with the rights of the 
people. Not at all. Not at all. This is really an inhibition rather 
than a minimum wage. This wage board says, *You can make 
any bargain you will with your employer; you may make any 
arrangement as to salary which you please among your classes, 
but in the interest of the State and of society, you cannot pay less 
than this amount for this age girl in this part of the State. 

I was very deeply impressed by the testimony which you will 



216 ALFRED E. SMITH 

find was given by the president of the National Cloak and Suit 
Company, the largest employer of women and children in the 
State, and the very thing, the very principle that it was sought 
to write Into this Constitution, that great company has had in 
operation for a long time. Not only have they conceded that 
there was a minimum below which they should not pay anybody, 
but they have felt that there rested on them some duty to con- 
tinue the education of every young girl who was obliged to go 
to work for them. 

Now, what is the effect of it upon the employer ? The eflf ect is 
that he gets better work. Professor Brandeis, before the Com- 
mittee, quoted a great English authority that a railroad costs the 
same per mile to complete it, whether you pay a man two cents 
a day or two dollars a day, and it is predicated on the reasonable 
and unquestionable theory that you get what you pay for; no 
more and no less. 

There is another side to this, too, which deserves something of 
our consideration. We have spoken of what must be the natural 
effect upon health. The girl who is insufficiently paid, and im- 
properly clothed will in time become a charge upon the State. 
About that there can be no question, and if she is to be the 
mother of the future citizens, look straight and deep down into 
your heart for a moment, and see what we are looking forward 
to, if the State refuses to bring them up in health and decent 
comfort. 

There is another side worthy of consideration. I will quote 
from a part of the testimony of one of the investigators. There 
is the moral side. It is an awful weight! It is an awful 
temptation ! 

One of the investigators went out and among the employees 
of the mercantile establishments and in the course of her testi- 
mony she said : 

"I do not think the problem ever presents itself to a girl, 
'Shall I sell myself in order to make more than six dollars a 
week P But the absence of amusement, the barrenness and the 
ugliness of life, the whole thing combined with unemployment, 
does tend powerfully in that direction. Low wages put too 
severe strain on the moral strength of the individual/' 



ON LIVING WAGE 217 

Now, just one word in closing 1 . I said I wanted to give some- 
body else a chance. We should not hesitate to clothe our Legis- 
lature with this power. Gentlemen, will any man around this 
circle think for a moment that this is going to be abused, or even 
unwisely used? Remember what happens, happens after very 
careful consideration, very careful deliberation. Just as sure as 
we are to leave this hall to-night, so sure is this thing coming in 
this State, and before you leave here, look into your conscience 
and consult your conscience and see if you are not passing by 
an opportunity to help it ; see if you can excuse yourself at some 
future time, when its necessity may be much more apparent, upon 
the ground that you are afraid to trust this great question to the 
elected representatives of the. people in the Senate and Assembly. 



CHAPTER XXXIII 

FOR THE WIDOW AND THE ORPHAN 

That the home is the normal environment of the child has 
always been a truth confirmed by human nature. But that 
the care of an orphaned child is best fostered by mother love 
in a home is an application of this truth in a policy which 
could not be established in New York State without a strug- 
gle against the powerful interests of institutional charity 
which had much at stake. 

For a number of years a small group of women in New 
York City complained that the relief given by charitable 
organizations? to the widow and the orphan was inadequate. 
They characterized the easy recourse taken by relief agencies 
to separate a widow from her orphan children as inhuman 
and often motivated by a desire to reduce the cost of relief 
through a wholesale treatment of orphans in asylums. 

They condemned the system not only because it provided 
insufficient relief but chiefly because it was wrong to separate 
a child from its worthy mother and confine it in the artificial 
atmosphere of an institution. They argued that the best 
institution could not compete in effectiveness and results 
with a normal home where the child received the fostering 
nurture of mother love. They were therefore led to the 
advocacy of what was then a revolutionary policy. They 
urged that the child should be kept with its mother and 
that the State should regard the mother (if not disqualified 
by character or other reasons) as its agent. The State must 

(218) 



FOR THE WIDOW AND THE ORPHAN 219 

subsidize her instead of continuing the time-worn policy of 
subsidizing an institution. 

These women took the fight to the Legislature in 1913. It 
appointed a commission to inquire into the subject of child 
welfare and of relief for widowed mothers. The commission 
after a careful study of conditions in the United States and 
Europe recommended the policy of Child Welfare Boards. A 
law known as the Hill-McCue Bill, providing for the pen- 
sioning of widowed mothers through these boards, was 
introduced in the Legislature of 1915. 

No bill in that Legislature aroused more interest. The 
battle line was drawn through the entire State. Arrayed 
against the advocates of the bill were the mighty organized 
charities powerful institutions which had been the recipients 
of public bounties and private philanthropy. No lobby was 
more active and insidious. Unlike the ordinary lobbies it 
wrapped itself in the mantel of virtue. It condemned the 
measure as reactionary and disastrous. The representatives 
of these institutions predicted dire calamity for children if 
the law was passed. They claimed that it would revive all 
the old evils of outdoor relief with its waste and political 
maladministration. 

The pressure upon the Legislature by the enemies of the 
bill was unusual. No device of the lobbyist was neglected to 
defeat the measure. The atmosphere of the Assembly was 
tense. Passions were aroused on both sides. Among those 
who fought for the right of the orphan child to the fostering 
care of its mother was Smith, then minority leader of the 
Assembly. On March 24, upon the occasion of its third 
reading, moved by deepest feeling, he delivered a speech urg- 
ing its passage. At its close the Assembly was silent for a 
moment and then, the account says, "burst into cheers." 

Mr. Speaker, in the recent campaign and in the campaign 
previous there was contained in the platforms of the two great 
parties a plank which pledged the parties to the conservation 



220 ALFRED E. SMITH 

of our natural resources. As I see this bill and as I view the 
policy on the part of the State in reference to such matters, 
I am of the opinion that this bill should read, "An act to con- 
serve the family life of the State." 

What happens when death takes from the family the pro- 
vider? The widow mother goes to the police court or to the 
charity organization and her children are committed to an 
institution, and from the moment the judge signs the commit- 
ment the people of the city of New York are bound for their 
support. Let us see what effect that has upon the State itself. 
The mother stands in the police court She witnesses the 
separation of herself and her children. They are torn away from 
her and given over to the custody of an institution, and noth- 
ing is left for her to do but to go out into the world and! make 
her own living. What must be her feelings? What must be 
her idea of the State's policy when she sees these children 
separated from her by due process of law, particularly, when 
she must remember that for every one of them she went 
down into the valley of death that a new pair of eyes might 
look out upon the world? What can be the feelings in the 
hearts of the children themselves separated from their mother 
by what they must learn in after years was due process of law, 
k when they must in after years learn to know what was the 
State's policy ;with respect to their unfortunate condition^ 

That is the old system. That is the dark day we are walking 
away from. That is the period that, by this policy, we are 
attempting to forget. 

What new policy does this bill inaugurate? What new 
system does this bill inaugurate? The State of New York, 
under the provisions of this act, reaches out its strong arm to 
that widow and her children and says to them, "We recognize 
in you a resource to- the State and we propose to take care of 
you, not as a matter of charity, but as a matter of government 
and public duty." What a different feeling that must put into 
the hearts of the mother and the children ! What better citi- 
zens that policy must make! Why? Because it instills into 
that young heart a love, *a reverence and a devotion for the 
great State of Nejy; York and its sovereign power. 



FOR THE WIDOW AND THE ORPHAN 221 

We are pledged to conserve the natural resources of the 
State. Millions of dollars of the taxpayers' money, untold 
and uncounted millions have been poured into that channel. 
We have been in a great hurry to legislate for the interests. 
We have been in a great hurry to conserve that which means 
to the State dollars and cents. We have been slow to legislate 
along the direction that means thanksgiving to the poorest man 
recorded in history He jvho was born in the stable at 
Bethlehem. 

We have been especially blessed by divine Providence in this 
State. He has seen fit to make it the great financial and the great 
commercial centre of the western world. I believe it will in 
time be demonstrated that He intends to make it the market place 
of all the world; and by this legislation, by the adoption of 
this policy, we are sending up to Him a prayer of thanksgiving 
for the innumerable blessings that He has showered upon us, 
particularly in the light of the words of the Saviour Himself, 
.who said: "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid 
them not. for of such is the kingdom of heaven." 

The principle established by this bill is now accepted by 
the best child-caring authorities. 

As Governor, Smith was 'ever alert to protect the Child 
Welfare Boards. He proved the friend of the widow and 
orphan on many future occasions. He was instrumental in 
liberalizing and improving the State's provisions, until to-day 
New York is far in advance in methods and extent of the 
application of this policy. 



CHAPTER XXXIV 
THE HOUSING CRISIS 

Shortage of houses with consequent rise in rent was the 
most important war problem pressing upon the people for 
solution. It was not local or even national in extent but 
international European governments and the Dominion of 
Canada were confronted with the same economic and social 
problems arising from the housing shortage and accumulated 
difficulties due to the concentration of the world's productive 
energies upon the industries essential for winning the war. 

New York State and especially its cities needed housing 
relief. The Legislature recognized it by appointing a Joint 
Committee for its consideration. The city of New York 
appointed a Committee on Rent Profiteering to protect the 
tenants against the exorbitant sums exacted by landlords 
who took advantage of the shortage. 

Legislative relief had to be given to meet the emergency 
arising from so abnormal a condition* Such minor measures 
as could afford temporary relief to harassed tenants were 
passed in the extraordinary session of June, 1919, But most 
needed of all was the building of more houses. 

The Reconstruction Commission went to work on the solu- 
tion of this problem with sanity and thoroughness. It estab- 
lished an advisory body consisting of architects, builders and 
real estate experts with representatives of the public. They 

(222) 



THE HOUSING CRISIS 223 

worked arduously to stimulate building. Conferences with 
representatives of loaning institutions and insurance com- 
panies were held to influence the flow of money into the 
building of homes. But the money market is governed by 
economic laws. It did not pay these agencies to invest their 
funds in buildings. The costs of labor and of materials were 
so high that the returns from financing housing enterprises 
for industrial workers at prevailing rentals were not as at- 
tractive as other building operations. 

The Governor tried hard to stimulate home-building by 
private effort and on May 16, 1919, at a conference with the 
Reconstruction Commission he recognized that legislation 
might have to be resorted to in meeting emergencies and in 
preventing abuses. The only real solution was more houses. 

Smith reminded them of what some seemed to have over- 
looked. When he assumed office that very year he was con- 
fronted with the fact that for two years at least all building 
in the State was absolutely at a standstill. That situation, 
of course, was caused by the fact that the federal government 
itself had expressed the desire to the State and to its various 
municipalities that no construction work that took men and 
materials away from the purposes of the government be 
carried on. 

In transmitting the report of the Reconstruction Commis- 
sion on Housing to the Legislature at the next regular session 
in 1920 the Governor in a message under date of March 26, 
1920, fully analyzed the problem, and the attempts made 
partly to meet the emergency at the extraordinary session of 
the preceding summer. He then set forth the need of a 
constructive policy as recommended by the Commission. 

The Legislature passed measures of temporary relief but 
paid no attention to a permanent constructive policy. This 
he urged again in a message to the Legislature called in 
extraordinary session on account of the unrest and distress- 



224 ALFRED E. SMITH 

ing conditions arising from the housing shortage which had 
become acute and required immediate attention. In his 
message of September 20, 1920, he laid out a comprehensive 
policy covering the emergency and the permanent solution. 
The history" of his efforts to solve the housing problem 
was ably given in an address to the conference of governors 
in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on December 2, 1920. The 
Governor could not attend in person. The speech was read 
by the Honorable Edward F. Boyle, appointed by him as 
chairman of the Industrial Commission. 

Symptomatic of the fundamental housing problem, and . so 
marked as at last to have attracted the attention of the whole 
world, is the excessive rental cost of housing in centers of popu- 
lation, which has been driven to the point of profiteering. In 
approaching the problem it is easiest to believe that a cure of 
profiteering in rentals will bring about readjustment of the 
housing problem, and that, therefore, homes will immediately be 
found for everybody and at rentals which they can afford to pay. 
This is such a common error that it is not at all extraordinary 
that in the early stages even the Federal government approached 
the question from this angle by attempting to enact rent laws in 
the District of Columbia, expecting that these would put a suffi- 
cient number of housing accommodations in Washington at the 
disposal of a greatly increased population. 

The situation in New York City is of vital interest to the whole 
country because what is happening and what has happened in the 
metropolis on a large scale is taking place in a lesser degree, and 
more slowly, in every city or town throughout the country. No- 
where is private initiative filling the demand for houses. In 
New York, because of the scale of the problem, it is easier than 
elsewhere to measure the inadequacy of the effort to meet the 
present situation by our former method of supplying homes. It 
is apparent and will become more and more apparent in the other 
cities of the country that government action alone can prevent 
serious trouble. 



THE HOUSING CRISIS 225 

At the beginning- of my term of office it was apparent to me 
that housing would claim a great part of the attention of the 
public. The shortage due to lack of building during the war 
was just becoming manifest and was evidenced by the increase of 
rentals. Immediately upon assuming office, I appointed a Re- 
construction Commission, composed of men and women who were 
experts in their various lines, and to them I entrusted the study 
of the general policies of readjustment and reorganization that 
I believed were necessary to guide the State during the period of 
reconstruction. I charged them especially with making a careful 
study of the housing conditions of the State. I asked them to 
make every endeavor to secure the fullest information, and after 
carefully studying it to recommend either legislative or executive 
action. I stated that I was particularly anxious that the Commis- 
sion "find a solution of our housing difficulties that looks to the 
future and that a program may be initiated that will make for 
the permanent welfare of the State." 

Housing being a social problem, whose pressure is felt by rich 
and poor alike, there proved to be great readiness to seek rem- 
edies, and after the Reconstruction Commission had appointed 
a Housing Committee and they were well on their way in the 
study of the existing conditions, the Legislature, feeling the press- 
ure, appointed a Joint Legislative Committee on Housing, which 
also was charged with the duty of studying high rentals and 
housing conditions. 

The Committee on Housing of the Reconstruction Commis- 
sion immediately associated with itself two advisory committees, 
one for New York City and one to consider upstate problems. 
The members of these advisory committees were chosen from 
the various fields of activity having to do with the creation of 
housing facilities. They were chosen because they represented 
finance, building, architecture, city planning, tax experts, build- 
ing loan associations, social organizations and others having a 
community interest in the problem. 

Thoroughly organized with these advisory committees, the 
Commission undertook an immediate examination of all phases 
of the situation. They made a study of land values in relation to 
housing, co-operative housing, municipal housing enterprises, 
taxes and assessments, money (which they considered from the 
point of view of its source of supply), building and loan associa- 



226 ALFRED E. SMITH 

tions and other types of loaning institutions, city planning, costs 
of construction, large scale planning, building loans, and the 
effect of restrictive legislation and management. 

The Committee made a thorough survey of existing conditions ; 
questionnaires were sent out to cities and towns throughout the 
State, In New York City where conditions were most acute, a 
detailed house-to-house survey was made of thirty square blocks 
containing a population of about 50,000 persons. This block 
survey was intended to compare rental increases with actual liv- 
ing conditions, and also to determine whether the worst type of 
building construction was capable of salvaging, since new con- 
struction was most costly. This survey necessarily dealt also 
with the social implications of housing. 

During the summer of 1919 it was necessary for me to call a 
special session of the Legislature in order to ratify the suffrage 
amendment, and since no action looking toward a remedy for the 
housing situation had been taken at the regular session of the 
Legislature in that year, and it being apparent that the crux of 
the situation lay in the acute shortage of houses, a group of those 
interested in the solution of the question suggested the enact- 
ment of four statutes that were presumably capable of immedi- 
ately remedying the housing- situation as it existed at that time. 
The first of these liberalized the Savings Bank Law and em- 
powered savings banks to loan money on buildings in the course 
of construction. The second and third related to proceedings 
against tenants, who were holding over beyond the period of 
termination. The fourth made a change in the Tenement House 
Law and approved the alteration of a certain class of houses. 
We were assured that this would make possible accommodations 
for 20,000 families. This particular change in the laws brought 
no relief, as no operations were undertaken under its provisions. 

In the meanwhile the housing shortage which was most acute 
in the largest centres of population began to spread to the 
smaller cities of the State and attempts were made by some 
of the communities to solve them by means of the organization 
of housing corporations made up of the business men and manu- 
facturers in the town, either for the purpose of making loans 
to workers desiring to build houses or for the purpose of con- 
structing groups of houses to be sold to workers. 



THE HOUSING CRISIS 227 

At the suggestion of the Reconstruction Commission, the Joint 
Legislative Committee devoted some time and study to the con- 
sideration of the effect of the high costs of building materials 
on construction and the reasons for these high costs. 

In March, 1920, the Reconstruction Commission filed its report 
on housing with me. 

In the meantime the Joint Legislative Committee on Housing 
had conducted its examination along the lines of increased rentals, 
and their recommendations for legislation confined themselves 
to applying remedies to these conditions. They acted on the 
assumption that an emergency existed and applied their legis- 
lative remedies with that idea in mind. 

The Reconstruction Commission had pointed out in its report, 
and by this time it had become apparent to all that legislation 
does not build houses and that the fundamental cause of the 
whole difficulty was that there were not enough houses for the 
population. Figures showed that there were actually less houses 
in New York than in the year previous, although a larger 
number of tenements that had hitherto been unused because of 
wretched conditions were put to use, and although the population 
continued to increase in normal ratio. The Reconstruction 
Commission viewed the remedies for the situation entirely from 
the angle of creating a permanent housing policy for the State, 
but the Reconstruction Commission also called attention to the 
fact that without fundamental changes in our methods of sup- 
plying houses it would be impossible to secure a sufficient supply 
of homes for the workers of the State, They stated in their 
report "It is economically unprofitable now, it has been eco- 
nomically impossible for many years, to provide a large part 
of the population of this State with decent homes according 
to American standards of living. Decent homes and wholesome 
environments in which to bring up children cost more than 
most workers can afford. It is impossible to supply the popu- 
lation of this State with decent homes, unless the cost of living 
be reduced." 

As a result of their study, a majority of the members of the 
Commission made the following recommendations: 

L That a law be enacted requiring the appointment of local 



228 ALFRED E. SMITH 

housing boards in communities having a population over 10,000, 
the members of such boards preferably to serve without pay, 
and for the appointment of a central State housing agency for co- 
ordinating local effort. The function of the central and local 
boards shall be 

Aiding each locality in meeting the immediate pressing need 
for sufficient homes. 

Collection and distribution of information relating to housing 
and community planning. 

Assisting in the preparation of housing laws, zoning ordi- 
nances, State-wide regulatory or restrictive housing and build- 
ing codes, etc. 

Study of the means of lowering the cost of housing through 
better planning in the construction of homes and through their 
proper location* 

Development of a means for using State credits to apply to 
housing at low rates of interest without loss to the State. To 
set the standards for the use of such credits and to fix limitations 
upon the return of money borrowed from the State for housing 
purposes. To assist in the most practical manner possible in 
the erection of adequate homes in wholesome environments for 
workers at a rental cost dependent on the actual cost of land 
and building. 

2. The enactment of a constitutional amendment permitting 
extension of State credit on a large scale and at low rates to aid 
in the construction of moderate-priced homes. This does not 
mean that the State itself shall build such homes. It does not 
mean that the State is to own or operate houses, It does not 
mean that the State is to offer subsidy for the construction of 
homes. It does mean that the State shall be enabled to loan 
money on its credits to limited dividend corporations or to indi- 
viduals^ or to' organizations, to build houses of such standards 
as to light and air as the State or community may determine 
to be desirable, the rentals of such houses to be controlled. 

There are many methods by which State credit might be 
made available. It should be one of the first duties of the Housing 
Bureau and the local boards to make a thorough study of this 
matter. 



THE HOUSING CRISIS 229 

3. Passage of an enabling act permitting' cities to acquire and 
hold, or let adjoining vacant lands, and if necessary to carry on 
housing. This legislation should be such as to permit conservation 
of the increment of land values for the benefit of the community 
creating it. 

The Legislature passed none of these constructive recom- 
mendations, gave them no study whatever and permitted the situa- 
tion to go on, developing an even more acute crisis. The Joint 
Legislative Committee was continued, and both that committee 
and the Reconstruction Commission made further studies of 
the situation. 

May first and October first are the two great periods in the 
year in New York when leases terminate. The May first period 
was partially tided over by the legislation passed at the 1920 
session of the Legislature on recommendation of the Joint Legis- 
lative Committee, but it was soon apparent that this was utterly 
insufficient to meet the crisis of the principal moving day, which 
was October first, and there were pending in the municipal 
courts of New York City over 100.000 dispossess cases that 
would have to be argued on or about that date. 

To meet this threatened emergency, I called the Legislature 
in extraordinary session on September 20, 1920, and in my 
message to the Legislature at that time I stated that the experi- 
ence of several months had revealed to us the weaknesses of 
the temporary expedients, and had made more acute the neces 
sity for encouragement of building operations so far as it could 
be done by law, and made more apparent the necessity for the 
creation of State agencies for further use, and I therefore 
asked the Legislature to deal with three phases of the subject: 
First, the strengthening of the temporary statutes enacted at 
the regular session to meet the emergency. Second, to attempt 
to stimulate building construction. Third, to establish at once 
agencies in the State that would provide a permanent and con- 
stantly developing housing policy. 

I had in mind the distinct belief that no restrictive legislation, 
properly drafted, would have any disastrous effect on honest 
landlords. It has been my experience that only those who seek 
to live outside the moral law have any great fear of legislation. 
A State has a conscience and will regulate fairly. 



230 ALFRED E. SMITH 

In our State landlords have been given the special privilege 
of summary proceedings in order to regain immediate possession 
of their premises. This privilege does not belong to any land- 
lord as a matter of inherent right. Inasmuch as the evidence 
laid before us indicated that summary proceedings were being 
grievously abused, in a crisis of this kind, the State does only 
its duty when it withdraws or modifies them. 

There was an abundance of evidence that undesirability or 
failure to pay rent was not in the majority of instances the 
basis of the application for the writ of summary removal, but 
on the other hand, it was the operation of the profiteer who 
would remove the desirable and paying tenant in order to create 
a vacancy which might thereafter be offered to the highest 
bidder. As a result of this, families have been shifted from 
place to place without rhyme or reason, and the unscrupulous 
and selfish have profited immensely by it. October first was to 
have been the height of the harvest. 

I believed the emergency to be such that I recommended that 
the strong arm of the State should reach through its courts and 
protect the people at least until the crisis should have passed 
or the situation be relieved. I suggested that the courts be 
empowered where it is evident that the dispossess is requested 
for the purpose of unreasonable rent-raising, to suspend the 
dispossess remedy for an adequate period. 

For the stimulation of building construction, I suggested the 
amendment of our taxation laws. While I do not, as a matter 
of policy, favor tax exemptions, the emergency was such that 
it appeared to be advisable to consider the enactment of a law 
exempting from taxation for a period of years, with proper 
restrictions, buildings used for dwelling purposes whose con- 
struction would be undertaken within such a period as would 
assure an immediate increase in housing accommodations. I 
believed that this would aid in putting 'new construction on a 
fair competitive basis with buildings erected before the war 
and would assist in creating a market for new buildings. 

Loaning institutions apparently have not kept in step with 
the times and have spent their energy in securing investments 
bringing a larger return than real estate mortgages. For in- 



THE HOUSING CRISIS 231 

stance, our savings banks and mutual insurance companies are 
organized not for profit, but as depositaries for the people's 
money, and it would be entirely in keeping with their purpose 
if their funds were made available to a greater extent to meet 
the people's needs by investing a larger portion of them m bond 
and mortgage. 

In 1914 there was created by statute a State Land Bank having 
for its purpose assistance to building and loan associations. Inas- 
much as the proceeds from the sale of the bonds of the Land 
Bank are used for the building of homes, it seemed advisable 
that the State should do everything possible to make the bonds 
a more desirable purchase. We had already exempted them 
from the provisions of the State income tax, but the abnormal 
yield from other securities is such as to make them an undesir- 
able investment* I suggested that it might be well that the 
State use its moneys or a portion thereof now in the various 
sinking funds of the State to purchase these bonds, and that it 
might also enable municipalities of the State to invest in such 
bonds. 

These recommendations were made in the hope that the legisla- 
tion which they suggested would bring voluntary capital into the 
building market. I called the attention of the Legislature to the 
fact that if the present condition were not thus relieved and the 
health of the community continued to be menaced, then we would 
have a grave public emergency to meet such as would confront us 
in a time of epidemic or of catastrophe. I suggested that the 
police power of the State, clothed with the proper safeguards, 
should be extended to municipalities in order that they might 
be enabled to build or lend their credit to the building of houses. 

I stated that undoubtedly the State, as well as the municipali- 
ties, should be in a position to extend its credit either through the 
medium of the State Land Bank or a specially created agency. 

Again I called the attention of the Legislature to the fact that 
it had been brought to my attention that the high cost of building 
materials was artificially stimulated, and I suggested that the 
Joint Legislative Committee be given increased powers to carry 
on further investigation of this situation. 

In urging a housing policy for the State I called the attention 



232 ALFRED E. SMITH 

of the Legislature again to the fact that building houses for 
some groups in the population has become an unprofitable busi- 
ness. Hence, these groups have for a generation lived in the 
left-over housing, or in the cheapest and most poorly planned 
type of home that a grudging and unrealizing community would 
provide. As a result of the present emergency, a still larger 
portion of our population is being forced back into houses of a 
standard below that which we have accepted as decent American 
homes. 

I pointed out to the Legislature that except for the report of 
the Reconstruction Commission and the findings of the Joint 
Legislative Committee, we have been aided by no State agency 
in the consideration of this very important problem. In the 
enactment of labor laws we are guided by the Industrial Com- 
mission. In the enactment of health measures, by the State 
Health Departments, In matters affecting the conservation of 
our natural resources, by the Conservation Commission. The 
Banking Department, the Insurance Department, and other State 
agencies all deal with special subjects that need executive or 
legislative action. But in housing, dealing with the elementary 
need of shelter and establishing homes, there is no State or local 
agency to aid the legislative and executive branches of the gov- 
ernment either in meeting an emergency, or what is more impor- 
tant, in helping to establish a permanent housing policy for the 
State. Such a policy does not necessarily mean the building of 
houses by the State, but it does mean the establishment of 
housing standards and of local development that should underlie 
any future growth of the cities of a State. 

To this end I recommended for New York State a law which 
will create in each community having a population of over ten 
thousand a local housing board, which shall be charged with the 
duty of finding a solution for the local housing situation. These 
local boards should be required to prepare within a period to be 
determined by the local authorities a plan for the future develop- 
ment of the city ancf should consider local housing ordinances, 
A State agency should be created and the local boards should 
be required to report to it at stated intervals so that there may 
be available at all times a body of information applicable tp 
this subject. 



THE HOUSING CRISIS 233 

The State agency, on the other hand, should first of all be 
directed to report to the next Legislature on a method for the 
development of a system of State credits for housing purposes. 
Through the State agency information should be made available 
to local communities that should aid them in their housing 
program. 

Even at the extraordinary session, the Legislature enacted 
only emergency relief measures. In acting on my recommenda- 
tions that something be done to stimulate building construction, 
a permissive statute was passed, allowing local communities to 
exempt from taxation new construction. The net result of this 
has been that only one community New York City has made 
any attempt to pass a tax exemption ordinance and although two 
months have passed since the legislation was enacted, no act is 
as yet on the statute books, and new construction Is as far as ever 
from being undertaken. 

The Joint Legislative Committee with its increased powers 
has gone forward with its investigation of the high cost of 
building materials and an examination of the unlawful condi- 
tions in the industry with the sensational results which are com- 
mon knowledge to readers of the metropolitan dailies. 

It seems, however, that proper housing is recognized as a 
social and health necessity by other countries* The Canadian 
Government is lending twenty-five million dollars to the prov- 
inces for the building of homes. In England, where housing has 
become a function of the Ministry of Health, not only is the 
government making colossal loans to local authorities and to 
public service corporations (limited dividend companies), but 
it is offering subsidies of as much as one-quarter the cost of 
houses to make up for the loss involved in building at a time of 
excessive costs Britain knows that its welfare depends on 
having sufficient decent homes and it means to have them no 
matter what they cost. England is not only planning new homes 
it is planning new towns. France also is doing constructive 
work Paris has bought a large tract of ground on the outskirts 
of the city on which is to be built a garden suburb. The policy 
of Australia that has been in operation for some years, of stimu- 
lating house building and ownership by loans on easy and long 



234 ALFRED E. SMITH 

terms, has been greatly extended to aid returning soldiers. And 
so .we find in every civilized country the government has ac- 
cepted its responsibility even in a greater degree than before the 
war of solving the most difficult problem that confronts its citi- 
zens, that of finding a home. In America our housing laws have 
been negative laws restrictive laws. But in the light of the 
present emergency we see that the State here, as elsewhere, must 
offer a helping hand mpst find a constructive solution if we 
are to have homes. 

It is time that this country made adequate provision to meet 
the problem. I do not believe that federal legislation alone would 
meet the situation. The whole problem is too colossal to be 
solved by a single bureau at Washington. Our State govern- 
ments are in a different position than the national government 
in meeting the housing problem. The political problem is les- 
sened in degree. The number of geographical interests to be 
served are much smaller. But, above all, in State legislation there 
is the opportunity to try out various methods of building, aiding 
and financing housing. There are innumerable suggestions in 
the experiences of Canada, South America and Australia, as 
well as European countries. Some will fit the local conditions 
and habits of one part of the country and some another. Ameri- 
can ingenuity will find new means of meeting this problem. The 
solution of the housing problem of a comparatively newly settled 
agricultural State will be different from that of New York with 
its great cities. Some States may use their insurance funds, 
other their farmers' banks, as sources for building loans. Ulti- 
mately all these experiments may be used by the National Gov- 
ernment as the basis for the organization of a great central 
bureau. But that will be a problem of the distant future. In 
the same manner that the States have tried out woman suffrage, 
minimum wage, compensation and child-labor laws, so now they 
should undertake experimentation and careful study of their 
local housing conditions. We may have failures on the part of 
individual States through choice of means that do not meet the 
social conditions of the State. But how insignificant such failure 
would be and how easily remedied as compared to a failure on 
the part of a Federal housing administration. 



THE HOUSING CRISIS 235 

It would be manifestly impossible to fill all the needs for 
housing everywhere. It does not seem to me that this is the 
time to create a national housing fund of any kind. It seems 
clear to me that the individual States should themselves work 
out systems of State credits for State purposes. Out of intelli- 
gent attempts to solve the question on this small scale, we can 
evolve a national housing policy. 

- With the control centered in each State, people will be in more 
direct and more democratic control of their housing funds and 
their application to local conditions. I am therefore not an 
advocate at this time of a Federal system of housing loans, 
although a central housing bureau for the co-ordination of all 
available material is desirable and even necessary, but this is 
something quite distinct from creating a national housing fund. 

The Governor never relaxed his endeavors to enact his 
housing recommendations into law. In the first year of his 
second term the Legislature finally created the State Commis- 
sion on Housing and Regional Planning. It was largely 
owing to its investigations, public hearings and its report 
proving the continued existence of a housing emergency, 
that the emergency rent laws were continued for two years 
and the Tax Exemption Law extended one year. 

The Commission submitted a careful report proving that 
60 per cent, of the urban population of the State cannot 
be supplied with adequate housing through the efforts of 
speculative builders and private loaning institutions. They 
cannot be attracted to this class of building by an adequate 
return on their money. The Commission, therefore, urged a 
constitutional amendment making the credit of the State or 
localities available if private financial sources fail. 

The report was submitted to the Legislature by the Gov- 
ernor with his approval. The amendment to the constitution 
enabling the State or cities to use their credit to finance the 
building of homes was approved by a Democratic Senate and 
lost in a Republican Assembly. 



CHAPTER XXXV 
HOME RULE 

The first important constitutional debate in which Smith 
participated was occasioned early in the convention. The 
report of the Committee on the Legislature and its organiza- 
tion, amended the objectionable constitutional provision of 
1894. This operates by limiting the representation of two 
counties adjoining the city of New York. The committee 
"remedied" the situation by providing a prohibition against 
a representation of more than one-half of the Legislature 
from five adjoining counties. 

In 1894 the two adjoining counties were then the thickly 
populated counties of Manhattan and Kings, known as New 
York and Brooklyn. By 1915 the population had spread 
throughout the five counties of Greater New, York. It was 
deemed necessary by the Republican majority to freeze into 
the State constitution a permanent minority representation 
from the City of New York and a normal control of the 
Legislature by the Republican party which drew its main 
support from the rural communities. 

The debate on New York City representation challenged 
the fighting edge of the Democratic representatives from 
New York City. The new proposal created a still wider 
discrepancy between the basis of representation for New 
York City and that of the rural communities. 

Smith opposed the theory of apportionment based upon 
territory and rested his argument upon the proposition that 
the unit of representation should be the individual and not 

(236) 



HOME RULE 237 

his place of residence. In this debate he sought to expose the 
political motive of the Republican majority with a refreshing 
candor. 

Another proposed constitutional amendment over which 
there was much contention was the one granting home rule 
to cities. This had been submitted to the Convention sitting 
as Committee of the Whole by the Chairman of the Cities 
Committee, ex-Mayor Seth Low of New York City. 

Mayor Low presented the majority report on the amend- 
ments. It becam^ known as "General Order 50," This was 
a very scholarly presentation. It analyzed every section 
with lucidity and simplicity all the more noteworthy as the 
application of home rule through constitutional grant, or by 
the statute, presents serious technical and legal difficulties. 
Home rule is easier to realize as a campaign slogan than as 
a legislative or constitutional problem. Any solution of the 
home rule problem must take cognizance of the relation of 
the City to that greater sovereign, the State. How far the 
City is an agency of the State and how far it can act inde- 
pendently of it is a riddle that has taxed the subtlest legal 
minds. 

The majority report granted some clear home rule powers 
to the cities. It provided checks by the State which met 
with aggressive opposition on the part of the Democratic 
minority. The latter, representing a party which made home 
rule one of its principal demands for decades, were naturally 
sensitive to what they regarded as unwarranted invasions 
by State authority upon the rights of local communities. 

Without attempting to discuss the underlying conception 
of the home rule amendment as submitted by the majority 
(which was ably criticized by Senator James J. Foley and 
Judge Morgan J. O'Brien), two provisions of the majority 
report particularly roused the ire of Democrats like Senator 
Wagner and Alfred E. Smith. 



238 ALFRED E. SMITH 

One was the provision which required that after a city 
had taken action on a charter or a charter amendment such 
action must be laid before the legislature subject to its 
approval. 

Mayor Low disclosed that this check was provided in the 
home rule granted to the Philippine Islands. The Democrats 
were quick to characterize it as Philippine Home Rule, 

The other provision made it "necessary to submit to the 
Legislature every amendment of a charter and law which 
changes the framework of its government/' The object of 
this provision as set forth by Mayor Low was to prevent 
'"ripper" legislation providing for patronage or other partisan 
ends, in the shape of ordinances reorganizing departments 
of a city. It was argued by the committee that freedom in 
these matters offered ordinary human nature in politics 
(whether of the Republican or Democratic brand) too great 
a temptation for partisan manipulation. It was a peril and 
required checking and restraining by the Legislature. 

The Pemocratic minority was convinced that the adoption 
of the minority report by the convention was not possible. 
It resorted to the strategy of liberalizing the majority report 
by submitting a number of amendments to the sections as 
presented. No delegate was more active in deluging the 
convention with changes in phraseology designed to give 
the cities a greater measure of homei rule than Smith. 

He first insisted upon the right of the city to apportion 
its own aldermanic districts. The right was denied the 
city as it affected the framework of the government and 
must be referred to the Legislature.. He realized that such 
power when exercised by a legislature dominated by the 
Republican party would be used for political ends. He sub- 
mitted amendments providing checks by the electorate of the 
city giving them opportunity within thirty days (if one per 
cent, of the voters protested against an amendment affecting 



HOME RULE 239 

the framework of the city government), to vote on them at 
the next ensuing election. 

When asked by Mr. Parsons whether that was the amend- 
ment requested by the Citizens' Union, Smith replied, "I 
believe that 15 either the Citizens' Union or the City Club. 
I don't know which it is. They all look alike to me. When 
they have a good idea I always like to line up behind it. 
I don't mind annexing them when they are right." 

The debate waxed hot. Smith put some very embarrassing 
hypothetical questions to Mr. Low. 

He flung amendment after amendment at the convention, 
only to have it rejected. Finally he said, "I desire to offer 
one final amendment. The good book says, While the light 
holds out to burn, the vilest sinner may return.' "' 

Consistent with his fundamental policy of home rule, his 
future career as Governor was to base itself to a large 
extent upon a steady interest in the principle of home rule 
for the cities of the State. 

In his first term as Governor, he urged an amendment to 
the constitution to give the municipalities a broader measure 
of local self-government. 

In 1922, the constitutional amendment passed the Legis- 
lature for the first time. In the first year of his second term 
as Governor in 1923, he urged its passage for the second 
time despite the fact that it did not give as complete a 
measure of home rule as he had always advocated. It 
represented a compromise. To him, the whole subject was 
closely interwoven with many other policies relating to ad- 
ministration, notably the regulation of public utilities. 

He said in his 1923 message, "... Probably no 
political principle has received so much state-wide discussion 
as the question of a greater grant of power by the State to 
municipalities over such things as are wholly local. The 
cities of the State today and particularly New York City, 



240 ALFRED E. SMITH 

find themselves restricted by what is really a charter of 
limitation. The phenomenal growth of the cities brings up 
constantly for settlement new problems that the city should 
be left free to determine without interference by the 
State. . . . " 

When the home rule amendment passed the Legislature 
in 1923 for the second time, the Governor urged that the 
State be prepared for prompt action to make it effective 
through the medium of the necessary statutory legislation. 
This would require amendment to a number of laws. He 
therefore suggested the appointment of a special commission 
to examine and propose the necessary changes. Such a com- 
mission was authorized by the Legislature. It began its 
work immediately with the result that at the 1924 session 
of the Legislature, an enabling act was at last passed giving 
the cities a considerable measure of home rule. This had 
the incidental advantage of freeing the Legislature to an 
appreciable extent from the consideration of matters of local 
interest only. These bills had, up to this time, consumed 
much of legislative time and raised many difficult issues in 
the Governor's office. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 
SUNDAY 

The same Jeffersonian philosophy which dictated policies 
on home rule and law enforcement is evident in his memor- 
andum which accompanies the signing of the Sunday baseball 
local option bill. 

I realize that a very substantial portion of our people most 
conscientiously oppose permission to indulge in recreation or 
sports of any kind on Sunday. I respect them for their opin- 
ions and I believe that in those opinions they are entirely 
conscientious. On the other hand, I know that a great many 
who are advocating this measure and who believe in reasonable 
recreation on Sunday and who consider that it is that species 
of rest which comes from change of thought and change of 
activity are equally good citizens of the commonwealth, and their 
opinions are entitled to equal weight. 

After a thorough consideration of the matter, I am of the 
firm opinion that those members of a community who oppose 
all recreation on Sunday, or at least recreation permitted by 
this amendatory bill, have no right, in law or in morals, where 
they constitute a minority of a community, to impose their views 
upon the majority, who disagree with them, and to prohibit the 
latter from exercising rights and privileges to which they deem 
themselves to be entitled, the exercise of which will in no wise 
interfere with the orderly and proper observance of the day of 
rest by those desiring to- refrain from attending amusements. 

On the other hand, this bill provides that where a majority 
of the community, as represented in its local legislative body, 

(241) 



242 ALFRED E. SMITH 

is opposed to the playing of baseball on Sunday afternoon, such 
amusement is prohibited in such locality. If representative 
government is what we claim and believe it to be, the action of 
the local legislative body will properly reflect, in each instance, 
the wish of the majority of the citizens themselves. 

The witnessing of a baseball game, either with or without 
the payment of an admission fee, is a most harmless diversion. 
It is in no sense deteriorating to the moral fibre of the wit- 
nesses. Well-to-do people can and do on Sunday pursue their 
amusements with entire impunity and under the protection ol 
the laws. Our golf courses are crowded, our highways are 
thronged with automobilists, seeking on Sunday a change of 
scene and the beneficial effects resulting therefrom. The ac- 
tivities of a poor man along this line are necessarily restricted 
by the limit of his means. It comes, however, within the rea- 
sonable reach of many to enjoy a baseball game and to obtain 
the rest which comes from reaction by such an outdoor, health- 
giving amusement. 

Some such form of relaxation on Sunday is almost impera- 
tive and certainly most beneficial in the cases of that great mass 
of our people who during the six .week days are employed in 
confining occupations, having during those days no opportunity 
for recreation of any sort. I cannot think that if the sentiment 
of the majority of any community, as represented by its duly 
elected officials, is in favor of permitting, under such restric- 
tions and regulations as they may see fit to impose, the enjoy- 
ment of this very harmless amusement on Sunday, the rights of 
the minority are in anywise invaded. 

I believe that before any class of our citizens should be 
given the right to impose their views upon this question, on 
which people so widely and conscientiously differ, upon those 
.who disagree with them, they should, at least, represent the 
sentiment of the majority in their respective communities. 

For myself, respecting most highly the opinions of those 
who disagree with me, I believe that the witnessing of an in- 
nocent amusement on Sunday afternoon, conducted in such 
manner as not to interfere with" the comfort of those who are 



SUNDAY 243 

opposed to such amusement, cannot be harmful. In this belief, 
I propose to let the communities of this State have the right to 
decide this question for themselves, and determine .whether 
baseball games may be played on Sunday afternoons, and, if so, 
whether an admission fee should be charged. 



CHAPTER XXXVII 
THE ISSUE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT 

The rule of the majority has been the cornerstone of 
Smith's political faith. In the Legislature and in the Con- 
stitutional Convention he fought with all his force and vigor 
to apply that principle to legislation and to the framing of 
the new constitution itself. 

Against any deviation from that rule, he set his face like 
flint. Where legislation dealt with debatable restriction of 
the personal habits of the people, he either opposed it or he 
left it to the people themselves to decide. 

Therefore, we find him approving the principle of local 
option for Sunday baseball or Sunday movies. Therefore, 
his keen resentment over the methods employed by the Anti- 
Saloon League to put over the Prohibtion Amendment in the 
State of New York. 

The record of the League in clubbing legislators and even 
governors into submission by threat of political death even 
when they were not elected on the issue involved, roused 
Smith's indignation. Such action violated the cardinal princi- 
ple of his democratic faith. He gave vent to his criticism 
with caustic irony in public speeches. He pictured weak 
legislators wet in practice, clubbed behind the closed doors of 
a party caucus, voting against their personal convictions at 
the bidding of a lobby because the party considered it expedi- 
ent at the time. 

Smith consistently advocated the referendum to the people 

(244) 



LAW ENFORCEMENT 245 

as the only truly democratic method of determining a policy 
affecting their personal habits. 

In his first message to the Legislature (referring to the 
pending amendment to the federal constitution providing for 
national prohibition) he said, "I believe it is our duty to 
ascertain the will of the people directly upon this subject. 
I believe we should consult them, and to that end I recom- 
mend to your honorable body that legislation be enacted 
submitting the question to popular referendum in order that 
its determination might represent the expression of the will 
of the majority." 

But the whip of King Caucus was snapped over the heads 
of wet Republicans, They ratified the amendment in the 
legislature by a very narrow margin. 

This elicited some direct reflections from Smith : 

I am advised that there were members of the Legislature 
whose personal sentiments and convictions were opposed to 
ratifying the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, suf- 
ficient in number to have prevented the passage by the Legisla- 
ture of the resolution for ratification, if it had not been for the 
action of the party caucus. 

In view of all these circumstances, and in order that the true 
opinion and position of the State of New Yo>rk in. regard to the 
Eighteenth Amendment be ascertained and carried o-ut, and 
made known to the people of other states, I recommend that the 
Legislature rescind its prior ratification of the said amendment, 
and submit the question to the qualified electors of the State, 
at the general election of the year 1920. 

I am unable to understand what reasonable argument can be 
made against submitting to the people any question that inter- 
feres with their personal liberty. The man who opposes the 
submission of that kind of a question assumes the rule of the 
dictator and sets himself up as being unwilling to abide by the 
;will of the majority. He cannot be said to have much faith 
in democratic government. 



246 ALFRED E. SMITH 

Once more the Governor argued not against the prohibition 
amendment but against the undemocratic method by which 
it was brought about. This method, however, having been 
declared constitutional by the United States Supreme Court 
and the Volstead Act enforcing it having been enacted by 
Congress as the law of the land, many states proceeded to 
apply the "concurrent enforcement" provision of the amend- 
ment by passing in the main State laws similar to the Vol- 
stead Act. Such a law, known as the Mullan-Gage Law, 
was passed in the administration of Governor Miller and 
approved by him. 

During the 1922 campaign, the Democratic platform con- 
tained a plank favoring a memorial to congress suggesting 
a modification of the Volstead Act in accordance with the 
restriction imposed in the enforcement act passed by the 
New York Legislature in 1920. A definition of alcoholic 
content therein as 2.75%' had been declared by the Supreme 
Court at Washington to be unconstitutional 

The methods sanctioned by the Mullan-Gage Law for the 
enforcement of the Volstead Act were resented by the people 
of the State. Grand juries protested against it. The abuse 
of powers granted by the police authorities were violative of 
age-long Anglo-Saxon safeguards against search and seizure, 
and double jeopardy. Arrests without warrant, and other 
evidences of police oppression, created a spirit of revolt 
among the people from one end of the State to the other. 
They looked upon the Mullan-Gage Law as an invasion upon 
their personal liberty. While the Democratic platform con- 
tained no declaration against it, the people voted overwhelm- 
ingly for the entire ticket in part as a protest against this law. 

The memorial to Congress was passed by the 1923 Legisla- 
ture. The Republican Assembly leaders, contrary to pre- 
cedent, provided that the Governor also sign the memorial 




ALFRED E. SMITH 
The Coasting King 

f /row ^ Wells-Fwgo Receipt-Sera}* Book) 



LAW ENFORCEMENT 247 

of a co-ordinate branch of the State Government. This he 
willingly did as it carried out one of his platform pledges. 

Among the letters he received from Congressmen and 
Senators in response to the memorial was one from Senator 
Fess. It reflected the point of view of those who, like the 
Senator, favor theoretical total abstinence instead of genuine 
temperance. Governor Smith lost no time in retorting, in 
the form of a message taking into consideration every pos- 
sible point. 

But the memorial reflecting as it did the overwhelming 
public sentiment for a modification of the Volstead Act, did 
not meet the grievance of the people against the abuses of 
the Mullan-Gage State Enforcement Law. Assemblymen and 
Senators were deluged with telegrams and letters and met 
irate delegations demanding its repeal. So strong was the 
mass revolt against this measure that the Democratic leaders 
of the Senate and the Republican leaders of the House had 
to permit a vote upon it. It was repealed in the Legislature. 

The repeal of the Mullan-Gage Law attracted the attention 
of the entire country. Newspapers in every State of the 
Union carried accounts of the Albany action. What will the 
Governor do? became a question which was discussed in 
every city and hamlet of the Nation, 

When even the sporting fraternity take cognizance of a 
legislative situation by making bets on the probably favorable 
or unfavorable action of a Governor on a measure before 
him it is indicative that the interest is widespread and intense. 

Smith faced many a critical situation in his public career, 
and he met this one with a serious openmindedness and a 
common sense which impressed the people throughout the 
country. 

He, was receptive to all sincere argument but he rebuffed 
any advice which referred to the political consequences of 
his act. Whatever his decision was going to be, both his 



248 ALFRED E. SMITH 

friends and his opponents were convinced that it would be 
based upon his own convictions, on the merits or demerits 
of the measure regardless of its effects upon his political 
future. 

On June 1 he issued his historic memorandum approving 
the repeal: 

STATE OF NEW YORK EXECUTIVE CHAMBER 

ALBANY, JUNE 1, 1923. 

Memorandum filed with Assembly Bill, Introductory No. 
1614, Printed No. 1817, entitled 

"An act to repeal Article 113 of the Penal Law and 
Section 11-b, chapter five of title two and section 802-b 
of the code of criminal procedure, relating to the manu- 
facture and sale of alcoholic liquors," 
Approved : 

The bill under consideration proposes to repeal Article 113 
of the Penal Law which enacted into the statute laws of the 
State substantially the provisions of the Volstead Act. 

Because of the far reaching* interest in this bill displayed 
by all classes of our people, I have given nearly one month 
of solid and 'careful thought to its final disposition. I deem 
it wise to go into some detail in order to clear up misunder- 
standing on the part of a great many of the people who have 
written or spoken to me about it, and to make clear the reasons 
for the action I am taking. 

It is furthest from my thoughts to question the motives 
of the men and women of integrity throughout the State, who 
with an eye single to the right and the just, have arrayed 
themselves on different sides of the question presented. Some 
seem to think that my approval will mean the preservation of 
American institutions. Many others impelled by equally patri- 
otic motives seem to feel that my approval will be destructive 
of American government. Obviously, both cannot be right, 
and I have therefore given careful study to the question 
involved and the arguments submitted in order that my final 



LAW ENFORCEMENT 249 

disposition of it may be in full and complete accord with what 
my conscience dictates. 

A brief review at this time of the entire question at issue 
so far as the State of New York is concerned would be helpful. 
The Eighteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution was 
ratified by the Legislature of this State at the session of 1919. 
In 1920 the same Senate and an Assembly presided over and 
directed by the same leaders enacted the so-called 2.75 per cent 
beer and wine bill This bill I approved. It was afterwards 
held unconstitutional and the United States Supreme Court 
declared in rendering its decision that the word "concurrent 3 * 
in the Eighteenth Amendment referred only to concurrence in 
legislation which Congress passed to execute the provisions of 
"the Eighteenth Amendment and did not permit the states to 
adopt a definition of an intoxicating beverage inconsistent with 
the definition contained in the federal law. In short, the State 
is therefore limited in defining an intoxicating beverage to one 
containing not more than one-half of one per cent of alcohol. 

In 1922 the Democratic State Convention inserted in its 
platform a plank favoring an amendment to the Volstead Act 
which would permit the states under certain restrictions and 
after popular referendum to permit traffic in light wines and 
beer not regarded as intoxicating beverages. That platform 
and the candidates who ran upon it received the overwhelming 
support of the people of this State at the last election. I cite 
all this merely as indicating by history the attitude of a majority 
of the people of this State toward this whole question. Never- 
theless, it is a fact that the Eighteenth Amendment is the law 
of the land and no one suggests, least of all the Legislature of 
this State or myself, that it should be violated. 

In 1921 there was enacted in this State what has come to be 
known as the Mullan-Gage Law. It put into the penal statutes 
substantially all of the provisions of the Volstead Act but 
accompanied them by even more rigorous provisions as to search 
and seizure. 

I make no criticism of this action on the part of the Legisla- 
ture, but I am entirely unwilling to admit the contention that 
there was put upon the State either by the Eighteenth Amend- 



250 ALFRED E. SMITH 

meat, the Volstead Act, or the United States Supreme Court 
decision, any obligation to pass any law adopting into the State 
law the provisions of the Volstead Act. Learned jurists who 
have given the best years of their lives to judicial service in 
this State have so advised me. Leading members of the bar 
of other states concur fully in this belief. Advising the elec- 
torate of the State of Massachusetts, every living former Attor- 
ney-General of that Commonwealth as well as many of her 
distinguished lawyers, said: 

"The Eighteenth Amendment gives Congress and to 
each of the forty-eight states the concurrent right to enforce 
the amendment. This is not a command but an option. It 
does not create a duty." 

I have read thousands of letters and I have listened to the 
fullest discussion and no one has pointed out to me any provision 
of the Constitution or of the statutes or any decision of the 
United States Supreme Court which imposes upon our State 
any. constitutional duty to maintain a State enforcement act, 
and I am satisfied that as a matter of law this contention does 
not admit of doubt. 

I am dealing with three classes of people, the radical drys, 
the radical wets and those who hold moderate views on this 
subject The drys seem to see a moral duty on the part of the 
State to maintain an enforcement act. They are undoubtedly 
led to this conclusion by their own frame of mind because they 
do not suggest that the State maintain an act merely enforcing 
the Eighteenth Amendment in accordance with the wishes of the 
majority of the people of the State, but they insist thrt th<*r* 
be a State enforcement act exactly paralleling the Volstead Act. 

Congress made its determination as to what constituted an 
intoxicant. This State decidedly disagreed with that determina- 
tion. After all is said and done, whatever may be the Inter- 
pretation of the Eighteenth Amendment by any class or group 
of our citizens, under our form of government we look to 
the courts for the interpretation which we must all follow. 
While legislative bodies make the laws, the courts must construe 
them and we are bound by the construction put upon them by 



LAW ENFORCEMENT 251 

our judicial tribunals. The United States Supreme Court said: 

"The power confided to Congress by the Eighteenth 

Amendment is in no wise dependent upon or affected by 

action or inaction on the part of the several states or any 

of them." 

If the right of Congress is paramount, its responsibility must 
be paramount. 

Expanding this idea, the statement signed by the Attorneys- 
General of Massachusetts adds: 

"Nullification, as defined by the highest authority, is the 
action of a state intended to abrogate within its limits 
the operation of a federal law." 

This no one proposes to do. The mere omission to maintain 
a State statute in no way abrogates a federal statute. It seems 
to me that this effectually disposes of the loose talk about the 
nullification of the Constitution by refusal on the part of any 
of the states to enact separate statutes. 

Inasmuch as it would be physically impossible for me to 
make answer to all of the communications received by me from 
citizens of our own State as well as from other states who 
have sought to guide and advise me in this matter, I would 
like as a mark of my appreciation of their efforts to deal here 
with the considerations urged by them as well as with considera- 
tions urged in the oral arguments made at the hearing. 

Let me first say what the repeal of tfte Mullan-Gage Law 
will not do. 

Its repeal will not make legal a single act which was illegal 
during the period of the existence of the statute. 

Many communications I have received and arguments that 
have been made to me, indicate a belief that its repeal will 
make possible the manufacture, sale and distribution of light 
wines and beer. So far as that is concerned it will still be 
under the control it is to-day, subject to the provisions of the 
Volstead Act. Repeal of the Mullan-Gage Law will not bring 
back light wines and beer. 

The Supreme Court of the United States said: 

"The constitution, laws and treaties of the United States 



252 ALFRED E. SMITH 

are as much the part of the law of every state as its own 
local laws and constitution." 

That means that after repeal there will still rest upon the 
peace officers of this State the sacred responsibility of sus- 
taining the Volstead Act with as much force and as much 
vigor as they would enforce any State law or local ordinance, 
and I shall expect the discharge of that duty in the fullest 
measure by every peace officer in the State. The only difference 
after repeal is that to-day the police officer may take the 
offender for prosecution to the State court, to the federal court 
or to both. After the repeal of the Mullan-Gage Law the 
prosecution must be where it belongs in the federal court. 
In law and in fact there is no more lawlessness in repealing the 
Mullan-Gage Law than there is in the failure of the State to 
pass statutes making it a State crime to violate any other federal 
penal statute. 

Let it be understood at once and for all that this repeal does 
not in the slightest degree lessen the obligation of peace officers 
of the State to enforce in its strictest letter the Volstead Act, 
and warning to that effect is herein contained as coming 
from the Chief Executive of the State of New York. 

At this point, with all the earnestness that I am able to bring 
to my command, let me assure the thousands of people who 
wrote to me on this subject, and the citizens of the State 
generally, that the repeal of .the Mullan-Gage Law will not 
and cannot by any possible stretch of . the imagination bring 
back into existence the saloon which is and ought to be a 
defunct institution in this country, and any attempt at its re- 
establishment by a misconstruction of the Executive attitude 
on this bill will be forcefully and vigorously suppressed. 

Let me now say what the repeal of the Mullan-Gage Law 
will do. 

Its repeal will do away entirely with the possibility 'of 
double jeopardy for violation of the laws enforcing the Eight- 
eenth Amendment. By that we mean that no citizen shall be 
twice punished for the one offense. Under the United States 
Supreme Court decision in the Lanza Case, a citizen is to-day 
subjected to double trial and even to double punishment for 



LAW ENFORCEMENT 253 

a single offense because such alleged offense is a violation of 
both the State and the federal law. This is an unwarranted 
and indefensible exception to the fundamental constitutional 
guarantee contained in both the Federal and State constitu- 
tions that no person shall be twice tried or punished for the 
same offense* 

The repeal of the Mullan-Gage Law will put the State in 
harmony with the recent decision by United States District 
Judge Knox, declaring a portion of the Volstead Act to be in 
contravention of the Eighteenth Amendment. By that decision 
the United States District Court in New York has laid down 
the principle that the prohibition contained in the Eighteenth 
Amendment does not apply to the necessary and proper pre- 
scription of alcoholic liquors for medicinal purposes and that 
the Federal Government gains no power under the Volstead 
Act except to* prohibit traffic in alcoholic liquors for beverage 
purposes as distinct from medicinal purposes. Provisions of 
the Mullan-Gage Law if left in force would still maintain in 
the law of this State the limitation contained in the Volstead 
Act which the great body of the medical profession in our 
State seems practically unanimous in denouncing as an inter- 
ference with the necessary requirements of their profession. 

The repeal of the Mullan-Gage Law will mean that viola- 
tions of the Volstead Act will hereafter be prosecuted in the 
Federal courts. This, to my mind, seems to be desirable, as it 
will fix in the minds of the offenders the thought that they have 
violated a federal statute intended to effectuate an amendment 
to the constitution of the United States, rather than have them 
harbor the thought that they are simply standing against what 
a great many of them may be led to believe is merely a local 
regulation. 

The burden imposed on the State to prosecute traffickers in 
liquor as violators of the State statute is a wasteful and futile 
one because of the refusal of grand juries to indict and of 
petit juries to convict. 

Let us apply to this question the principles of good business, 
good judgment and common sense. I promised myself that I 



254 ALFRED E. SMITH 

would not consider this subject solely from the standpoint of 
constitutional law or political expediency and I have labored to 
make my study of it practical. While there will be no let-up on 
the part of the police officials of this State in the enforcement 
of the Volstead Act, I cannot help thinking and saying, as I 
owe it to the people of this State to say, that the real solution 
of proper enforcement rests primarily with the Federal Govern- 
ment. 

The practical side of this question, to my way of thinking, 
indicates that little, if any, of the liquor consumed in this State 
is manufactured here. It is imported from foreign countries. 
The Federal Government is the one agency that can attack the 
base of supply. It is infinitely easier to stop the smuggling in 
of five hundred cases of liquor before bulk is broken than to 
trace the same five hundred after they find their t way into dif- 
ferent parts of the State in small quantities. 

The division of responsibility for primary execution of the 
enforcement law may, in part, explain the failure of federal 
enforcement officials to stop the smuggling of liquor in bulk 
into this State, which has certainly raised a serious question as 
to the efficiency and in some cases the earnestness of Federal 
enforcement agencies. Whenever the ultimate responsibility 
is divided there is a tendency for each authority or agency upon 
whom it rests to rely upon the other. The State in the nature 
of things cannot guard her frontiers of land and water against 
this smuggling as well as the federal authorities should be able 
to do it. If we place squarely upon the federal authorities the 
primary duty and obligation to put an end to the enormous 
smuggling of liquor from foreign countries into this State it will 
be .where it rightfully belongs and we will have taken a long 
step forward to the re-establishment of respect for and enforce- 
ment of law. 

Over and beyond all this, I believe the approval of this repeal 
will reawaken in the public mind the fundamental conception 
of the law of the land and re-establish beyond doubt what con- 
stitute the essentials of the relation between the Federal Gov- 
ernment and the sovereign states of the Union. 



LAW ENFORCEMENT 255 

Recently the President of the United States in reply to a 
letter from a citizen of this State who had suggested to the 
President that the repeal of this act bore the color of treason, 
said without disclaiming this particular suggestion, "With much 
that you say I am fully in accord." 

I yield to no man in this country when it comes to respect 
for the utterances of the Chief Executive of the United States, 
but it is impossible for me to be unmindful of the fact that I 
am the Chief Executive of a sovereign State, and I am entirely 
in accord with a statement put forth in the course of this 
discussion and signed by former Judges Willard Bartlett, Almet 
F. Jenks, E. Henry Lacombe and Mr. Austen G. Fox, which 
dealt with the letter of the President and which, in part, said? 

"It would be a calamity to permit such fundamental miscon 
ceptions of the relations between the states and the Federal 
Government as may seem tot be suggested by portions of the 
President's letter to pass unchallenged." 

The children in our public schools have been taught to 
believe that our government rests upon the foundation that 
the states are sovereign with respect to all powers not expressly 
delegated by them to the Federal Government, and tkat while 
the laws of Congress are paramount within the delegated power, 
the states are sovereign within the reserved power. History 
gives us the reason for this. In the formation of the Union 
our forefathers in their wisdom understood that with our vast 
area and its heterogeneous population 4 with their varying local 
interests, what may be sound local policy in one community may 
be entirely inappropriate to the needs of another. To any 
student of our government I think it must be apparent that one 
of the great elements in the strength bf our democracy is the 
supremacy of the Federal Government in its own sphere and 
the sovereignty of the several states in theirs. 

We have been taught that eternal vigilance is the price of 
liberty, and how far we may wander from the thoughts and 
ideals of the founders of our government is jwell illustrated 
by the suggestion in the President's letter that because the 
states have a larger police force than the Federal Government 



256 ALFRED E. SMITH 

has, and because the Federal Government has at this time what 
the President describes as an inadequate machinery for the 
enforcement of the Volstead Act, therefore the estates are 
obliged severally to enact statutes duplicating the Volstead 
Act I am unable to understand from what source he believes 
this obligation to be derived and he does not disclose it. The < 
President might, with equal force, suggest that at any time 
Congress in its wisdom saw fit to withhold adequate appropria- 
tion for the enforcement of any federal law, that there im- 
mediately devolved a duty upon each State to enact that Fed- 
eral law into a State statute and make every offense against 
federal law not enforced, a duty upon the States to punish it 
as a State offense and at State expense. 

I am not here discussing the wisdom or unwisdom of pro- 
hibition. The question is rather whether all vestige of the rights 
of the States guaranteed by the Federal Constitution is to be 
driven from our political theory of government. With all 
respect for the President of the United States I must here 
reassert this principle against his challenge and as the Chief 
Executive of the greatest sovereignty in the Union, it is my 
duty to declare and main-tain that sovereignty in exact accord- 
ance with the guarantees of the Constitution. This does not 
mean that a State has any right or power to enact any law that 
in any way infringes upon a constitutional act of Congress, but 
it does mean that the Federal Government has no right to im- 
pose upon the State any obligation to pass any statute affirma- 
tively embodying any federal statute. 

The t whole treatment of this question, and I speak only from 
history, has been marked by hyprocrisy. There should be no 
such thing as carrying -water on both shoulders. What the 
country is looking for to-day, if I read the signs of the times 
aright, is a constructive, forward-looking suggestion that dis- 
regards entirely the fanatical wets and the fanatical drys. 

I yield to no man in my reverence and respect for the Con- 
stitution of the United States, and I advocate nothing which 
will infringe upon the provisions of the Eighteenth Amend- 
ment It is, nevertheless, a fact that the definition of an 



LAW ENFORCEMENT 257 

intoxicating beverage contained in the Volstead Act is not an 
honest or a common sense one. It is impossible to divorce from 
the public mind the impression that the definition of an intoxi- 
cating beverage as containing not more than one-half of one 
per cent of alcohol >vas written by the fanatical drys in defiance 
of the general experience 'of mankind and of actual fact. It seems 
to nie that common sense, backed up by good medical opinion), 
can find a more scientific definition of what constitutes an in- 
toxicating beverage. Such a definition should be adopted by 
Congress as a proper and reasonable amendment of the Vol- 
stead Act and a maximum alcoholic content should be pre- 
scribed by Congress which would limit all States to the traffic 
in liquors which are, in fact, non-intoxicating within the mean- 
ing of the Eighteenth Amendment. Subject to that limitation, 
each State should thereafter be left free to determine for itself 
,what should constitute an intoxicating beverage. States which 
then wished to limit traffic to beverages containing not more 
than one'-half of one per cent of alcohol would be free to do 
so and those which desired to extend the traffic to the maximum 
limitation allowed by federal statute would be equally free to 
do so. There could be, within the limitations of the maximum, 
many differences of degree, extending even to the complete pro- 
hibition by some States of traffic in liquor containing any 
alcohol whatever. 

This would be in keeping with the freedom and liberty of dif- 
ferent States with differing local conditions to legislate for 
themselves, subject always to the maximum limitation enacted 
by Congress, t which would be paramount. 

I offer this as a constructive suggestion which will relieve 
the tountry from the stress of this perplexing question which 
affords such a widespread difference of opinion and thus give 
our people a chance to turn their minds to other and greater 
questions that are pressing for solution. 

Much has been said in the public prints with respect to the 
effect my action on this bill may have upon my own political 
future. I have no political future that I am willing to attain 
by the sacrifice of any principle or any conviction of what in my 



258 ALFRED E. SMITH 

mind is for the welfare and the benefit of this State and Nation. 
Because I believe there is nothing to be gained either for the 
Nation or for the State by the retention of this statute, while 
on the other hand, I believe that its repeal is of distinct benefit 
in the preservation of the rights of our people, because I believe 
that the repeal of this statute in no way nullifies the enforce- 
ment of the Volstead Act, because I believe that the fastening 
of the primary responsibility for prosecution for violations of 
the laws enforcing the Eighteenth Amendment should be upon 
the federal authorities, and because I believe finally ard most 
of all that the preservation of American democracy requires 
the maintenance of that balance between State and Nation 
which is, guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, 
and that the reassertion of that principle is to-day of vital 
consequence to the preservation of the democratic form of gov- 
ernment guaranteed to us by the Constitution, and being mindful 
of the responsibility placed on me by the electorate of this 
State, grateful for their overwhelming vote of confidence, de- 
voted as I am to the welfare of the country and to the happi- 
ness and the prosperity of the State, I have, after careful 
thought, arrived at the conclusion that the bill before me should 
receive executive approval, and I therefore approve the bill. 
(Signed) ALFRED E. SMITH. 

The Governor placed the same historic emphasis as does 
the Democratic party upon the keeping of power in society 
and resting this power on a government from above as little 
as possible. Even in the enforcement of law the Governor 
believes in taking cognizance of local and State sentiment. 
For a law without public opinion behind it leads to its viola- 
tion and to that disrespect of all law which is the parent of 
lawlessness* 

His was no argument against the prohibition amendment. 
What he urged was a modification of the enforcing act, 
bringing it into harmony with public opinion. His quarrel 
is not with the necessity for enforcing the law as it stands. 



LAW ENFORCEMENT 259 

The record of the enforcement officials in the State since 
the repeal of the Mullan-Gage Law did not bear out the dire 
predictions of the fanatical drys. New York State was not 
deluged with bootleg liquor. The sources of entry were not 
adequately protected by the Federal Government either be- 
fore or since the State enforcement law was repealed. In 
fact the Governor was able since the repeal to show a better 
record of arrests by the departments within his control. 
However, he did everything in his power to co-operate. At 
a conference of Governors held under the auspices of Presi- 
dent Coolidge, a resolution was passed urging active support 
by the Governors of the various states in enforcing the pro- 
hibition amendment. Complying with those resolutions and 
with a request by the Federal Enforcement Officer for the 
State of New York, he called a conference of enforcement 
officials at Albany. There he talked plainly : 

The preamble of the Constitution reads, "WE THE PEOPLE 
of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, 
establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the 
common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the 
Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain 
and establish this Constitution for the United States of 
America." 

While we may disagree as to what may establish justice and 
what might promote the general welfare, or what may secure 
the blessings of liberty, there is one thing that we cannot 
disagree on and that is that unless the Constitution is obeyed 
and sustained in its every letter, it can serve no useful purpose. 
As the chain is no stronger than its weakest link, so also the 
Constitution means nothing if any person or group of persons 
be permitted to select that part that they are in accord with 
and dismiss the part that does not meet with their approval. 
When we as public officials swear to uphold the Constitution 
of the United States in our oath of office, it means every part 
of that Constitution whether we agree with the principle 
involved in any one section or not. 



260 ALFRED E. SMITH 

The Eighteenth Amendment is a part of that Constitution, 
and just as sacred as any other part. The so-called Volstead 
Act, making" operative that Eighteenth Amendment, is just 
as sacred as any other law in the country, and we are not here 
for the purpose of expressing our individual opinions as to the 
wisdom either of the amendment or the law sustaining it, but 
we are here to discuss the best and most practical way of 
enforcing the amendment and the laws sustaining it, so that 
our conference is one upon law enforcement and does not 
run to the principle involved. I think everybody will agree 
that the proper and vigorous enforcement of all laws is the 
cornerstone of democratic government. When any man or 
group of men are permitted to respect and obey only such 
laws as meet with their approval, we have not a democratic 
government formed in perfect union, we cannot establish justice, 
we cannot insure domestic tranquility, and we cannot promote 
the general welfare and we cannot secure the blessings of 
liberty to ourselves or our posterity, but we can bring about 
a state of anarchy that has its life and its being in disregard 
of all law. 

The Governor then went on to show that the State, with- 
out the Mullan-Gage Law, had ample power to enforce, and 
was enforcing, the Volstead Act, and that the repeal of the 
Mullan-Gage Law In no wise led to the lessening of the 
activity of the State Police. He submitted tire following 
figures in proof : 



LAW ENFORCEMENT 261 

Six Months Prior to Repeal of Mullan-Gage Law 



Date 


Arrests 


Liquor 
Cars 
Seized 


Value of 
Liquor 


Investi- 
gations 


December, 1922 .... 
January, 1923 


9 
6 


3 
2 


$5,435.00 
3,200.00 


7 
16 


February, 1923 . . . 





1 


2,080.00 


11 


March, 1923 . 


10 


2 


400.00 


8 


April, 1923 


7 


4 


7,035.00 


12 


May, 1923 


11 


6 


3,399.00 


10 












Totals 


43 


18 


$21,549.00 


64 













Six Months After Repeal of Mullan-Gage Law 



Date 


Arrests 


Liquor 
Cars 
Seized 


Value of 
Liquor 


Investi- 
gations 


June, 1923 


23 


17 


$13,300.00 


17 


Ttdy, 1923 


1 


1 


270.00 


20 


August, 1923 


8 


14 


6,300.00 


22 


September, 1923 .... 
October, 1923 


16 
40 


8 
28 


4,000.00 
8,240.00 


16 
10 


November, 1923 


36 


31 


9,250.00 


6 


Totals 


124 


99 


$41,360.00 


91 













Comparison 





Arrests 


Cars 


Value 


Investi- 
gations 


Before 


43 


18 


$21,549.00 


64 


After 


124 


99 


41,360,00 


91 













262 ALFRED E. SMITH 

To make the work of the State police more effective in 
policing the international and interstate boundaries of New 
York, he recommended and signed appropriations of an 
additional half a million dollars for more troopers and more 
effective enforcement equipment. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 
"BETTER TIMES" FOR THE SICK AND THE DISABLED 

In February, 1923, a fire broke out in the insane pavilion 
at Manhattan State Hospital, resulting in the death of twenty- 
three patients. 

This tragedy shocked people into a realization that many 
State hospitals were) fire-traps. Some had to be replaced by 
new fire-proof structures. Others required fire-proofing. 

Taking advantage of an aroused public indignation over 
the conditions revealed by this and other minor ones occur- 
ring* at the same time, the Governor determined upon a bold 
policy to make the State institutions safe for their wards. He 
realized that inadequate appropriations made year after year 
could not meet a building program long neglected, especially 
during the war. He advocated a Fifty Million Dollar Bond 
Issue. The Legislature approved. It was authorized by the 
people at the 1923 election. 

On Wednesday, October 31, just a week before the 
question was submitted to the people, the Governor addressed 
1,500 leading citizens interested through their participation 
in the directorate and management of the social and civic 
institutions of the City and State. The occasion was a 
dinner, all the more memorable from the presence of dis- 
tinguished and efficient social workers. The banquet was 
presided over by Robert W. De Forest, given under the 
auspices of the friends of "Better Times," a magazine de- 
voted to social causes in New York City. 

(263) 



264 ALFRED E. SMITH 

Although this was in the heat of a campaign when he 
was fighting for an Assembly to support him in his program, 
the Governor; gave an entire evening to non-partisan discus- 
sion of New York State's institutions, using stereopticon 
views to expose the unsafe conditions prevailing among them 
and setting forth a business argument for the bond issue 
in addition to its social appeal. He added to it a plea for 
his entire welfare program. 



CHAPTER XXXIX 
SOME THOUGHTS ON PRISON REFORM 

Some suggestions on prison reform from mature reflection 
upon the Governor's experience with the problem as a legis- 
lator and especially as an executive of the State was sub- 
mitted by him to the Convention o-f the American Prison 
Association in New York City on October 20, 1919. He said : 

So far as this State is concerned, the first thing I would say 
is that the present system of putting upon the Governor of the 
State the final decision as to whether a man should go to the 
death chair, or whether he should serve a term of life im- 
prisonment, is entirely yvrong. That should not be in the hands 
of any man who is charged with the governorship of a State, 
because he can scarcely do it and at the same time do justice 
to the prisoner and the State, 

The second thought that I have in mind refers to- the pardon- 
ing power. I appreciate the arguments made against a Board 
of Pardons; that it practically creates a new court of appeals, 
but, on the other hand, here is a great group of men and women 
in the prison's of our State, and under the Constitution of the 
State I am the only man that can do- anything for them. How 
is it possible for me to study each case? What case may have 
proper attention? The only cases which get my attention are 
those which are brought to me by some one traveling to Albany 
to see me, perhaps about a specific case. Surely, I never would 
have time to go through the list of applications for Executive 
clemency. I would say that if any man did do that he could do 
nothing else, and then he w.ould not do justice, 

(265) 



266 ALFRED E. SMITH 

The next thing I would' speak of, so far as this State is con- 
cerned, is industry within the prisons. I can think of nothing 
which is so deadly, nothing which will so tear down the spirit, 
nothing which will so sap up a man's energy and ambition as 
confinement in enforced idleness. If we have no other idea in 
mind except the question of punishment, then that is one thing; 
but if, on the other hand, the State is interested in returning the 
men or the women to society as useful citizens, it will never be 
able to do it unless during that period of confinement their 
thoughts and their minds are occupied by what they are able 
to do in life. What work means, t what satisfaction it brings to 
a person at the close of a day to say, here is what I have ac- 
complished to-day ! 

. . . The trouble with the prisons in this State from the 
standpoint of industry is this: We are trying to work with 
antiquated machinery, old-fashioned tools and the finished 
product as it comes from the prison is not useful except in rare 
instances. In order to keep our equipment up to the style of 
our building and in keep-ing with our surroundings we have 
been obliged practically to get away entirely from prison-made 
furniture, something the State buys a great deal of, because our 
plant is not capable of turning out high-class goods in keeping 
with the surroundings, and you can hardly blame a public official 
who* would be loath to put a $32,00 desk in the corner of an 
$8,000,000 building, 'Modern machinery and modern equip- 
ment is absolutely necessary to keep the products of the prison 
up to the standard required for public use. 

My next suggestion, I am afraid, is too far in the future, 
although I am strongly in favor of it But we might as well 
talk of these things with the hope oi getting them some day. I 
refer to the abolition of the cell block system, 

I received the shock of my life when I went to a reformatory 
in this State. I thought it k was a place to send the young man 
whom we did not want to mingle with the hardened criminals, 
I thought it was a place where we could send a young man to 
let him feel a little of the charity of the State, the goodness of 
the State. Let him feel that the State had a real heart and did 



PRISON REFORM 267 

not want to send him to prison. When I went into that reforma- 
tory to look over the cell block system, with the single door 
locking at night, the cramped-tip cell, the open toilet alongside 
the bed, I said this is not a reformatory except in name. What 
is there about this that is different from a prison and t why raise 
a false hope in the heart of a young first offender by making 
him believe he is going to a reformatory when he is going into a 
regular prison? The fact of the matter is, I am reliably in- 
formed, that where a young fellow knows anything about it he 
asks to be sent some place other than the Elmira Reformatory. 
He does not feel the State is doing anything for him when 
sending him there. 

We have a prison in this State of the modern type, that at 
Comstock. Of course, the ideal system ,would be the cottage 
plan if it could be put in operation. I really do not believe that 
in the twentieth century we have to cage men up in the same 
way they did in 1834 and 1835, even if we take it from the 
standpoint of whether or not they $yill escape. To-day it is not 
so easy to escape from prison even with an automobile or mo- 
torcycle. A man cannot get very far away before he is found, 
and probably it would be a great deal better if one 4 or two oc- 
casionally did get away than to destroy hundreds of them by 
tying them down to the floor. 

I am coming to another subject, the earnings of the prisoner 
while in confinement. I feel strongly on that subject. It has 
been my experience not only since I have been Governor, but 
all the years I was in the Legislature, that the real sufferers as 
a result of a prison sentence are the dependent members of the 
prisoner's family. I do not think it is a question that admits 
of any discussion. The prisoner is taken over by the State, sup- 
ported, fed and clothed; and his children, if he has any, and 
unfortunately a great many of them have, and his wife are 
thrown upon the mercy of friends and relatives or else -become 
public charges. The most pitiable cases one can listen to are 
constantly brought to the attention of the Governor, actual k want 
and actual starvation, as the result of the breadwinner being 
locked up in the State prison. In some instances it is unfair to 



268 ALFRED E. SMITH 

the State to hold a man in prison when the children are in 
want; it is unfair to society to let them out In a great many 
instances the man is where he belongs but that does not take 
from the State the obligation to do something for the man's 
wife and children while he is in prison. 

This paragraph in his last annual message to the Legislat- 
ure expresses his attitude toward prison administration. 

In our administration of prisons I think it is safe to say that 
the attitude of the State should not be one of seeking vengeance. 
No man after offending against society should be kept merely in 
restraint We should strive rather to rehabilitate. The 
State should put it in his power If his will is properly directed 
to become again a useful member of society. He should not be 
forever frowned upon simply because with the human weakness 
inherent in us all he made one stray step from the path of 
rectitude. 

As a result of Governor Smith's initiative, one of the 
greatest of all the problems engaging him that of prison 
reform is progressing towards solution,. 

Impressed by the report of the prison survey commission 
(appointed in his first administration) and by the recom- 
mendations of an investigating staff appointed by him in 
1923, he induced the passage by the Legislature in 1924 of a 
notable bill. It provides for a complete reorganization of the 
prison industries of the State. It will make them modern, 
more productive. It furnishes the prisoners with that in- 
centive to self-respect which comes from a fair wage for 
work performed and from consideration of their industrial 
record in connection with behavior records generally sub- 
mitted in applications for parole. Prisoners will thus be 
enabled to contribute toward the support of their families, 
many of whom become public charges under existing condi- 
tions. It will lay by a substantial sum of money while the 
prisoner is acquiring the habit of industry on the basis 
of a new start in life! when free. 



CHAPTER XL 
A CONSERVATION POLICY IN THE PEOPLE'S INTEREST 

From the outset of his public career, Smith has been fight- 
ing the people's battle for the ownership and control of 
natural resources. He was particularly concerned regarding 
conservation of water powers. In the Legislature he was 
known always to advocate public development. We have 
seen how in the Constitutional Convention he prevented the 
interests from dominating the Conservation Commission by 
disqualifying for membership on it any person having a 
direct or indirect relation with hydro-electric enterprises. He 
succeeded also in making a policy of public development 
constitutionally possible. 

In his first message to the Legislature as Governor, Smith 
urged a definite policy on water power. 

Ever on guard against the exploitation of the State's 
water powers by private interests, he was quick to veto bills 
which prepared a soil for future harvests when governors 
or legislatures more friendly to such a program might be in 
power. 

Accompanying his veto of a bill creating a water power 
commission and conferring upon it "certain duties of in- 
vestigation as to the cost, transformation and transmission 
and distribution of electrical energy created by the water 
power of the State, the Governor explained at length that 
there had been plenty of committees and commissions which 
had collected data; what was needed was legislative action 
to empower the State to control its natural resources. 

(269) 



270 ALFRED E. SMITH 

After the close of the session of the 1919 Legislature, the 
Governor made pertinent references to the attitude of the 
Republican Assembly on the general and practical phases of 
water power development. To quote one : 

On Tuesday last I visited the city of Oswego. That city owns 
possible water power development on the Oswego river of one 
hundred thousand horse power, I am told, and I believe it to 
be the fact that the electric light monopoly in the city of Oswego 
has influence to stop that city from developing that water power. 
It was given to it by the State. The State erected the dam. All 
the preliminary arrangements were attended to and just as soon 
as the city began its development the electric light company got 
an injunction restraining them from using it on the ground that 
the city charter did not give to the city officials the power to do 
so. In the last session of the Legislature an attempt to pass a 
bill granting such power went to the Assembly and there went 
down to defeat. So that a handful of men owning monopoly privi- 
leges were able to push that city up against the wall. 

In his second message to the Legislature he again urged 
upon them to develop a definite water power policy. He said : 

Another year has passed and added further to our history the 
folly of permitting our great natural water resources to go unde- 
veloped. We are continuing to drag coal into the State for the 
purpose of generating electrical energy that could be brought 
into being by harnessing our great natural resources, and we 
sit by and permit this energy to run to waste. 

There are three classes of people interested in water power 
development The first class is the old-time reactionary indi- 
vidual who believes in private ownership and private develop- 
ment with a very small if any return to the State. The second 
class is made up of the men who believe in development by the 
State, with long leases to private individuals. The third class is 
composed of men who believe in ownership, development and 
operation by the State. If the people themselves are to get the 
full benefit of the development of their water power resources, 
it will have to be done in conformity with' the ideas held by the 



CONSERVATION POLICY 271 

third class. In every spot in this State where by our past policy 
we have permitted private development, nobody has benefited 
but the individuals who have been lucky enough to secure the 
rights. 

Once more he thwarted an attempt of the power interests 
in a veto memorandum of a law permitting certain private 
individuals or corporations to use some of the water power 
of the State for hydro-electric energy. 

In the 1920 campaign against Judge Miller for the gov- 
ernorship, Smith carried his water power fight to Miller's 
home town of Syracuse and devoted a greater part of his 
speech in criticism of the Republican water power policy- 
friendly to private development and in justification of his 
own position. 

In the 1923 election the people of the State rejected by 
an overwhelming vote, a proposal to amend the constitution 
permitting the development of water power in the Adiron- 
dacks by private corporations, the building of transmission 
lines for a superpower system through the Adirondack Park, 
and legalizing the unconstitutional development of water 
power in this park under the guise of river regulation. Only 
two counties out of the sixty-two in the State voted in favor 
of this amendment. 

What was known as Adirondack! power grab (one link in 
a chain of grabs which the private water-power interests 
of the State were forging) was frustrated. The people had 
spoken by an overwhelming vote against the policy of private 
development and in favor of public ownership, control and 
development 

Governor Smith was heartened by this expression of popu- 
lar sentiment. He submitted to the Legislature of 1924 a 
practical plan of water power development. It applied the 
principles of public ownership and operation. It also en- 
abled those privately interested in water power development 
to co-operate with the State (under its control of water 



272 ALFRED E. SMITH 

powers at their source) for a reasonable return on any 
capital invested, but no more. 

During the years the Governor fought the private interests 
by an out and out public operation policy, it was difficult to 
meet the argument that public operation required a bond 
issue amounting to many hundred millions for its realization. 
The State either could not afford it or would not attempt it. 
But with his experience on the Port Authority and with his 
knowledge of its organization and legal powers, he recom- 
mended a solution for this complicated problem. It met the 
dilemma of either private water power exploitation or im- 
practical public development. 

The Republican Assembly leaders were taken by surprise. 
Here was a solution based on knowledge, and in the opinion 
of practical men it was a sound financial proposition. Ob- 
jection wass soon made by advocates of private development 
that the bonds of the Water Power Authority would not 
be marketable ! Everyone familiar with the Niagara River 
project with its possibilities of a 500,000 horse power de- 
velopment (and the demand for power as soon as it was 
ready for transmission) knew that the power could be sold 
as soon as it was generated. 

The Republican Assembly ostensibly accepted the bill 
embodying the recommendation of the Governor, but refused 
to embody in any bill the principle that the ownership of 
the State's water power can never be alienated from the 
people. 

They were willing to survey and to investigate, even to 
create a Power Authority. They were not willing to commit 
themselves to the principle of public ownership and control. 

Moreover, they were unwilling to abolish the State Water 
Power Commission created by a Republican Legislature in 
1921 and approved by a Republican Governor and to central- 
ize the functions relating to water power in the proposed 



CONSERVATION POLICY 273 

water power authority. The State Water Power Commission 
had the power to grant licenses for private developments. 
Two applications for licenses were pending before it. But 
for Governor Smith's resistance, valuable power grants 
would have been, leased to private companies. 

The Democratic Senate passed the Governor's bill and the 
Assembly enacted its own legislation, leaving out permanent 
State ownership. A deadlock ensued. The Governor made 
a final plea to the Assembly for his legislation in the last 
hours of the session, but the water power interests retained 
their grip and it did not pass. 



CHAPTER XLI 
REVIVING THE PORT OF NEW YORK 

The first task of the Port Authority, created by the legis- 
latures of the States of New York and New Jersey was to 
work out a physical plan of developing the Port of New 
York. This plan was to be presented to the legislatures of 
both states. Commissioner Alfred E. Smith contributed 
greatly to this task. When the plan was ready for submis- 
sion to the Legislature of 1921, he fought one of the hardest 
battles of his career for its adoption. 

He was opposed by powerful railroad interests. They 
clung to the policy of competition for terminal business. They 
opposed the Port Authority's recommendation of unified 
terminal operation, which they contended would reduce the 
cost of transportation to the shipper, and would be reflected 
in lower costs to the consumer. 

Strenuously opposed to the plan, was the government of 
the city of New York. Democratic officials declared that 
the plan favored the New Jersey side of the port. They 
submitted a counter-plan involving a freight and passenger 
tunnel running from Staten Island to South Brooklyn and 
connecting with the trunk lines in New Jersey, and located 
the principal belt line connection far out behind the 'New 
Jersey hills. 

Against the powerful opposition of the railroads and the 
parochial point of view of the city government, Smith ap- 
peared at a hearing in Albany on January 30, 1922. It was 

(274) 



PORT OF NEW YORK . 275 

held in the Assembly Chamber, which was packed to the 
doors. 

To Smith it was a business question of supreme import- 
ance, and politics had nothing to do with it. He sat in his 
old seat in the Assembly ,- which brought memories of many 
past debatesi he had led. When he arose to speak from that 
seat, dangling his watch chain, a familiar gesture, he was 
warmly greeted. Smith's speech at that hearing made the 
plan clear to the simplest intelligence. His sense of humor 
threw light on his subject and brought the laugh of 
recognition. 

This speech along with all of Mr. Smith's speeches on 
other concrete measures, such as water power development, 
child welfare, widows 7 pensions, night work for women, 
labor laws, the executive budget, prison ref orm > must fill the 
reader with amazement over his tremendous and accurate 
information. It is as though he took about with him an 
invisible prompter who poured all the facts and dates and 
names and incidents into his 'ear as he spoke, Never is he 
at a loss. That is his great weapon against his opponents 
his absolute knowledge of any subject that arises for discus- 
sion. It is not alone his retentive memory that must arouse 
astonishment; 'even more miraculous seems the immense 
amount of research implied in each speech, 

For instance, this speech on Port Authority (too long to 
quote) is packed with all the data of the case covering the 
period of the past five years during which the case had 
become active. 

At Albany he talked to the man in the street in the col- 
loquial, spontaneous, man-to-man fashion characteristic of Al 
Smith in a fighting speech. The address delivered on March 
18, 1922, before the Lawyers' Club covered the ground in a 
manner more appealing to the trained legal minds who heard 
it. He got the same response from both types of audience*. 



CHAPTER XLII 
THE QUALITY OF SMITH'S AMERICANISM 

The celebration of Independence Day has been a hallowed 
custom of the Tammany Society. The sachems and mem- 
bers gather together in their historic hall on Fourteenth 
Street and there listen annually to a reading of the Declara- 
tion of Independence. A set oration, historically known as 
the long talk, is delivered by an invited orator, usually a dis- 
tinguished Democrat of national reputation. Following him 
short talks are given. 

On July 4, 1923, Governor Smith spoke. 

After outlining the historic meaning of the Declaration of 
Independence and its effects both upon this country and the 
rest of the world, he concluded : 

Now, after 147 years of experience in democratic constitu- 
tional government we note a tendency among progressives in all 
parties to go back to the principles of Jeffersonian democracy as 
a refuge from the oppression of privilege. What is the demand 
to bring the Government back to the people but a demand for 
return to the principles of democracy as set forth in the Dec- 
laration of Independence. Nothing is clearer today than that 
the only type of government which is stable and lasting in the 
long run is that which receives its sanction from the majority 
of the people. 

I could spend a great deal of time outlining to you how suc- 
cessful we have been as a nation during the comparatively short 
period of our national life. When our Constitution was adopted 
in 1789 the population of the whole country was less than half 

(276) 



SMITH'S AMERICANISM 277 

of the population of Greater New York today. It can all be 
summed up in a few words when we say that America today leads 
the world, and that it is the commercial and financial center of 
the universe, and each recurring anniversary of that memorable 
day in our history should bring home to us the lesson of our 
duty. 

Liberty is an elusive thing. It is something that must be 
guarded and protected. An eternal vigilance is the price of our 
soul's salvation, so it is the price of our liberty. Let us, therefore, 
on this day, as a lesson and an inspiration to the youth of the 
country, once more proclaim our allegiance to the immortal docu- 
ment to the Constitution that sustains it, and to the flag that 
represents them both, and when we retire to our homes let us 
thank God for his watchful care of our country since its dis- 
covery, and let us pray for his blessing upon our future, asking 
it all in the name of his Divine Son who gave the world the 
greatest lesson and example of the equality of men. 

Here is how; he responded to a request made by the New 
York World for a statement to be published on Armistice 
Day in 1923 : 

Though the armistice was signed five years ago today, the war 
in Europe is not over. It is not over because the seeds of war are 
in the governments and in the hearts and minds of many of the 
people who fought the war. The historic hates and suspicions 
which led to the greatest man-made carnage in history have not 
yet been obliterated. As long as we think and feel in terms of 
war we cannot have peace. 

Why have the conferences at Geneva, at Cannes and other 
places resulted in futile talk? The answer is that as long as 
people do not think and feel in terms of reconciliation, states- 
manship and diplomacy are as insubstantial as air. 

Europe of today is the victim of the war mind. The hope of 
civilization is in the birth of a new statesmanship, which recog- 
nizes that hate is a barren and destructive emotion and that good 
wilt is not a sentimental feeling but a positive constructive force. 

The statesmanship which Europe sorely needs must emanate 
from hearts filled with a desire for unity and reconciliation. 



278 ALFRED E. SMITH 

The history of our own country is a shining example of the 
fruits of such a policy. It took a bloody civil war to maintain 
the Union. But this precious unity was actually achieved by the 
spirit of reconciliation so beautifully expressed by Abraham 
Lincoln, "With malice toward none, with charity for all . . , let 
us finish the work we are in ... to bind up the Nation's wounds." 

Such a statesmanship could also achieve for Europe a unity 
amidst variety, a federation of Europe and not the prostrate body 
politic it now presents. 



CHAPTER XLIII 

AN EVEN KEEL 
THE RETURN TO FUNDAMENTAL AMERICANISM 

The second year of Governor Smith's administration 
brought to a climax the problem of handling the revolutionary 
elements. Their efforts were stifled by a vigorous policy of 
government repression, sanctioned in large part by public 
opinion reflecting the will to victory during the war, and 
recognizing the necessity of dealing forcibly with any prop- 
aganda which tended to weaken national unity and lend aid 
and comfort to the enemy. War is an emergency, and good 
sense dictates that under war conditions emergency measures 
limiting our freedom may be necessary to achieve results. 
Unfortunately, such temporary lapses from democratic prac- 
tice are often accepted by many as normal procedure when 
war is over and peace has set in. 

In peace, the cause of ordered liberty under law which is 
the essence of American institutions is endangered and 
jeopardized by the method of violence to fight violence 

The war unsettled not only the things but also the minds 
of men. A period of hysteria set in which sanctioned official 
acts violative of the very principles of freedom under law, of 
the rights of individuals against the clamor of the mob, of 
the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free assembly 
and even of representative government, principles which are 
the warp and woof of any Democracy worthy of the name. 

New York State was not free of this hysteria. It was 

(279) 



280 ALFRED E. SMITH 

stimulated by a prejudice against aliens. Some of these, 
though unrepresentative of the mass of foreigners, were 
doubtless leaders of Bolshevik and extreme radical groups 
organized to undermine and destroy our government by con- 
spiracy and force. When passions are hot, the true leader 
is he who can keep his head and navigate on an even keel. 
In such an atmosphere Smith used healing words in his mes- 
sage to the Legislature. When referring to the Bolshevism 
and unbalanced radicalism, he said : 

We are a government by the will of the majority. No other 
kind of rule is democracy to an American. We ascertain that 
will by free public discussion. Such rights as that of free speech 
and free assemblage are fundamental, for without them govern- 
ment by enlightened will of the majority is not possible. 

During the war in the interest of national unity and for our 
common defense against our enemy, every sane American relin- 
quished some of his freedom. 

Now that the war is over, we should return to a normal state of 
mind, and keep our balance, and an even keel. 

The anarchist, the violent revolutionist, the underminer of our 
institutions should receive no mercy at our hands. He does not 
belong here. But while we should be relentless toward this type 
of distorted personalities, we must not confuse them with the 
hundreds of thousands of our brothers of alien stock, who have 
made America their home and who have helped to build up our 
great nation by self-respecting labor and their citizenship. Their 
sons have added luster to our name in the battlefields of the great 
war- Let us remember them now and let us resent as sinister and 
as a new expression of the old knownothing spirit, the attaching 
to all citizens of foreign birth the stigma of radicalism. 

I express myself thus feelingly because I know them. I have 
lived among them. Many of them have been my friends and 
neighbors. The discontent among them is often the natural home- 
sickness of men and women who do not yet feel at home in their 
new surroundings. Some of it is due to an exploitation of their 
helplessness and ignorance. Such discontent every red-blooded 



FUNDAMENTAL AMERICANISM 281 

man respects. It is different from the destructive spirit of revolu- 
tionary firebrands. It should be met by a constructive movement 
of Americanization, which will make them understand and respect 
the ideals of America and make them feel at home. The State 
needs and welcomes to its citizenship the best that the Old World 
has to give us. 

Appreciating as I do the fundamental wholesorneness of the 
citizen of foreign birth, I am mindful of the danger of spreading 
the infection of revolutionary propaganda among them. We 
must immunize them against the infection, by approaching the 
problem in a spirit of sanity, a thorough and sympathetic under- 
standing and a fearless and courageous meeting of their needs. 
This is the fundamental basis of any Americanization program. 

In this connection we must recognize the necessity of a sound 
program of social, industrial 'and governmental betterment, which 
will remove those causes of discontent which true Americanism 
requires should be eradicated. 

The spirit of these words did not animate the Republican 
Legislature. At the opening of the session a movement was 
s'et on foot and soon consummated to oust five Socialist 
Assemblymen elected from New York City. Thus were 
created five vacancies in the assembly, denying the consti- 
tuencies concerned representation achieved through a lawful 
'election. The expelled Assemblymen were tried on charges 
that they were hostile to our form of government and advo- 
cated principles subversive of our institutions and designed 
to overthrow them by force. 

Ousting the Socialist Assemblymen first and trying them 
afterwards aroused a storm of opposition from many quar- 
ters. The Bar Association representing the distinguished 
members of the New York Bar appointed a committee and 
submitted a brief protesting against such action as vlolative 
of the first principles of fair procedure under our law and 
conceptions of justice and representative government. Gov- 
ernor Smith, though he appreciated the status of the Legisla- 



282 ALFRED E. SMITH 

ture as a co-ordinate branch of the government, was never- 
theless impelled to issue the following statement on the ac- 
tion of the Assembly in depriving of their seats five mem- 
bers of the Socialist party. 

Although I am unalterably opposed to the fundamental prin- 
ciples of the Socialist party, it is inconceivable that a minority 
party duly constituted and legally organized, should be deprived 
of its right to expression so long as it has honestly, by lawful 
methods of education and propaganda, succeeded in securing rep- 
resentation, unless the chosen representatives are unfit as indi- 
viduals. 

It is true that the Assembly has arbitrary power to determine 
the qualifications of its membership; but where arbitrary power 
exists it should be exercised with care and discretion because 
from it there is no appeal. 

If the majority party at present in control of the Assembly 
possesses information that leads them to believe that these men 
are hostile to our form of Government and would overthrow it 
by processes subversive of law and order, these charges in due 
form should have been presented to the Legislature and these 
men tried by orderly processes. Meanwhile, presumably innocent, 
until proven guilty, they should have been allowed to retain their 
seats. 

Our faith in American democracy is confirmed not only by 
its results, but by its methods and organs of free expression. 
They are the safeguards against revolution. To discard the 
methods of representative government leads to the misdeeds of 
the very extremists we denounce and serves to increase the 
number of the enemies of orderly free government. 

In the face of protests from such lawyers as Ex-Governor 
Hughes, civic organizations and organs of liberal opinion, 
the trial went on for months. The report of the committee 
was condemnatory of the five Assemblymen. One outcome of 
the trial was the appointment of a joint legislative committee 
under the chairmanship of Senator Lusk, to investigate revo- 
lutionary radicalism. The committee worked feverishly 



FUNDAMENTAL AMERICANISM 283 

(sometimes with the aid of detectives) to unearth evidence 
of conspiracies and of direct and indirect propaganda of a 
violent and revolutionary character. A mass of testimony 
and voluminous volumes were published containing in part 
documents of historic value to the student of radical move- 
ments but also conclusions which were born of hysteria and 
apprehension. 

The committee made some constructive recommendations 
of value in the direction of true Americanization. Unfor- 
tunately its members showed a distorted perspective by the 
emphasis laid on detecting disloyal elements. With the zeal 
of medieval heresy hunters, the committee recommended 
legislation to aid in detecting the conspirators and in testing 
the loyalty of teachers as well as regulating the registration 
of schools and school courses to prevent the young from 
being corrupted by reds and radicals. 

Three bills intended to carry out these purposes were 
passed by the Legislature. The Governor vetoed them. 
His accompanying memoranda clarified the atmosphere. 
They stemmed a dangerous tendency which under the guise 
of patriotism gave power to secret police and to administra- 
tive boards characteristic of Czarist Russia and alien to 
Anglo-Saxon conceptions of justice under law and the rights 
of individuals under American institutions. 

In his veto of the bill dealing with State prosecution for 
criminal anarchy and providing special facilities for its detec- 
tion the Governor said: 

The traditional abhorrence of a free people of all kinds of 
spies and secret police is valid and justified and calls for the dis- 
approval of this measure. 

The bill is, therefore, disapproved 

He also vetoed a bill requiring a loyalty test for teachers. 
Opposition to any presently -established institution, no matter 



284 ALFRED E. SMITH 

how intelligent, conscientious or disinterested this opposition 
might be, would be sufficient to disqualify the teacher. Every 
teacher would be at the mercy of his colleagues, his pupils and 
their parents, and any word or act of the teacher might be held 
by the Commissioner to indicate an attitude hostile to some of 
"the institutions of the United States" or of the State. 

The bill unjustly discriminates against teachers as a class. It 
deprives teachers of their right to freedom of thought, it limits 
the teaching staff of the public schools to those only who lack 
the courage or the mind to exercise their legal right to just 
criticism of existing institutions. The bill confers upon the 
Commissioner of Education a power of interference with freedom 
of opinion which strikes at the foundations of Democratic edu- 
cation. 

The bill is, therefore, disapproved. 

In his veto of the bill licensing schools and supervising 
school courses to prevent the spread of un-American 
doctrine, he used these forceful words : 

The clash of conflicting opinions, from which progress arises 
more than from any other source, would be abolished by law, 
tolerance and intellectual freedom destroyed and an intellectual 
autocracy imposed upon the people. The destruction of the 
German Empire, through the blind inability of its people to 
understand the spirit of free institutions, is a striking example 
of the ruin that may ensue from forcing into a narrow, govern- 
mental mold the processes of education. The proponents of these 
bills urge that they are essential to the protection of the com- 
munity against radical opinion. I might rest upon the saying 
of Benjamin Franklin that 'They that can give up essential 
liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither lib- 
erty nor safety." But I go further the safety of this govern- 
ment and its institutions rests upon the reasoned and devoted 
loyalty of its people. It does not need for its defense a system 
of intellectual tyranny which, in the endeavor to choke error 
by force, must of necessity crush truth as well. The profound 



FUNDAMENTAL AMERICANISM 285 

sanity of the American people has been demonstrated in many 
a crisis, and I, for one, do not believe that governmental dic- 
tation of what may and may not be taught is necessary to 
achieve a continuance of the patriotism of our citizenship, and 
its loyal support of the government and its institutions. 
The bill is, therefore, disapproved. 

After destroying attempts to pass statutes in violation of 
time-honored principles of free government, the Governor 
proceeded to repair the damage done to our system of repre- 
sentative government by issuing a proclamation on Septem- 
ber 16, 1920, calling for special elections in the five As- 
sembly districts that would otherwise be unrepresented at 
the extraordinary session of the Legislature which he called 
at that time for housing relief for New York City. "I am 
unable," he said, "to bring myself to the undemocratic way 
of thinking that five large Assembly districts, containing a 
population of approximately 250,000 people in the counties, 
wherein the unrepresented Assembly districts He, and vitally 
affected by the housing conditions, should be without repre- 
sentation in[ the Assembly." 

Smith struck one more blow at the war spirit when upon 
his re-election in 1922, he pardoned Jim Larkin, convicted 
under the Criminal Anarchy statute of the State during the 
war. Larkin's revolutionary radicalism was abhorrent to 
him. Toward his opinions, which tended to weaken the 
power of our government in its war against her enemy, he 
shared the verdict of the courts and juries. But the war was 
over, for three years, and he recognized that Larkin was a 
political prisoner. In a statement setting forth his reasons 
for the pardon of Jim Larkin, the Governor signalized a 
return to spiritual normalcy which recognized the difference 
between common crimes and political war crimes in time of 
peace which should not be tolerated under American institu- 
tions. Later, for the same reasons, he pardoned the remain- 
ing political prisoners held by the State. 



CHAPTER XLIV 
THE HEARST CONTROVERSY 

Geniality is one of Smith's attractive traits. It is catching. 
It accounts in part for the love he inspires among his fellows. 
When he directs his wit or his satire against an opponent it 
is not poisoned by any stinging bitterness. He tries to 
understand another's point of view. When another differs 
honestly Smith respects him, especially if he be a fair fighter. 
The love and the admiration he won from his political foes 
is a matter of public record. His friendship for Ed. Mer- 
ritt, the late Senator Brackett and for other leading Re- 
publicans, was deep and abiding.. 

Smith is slow to anger. He has a pois'e and a self-control 
of which his humor is a positively artistic expression. Anger 
he recognizes as undignified and humanly wasteful. Smith 
is seldom angry in a personal sense. Only a long attrition 
of unjust attacks reflecting upon his motives and unrelated 
to the merits of his policies would arouse his indignation. 
Even then he would ignore it unless he considered it impor- 
tant for the welfare of the State or for the vindication of 
principle. 

Without entering here into* a discussion of Mr. Hearst's 
motives, it should be noted that his papers opened up a fire 
of attack against Smith. These attacks were vitriolic even 
for Hearst. Every resource and every talent a millionaire 
newspaper publisher can buy were used against Smith. He 

(286) 



THE HEARST CONTROVERSY 287 

was pilloried in editorials. He was caricatured in cartoons. 
He was insincere; he was a boss-ridden politician; he was 
pictured as a friend of the Milk Trust Barons, who shook 
hands with their servant and greeted him with the insidious 
slogan : "You know me, Al 1" 

One of the ostensible reasons for this attack was the Gov- 
ernor's alleged neglect of the poor who were then complain- 
ing about the high price of milk. The price referred to was 
that charged by the large distributing companies. 

The Governor's efforts to bring about the reduction in the 
price of milk were well known. That he was powerless to 
regulate the price of milk under existing law was also com- 
mon knowledge* That the statutes bound him hand and foot 
and kept him from controlling the only department which 
could give him any information or co-operation in meeting 
the problem was a fact to which he constantly drew atten- 
tion. The Department of Farms and Markets of the State 
was controlled by a Republican Legislature. Its personnel 
was not under the Governor's jurisdiction. Despite the Gov- 
ernor's efforts to obtain relief by the appointment of Fair 
Price Milk Committees , the flaring headlines in the Hearst 
papers continued. For months he was silent His friends 
pressed him to reply. Their efforts were futile, 

Then something 1 snapped. It broke when Hearst accused 
Smith, in papers Which circulated among his people in the 
tenements, of killing their babies by his subservience to the 
Milk Trust. 

To charge him with the death of the children he loved and 
of bringing sorrow to the people from whom he sprang was 
more than he could bear. In addition to the unusual cares 
of his office in the troublous post-war period, he was at that 
time suffering intensely from the strain occasioned by the 
critical illness of his mother, whom he loved as only a widow's 
son can love, and only as a son whose thought of her was 



288 ALFRED E. SMITH 

ever his first concern. The Hearst attacks literally struck 
home, for in her delirium his mother was heard to say : "My 
son did not kill the babies." 

Then he spoke. His ringing words reverberated through- 
out the country. He challenged Mr. Hearst to meet him 
face to face and make good his charges, 

He invited the freest exposure of his every act both private 
and public. He challenged Hearst to debate the issue of milk 
and evefy other issue between them in an open meeting. 

On October 29, 1919, a mass-meeting under the auspices 
of a representative citizens' committee was held in Carnegie 
Hall. The Governor attended. There he expected to debate 
with Mr. Hearst, who in a scurrilous communication refused 
to meet him, 

Carnegie Hall was packed to the doors. The city was 
tense with excitement. Every wise politician knew that this 
meeting meant an irreparable break with Hearst, who had 
combined with Tammany Hall to elect the local administra- 
tion. It meant that Al Smith had burnt his bridges behind 
him and that for the rest of his political career he determined 
to fight the influence of one of the richest of men wielded 
through the ownership of a chain of newspapers extending 
from New York to California. 

Smith is too realistic a politician to underestimate the evil 
which the abuse of such power can do. He also realized that 
when money is pitted against private honor and public in- 
tegrity, the right would in the long run prevail. 

No meeting within the recollection of old New Yorkers 
was charged with so much dramatic dynamite, 

Al Smith was always popular. Now he became a symbol 
of moral qualities that transcend mere partisan approval, and 
in every subsequent fight with Hearst the people of New 
York State showed where they stood in unprecedented 
majorities. 



THE HEARST CONTROVERSY 289 

"I am going to ask," he began as he faced that audience in 
Carnegie Hall, "for your absolute silence and attention." 
He got them, for his words were arresting : 

I feel that I am here tonight upon a mission as important not 
only to myself, but to this city, to this State and to this country, 
as I could possibly perform. Of course, I am alone. (A voice: 
"He hasn't got the nerve to face you, Al") I don't know 
whether the chairman or the committee expected that I would 
be alone, but I knew that I would, and I felt that I would, 
because I know the man to whom I issued the challenge, and 
I know that he has not got a drop of good, clean, pure red 
blood in his whole body. And I know the color of his liver, 
and it is whiter, if that could be, than the driven snow. 

The chairman did not read his letter of declination, and I do 
not intend to read it all because I have too much better material. 

But I just want to pay my respects to certain passages in it. 
Running true to form, characteristic of the man and of the 
publications that he owns, his letter of refusal to the chairman 
of this committee is not a truthful one. At this state of the 
proceedings the only reason that he can put upon paper, over 
his own signature, why he believes I have betrayed my public 
trust, is that we have not got municipal ownership. 

Why, the man is entirely lacking in any understanding of 
the situation. He doesn't spend any time in New York, to 
know what is going on here; he is in Palm Beach all winter, 
and in California all summer. He probably never read my 
message to the Legislature. He never read the special message 
that I sent in. He has never read a line of the speeches that 
I have made since my entry into* public office, on this particular 
question. If he did, he couldn't possibly write that letter. 

He said to the chairman, "You need keep no tickets lor any 
friend of mine." I want to say to the chairman that if he kept 
tickets for friends of Hearst, he could keep them in his ear. 

And with a great show of brightness that hit upon his mind 
on the moment, he advised the committee that they could hire 
Carnegie Hall on a long-term lease. Now, my answer to that 
is this : If he wants to criticize me or any other public official 



290 ALFRED E. SMITH 

in this country, honestly, fairly and justly, nobody will raise 
a finger against him; but if, on the other hand, he wants to 
vilify them, slander them and lie about them, it is probably well 
for the citizenship of this country and this city that they take 
a permanent lease upon this hall not so much to provide a 
f 01 urn for the defense of our public men, but to promote the 
general public welfare ; and he knows what I mean by that. So 
much for his answer. 

In his morning edition of the American he has a picture of me 
(holding up copy of American") with a laboring man caitooned 
on one side, and a mother and her children on the other. The 
heading of it is, "Answer these people, Governor Smith." I 
want to say to this audience that I was anxious to bring him 
on this platform so that he could answer to these people. They 
need no answer from me, and any of them that are in doubt 
about it, before I am finished, I will make it my business to see 
that they need no answer from me. They need it from him. 
They need it from the man that is exploiting them. They need 
it from the man that is sowing in their minds and in their hearts 
the seeds of disorder and discontent, to suit his own selfish 
purposes. 

Now, this afternoon I said to myself, "When I get on the stage 
to-inght I will try and imagine I am a lawyer, and I will try and 
imagine that I have a case to make out before the jury; and I 
will have in mind that every jury, in a case of circumstantial 
evidence, is keen to know the motive. That establishes over 
fifty per cent of the case if you can show the motive/' IP order 
to show the motive of this attack upon me I propose to take" 
this audience by the hand and walk them through my administra- 
tion since the first of January up to to-night, and I will put in 
your minds as quickly as it can be done the motive for this 
attack upon me. 

On the first of January, when I went into office, I appointed 
as my legal adviser, Judge Joseph A. Kellogg, of Glens Falls, 
In all of the State of New York a cleaner and abler man could 
not be found for that position, and when I went to him and 
asked him to accept it, he was reluctant about it, I asked him 
to do it for me, to help me, and he finally consented. At the 



THE HEARST CONTROVERSY 291 

time of his appointment not a word was said by either the 
American or the Journal. On the other hand, the newspapers 
that circulate throughout central New York and know him well 
gave me the highest commendation for the selection that I was 
able to make for counsel. 

On the ninth of January there was an acute situation in the 
city here because of a strike between the farmers on the one 
hand and the distributors of milk on the other. I was appealed 
to. Under the law of the State I had no power to command 
any man to do anything that I thought he ought to do, but I 
undertook to settle the strike. I sent for the representatives of 
the farmers on the one side, the representatives of the distrib- 
utors on the other, and I asked some citizens to sit in and talk 
with them to the end that we might end the strike. In that 
I was successful, for the milk began to flow into New York, 
and the committee so arranged it that there was to be no increase 
in the price to the consumer. That is what happened on the 
ninth of January, and that is the committee that is so grossly 
and SO 1 gravely misrepresented in the Hearst -newspapers as 
being a committe made up of the representatives of the trust 

How else could you settle a strike of that kind? How did 
the Federal government attempt to settle the harbor strike or 
the longshoremen's strike? Did they appoint doctors and lawyers 
on the committee, or college professors ? Why, not at all. They 
appointed the representatives of the strikers. And that is 
exactly what I did, and that fact has been distorted and turned 
around until it is a mass of lies, not understandable to anybody, 
only to the man that concocts them, for he has the hidden motive 
and the hidden purpose in the back of his head. Everything 
went along all right until the twenty-fifth of March, when we 
had the parade of the Twenty-seventh Division. Before that 
parade, Mr. Hearst, through another party, not directly, but 
through another party, made a request of me that I denied. 
I denied it because I did not think, as Governor of this State, 
in honor I could do it. Through another party, Mr. Hearst 
asked me for an appointment for a friend of his. I made up my 
mind that the appointee should be a woman, to a State com- 



292 ALFRED E. SMITH 

mission, and I selected a woman from the western part of the 
State. And that disappointed him. Ten days after that watch 
the circumstantial case, and follow me along with it now, while 
I put it all together and show you the motive fen days after 
that, the first editorial appears in the New York American. It 
does not chastise me. It is a kindly editorial. It is one of 
those editorials of warning. It says, "The test of the Governor 
is now at hand. Will he fail?" It quotes a statement that I 
made upon the adjournment of the Legislature, criticizing them 
for failing to pass the Welfare bill that I recommended in my 
first annual message. And then it follows on by saying, "Those 
are nice words, Governor, but the people don't go by words; 
they go by deeds. Why did you appoint Judge Kellogg a Public 
Service Commissioner ?" He was all right on the first of January, 
but after Mr. Hearst suffered his disappointment because he felt 
that he could not call upon me to do that which I did not think 
was right, he found fault with Kellogg and used that familiar 
expression of his, "A tool of the corporations," or something 
to that effect. 

At the bottom of it his editorial writer wrote this : "The people 
hate a trimmer and a traitor, a backer and a filler, a temporizer 
and a compromiser. No Democrat has ever yet succeeded in 
that way." 

Now, I hold that the man that wrote that had Hearst himself 
in his mind, because he fills that bill to a T. It cannot be made 
to apply to me because I have succeeded. 

Now that, you know, was like saying, "Look out now, you 
have not been all right up to date; you know what we have got 
here; be careful of yourself." The warning was issued on the 
twenty-fifth of April, and it looked to me like the warning was 
paving the way for something else that was going to happen; 
because around that time it was whispered around that a judge 
of the Supreme Court, sitting in the Appellate Division, was 
about to resign, and the little warning was intended to let the 
Governor know that he must not slip up on that one. So accord- 
ingly, on the thirtieth of April, and before the resignation is 
sent to the Governor, I receive this letter : 



THE HEARST CONTROVERSY 293 

MY DEAR GOVERNOR: I understand that Supreme Court 
Justice- Clarence J. Shearn has resigned his office, to take 
effect May the first. As one of the friends and admirers 
of Register James A. Donegan, may I not take the liberty 
of suggesting to you his name for consideration when this 
matter is before you for decision? James A. Donegan is 
the chairman of the Independence League Party, and the 
party associate of Justice Shearn, whom he succeeded as 
chairman of the League. He has been a resident of New 
York for many years and I believe you have known him 
personally for a long period. His qualifications are admir- 
able; a well-known lawyer, of splendid character, sound 
judgment, personally popular among all classes, by virtue 
of his party affiliations, the logical successor to Justice 
Shearn. 

That is the explanation of the candidate. The last part of 
the letter says, "In addition to this his appointment would bring 
to our party a strong and positive ally, who through his news- 
papers has a large and independent following in this city." 

Now, that is signed by William F. Schneider, county clerk. 
In an interview in the New York World, the county clerk says 
that he did not speak to Mr. Hearst about it, that he did not 
speak to anybody about it, that he was animated by a feeling of 
generosity for his friend. 

Now, we have been brought up more or less in the atmosphere 
of practical politics; I have. It has been a great asset to me; 
it has helped me wonderfully. Mr. Donegan is the register 
of this county, elected for a four-year term, nominated at the 
request, I am given to understand, of the Independence League 
Party. Mr. Schneider did not want to take him out of that 
position and leave that appointment for me to make, unless 
somebody in authority in that party said so. 

Now, Mr. Schneider denies that his request came from Mr, 
Hearst. So far, so good. I have no quarrel with Mr. Schneider, 
but he is an elected constitutional officer in this county and he 
holds an important public office. Don't let him make that state- 
ment again, because if he does I will tell him the name of the 



294 ALFRED E. SMITH 

man that met him coming out of church last August in Belle 
Harbor and to whom he told that Mr. Hearst wanted him to 
come and see me about it. And he took a chance and wrote 
that letter; and with a great deal of feeling for me for fear 
something awful was going to happen to me, he expressed so 
much sorrow that "AF did not use a little more judgment; 
even if I did not give Donegan that place, I might have given 
him the next one. Now, let us see. We are up as far as the 
thirtieth of April on the Schneider letter. 

On the fifth of May Judge Shearn resigned. On the seventh 
day of May I appointed Robert L. Luce. Before I was elected, 
to audiences in this county, in Kings county and all over this 
State, I made the solemn promise that if I was elected I would 
be the Governor of this State, and I selected Robert L. Luce. 
The next day the attack opened. Watch the chain of circum- 
stances being gradually linked together. The day after the 
appointment of Luce, the attack opened upon Luce and upon 
n^yself. Whisperings were about the Capitol in Albany that 
"Hearst has a man on the Governor's trail; there is somebody 
up here to watch everything that happens/* Well, let's see how 
well that fellow watched it. On the tenth of May, two days 
later, there appears an attack against the Governor in the paper 
for appointing a man named Fluhrer a county judge in Orleans 
county. If I sat up all night and devoted the best thought that 
I could bring to my command, and looked all over the county 
of Orleans, it would be impossible for me to find a man better 
equipped, better trained, and who met with more popular general 
satisfaction in the appointment than the man that I appointed. 
But they were on his trail, ai)d that appointment was found 
fault with. 

It took him six days to find something else, and he actually 
found that I came down here to the Metropolitan Club, a club 
of wealthy men, and I went in and made a speech to them, I 
came there at the invitation of the Reconstruction Commission 
to see if it was possible to talk some money out of those wealthy 
fellows to build some houses in this city. That was. what I 
came to the Metropolitan Club for. But the attack had to be 
continued, and the paper said, "It was asserted that the Governor 




174 SOUTH STREET, THE HOUSE IN WHICH ALFRED E. SMITH 
WAS BORN 



THE HEARST CONTROVERSY 295 

came down to the Metropolitan Club to avoid a special session 
of the Legislature 'so that the State or the city would not put 
up the money to lend the builders." 

Now, that is supposed to be fed out to intelligent people. 
The presumption is that the man with brains, or the woman 
with brains, is going to read that; and there isn't a schoolboy 
or schoolgirl in New York that doesn't know that the public 
money of this State or this city, under our Constitution, can- 
not be loaned to 1 builders or to anybody else. It was well 
known that neither the city nor the State itself could build the 
buildings, that the Constitution limited the expenditure of pub- 
lic money to State or municipal purposes only. But they were 
hunting very hard for something. 

Then on that same day, there was a great discovery made. 
The Governor removed Judge Gary from the head of the 
Prison Commission, a man of singular ability, t man of busi- 
ness training, a man who gave his best thought to the State 
and the Governor removed him because he wanted to have his 
newly ' appointed friend spend all the money. The article jvas 
hardly written when word came down to the office, "Get that 
out of the paper as quick as you can. Gary went before a com- 
mittee of the Legislature and asked to have his commission 
abolished." Wait till I see if I made any special note on that 
(referring to paper). No. 

Now, everything was failing. The Governor t was still run- 
ning the State his own way, and doing what he thought was 
the right thing, and every attempted attack was lost to the pub- 
lic. It made no hit. So there was a little meeting, and the 
question was discussed as to what next to go at the Governor 
on. So they finally made their mind up that they would attack 
the Governor of the State because he refused to fijx the price 
of milk "in, New York at a lower figure than the people were 
charging for it. The attack went on practically through the 
summer. There was a little cessation of it immediately before 
the designations were made for the county ticket, but the day 
after the designations were made it began with renewed force 
and renewed vigor, and "Smith jvas responsible for the starva- 



296 ALFRED E. SMITH 

tion of the children in New York, because he refused to reduce 
the price of milk" This story will be rightly and properly told 
before I get finished, and when it is told it will constitute in 
itself the gravest abuse of the power of the press that was ever 
wielded by a newspaper or by an individual in the history of 
this country. 

Early in my remarks I said something about misleading the 
poor. I cannot think of a more contemptible man my power 
of imagination fails me to bring into my mind's eye a mare 
despicable man than the man that exploits the poor. Any man 
that leads you to believe that your lot in life is not all right, 
any man that conjures up for you a fancied grievance against 
your government or against the man at the head of it, to help 
himself, is breeding the seeds of anarchy and dissatisfaction 
more disastrous to the welfare of the community that it is used in 
than any other teaching that I can think of, because, at least, 
the jvildest anarchist, the most extreme Socialist, the wildest 
radical that you can think of may at least be sincere in his own 
heart. He may think that it is right when he preaches it But 
the man that preaches to the poor of this or of any other com- 
munity discontent and dissatisfaction to help himself and to 
make good his side of the argument and to destroy, as he said 
himself he would, the Governor of the State, is a man as low 
and as mean, as I can picture him. Throughout this whole 
campaign it L was attempted to fix in the minds of the people 
that there existed some place in the statute law of this State 
the power on the part of the Governor to fix the price^of milk, 
and in his desperation after the nomination on the county 
ticket, that was put into his paper in so many words, and he 
knows that it is not so. His lawyers know that it is not so, 
and I defy himand he has the best legal advic^ in this city, 
because he never utters a word until it is well scrutinized by an 
array of lawyers to keep him away from libel suits 1 defy 
him or his lawyers to challenge that cold, straightforward 
statement of mine, that no power exists in my hands or in the 
hands of any other agency of this government, to fix the price 
at which anybody can sell anything in this State, whether it 



THE HEARST CONTROVERSY 297 

is milk or shoes or clothing or houses or anything else. Run- 
ning all through this, by insinuation and, at times, in his 
desperation, by the direct declaration, the public have been 
given to believe that the Governor had some power of removal 
over the officials o the Department of Agriculture and the 
Department of Farms and Markets. He knows that J have not. 
Every one of his lawyers knows that I have not. Every man 
that writes on his newspapers knows that the Governor of the 
State has no power to remove any of the officials of the De- 
partment of Agriculture. He knows that they are all appointed 
by a Council of Farms and Markets, and he knows that the 
Council is elected by the Legislature, and in 1917 the agricul- 
tural, farming and market interests of this State, to the minutest 
detail, were removed away from the control of the Governor, 
in order that they maybe a regency, as are the educational 
affairs of the State. But all through his articles he has given 
the insinuation, that men in that department, unfit for office, 
could be removed by me, when he knew it to be not the 'fact 
I will make a confession to you. I do not want to be too hard 
on him. It isn't in my heart to hurt anybody. 

I -didn't yvant him to come on this platform for any other 
reason except to show him that he is a liar. 

Now, he flares out a headline that Smith appointed a repre- 
sentative of the milk trust to office. That is a He. 1 never 
appointed the man whose name he mentioned in the paper in 
my life, and every appointment that is made by the Governor, 
even* to a notary public, has to be recorded in a certain book 
that is public property in the Executive Chamber in Albany, 
and he can go up and look at that book. In a cold-blooded, 
deliberate way, he puts it on the front page of his paper that 
the Governor of the State appointed the attorney of the milk 
trust to a high important office, when no such thing happened. 
Neither was the man appointed by anybody appointed by me. 
What are the facts ? That is Hearst's story, and here are the 
facts : 

Immediately after the first of January the Superintendent 
of Prisons asked a committee of men and women to make a 



298 ALFRED E. SMITH 

survey of the prisons. He suggested to me that it would be a 
good thing, and I said, "Go ahead, if it will help the State and 
help the prison system,, I am for it; you get a good committee." 
He appointed Adolph Lewisohn, of New York, a K wonian named 
Helen Hartley Jenkins, and the Episcopal Bishop of New York, 
who died a short time ago, and two other men .whose names I 
do not know. I was informed afterwards that the lawyer 
spoken of was a friend of Mr, Lewisohn, the chairman of the 
committee appointed by Rattigan, and that Lewisohn asked him 
to sit in the preparation of some bills that are destined to 
better the conditions under which men have to live in the 
prisons of this State. Now, that is the fact. 

He flared out in his headline something that I had to pay 
attention to, that the New York Central was in league with 
the milk trust to curb the men that did not join the League; 
and he gave the details of a station in Dutchess county ,where 
the New York Central Railroad refused to 1 accept the milk. 
Iiqmediately upon seeing that story I became concerned, be- 
cause public service corporations like the New York Central 
are under strict regulation by the State, and discrimination 
against any shipper of any kind of a product is a violation of 
the Public Service Law; and I immediately sent for the dis- 
trict attorney of this county. The district attorney subpoenaed 
the men from up in Dutchess county, and after a thorough 
examination of the case I got a letter from the district attorney 
of which I will read but a few lines : 

"The explanation made by Mr, Grinnell is a clear and satis- 
factory one, from which it would appear that the New York 
Central Railroad t was not, nor was any of its representatives, a 
member of any conspiracy to prevent Mr. McArthur from 
shipping milk to this city." 

The fact of the matter was that no milk came from this sta- 
tion, in Duchess county to this city in thirteen years. Yet tihis 
man, in his newspaper, assailed the character of the leading 
citizens of this community, because they are interested in that 
great public service corporation, and leagued me up with them. 
Not a jvord of truth, not a syllable of truth in it. 



THE HEARST CONTROVERSY 299 

He speaks constantly through his papers of a letter that I 
received from the Mayor, begging me to do something. Why, 
the Mayor never sent me a letter about it. I never received 
such a letter. The Mayor won't say he sent it to me. 

There was a wonderfully great, flaring headline one day that 
the district attorney of this county was being interfered with 
by politicians, that public men in this county ;were standing in 
the way of prosecution for criminal acts by the milk distributors. 
Well, that is a rather serious situation. If there is any man, be 
he public or be he private, in this county or in any other county, 
who stands in the way of a criminal prosecution, he is an 
enemy to the county, he is an enemy to the State, and an enemy 
to the people. So I wanted to find out who he ;was, and I sent 
word to the district attorney, and the next morning I saw in 
all the rest of the newspapers a statement by the district 
attorney that he never uttered a ;word of it, and I think he 
remarked that he never saw a reporter from either the Ameri- 
can' or the Journal for the whole week before that. Is that the 
treatment to give to intelligent people make them think that 
there are people in this city here, or in his county, standing in 
the way of the orderly processes of justice? What kind of a 
seed does that breed inside of your mind? What kind of a 
thought does that put into your heart? What kind of an idea 
does that give you of the great underlying structure of democ- 
racy, the purity of the courts, of the grand jury and of the 
judiciary generally? What difference does it make how much 
misrepresentation there is if there is a Governor that has got 
to be destroyed because he is not amenable to orders ? 

Another flare headline, "Why don't the Governor bring the 
Milk Trust into Court and make them show up their books?" 
Why, the answer to that is just this. We have in this State, 
as the distinguished dead Mayor of the city one time said, a 
government of laws, not men. I am not a czar, I am not a 
despot; I am just a plain ordinary man, picked out by a majority 
of the people in this State to administer the law as it is in the 
statute books. I have not got the power to bring anybody into 
court I cannot even arrest you; a policeman can, but I can- 



300 ALFRED E. SMITH 

not. Absolutely ridiculous, but a play to the poor, and a play 
to the man that does not understand the orderly legal pro- 
cedure of the State. The man that does that, making you 
think that he is your friend, is the greatest enemy that you 
can find. 

Of course you all remember the harrowing details of all the 
babies that ;were dying in New York because the Governof 
did not reduce the price of milk. The fact is, and it is some- 
thing for which we can be thankful to Almighty God, that 
the infant mortality in this State and in this city in the last 
six months has been^ lower than at any other time in the whole 
history of the State. That is the fact. 

I think the most ridiculous headline I saw ,was, "The Gover- 
nor Interferes with the Prosecution of the Trust" This is the 
fact: I sent do^wn to the Criminal Courts building for Judge 
Swann and his assistant in the month of August, immediately 
after I impanelled the special grand jury to hear the criminal 
anarchy cases. I sent for Swann and I said, "Have you got 
any evidence against these distributors?" He said, "Yes." I 
said, "Go and bring it in before that special grand jury, or any 
other grand jury that you have got down there." He said, "I 
don't know whether the call is broad enough to comprehend 
milk. You called this grand jury into being for a certain spe- 
cific purpose." "Well," I said, "wait until I tell you something, 
Judge. If the call is not broad enough, I will broaden it this 
afternoon ; and I want to say this to you, I don't know, whether 
I have that power or not, if I have I will do it, and if I haven't 
I know that I have got the power to impanel another one, I 
jvill give you another jury." Swann went down and presented 
the evidence against the distributors of milk in this county. I 
wrote to him to find out what was the result, and I just take a 
small extract from his letter to save time: 

"I have presented all the evidence that I have been able to 
secure, but without direct evidence or a confession of guilt, I 
do not think the grand jury will indict" 

Now, there again just think of what that means, to have 
planted in the mind of a man or a woman that the Governor of 



THE HEARST CONTROVERSY 301 

this State yvould interfere through the district attorney o any 
county in the prosecution of anybody that committed a criminal 
act. Nobody could say it, no reasonable, normal, sane, sensible 
person could advance it, and no decent newspaper would ever 
print it 

You read, of course, how I saved some food adulterers from 
going to jail. That has been flared day after day, a copy of a 
letter from a former member of the legislature sent to me 
when I was Speaker of the Assembly you remember reading 
it. Here are the facts : While I was Speaker of the Assembly, 
a former member sent me a letter and in the letter said that h'e 
or another member had received notice of a violation, the vio- 
lation had not been committed by a woman, but by the man 
that sold the stuff to her. ;I never saw the letter. Why, a man 
that is Speaker of the Assembly of this State, that ;w,ould have 
time to read the letters that come to him it is a physical im- 
possibility. The letter was taken by one of my secretaries or 
one of my clerks, and sent over to the Department of Agricul- 
ture, and I never knew anything of it, and that is the last he 
heard of it. The records show that the guilty party was con- 
victed and paid the maximum fine. Now, that is the trutji 
about it What -sensible person would attempt for a minute 
to put the impression in the minds of the people of this State 
that food adulterers, purveyors of impure food, were to be pro- 
tected by anybody? But of course you have to have the Gov- 
ernor assassinated, and it had to be done. 

Of all the misrepresentation, of all the newspaper misrepre- 
sentation of anything that I ever heard of, was brought to my 
attention in this very recent tirade against me, that I vetoed a 
bill in the interests of the big packing concerns, Cudahy, Wilson 
and Swift. The man that was testifying on the stand testified 
that the bill about which he was talking was vetoed in 1918, the 
year before I was Governor; and the New York Eventing 
Journal cut and slashed at that man's testimony in such a way 
that it made that story read that I vetoed that bill. No sudh 
bill was ever presented to me, and no such bill passed the 
Legislature last year, and for the very good reason that, be- 



302 ALFRED E. SMITH 

tween the time that it was vetoed by my predecessor in office, 
the Attorney-General gave the Health Department an opinion 
to the effect that they had the right and the jurisdiction under 
the broad police power of the State to go into any storage ware- 
house, and they decided that they didn't need it. 

Now what I want to ask is: Is a newspaper, is the force 
behind a newspaper that will do< that, worthy to survive in a 
city that boasts throughout the United States that it is a believer 
in the great American spirit of fair play? (Cries of "No, 
No.") 

There is one thing that I would like to have clear in the 
minds of the audience, because it is clear in my miad, and 
that is, that I invite fair, just and honest criticism of my ad- 
ministration, in its every detail. I will go a step further and 
say that I .will be thankful, thankful to, and not resentful 
against, any individual or any newspaper in this State that 
will show me what is wrong .with my administration, 
because it means so much to me that it be right. When I 
went to Albany I .went there with the fixed determina- 
tion in my mind that never again would anybody be able tc raise 
their head up in this State and say that the man from lower 
New York that belonged to Tammany Hall could not run the 
State. And the strangest thing about it all that I want to call 
your attention to before it escapes my mind is the fact that nearly, 
I might say, every other newspaper in this State has spoken in 
commendation of my administration except the paper that 
belonged to the man that .wanted to tell me what I ought to do. 

But there is nothing remarkable about it, in the last analysis, 
nothing very remarkable about the assault upon me. Follow 
back the history of this man's newspapers since he came to 
this part of the country, and you will have to 1 read out of his 
newspapers this remarkable fact: That in this great democ- 
racy, in this land of the free and in this home of the brave, 
there has never been a man elected to office yet that has not 
been tainted in some way. Is that right or is it .wrong? (Cries : 
"Right") That is not a severe statement to make, because that 
is the truth. If the Hearst newspapers were the text books for 



THE HEARST CONTROVERSY 303 

the children of our schools, they would have to spell out of its 
every line that no man can be trusted in this country after he 
is put into public office; that no man thinks enough about it; 
no man has enough of regard for it; no man has enough of 
real Christian charity to do the thing right; no man that ever 
held great public office had enough of respect and regard for 
his mother and his wife and his children and his friend to be 
right in office. About that there can be no question, because no 
piiblic man in this State, from Groyer Cleveland right down to 
to-day has ever escaped this fellow. We all know that. The 
children on the street know it 

When the President of the United States returned from his 
speaking trip through the West, broken in health, after a long, 
hard siege standing at the White House, trying to keep this 
country headed in the right direction, giving the best that there 
was in him to America and what America stood for, expressing 
to this world in the greatest language that any man ever brought 
to his command the high ideals that inspired America when 
he returned to the White House and lay upon his back sick in 
bed, this part of the country had the satisfaction of reading in 
the New York Evening Journal that he betrayed the best inter- 
ests of America and turned her over to Europe for the presents 
that his wife got while they were abroad. Is there any doubt 
about that? What manner of man is it, and what manner of 
newspaper institution is it, in this country to-day that would 
plant that seed in the mind of anybody? Only to have it 
develop afterwards that the presents that were spelled into 
bribes for his betrayal of the country were about $250 worth 
of small trinkets that were given to him and her by the people 
that they met in the course of their travels through Europe. 

I do not come here in my capacity alone as a citizen of yotar 
country. I come here to-night as the Governor of your State. 
I come here to tell you that there is a condition of unrest 
throughout this whole country and in this State. I was called 
out of bed at an early hour this morning because of striking and 
rioting and murder that was being committed in one of the 
up-State cities. We passed through a hard period. We passed 



304 ALFRED E. SMITH 

through the unnatural period of wan Every boy and every 
girl knows that Almighty God never put people together in 
nations to have them destroy each other. It is an unnatural 
consequence and an unnatural condition, and from it must 
naturally grow unnatural children. And that spirit of unrest 
is throughout this land to-day, but I am one of the men that 
have supreme confidence in the good sense, in the hard common 
sense and in the good judgment of the American people to be 
able to weather any kind of a storm. Labor unrest will cur'e 
itself. We will attend to all of our internal problems. No 
appeal to American patriotism and American devotion to this 
country was ever lost on any American's ears. But I come 
here to-night to say that the utterances of these newspapers 
make it very difficult for the Governor to do it. That is the 
problem. I cannot be expected to have the influence I ought 
to. have in this State at this time. No more can the President 
of the United States expect to have the influence that he should 
have in the country at this time if a newspaper here in the 
populous city of New York is permitted to drag them down to 
serve the purposes of the owner of the paper. 

After my speech at the Women's Democratic League, when 
I returned to Albany, and before I left New York I had received 
from every part of this country upwards of 5,000 letters com- 
mending me for the stand that I had taken. I have been, unable 
to answer them. I will have to rely upon the statements being 
made in the press that it is impossible to answer all the letters 
that I received. Five thousand of them commending me; and 
I received one letter commending Hearst (Voice: "That's the 
odds") and let me read it to you: 

"You want to complain about W. R. Hearst I know that he 
is an anarchist, but he has one good thing, he exposes ycm 
grafters, all right. You don't need to complain ; you know that 
you have sold the public and their babies to the milk trust; you 
know you got your share of the $5,000,000 they made in nine 
months. What the hell do you care about the public? You're 
just the same as that Judas Wilson; he sold the whole jworld to 
England and tyranny, and you sold the public to the milk trust 



THE HEARST CONTROVERSY 305 

But you got your reward for it. The other fellow is dying 
already, and you'll get yours." 

No name signed to it, but it is bona fide. 

A VOICE What would you expect? 

GOVERNOR SMITH Well, I would not expect the name to 
be there. But there is the thing. Now, I would not have paid 
much attention to that letter, were it not for the fact that, as 
I read it over the second time, I find that it contains almost 
verbatim a number of headlines from the Hearst papers. Now, 
that is where that man got his idea, and that is where he got 
his inspiration, and that is his idea of this country and his 
treatment for the President or any other public official. 

Now, the editor said something in his letter of declination 
about crooked politicians. He has that letter very carefully 
worded, inspected by a well enforced corps of lawyers; but 
the veiled inference in it is that I am a crooked politician. I 
will give him another chance. Sixteen years I have been in 
elected public life in this State. I defy him to mention a 
crooked act that I ever performed, in public or in private life. 

Nobody that ever jvent to the Governor's office went there 
yvith a graver sense of the responsibility of that office than I 
did. What could there possibly be about me that I should be 
assailed in this reckless manner by this man? I have more 
reason probably than any man I will meet to-night to have a 
strong love and a strong devotion for this country, for this 
State and for this city. Look at what I have received at its 
hands: I left school and went to work before I jwas fifteen 
years of age. I worked hard, night and day; I worked honestly 
and conscientiously at every job that I was ever put at, until I 
went to the Governor's chair in Albany. What can it be? It 
has got to be jealousy, it has got to be envy, it has got to be 
hatred or it has to be something that nobody understands, that 
makes me come down here, into the city of New York, before 
this audience, and urge them to organize in this city to stay 
the danger that comes from these papers, to the end that the 
health, the welfare and the comfort of this people, of the people 
of this State, may be promoted, and we may get rid of this 
pestilence that walks in the darkness. 



CHAPTER XLV 
THE CLIMAX 

The career and the personality of Smith had long since 
captured the imagination o his own State. By the year 1920 
the significance of that career had sunk likewise into' the con- 
sciousness of the people of the entire country. It was neces- 
sary only for it to be pictured by a man of warm heart and 
gifted tongue. 

The New York delegates to the Democratic National Con- 
vention of 1920 determined to pay a compliment to their 
favorite son. That was why they placed him in nomination 
for the presidency. They had many another reason to do so. 
The conjuncture was ideal as material for drama and 
eloquence. New York had the man, Al Smith. She had the 
orator, Bourke Cockran. He loved Al Smith with the 
warmth of his Celtic nature. He was intimately associated 
with the Democracy of New York during most of Al Smith's 
career. 

Cockran's baritone voice with its delicious brogue rolled 
through the convention hall like an; organ tone. 

"He has never losti a friend and never ceased to make new 
ones," Cockran said. "All of them, from his playmates on 
the sidewalks of the East Side to the statesmen he has moved 
among as Governor, call him *A1 Smith. 7 

"I venture to say he is the only man who could be called 
by such a diminutive without in any way debasing the dignity 

(306) 



THE CLIMAX 307 

of so high an office. Al Smith is no way different from the 
rest of us, and' that is why we love him" 

The significance of the career in justification of America 
as a land of business opportunity was not lost to Cockran. 
'Here was a mani whose rise from the humblest origin to one 
of the most exalted places in the nation, was "a living refuta- 
tion of the Socialist's argument, that the poor man, the under 
dog, has no chance in our regime." Such a man gave the lie 
to the forces of anarchy noisily articulate at the time. 

With the instinct of the orator, Cockran felt the pulse of 
the delegates. These men and women, however different- as 
to types representative of the cross sections of the entire 
country, shared one common conviction. Under American 
institutions men are given a chance to show and to develop 
what is in them, and no rewards are closed if they are earned 
by their merit. 

The argument for Smith was sinking deep into the hearts 
of the delegates. Just as Cockran was finishing his perora- 
tion, and pointing his finger to the chromo of Woodrow 
Wilson on the wall behind the speakers' platform, the band 
struck up The Sidewalks of New York. 

East Side, West Side, 

All about the town, 

Boys and girls together. . . 

This homely melody expressive of the short and simple 
annals of the poor, was enough to strike the match. Before 
three lines of it were played by the band, the demonstration 
began. In five minutes the standards of Illinois and Penn- 
sylvania were moving down the aisles in front of their yelling 
delegates. The New York delegation still refrained from 
giving vent to its feelings but when delegates from the other 
states rushed over to take up the New York standards, the 
New York delegation joined. Standard after standard was 



308 ALFRED E. SMITH 

lifted with their delegates marching through the aisles, sing- 
ing old songs, the songs which the simpler folk of the city had 
sung thirty years ago. Sweet Rosie O'Grady, < After the Ball 
is Over, the Bowery, lilty simple rhythms to which the chil- 
dren danced with the music of the hurdy-gurdy on the side- 
walks of New York. 

The demonstration lasted over twenty-five minutes. The 
seconding speech was made by Franklin Roosevelt, Smith's 
antithesis, a man of family, wealth and social position, a rep- 
resentative of 1 the leisure class with a public conscience. It 
was a fitting contrast for a man who succeeded in public life 
in spite of his riches to express with directness 'and simple 
force his admiration and respect for the man who rose to the 
top in spite of his poverty. 

As Harold Phelps Stokes, the well-known correspondent, 
vividly said in reporting the scene to the Evening Post : 

"In the main, it was a rare tribute to Al Smith himself and 
to the kind of an American career that he stands for carrying 
with it a doubly rare and gratifying 1 sense of atonement be- 
tween classes supposed to be cleaving so wide apart in these 
latter days." 

Bourke Cockran cherished one main ambition. He 
hoped to nominate Smith as a real contender in 1924, but in 
his book of life he could not finish the page. He died in 
harness at the age of sixty-eight, in the Sixty-seventh Con- 
gress in January, 1923. 



CHAPTER XLVI 
ADDRESS TO THE STATE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION OF 1924 

After the 1924 session of the Legislature adjourned on 
April 10th, hundreds of bills were lying on the Governor's 
table. These he must consider and act upon during the thirty 
days provided by the constitution. The State Convention 
of his party was held in the City of Albany on April 15, 
1924, to select delegates at large and .their alternates to the 
National Democratic Convention to be held in New York 
City beginning June 24. 

The keynote address was delivered by the veteran Demo- 
crat from Albany, D-Cady Herrick. Interested as they were 
in his severe arraignment of the Republican national admin- 
istration, and his enunciation of Democratic policy, this por- 
tion of his speech engrossed their chief attention. 

The names of various able, honest, courageous men will be 
presented to that convention for nomination to the high office 
of president Let the delegates there present know tbat we, 
too, of this State have a man, not a self-seeker, who may be 
drafted for that higher honor, A man of the people, pho, by 
his own efforts, and long continued, honest, splendid service, 
has won the confidence and esteem of the people of his own 
State, who have bestowed upon him its highest hpnors and 
dignities; twelve years in .the legislative branch of the State, 
member of a constitutional convention, and twice Governor of 
the State of New York. Not a lawyer by profession, but who, 
by his long experience and native vigor of intellect, has acquired 
a profound knowledge of the construction and interpretation of 

(309) 



310 ALFRED E. SMITH 

statutes and constitutions. A man ,who is a student and master 
of public affairs, who* has the courage of his convictions. A 
man as clean as a hound's tooth. During a long public, aggres- 
sive, fighting career, well calculated to make enemies and pro- 
voke hostile criticism, the breath of suspicion upon either his 
personal or public integrity has never blown. A man who, if 
nominated, can be elected and render to the people of his coun- 
try the same honest, intelligent, laborious, painstaking, courage- 
ous service that he has rendered to the people of his own State. 
Ladies and gentlemen of the Convention, ;who does this 
description fit? Name him. 

The enthusiasm of the delegates was real. There was no 
repetition of the previous one-hour demonstrations to which 
Democratic conventions were accustomed when Al Smith was 
nominated. There was no incidental music of the Sidewalks 
of New York. But there was genuine feeling and a deep 
echo of approval in the hearts of the delegates. Smith was 
the tie that bound the Democracy as no figure in the New 
York State since Samuel Tilden. There was no division 
between up-state and down-state Democrats on the Gov- 
ernor, no cleavage between independents and organization 
Democrats. The delegates were unanimous in offering 
Smith not merely as New York's favorite son to the Con- 
vention of 1924 but as, the candidate for the country who if 
nominated could win. 

The Governor decided early in 1918 that as long as he was 
in Albany, no other interest but that of the State of New 
York would distract his attention. In the past he humor- 
ously referred to some Governors he had known who after 
spending a year in Albany had a spy glass- on the Dome at 
Washington. 

Even two months before the national convention, Smith 
kept his resolve. He would countenance no organized move- 
ment to further his presidential aspirations. When he ap- 
peared before his Democratic comrades, his address dealt 



ADDRESS TO THE CONVENTION 311 

chiefly with the problems of the State. Towards the close 
Smith struck a note so human in its appeal that the corre- 
spondents who described the scene, declared that many of 
the men and women in the convention were seen wiping away 
tears, welling up from moved hearts. His words were these : 

I want to take this opportunity at the first Democratic gather- 
ing- I have had a chance to speak at in a long while to thank 
very sincerely and from the bottom of my heart the Democratic 
members of both houses of the Legislature, the Democratic State 
officers elected in 1922 and the heads of the great department of 
the State government. They have so conducted their offices that 
when your delegates elected here today or selected in the Con- 
gressional districts at the primary, go into the national conven- 
tion, they will be able to look every other Democrat in the United 
States squarely in the eye. 

There is a record there that you will have abundant reason 
to be proud of, spelling it out, from beginning to end, it con- 
stitutes a record of unselfish devotion to the best interests of this 
State and of our people. You will have imposed upon you the 
duty of representing this State in the make-up of the National 
platform. Whatever else you do, insist on plain talk. The people 
of this country are worn out with this Court of Appeals lan- 
guage. So, what you want to say, say in understandable terms, 
say it so that the man on the street, the plain, ordinary man, 
can know what you promise to do; because if you intend to 
carry out the promise you don't have to be the least bit afraid 
of how explicit you make it. Make it definite. Make it concrete. 
And make it to the point ; and get away from qualifications. That 
is a Democratic platform, the only kind that ought to come out 
from a Democratic convention. 

I want to step out of my character as Governor and have a 
personal word with you. I heard the resolution that you passed. 
In fact, I read it, before it came up here. 

It would be a difficult task for any man to stand before an 
audience of this kind and be able to adequately express the 
appreciation he would have to feel for the great compliment, 



312 ALFRED E. SMITH 

the great honor and the great distinction that comes to him to 
be spoken of as the choice of his party in the greatest State in 
the Union for the highest office in all the world. 

If I were to tell you that I haven't heard anything on this 
particular subject for the last year, you wouldn't believe it r 
because it wouldn't be true. I have heard a great deal about it; 
but in the frankness that ought to exist among friends and com- 
rades, together, let me say this to you: I have done absolutely 
nothing about it, either inside or outside of the State, and I do 
not intend to do anything about it. The man wfio would not 
have an ambition for that office would have a dead heart. But 
I stand exactly in the position that I stood in on the floor of 
the Constitutional Convention in 1915, when I said that the 
mat? who used one office and neglected it in order to climb to 
a higher one was not deserving of the one he had. 

I am going to do nothing about it, because there is nothing 
I can do. In the first place, I haven't got the means to do it. 
In the second place, I haven't got the time to do it. For the 
next thirty days I will be -just as busy as any man could possibly 
be in the consideration of the nine hundred odd bills left for 
my attention by the Legislature. Then, within a reasonably 
short time, after five solid months, without a vacation, I will 
have to turn my attention to the administrative details of some 
of the departments of government. 

This work I propose to do, right up to the time the convention 
starts. If I fell down on this job, I would never forgive myself 
and I would not ask forgiveness from any one else. If the 
required number of delegates in the National Convention takes 
your view of it, I will be honored beyond the power of expression 
TO lead the forces of my party in the next campaign. 

In conclusion, I want to leave just one thought with you. 
If my nomination is brought about, and it results in a triumph 
for the party, you can say to every delegate that you xnteet 
at the convention in New York City, that I promised you in 
the Capital City of this State before God Almighty Himself that 
neither they nor you will ever have any cause to regret any 
confidence they or you see fit to repose in me. 



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