Al Smith was a four-time New York governor and was the Democratic nominee for president in 1928. He was the first Roman Catholic and Irish-American to run as a major party nominee and was also the only man to lose an election to Herbert Hoover.
In 1928 the Republicans were enjoying the economic boom of the Roaring Twenties, Smith could not overcome the economy, a large fear of his Catholicism or, as one reporter put it "the three P's: Prohibition, Prejudice and Prosperity."
Fears that he would answer to the Pope and not the U.S. Constitution, and his views on relaxing Prohibition worked against him. Smith won the 10 major cities and carried the South, but alienated others on his way to losing 58.2 percent to 40.8 percent.
Known as a progressive reformer, an advocate for good government, efficiency and serving in a transitional period within the Democratic party he is often overlooked today, but even on buttons he commands a striking pose.
Perhaps his most last legacy was in getting the Empire State Building built during the Great Depression, and in only 13 months, too.
He ran again for the nomination in 1932 against Franklin D. Roosevelt, who succeeded him as New York's governor. The two did not get along well, but Smith would later campaign for FDR in 1932 before siding with his opponents as a critic of the New Deal, which Smith considered a betrayal of good governance.
Smith died in New York in 1944 at the age of 70.