October 8, 1884
When Chauncey Sparks began his four-year term as governor in 1943, he was considered fundamentally conservative. But it turned out that he was progressive on various issues, improving funding for education and agricultural research.
Sparks was born on Oct. 8, 1884, in Barbour County, Alabama, but was raised and attended school in Georgia. He received a Bachelor of Arts in 1907 and a law degree in 1910 from Mercer University in Macon. He returned to Barbour County, where he passed the Alabama Bar Exam and opened a law office in Eufaula.
During his second term in the Alabama Legislature, Sparks earned the title “the Barbour Bourbon” for his leadership in a group that became known as the “Economy Block.” This group of representatives fought income and state sales tax proposals. He sponsored a constitutional amendment to limit salaries of state officials to $6,000 a year and spoke out for a balanced budget.
Sparks ran for governor three times, but succeeded in winning only one term. As governor from 1943-47, Sparks launched a series of initiatives that helped improve the quality of life for all Alabamians. The state appropriation for education was doubled, the school term was lengthened from seven to eight months, appropriations for medical education were doubled, and the University Medical College was moved to Birmingham and expanded to a four-year program. Sparks died in Eufaula on Nov. 6, 1968.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.