Birth Name: Alfred Emanuel Smith
Date of Birth: December 30, 1873
Place of Birth: Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
Date of Death: October 4, 1944
Place of Death: Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
Al Smith was an American politician and statesman. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the 8th President of the New York City Board of Aldermen, from January 1, 1917 to December 31, 1918, and the 42nd Governor of New York, from January 1, 1919 to December 31, 1920, and again from January 1, 1923 to December 31, 1928.
Al was the son of Catherine (Mulvihill) and Alfrede Emanuele Ferraro, who changed his name to Alfred E. Smith. The name Ferraro means “blacksmith” or “smith” in Italian. His father was of Italian and German descent. His mother was of Irish ancestry. Al was a prominent spokesperson for the Irish-American community.
Al was the first, and is one of four, Roman Catholics to have been nominated for President of the United States by a major American political party. John F. Kennedy, in 1960, John Kerry, in 2004, and Joe Biden, in 2020, are the others, with Kennedy and Biden being elected. All were/are Democrats.
He was married to Catherine Ann Dunn, with whom he had five children. Their great-grandson was Wall Street executive Alfred E. Smith IV.
Al’s paternal grandfather was named Emanuel Ferraro. Emanuel was born in Genova, Italy.
Al’s paternal grandmother was named Magdalena/Magdaline Kolbe/Colby. Magdalena was German.
Al’s maternal grandparents were named Thomas Mulvihill and Maria Marsh. Thomas and Maria were from County Westmeath, Ireland.
Al was the first person of significant Italian heritage to win a caucus, primary, and/or nominating ballot for a major American party’s Presidential nomination. He won 12 contests in 1928, the year he was nominated, and won 4 contests in 1932. The other winners of significant Italian heritage are:
*Michael DiSalle (1960; Democratic; won 1 state, Ohio)
*Rick Santorum (Republican; ran in 2012 and 2016: in 2012, he won 11 contests; Santorum is of three quarters Italian descent)
Ted Cruz, whose maternal great-grandfather was Italian, won 11 contests in the 2016 Republican Party primaries.
Other people of significant Italian heritage who have mounted plausible or semi-plausible campaigns for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States are:
*John A. Volpe (who sought the 1968 Republican nomination)
*James Traficant (who sought the 1988 Democratic nomination; Traficant’s father was of Italian descent)
*Rudy Giuliani (who sought the 2008 Republican nomination)
*Tom Tancredo (who sought the 2008 Republican nomination)
*Chris Christie (who sought the 2016 Republican nomination; Christie’s mother was of Italian descent)
*George Pataki (who sought the 2016 Republican nomination; Pataki’s maternal grandfather was Italian)
*Richard Ojeda (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination; Ojeda’s mother is of at least three quarters Italian descent)
*Tim Ryan (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination; Ryan’s mother is of Italian descent)
*Bill de Blasio (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination; de Blasio’s mother was of Italian descent)
Geraldine Ferraro, who was of Italian descent, was the Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States in 1984.