Significance of Alabama congressional delegation during the administrations of President Woodrow Wilson:
Because the seniority system in Congress favored states that tended to be dominated by one party and elected congressmen who served long terms, many Alabama Democratic congressmen played key roles during the presidential administration of Woodrow Wilson (1912-1920). Long out of power in Washington, Democrats swept to power in 1912, and Alabamians assumed chairmanships of several powerful committees and influential roles in the administration.
U.S. Senators Oscar W. Underwood and John H. Bankhead played key roles in federal highway construction and tariff legislation. Indeed, Underwood, while serving as majority leader in the House of Representatives and as chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, was considered a serious presidential contender. He did run in the 1912 and 1924 Democratic primaries as a conservative, but lost both times. Underwood was a principled and respected conservative, who not only opposed labor unions, but also fought against women's suffrage, prohibition of alcoholic beverages, and the Ku Klux Klan.
Alabama's delegation in the House of Representatives was equally distinguished, playing key roles in numerous legislative initiatives. The delegation was led by Underwood until he resigned his post to run for the U.S. Senate in 1914.
Congressman Richmond Pearson Hobson of Greensboro furnished Underwood's opposition in the 1914 senate race. As progressive as Underwood was conservative, he favored both prohibition and women's suffrage. A Spanish-American War hero, who belatedly received a Congressional Medal of Honor in 1933, Hobson received the support of evangelical Christians who favored prohibition and women's suffrage (who, unfortunately for Hobson, could not vote in 1914. Although, when they gained the vote in 1920, they helped drive Underwood from office).
Representative Henry D. Clayton of Eufaula was a key Wilson advisor on antitrust issues and chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee.
Stanley H. Dent Jr. of Barbour County was chairman of the House Military Affairs Committee, which played a key role in America's military mobilization in the approach to and conduct of the First World War. However, two Alabama congressmen from the Tennessee Valley in north Alabama (Edward B. Almon and John L. Burnett) risked their political careers by voting against the U.S. declaration of war.
Congressman Tom Heflin of Lafayette was less well known for legislative initiatives than for petty demagoguery. In addition to shooting a black man on a Washington, D.C. streetcar, he also opposed women's suffrage and led opposition to a Catholic on the Democratic presidential ticket during the 1920s.