George Huddleston Jr.

George Samuel Huddleston Jr. (1920-1971) was the Democratic representative from the Ninth District to Congress between 1955 and 1965 and the son of Democratic Congressman George S. Huddleston Sr. In addition to his service in Congress, Huddleston also served in the U.S. Navy and had a long business and legal career. His political career coincided with the turbulent years of the civil rights movement in the South, which he consistently opposed while in Congress.

Huddleston Jr. was born in Birmingham, Jefferson County, on March 19, 1920, to George Samuel and Bertha L. (Baxley) Huddleston. His attended public schools in the nation’s capital and graduated from Eastern High School in Washington, D.C., in 1937. He attended George Washington University for one year before transferring to Birmingham-Southern College, where he coedited an index to the official proceedings of the Alabama Constitutional Convention of 1901. Huddleston Jr. studied economics and political science and graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. degree in 1941. He was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society, Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity, and the Farrah Order of Jurisprudence educational organization. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1946 in the Pacific Theater and joined the Naval Reserve as a captain. He received eight Battle Stars for meritorious participation in battle during his 32-month deployment in World War II.

Following his military career, Huddleston Jr. attended the University of Alabama Law School, where he received a law degree in 1948. Later that year, he was admitted to the Alabama State Bar and the American Bar Association and served as deputy solicitor for Alabama’s Tenth Judicial Circuit in Jefferson County from 1948 to 1949. He became a member of the U.S., Alabama, and Washington, D.C., Supreme Court Bars. Huddleston Jr. served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the northern district of Alabama from 1949 to 1952 and then entered private practice in Birmingham. He married Alice Jeanne Haworth on March 13, 1953, and the couple had three children. He was a Freemason, Shriner, Commander of the American Legion Department of Alabama, and member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

In 1954, Huddleston Jr. ran successfully for his father’s old congressional seat in Alabama’s Ninth District, consisting of Blount, Jefferson, Bibb, and Perry Counties, defeating Birmingham postmaster Arthur Albright. He would go on to serve five terms. He was a staunch conservative who pushed a states’ rights agenda and opposed civil rights legislation during the turbulent period of the 1950s and 1960s. He served on the House Armed Services Committee and secured large Defense Department appropriations for military bases in Alabama as well as the Marshall Space Flight Center at Huntsville. In 1956, he was among 101 congressmen of the Deep South who signed the “Southern Manifesto” opposing the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling integrating public schools and would later vote against the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960.

George Wallace and George Huddleston Jr. Huddleston Jr. often criticized the federal government for its actions in relation to school integration and voting rights and strongly favored segregation. He opposed the creation of the Department of Urban Affairs and Pres. John F. Kennedy’s executive order that desegregated government housing. In 1961, Huddleston Jr. publicly supported the violent actions by the Ku Klux Klan and Alabama public safety officers against the Freedom Riders. In 1962, Alabama’s Congressional Representatives ran in a statewide “at large” election, and Alabama’s Ninth District became inactive on January 3, 1963. Huddleston Jr. lost his bid for reelection to the newly redistricted Sixth District in 1964 to Republican John Hall Buchanan Jr. by a 21-point margin despite his vote against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and his support for Alabama governor George Wallace‘s 1964 call for a constitutional convention to secure state control over public schools. Following his congressional defeat, Huddleston Jr. became bitter toward Alabama and moved to Middleburg, Virginia, where he worked as an executive with North American Rockwell Corporation in Washington, D.C. Huddleston Jr. died of a heart attack at his office there on September 14, 1971, and was buried near his parents in Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham.

Further Reading

  • Packer, George. Blood of the Liberals. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.

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George Wallace and Alabama Congressmen

Courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives and History
George Wallace and Alabama Congressmen