Alabama Academy of Honor


John Sparkman

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1969.



John Sparkman, Junior Senator from Alabama, was born on a farm near Hartselle in Morgan County, Alabama in 1899, the son of a deputy sheriff. Educated in the public school of Morgan County, Sparkman entered the University of Alabama where he compiled a distinguished record before graduating with his law degree in 1923 and his Master's Degree in 1924. He was Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper, Phi Beta Kappa, and student body president. He still found time to work his way through school by shoveling coal and feeding furnaces. Sparkman began law practice in Huntsville in 1924, and also taught school to supplement his income.

His political career began in 1936, when he was first elected to the United States House of Representatives. He served five successive terms, and gained renown for his sponsorship of such programs as the farm-tenant purchase program, rehabilitation loans for small farmers, and lower interest rates for farm loans. He was a champion of the TVA and REA.

In 1946, the veteran Congressman sought and won the U. S. Senator seat vacated by the death of Senator Bankhead. He served successively, being re-elected four times to the Senator by his fellow Alabamians.

In 1952, Senator Sparkman was a candidate for Vice President of the United States on the Democratic ticket with Adlai Stephenson. Senator Sparkman is the author of practically every major housing bill since World War II, and is also known as the father of the Small Business Administration.

The Senator is Chairman of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee, as well as its Housing Subcommittee. He was also ranking majority member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the Senior Democrat on both the Joint Economic Committee and the Select Committee on Small Business.

Sparkman was a Methodist, a Mason, a Kiwanian, a World War I veteran, an American Legion members, and an Army Reserve Colonel. He was the recipient of numerous honors, including his 1961 award from the 4-H Clubs of America as their Outstanding Alumnus. In 1962, he was named Alabama's's Man of the Year by Progressive Farmer Magazine. He held honorary degrees from the University of Alabama, Auburn University, and Spring Hill College. Sparkman is married to the former Ivo Hall of Albertville. They had one daughter, Mrs. Tazwell Shepard. Mr. Sparkman is now deceased.