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Oscar Underwood: A Featured Biography

Photo of Senator Oscar Underwood of Alabama

Born and raised in Kentucky, Oscar W. Underwood moved to Alabama in 1884 and established a successful law practice. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1894 and from 1911 to 1915 served as House majority leader and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Underwood joined the Senate in 1915 and was chosen as the Democratic leader in 1920. Frustrated by Senate rules that allowed for filibusters, and facing dissatisfaction among Democrats with his performance, he stepped down from leadership in 1923. Twice—in 1912 and 1924—Underwood unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination. He became a household name during the Democratic Party's 1924 national convention—the first to be broadcast over the radio—when each of the convention's 104 ballots began with Alabama casting its votes for Oscar W. Underwood. Senator Underwood retired from politics in 1927 and died on January 25, 1929.