Thursday, September 25, 2008
Scott Proclaims Hoover Campaign Not Linked to Anti-Catholicism
By ROGER M. GRACE
Voices were many and loud in 1928 delivering a message of hate: Defeat the Democratic nominee for president; he’s a Catholic.
New York Gov. Al Smith was the Democrats’ candidate, the first Catholic nominee for president of a major political party. Anti-Catholicism, largely dormant, was incited that year; fears were roused that Smith, if elected, would be controlled by the pope.
Los Angeles attorney Joseph Scott performed a service to the GOP in distancing the party from assaults on the Democratic standard bearer grounded in bigotry. As a leader in the Catholic Church laity, Scott had credibility in the role.
Scott had been a founder on May 25, 1899, of the Los Angeles chapter of the Newman Club, a Catholic literary and discussion group; he was later its president. In 1902, he co-founded the Southern California chapter of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic service organization, and became involved in the organization on an international level. So extensive was his work for the Catholic Church that he was awarded a papal knighthood, the ceremony of investiture taking place on May 16, 1921, in St. Vibiana’s Church in Los Angeles.
Scott delivered the primary address at a Herbert Hoover dinner in Los Angeles’ Alexandria Hotel on Sept. 22, 1928. The talk was broadcast locally over KFI, and relayed for transmission over KGO and KPO in San Francisco. Most of the West Coast could pull in the signal from at least one of the cities. The program was comprised not only of speeches in Los Angeles, but those made at a pro-Hoover dinner being held contemporaneously at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, with those in attendance at one event also hearing the piped-in talks from the other.
Scott, as the next morning’s Los Angeles Times quotes him, declared:
“This year, apparently we are being subjected to a campaign where the passions of voters are being aroused and prejudices awakened in a manner that is fraught with the utmost danger to the very fundamental principles of the government.
“Our presidential candidate has deplored in public and private and expressed his detestation of personalities where unscrupulous men and women in both parties are befogging the political issues with tactics unfair and utterly devoid of the least particle of appreciation for the obligations imposed upon public and private citizens, alike.
“What I am particularly desirous of emphasizing, however, is that the Republican party did not breed these types of religious fanatics.”
A “letter to the editor” appearing in the Times on Oct. 2, signed by Dan O’Hanlon of Fullerton (likely the man bearing that moniker who was a leading real estate and insurance agent in the city, and father of a priest). Aimed at discounting the notion that Catholics would be voting en masse for Smith simply because he was Catholic, the letter says:
“Gov. Smith is, without doubt, at the present time, the most talked-of Catholic in the United States; needless to say he is not a Republican. Joseph Scott is, also without doubt, one of the best-known Catholics in California. He is nationally known in Republican circles….
“…Joseph Scott is doing all he can for Herbert Hoover.”
Scott traveled across the nation campaigning for Hoover.
“There is now on the stump for Hoover one of the most distinguished Roman Catholic laymen in the country, Joseph Scott, of Los Angeles…,” an article in the Oct. 22 issue of the Waterloo (Iowa) Evening Courier says. “He came east recently at Hoover’s invitation and accompanied the Republican nominee to Massachusetts last week. Scott is now appearing in New England for the Republican presidential ticket, and before election time will be heard in the middlewest, including Chicago.”
Scott was scheduled to speak in Appleton, Wisc. on the night of Oct. 23. The Oct. 20 edition of a local newspaper, the Post-Crescent, says:
His subject will be Hoover, Smith, the Catholic Church and the Presidency.
Mr. Scott is dean of the law school of Loyola University, at Los Angeles, and a member of the board of regents of that Institution. He has received the Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame [for outstanding service by a layperson to the Catholic Church]….
Pope Benedict IV appointed him Knight of the Order of St. Gregory.
Only a few months ago, the present Pope, Pius XI, elevated him to a Knight Commander of that order, with a diplomatic star.
An Oct. 24 dispatch from United Press says that 2,000 persons showed up for Scott’s oration, but something went wrong, and someone else filled in.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company
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