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Belle Moskowitz

Belle Moskowitz

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Belle Moskowitz was the political advisor to New York Governor and 1928 presidential candidate Al Smith
Al Smith
Alfred Emanuel Smith. , known in private and public life as Al Smith, was an American statesman who was elected the 42nd Governor of New York three times, and was the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate in 1928...



Belle Lindner was born in Harlem
Harlem is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, which since the 1920s has been a major African-American residential, cultural and business center. Originally a Dutch village, formally organized in 1658, it is named after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, to Isidor Lindner, a watchmaker; and Esther Freyer. Both parents were immigrants from East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

 in Germany. She attended the Horace Mann School
Horace Mann School
Horace Mann School is an independent college preparatory school in New York City, New York, United States founded in 1887 known for its rigorous course of studies. Horace Mann is a member of the Ivy Preparatory School League, educating students from all across the New York tri-state area from...

, a laboratory school of Teachers College and in 1894 she attended Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College, Columbia University is a graduate school of education located in New York City, New York...

, but only stayed for one year. In 1900 she became a social worker at the Educational Alliance. She held various appointments there, eventually becoming director of entertainments and exhibits.

In 1903 she married Charles Henry Israels (1864-1911), an artist and architect, whom she met at the Alliance where he had been a volunteer club leader. They had four children, three of whom lived to adulthood: including Carlos Lindner, Miriam, and Joseph. In 1911, Charles died of heart disease when he was 47 years old. As Belle Israels, Belle's first effort at social reform was to clean up and license the city's commercial dance hall
Dance hall
Dance hall in its general meaning is a hall for dancing. From the earliest years of the twentieth century until the early 1960s, the dance hall was the popular forerunner of the discothèque or nightclub...

s, which she saw as places that got young working girls into trouble. Working through the Council of Jewish Women-New York Section, by 1910 she had won laws that regulated dance hall conditions, including fire and safety and the selling of alcoholic drinks. The New York Times stated, "These laws did more to improve the moral surroundings of young girls than any other single social reform of the period".

She met her second husband, Henry Moskowitz
Henry Moskowitz
Henry Moskowitz was a civil rights activist, and one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.-Biography:He was born in 1879 in Romania....

, who had a Ph.D. in Philosophy and was a settlement worker on the Lower East Side, while working with him on dance hall reform. Their paths crossed many times during the tumultuous garment strikes of the era, and worked together on the investigations that followed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York and resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history...

. They married in 1914. In 1913, her growing reputation led disputatious Garment District unions and employers to agree to her serving as arbitrator to hear workers' grievances. In 1918, she supported Al Smith
Al Smith
Alfred Emanuel Smith. , known in private and public life as Al Smith, was an American statesman who was elected the 42nd Governor of New York three times, and was the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate in 1928...

 for Governor of New York
Governor of New York
The Governor of the State of New York is the chief executive of the State of New York. The governor is the head of the executive branch of New York's state government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military and naval forces. The officeholder is afforded the courtesy title of His/Her...

. Moskowitz became one of Smith's most intimate advisers. Referring to her as "Mrs. M", he kept her close at hand throughout his tenure as governor. Tammany Hall sachems referred to her derisively as "Moskie," coveting her influence. When Smith became the Democratic Party candidate for President in 1928, Moskowitz worked as his campaign manager. She worked as his press agent during his attempt for renomination in 1932.

On December 8, 1932 she fell down the front steps of her house at 147 West Ninety-fourth Street and, while recovering from the broken bones, died of an embolism on January 2, 1933 at age 55.

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