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Each week at In The Past Lane, the American history podcast, host and Historian-at-Large, Edward T. O’Donnell, brings you news, stories, interviews, and special features on all things U.S. history. His aim is to be both engaging and thought-provoking, inspired by the notion that history explains the world we live in and provides insights into how to achieve a more prosperous, peaceful, and just future. So come along with us as we journey In The Past Lane.  

Jun 14, 2019

This week at In The Past Lane, the American History podcast, I speak with historian Terry Golway, author of, Frank and Al: FDR, Al Smith, and the Unlikely Alliance That Created the Modern Democratic Party. It’s a remarkable story of two unlikely allies – one a patrician who went to Harvard and the other the son of immigrants who did not graduate 8th grade – and how they came together to remake the Democratic Party in the 1910s and 1920s. This transformation led to the New Deal, a revolutionary period in American history that changed the relationship between the American people and the federal government.

In the course of our conversation, Terry Golway explains:

Who Al Smith was and how he played a key role in the transformation of the Tammany Hall political machine into an agent of reform in the 1910s and 1920s.

How Franklin Delano Roosevelt transformed from an elitist, good government reformer to a committed advocate of progressive reform.

How Al Smith and FDR pioneered in making the New York State Democratic Party the agent of progressive reform and how these ideas and programs formed the foundation of the New Deal.

How Al Smith played a key role in resisting the KKK’s influence in the Democratic Party. 

How Al Smith and FDR, once great allies, had a falling out once FDR became president. And how they later reconciled.

How the constituency that made up the new Democratic Party – the urban, immigrant, African American working-class – came to be known as the New Deal Coalition and how it played a key role in national politics from the 1930s through the 1970s.

Recommended reading:  

Terry Golway, Frank and Al: FDR, Al Smith, and the Unlikely Alliance That Created the Modern Democratic Party (St. Martin’s Press)

Robert Chiles, The Revolution of ’28: Al Smith, American Progressivism, and the Coming of the New Deal

Lizabeth Cohen, Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939

Terry Golway, Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics

William E. Leuchtenburg, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal: 1932-1940

Eric Rauchway, Winter War: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the First Clash Over the New Deal

Robert A. Slayton, Empire Statesman: The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith

More info about Terry Golway - website 

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Music for This Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

Andy Cohen, “Trophy Endorphins” (Free Music Archive)

Ketsa, “Follow the Course” (Free Music Archive)

Jon Luc Hefferman, “Winter Trek” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer

Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson

Podcasting Consultant: Dave Jackson of the School of Podcasting

Podcast Editing: Wildstyle Media

Photographer: John Buckingham

Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci

Website by: ERI Design

Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Social Media management: The Pony Express

Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates

Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight

© In The Past Lane, 2019

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