On this day in Alabama History: John Hollis Bankhead was born

On this day in Alabama History: John Hollis Bankhead was born
John Hollis Bankhead at the Democratic National Convention, 1912. (Harris & Ewing, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

September 13, 1842

John Hollis Bankhead, born on this day, was a member of Congress for 33 years, as a representative and senator, and served as a soldier, state legislator and prison warden. The farmer and businessman was patriarch to one of Alabama’s most famous families: sons John H. Bankhead II and William B. Bankhead, who also were politicians; daughter Marie Bankhead Owen, a state archivist; grandson Walter William Bankhead, a politician and businessman; and granddaughter Tallulah Bankhead, a star of stage and screen. The elder Bankhead, while warden of the state penitentiary in Wetumpka, lobbied for improvements to the state’s convict-leasing system, which exploited inmates as cheap labor for private industry. While Bankhead did not call for an end to convict leasing, he advocated reforms that included improved living conditions and inspections of working conditions.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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