Inside the Statehouse
Posted by: Steve51
Date: Jun 07 2017 7:27 AM
INSIDE THE STATEHOUSE
by Steve Flowers
Since we are in the midst of an election for a U.S. Senator, let me share the story of one of the most prestigious congressional families in
The original founder of the famous family was John Hollis Bankhead. He was the patriarch of a family that spawned sons John H. Bankhead, II and Speaker of the U.S. House, William B. Bankhead and daughter, state archivist, Marie Bankhead Owen and granddaughter Tallulah Bankhead, who became a star of stage and screen.
John Hollis Bankhead was born in 1842 on his family’s plantation in present
After the Civil War he married Tallulah Brockman of Wetumpka and returned to farming his family land. He began his political career by serving four terms in the state legislature. He then was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1886 and served 20 years in Congress.
John Bankhead left an indelible legacy as a senator. He was a champion of building federal highways and waterways.
John’s son, William, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1916. Thus he served simultaneously in the House while his father served in the Senate. He followed his father’s advice to learn the rules. He did and it earned him a seat on the powerful Rules Committee. He was joined on the committee by another southern congressman, who would also make his mark in Congress, Sam Rayburn from
During William Bankhead’s 23 years in Congress, he became Chairman of the Rules Committee, Majority Leader and then Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was and continues to be our only Alabamian to serve as Speaker of the House.
Even though William Bankhead was Alabama’s most distinguished congressman, he was best known as being the father of the most famous and flamboyant actress of that era, Tallulah Bankhead. Tallulah, who was named for her maternal grandmother, was very close to her Speaker father, William. She was renowned for her eccentric and uninhibited behavior and for her throaty utterance calling everyone, “dah-ling.” She thrust the Bankhead name in bright lights on Broadway and in
Senator John Hollis Bankhead had a daughter named Marie who made her mark in
Besides the national
The Bankhead’s of
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is