Underwood, Oscar W. (Oscar Wilder), 1862-1929

Alternative names
Birth 1862-05-06
Death 1929-01-25

Biographical notes:

Incorporated in Maine in 1907, the Telepost Company was an independent telegraph company using the rapid system of telegraphy invented by Patrick B. Delaney. The company operated between Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Louisville and other cities in the west. Rates were a quarter for 25 words and a nickel for each additional 10 words when the message was delivered by messenger; and 50 words for a quarter when the message was sent by wire and delivered to the post office in a sealed envelop. That's how they came up with the name "Telepost"....Telegraph and Post Office.

From the guide to the Letters from U. S. Senators regarding the "Telepost Bill" of 1910 mss. 3730., 1910, (University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama)

United States senator from Alabama.

From the description of Photographs of Oscar Wilder Underwood, 1883-1926. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 32959273

House of Representative Majority Leader and Senate Minority Leader. Presidential candidate 1912 and 1923; author of Underwood Tariff Bill; and member Washington Naval Conference.

From the description of Clippings regarding his political and legislative career as House of Representative Majority Leader and Senate Minority Leader [manuscript] 1909-1929. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647966833

Oscar Wilder Underwood was born in Louisville, Ky., on 1862 May 6, to Eugene and Frederica Virginia Wilder. In 1864 the family moved to St. Paul, Minn. By 1876 the family had moved back to Louisville. Oscar was sent to Rugby preparatory school in Louisville. He attended the University of Va. leaving in 1884 without a degree.

After practising law for two months in St. Paul, Underwood moved to Birmingham where his half-brother, William T. Underwood, had substantial business connections. Underwood was admitted to the Ala. bar by 1884 Sept., and he joined James J. Garrett and Ellis Phelan, although the latter soon retired, and the firm became Garrett and Underwood.

On 1885 Oct. 8 Underwood married Eugenia Massie. They had two sons, John Lewis and Oscar Wilder, Jr. Underwood engaged in a variety of businesses in Birmingham. Although his law practise was primarily with civil cases, he also handled some work for corporations such as the First National Bank (Ala.) and the DeBardeleben Coal and Iron Company (Ala.).

In 1894, he was elected Democrat member-elect to the Fifty-fourth Congress from the Ninth District (Birmingham). However, Truman H. Aldrich successfully contested the election, and Underwood had to wait until 1896. He was returned to the House of Representatives where he remained until 1914 when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. During his second term in the House of Representatives, widower Underwood married Bertha Woodward. Reelected to the Senate in 1920, Underwood declined to run again in 1927.

During his political career he was the Democratic floor leader of the House of Representatives, 1911-1915; he was a candidate for the presidential nomination in 1912 and 1924; and he was the floor leader of his party in the Senate from 1921-1923.

He retired to his estate, Woodlawn, in Fairfax Co., Va. where he died on 1929 Jan. 25.

From the description of Papers, 1876-1962. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122547857


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  • Government, Law and Politics
  • Taxation
  • Margarine--Law and legislation
  • Railway mail service
  • Postal service
  • Labor laws and legislation
  • Press and politics
  • Political parties
  • Slavery--Transportation
  • Iron industry and trade
  • Rural free delivery
  • Tintype
  • Parcel post
  • Railroads
  • Dams
  • Foreign workers
  • Road construction
  • Campaign management
  • Judges
  • Sheep--Transportation
  • Prohibition
  • Racism
  • Lawyers
  • Coal trade
  • Suffrage
  • Hours of labor
  • Military education
  • Presidents--Election--1912
  • Internal revenue
  • Women--Suffrage
  • Journalists
  • Tariff--Law and legislation
  • Monetary policy
  • Politics, Practical
  • Political parties--Platforms
  • Free trade and protection
  • Lawyers--Political activity
  • African Americans--Suffrage
  • Education
  • Daguerreotype
  • Presidents--Election--1824
  • Advertising, political
  • Tariff
  • Cotton trade
  • Banks and banking


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  • Black Warrior River (Ala.) (as recorded)
  • Woodlawn Plantation (Va.) (as recorded)
  • Alabama (as recorded)
  • Monticello (Va.) (as recorded)
  • Birmingham (Ala.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Panama (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Kentucky (as recorded)
  • Cahaba River (Ala.) (as recorded)
  • Tennessee River (as recorded)
  • Colorado (as recorded)
  • Alabama (as recorded)
  • Muscle Shoals (Ala.) (as recorded)
  • Philippine Islands (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • California (as recorded)
  • Virginia (as recorded)