Oscar Wilder Underwood



Member of the U.S. House of Representatives 1897-1915
and Senate 1915-1927. His steadfast adherence to his principles of
integrity and good government earned him the lasting respect of his countrymen.

Oscar Wilder Underwood represented Alabama in Congress for 32 years, maintaining a dignified bearing, sense of fairness, mastery of subject and even temper seldom. As Democratic leader in both houses, expert on the tariff, presidential nominee and delegate to international conferences, he was universally respected as a man of principle.

Born in Kentucky, reared in Minnesota and educated in Virginia, Underwood started his law practice in Birmingham in 1884. He was elected to the House of Representatives 10 years later and served there for 10 terms, then in the Senate for 2 terms. Underwood's tariff act, based on principles of taxation for revenue only, helped sweep the Democratic Party into power in 1912. His cool, dynamic leadership during several terms of Congress gave direction to his fellow party members, who had been returned to majority power after many years. His votes on national matters were based on a deep conviction in the fundamental rights of the states. He opposed prohibition and women's suffrage on these grounds, each a costly political decision. He was a representative to the Conference on the Limitation of Armaments in 1921 and to several other international meetings.

Underwood was twice placed in nomination for the presidency of the United States, at the Democratic conventions of 1912 and 1924. He lost much support in the latter year with a bitter denunciation of the Ku Klux Klan.

He stands in history as a man who, throughout his years of service to his country, adhered to high principles of honesty and personal integrity.

Elected 1957

Alabama Hall of Fame, 1968

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Revised: 3/21/96