April 9, 1869
James Thomas Heflin was born at Louina, in Randolph County. Alabama probably hasn’t had a more colorful or controversial U.S. senator than “Cotton Tom” Heflin, who is also known as the “Father of Mother’s Day,” having written and achieved passage of the national holiday. He is also known as one of that era’s most virulent supporters of white supremacy and the convict leasing system, and strongly opposed women’s right to vote. Heflin helped draft language in the 1901 constitution that in effect barred black Alabamians from voting. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1920-31. Heflin’s nephew, Howell Heflin, served as the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court as well as a U.S. senator.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
Portrait of J.T. Heflin. (Alabama Department of Archives and History, Wikipedia)
Sen. James Kimble Vardaman, James Thomas Heflin and Ollie James, 1912. (Bain News Service, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
Alabama U.S. Sen. James “Cotton Tom” Heflin, front and center, poses with a group of cotton farmers on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., in 1912. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Library of Congress)
James Thomas Heflin (1869-1951) practiced law in LaFayette, Alabama, before becoming that city’s mayor. He also served in the Alabama House of Representatives and was Alabama secretary of state. Heflin served in the U.S. Senate from 1920 to 1931. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Birmingham Public Library Archives)
Portrait of J. Thomas Heflin, published between 1905-1945. (Harris & Ewing, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
A Rollin Kirby political cartoon titled “The Show That Flopped,” depicting Alabama U.S. Sen. James T. Heflin as a vaudeville performer walking along a railroad track with a satchel labeled “The Great Heflin” and carrying a sword and a spear labeled “Religious Bigotry.” The cartoon appeared in The New York Times in April 1928 regarding Heflin’s attempts to foil New York presidential candidate Al Smith’s campaign in North Carolina. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Library of Congress)
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.