Belle Moskowitz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jump to: navigation, search

Belle Moskowitz (October 5, 1877 – January 2, 1933) was the political advisor to New York Governor and 1928 presidential candidate Al Smith.


Belle Lindner was born in Harlem in New York City, to Isidor Lindner, a watchmaker; and Esther Freyer. Both parents were immigrants from East Prussia in Germany. She attended the Horace Mann School, a laboratory school of Teachers College and in 1894 she attended Teachers College, Columbia University, but only stayed for one year.[1] 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 committed suicide.[2] As Belle Israels, Belle's first effort at social reform was to clean up and license the city's commercial dance halls, 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, 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. 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 for Governor of New York. 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.[3]

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.[4]


  1. ^ Elisabeth Israels Perry (1987). Belle Moskowitz: Feminine Politics and the Exercise of Power in the Age of Alfred E. Smith. Oxford University Press, 1987; Routledge, 1992; Northeastern, 2000. ISBN 978-1-55553-424-0. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  2. ^ Caro, Robert A. The power broker: Robert Moses and the fall of New York,. [1st ed. New York: Knopf, 1974. Print.v
  3. ^ Critical journey | National Forum | Find Articles at BNET at
  4. ^ "Mrs. Moskowitz, Smith Aide, Dies; Adviser To Governors Wielded Wide Political Power Behind The Scenes. Pioneer In Social Work Never Held Public Office, But Molded Legislative Trends. Hurt In Fall.". New York Times. January 3, 1933. Mrs. Henry Moskowitz, who during former Governor Alfred E. Smith's ascendancy in the Democratic party wielded more political power than any other woman in the United States, died yesterday of heart disease in her home, 147 West Ninety-fourth Street. 

External links[edit]