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About John Jackson Sparkman
John Jackson Sparkman (December 20, 1899 – November 16, 1985) was an American politician from the state of Alabama. A conservative Southern Democrat, Sparkman served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate from 1937 until 1979. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for Vice President as Adlai Stevenson's running mate in the 1952 U.S. presidential election. Sparkman High School in Harvest, Alabama and Sparkman School in Somerville, Alabama are named in his honor.
Early life and education
Sparkman was born on a farm near Hartselle, Alabama. He attended the rural schools and helped on the family farm. During World War I, he was a member of the Students Army Training Corps. He graduated from the University of Alabama in 1921 and from University of Alabama School of Law in 1923. Sparkman was a founding member of the Gamma Alpha Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha.
John Sparkman was admitted to the bar in 1925 and commenced practice in Huntsville. He was an instructor at Huntsville College from 1925 to 1928. A Freemason, he was life member of Helion Lodge#1 in Huntsville. He was also member of the Huntsville Scottish Rite bodies and a recipient of the Knight Commander Court of Honor (KCCH).
Sparkman was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1936 election. He was reelected in 1938, 1940, 1942, and 1944, serving in the 75th, 76th, 77th, 78th, and 79th Congresses. In 1946 he served as House Majority Whip. He was reelected in the 1946 House election to the 80th Congress and on the same date was elected to the United States Senate in a special election to fill the vacancy caused by the death of John H. Bankhead II for the term ending January 3, 1949. Sparkman resigned from the House of Representatives immediately following the election and began his Senate term on November 6, 1946. He served until his retirement on January 3, 1979, after not running for reelection in 1978.
He was chairman of the Select Committee on Small Business (81st, 82nd, and 84th through 90th Congresses), co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Inaugural Arrangements (86th Congress), chairman of the Committee on Banking and Currency (90th and 91st Congresses), co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Defense Production (91st and 93rd Congresses), Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (92nd and 93rd Congresses), and a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations (94th and 95th Congress).
The 1943 Sparkman Act, which allowed women physicians to be commissioned as officers in the armed forces, was named for him, after lobbying by Dr. Emily Dunning Barringer.
Sparkman was a representative of the United States at the Fifth General Assembly of the United Nations in 1950.
In 1952, he was the Democratic Party's nominee for Vice President, running of the ticket of Adlai Stevenson. However, the election was won by the Republican candidate, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In 1956, Sparkman was one of 82 representatives and 19 senators who signed the Southern Manifesto, opposing the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education and racial integration. Because of that, the Democrats did not choose him as Stevenson's running mate that year, opting instead for Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee.
John Sparkman died of natural causes in a nursing home in Huntsville, Alabama in 1985 at age 85. Survived by his wife and daughter, he was interred in historic Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville.