Between 1900 & 1914 immigration laws in the US relaxed encouraging a flood of immigrants from all over Europe to make America their home. Within that influx was a large number of Italian citizens. Many of these Italians settled here in Syracuse and Central NY
Over the years these people became American citizens and got jobs with the State, County, & City.
The jobs they got were entry level jobs; street cleaners, ash men, etc. Even these jobs, menial as they were, were very difficult to obtain. The reason for this seemed to be that too many of our influential residents and community leaders were playing the type of politics that resulted in decisions that were not necessarily the most beneficial for our people. Another factor some felt was that these people also spent too much time fighting amongst themselves.
Those in the party who had the final say in considering anyone for any kind of job did nothing. Their reasoning for this was that there was no particular person they could count on to vouch for the credibility of the applicants. They couldn't count on the word of the leaders from within our community as they were divided deeply amongst themselves. This was the way it was for quite awhile.
It was around 1923 when a very astute politician and an excellent lawyer named Clarence King had an idea. Mr King was a partner in the law firm Bond, Schoeneck & King and Chairman of the Onondaga County Republican Committee. He felt our position in the 1924 election was a bit shaky and uncertain. It was then that he reached out to one of our distinguished citizens, Pasquale Aloi to get together our people so that the Republican nominee for Mayor could be elected. Mr King felt that through hard work & a united effort by our people we could provided the much needed edge to win the Mayors office.
It was late in the summer of 1924 when Mr Aloi called a few friends together in his office and stated in plain language that if these Italian American community leaders ever wanted to be recognized as influential members of the community in general that this was their chance. It was the opportunity for them to help our voice be heard. The stipulation from Mr Aloi was that these leaders needed to take orders and quit playing politics amongst themselves; that they needed to work together and show a unified front.
With some reservations the idea seemed to take hold. The group met a few times on the third floor of the Venetian Garden on N. Salina Street and after that all meetings were on the third floor of Haas Hall at 601 N. Salina Street. These meetings were not always peaceful, in fact some erupted into fist fights, but the firm guiding hand of Mr Aloi prevailed.
At one of these meetings the name "Lincoln Republican Club" was suggested by Professor Torquato DeFelice and was promptly adopted without objection.
About two dozen of the first organizers went out everywhere in the city to solicit members to join. We got about 600 initial members together and each one paid $1 in dues. After much very hard and sometimes discouraging work Election Day came and we were united. The results were gratifying; particularly for Mr King as Republican Charles G Hanna was elected Mayor by 734 votes.
In spite of much bickering and unjust criticism, it was a job well done. It was at last evident that our efforts were well appreciated as Mr Dionysius Capocefalo was appointed a Clerk in the Naturalization Office at the Court House.
Our first banquet was held at the Onondaga Hotel with great success. The keynote speaker was the brilliant and articulate Mr. Harry Skerritt. Mr. Skerritt was a law teacher in connection with the American Institute of Banking.
The following year, as everyone had taken heart in our victory the previous year, we had our annual banquet at the Syracuse Hotel. Seven hundred people attended the occasion. We invited as speaker Governor Horace White who spoke on Lincoln in his own articulate way. He stated, "If you continue in the manner you have shown these last two elections, you will be a powerful group not only in the City & County but in the State & eventually the Nation. God bless you all."