Democrat George McInvale Grant (1897-1982) was one of the longest-serving congressmen from Alabama, from 1938 until 1965, with all but one term being for the Second Congressional District. Grant was eventually ousted by a Republican in the 1964 election. Previously, Grant established several law offices in eastern Alabama, centering his practice in Troy, Pike County.
Grant was born in Louisville, Barbour County, on July 11, 1897, to Benjamin Giles and Frances Gholson Stephens Grant; he had two brothers. One, Edwin Perry, served in the U.S. Navy during World War I and was later mayor of Louisville. Their father owned a mercantile store in which the boys worked. Grant attended local public schools in Barbour County. He volunteered for military service during World War I, entering in January 1918, trained in Texas and served as an aviation cadet for the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Following his military service, Grant pursued a law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law. He graduated in 1922 and was admitted to the state bar that same year. He then built up his successful law practice with several offices in eastern Alabama.
In 1938, Grant won the special election for Rep. Lister Hill‘s Second District seat following Hill’s appointment to the Senate. Hill took this position in the Senate after Dixie Bibb Graves formally resigned from the Senate. Grant married Matalie Carter in December 1938, with whom he would have two surviving children. Grant represented the Second District from 1938 until 1963 and then served a single term as one of eight representatives for at-large districts that Alabama instituted following the loss of a representative as a result of the 1960 Census.
Along with the rest of Alabama’s congressional delegation, Grant voted against the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, and 1964. He was not present at the vote for the 1960 Civil Rights Act following the addition of Senate amendments. Several congressional representatives in Alabama argued that the legislation placed an undue burden on individual states. Despite the large amount of resistance and direct opposition to the Act in Congress, which included a record-setting single-person filibuster, the Act ultimately passed. This Act paved the way for more a comprehensive civil rights legislation in the 1960s that addressed broader concerns regarding civil rights in the middle of the century. Grant signed the “Southern Manifesto” in 1956, a congressional resolution affirmed by 101 legislators pledging to overturn the school desegregation order in the 1954 Supreme Court’s Brown v Board decision. He likely opposed the integration of the military under Pres. Harry S. Truman and was an open supporter of South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats in 1948.
Grant served the at-large district for one term. He was handily defeated in 1964 by William Louis Dickinson who had recently switched from the Democratic to Republican Party. That year, Republicans won five congressional seats in Alabama as southern and conservative Democrats like Dickinson abandoned the party due to its open support for civil rights legislation. This change greatly influenced the election results and ultimately contributed to Grant’s loss in the election of 1964.
Following his retirement from public service, Grant spent the last 17 years of his life as a retiree in Washington, D.C. On November 4, 1982, Grant died aboard the Queen Elizabeth II off the coast of Virginia on a return trip from France. He is interred in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, along with his wife.