July 3, 1900
William Richardson was elected on this day by the Democratic Party to replace Confederate Gen. Joseph Wheeler, who had resigned from Congress. Richardson represented Alabama’s Eighth Congressional District, which was then made up of Lawrence, Colbert, Lauderdale, Limestone, Morgan, Madison and Jackson counties. A native of Athens, Alabama, Richardson served on the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce (CIFC). One of this committee’s major contributions was to fund efforts to complete the Panama Canal. The committee also established the Public Health Service and the Department of Commerce and Labor. Richardson was later made chairman of the Committee on Pensions. In this role, he supported a stronger pension program for veterans, widows and orphans, and federally funded group homes for disabled Union and Confederate soldiers. Richardson was an early spokesman in Congress for developing the Tennessee River for navigation and hydroelectric power. But it was not until after Richardson’s death that a dam was built to harness the river and the Tennessee Valley Authority was created.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.