Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Al Smith, 1928

In the interest of sharing Ocracoke Island history, and at the risk of inflaming partisan political polemics (there are plenty of other sites for that, please), I have decided to post this news article from the Journal and Republican and Lowville Times (Lowville, NY), September 27, 1928, about that year's presidential election:

Dry, Methodist Island is Counted for Smith

Norfolk, Va., Sept. 25 – Alfred E. Smith will carry Ocracoke Island, “the most religious spot on earth,” by a unanimous vote, according to John G. Dawson, former state Democratic chairman in North Carolina, and the Rev. C. M. Pollard. Ocracoke is in the Atlantic Ocean on the North Carolina coast. It has 750 inhabitants, all Methodists. The place has been dry for thirty years and there is not any officer of the law there. “Ocracoke is the strongest Al Smith center in America not excepting New York,” said Mr. Dawson. “I don’t know why, but I believe it is because he is being abused by people who do not stand well on the island. There will not be a Republican vote cast on the island.”


I am not sure how Ocracoke actually voted in 1928, but the above article is a bit curious. Although Ocracoke township has traditionally been a Democratic stronghold (of course, there were also Republicans on the island), Smith was a vocal opponent of Prohibition. He was also the first Catholic nominee for President.

Harris & Ewing collection, Library of Congress

I wonder why the North Carolina state Democratic chairman thought Methodist teetotalers would vote unanimously for a strong anti-Prohibition Catholic. Did they? And who were the "people who do not stand well" who were abusing Al Smith? Maybe some old-time O'cockers know the answers.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about earthquakes that have affected Ocracoke and the Outer Banks. You can read the newsletter here:


  1. Creating your own facts out of thin air is a time-honored tradition in politics. Smith's candidacy mobilized anti-Catholic bigotry, especially in the South. What's a beleaguered party chairman to do? Create a mythical land where Protestant Southerners unanimously support a Catholic candidate, that's what. Bonus: it's a somewhat remote island, so the story can't really be corroborated.

  2. Of course, this year's election would likely make any teetotaler seriously review their abstinence. And it's a very good time to remember the old adage, "God looks after babies, drunks, and the United States of America".

    1. I'm doomed... I thought God looked after idiots (me) and little children...

  3. Anonymous8:11 AM

    There are 534 members of Congress, currently 8 Supreme court Justices, A Joint Chiefs of Staff, A Presidential Cabinet, Generals, Governors, Mayors, Police and Sheriffs, and Economists and NPR. What are we really worried about? I know, stuff like who sill get secret service protection for life and where will the next presidential library be located and what will be in it. THAT is something to think about.

  4. I am just happy that Ocracoke is no longer "dry." What would life be like without Zillies?