Lister Hill: Statesman from the South

Lister Hill: Statesman from the South

Lister Hill: Statesman from the South

Lister Hill: Statesman from the South

Synopsis

This definitive biography of Lister Hill (1894-1984), who represented Alabama in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate for forty-five years, is a study of the dilemma of a Deep South liberal. Hamilton questions whether his major contributions in education and health for all Americans were worth the political and personal sacrifices Hill was forced to make in order to maintain the support of his conservative supporters, most notably their opposition to civil rights legislation.

Originally published in 1987.

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Excerpt

In Montgomery, the past outranks the present. Alabama’s white-domed, pillared seat of government, a graceful, modest echo of the nation’s capitol, still dominates Montgomery’s skyline from atop a rise known as Goat Hill at the head of a broad avenue. Lest Montgomerians tend to forget, the old capital serves as a constant sentinel of the past, reminding them of memorable happenings in this setting … when Jefferson Davis stood on its steps to take his oath as president of the Confederate States of America … when Yankee troops marched through these streets three days after Appomattox … when chiefs of state, Grover Cleveland, and both Roosevelts, came to visit … when daring Zelda Sayre, before she married F Scott Fitzgerald, rode up Dexter Avenue in a rumble seat, wearing only a flesh-colored bathing suit … when the Freedom Riders stepped from their bus … when Rosa Parks refused to ride in the back of another bus … when George Wallace defied federal judges and presidents of the United States … when Martin Luther King Jr. led thousands of votingrights marchers from Selma to this capital. Although scattered across two centuries, to Montgomerians these events seem telescoped. When did all this happen? Yesterday. Just yesterday.

“In union there is strength”

On 27 December 1894 or, as Montgomery measures time, about midway between the visits of Grover Cleveland and Teddy Roosevelt, Lister Hill was bom in this city. His parents must have rejoiced that wintry day over the arrival of a black-haired, male child to fill the void left five years earlier . . .

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