More from Last Call:
Al Smith’s candidacy gave bigots and xenophobes a perfect demon. In 1928 the crude impulses that had earlier ignited the rapid growth of the Ku Klux Klan now exploded among those “Pure Americans” who saw themselves as losing their nation to the Irish and the Italians and all the other foreigners crowding the big cities. Rev. Bob Jones made frequent use of a starling call to arms that year: “I would rather see a saloon on every corner than a Catholic in the White House.” If this didn’t make his feelings sufficiently clear, Jones’s alternative option certainly did: he declared that he would prefer “a nigger president” to the Catholic Smith.
Classy. Of historical interest perhaps, there have been exactly the same number of Catholic Presidents in the United States as there have been Black Presidents of the United States.