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William David Upshaw

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William David Upshaw (October 15, 1866 – November 21, 1952) served eight years in Congress (1919–1927), where he was such a strong proponent of the temperance movement that he became known as the "driest of the drys."

William David Upshaw
William David Upshaw, 3qtr length.jpg
William David Upshaw, c. 1919
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 5th district
In office
March 4, 1919 – March 3, 1927
Preceded byWilliam S. Howard
Succeeded byLeslie J. Steele
Personal details
Born(1866-10-15)October 15, 1866
Newnan, Georgia
DiedNovember 21, 1952(1952-11-21) (aged 86)
Glendale, California
Political partyDemocratic Party
Prohibition Party
Alma materMercer University

He was born on October 15, 1866 and served as vice-president of the Georgia Anti-Saloon League in 1906 and played a major role in passage of statewide prohibition in that state in 1907, making it the first dry state in the South.

The defense of prohibition was a major factor in the establishment of the second Ku Klux Klan ("Klan of the 1920s") in 1915. He vocally defended the Klan during a congressional probe into their activities saying: "that he felt a sort of wounded pride in hearing the many criticisms hurled at the Klan, which was organized in his district and whose imperial wizard is one of the Knightliest, most patriotic men I have ever known."[1] [2] He suggested investigating all secret societies such as the Masons, etc. which may have contributed to the early conclusion of the probe. It was claimed in internal Klan newsletters that he was to have been secretly a member, but he denied that he was[3].

In 1927 he was elected as a Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention.[4]

In a January 1951, after having been crippled for fifty-nine years as the result of an accident, Upshaw claimed to have been miraculously healed and had regained the ability to walk in a William Branham revival meeting.[5] Upshaw sent a letter describing his healing claim to each member of Congress.[6][5] Among the widespread media reports was a story carried in the Los Angeles Times that described it as "perhaps the most effective healing testimony this generation has ever seen."[6] Known as the "Billy Sunday of Congress," Upshaw was supported politically by the most powerful names in Southern Protestantism, including evangelist Bob Jones, Sr., the founder of what eventually became Bob Jones University. Upshaw served as a member of the Board of Trustees from the founding of Bob Jones College in Lynn Haven, Florida in 1927, until he was dropped from the Board in 1932 because of failure to attend the annual Board meetings or file his voting proxies. (See William David Upshaw Correspondence file, Bob Jones University Archives, Mack Library.)

In 1932, he was the Prohibition Party candidate for the President of the United States with Frank S. Regan of Illinois as his running mate. The ticket came in fifth, losing to Franklin D. Roosevelt (who favored repeal of prohibition), incumbent Republican President Herbert Hoover, Socialist candidate Norman Thomas, and Communist candidate William Z. Foster.

For the remainder of his life he was a strong supporter of the prohibition of alcoholic beverages. He died on November 21, 1952.


  1. ^ Coffeeville
  2. ^ Marshall
  3. ^ Billings
  4. ^ Annual
  5. ^ a b Harrell 1978, p. 35.
  6. ^ a b Weaver 2000, p. 57.
  • "Proposes Probe of All Secret Organizations". The Coffeyville Daily Journal. Coffeyville, Kansas. 7 October 1921. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  • "Congressman wants to know about "Mighty Chiefs of Wampum"". The Marshall News Messenger. Marshall, Texas. 12 October 1921. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  • "New York Condems Klan; Urges Prosecution". The Billings Gazette. Billings, Montana. 12 October 1921. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  • "Annual of Southern Baptist Convention 1927" (PDF). The Baptist Home Library. 27 Jun 1928. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  • Harrell, David (1978). All Things Are Possible: The Healing and Charismatic Revivals in Modern America. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-525-24136-1.
  • Weaver, C. Douglas (2000). The Healer-Prophet: William Marrion Branham (A study of the Prophetic in American Pentecostalism). Mercer University Press. ISBN 978-0-865-54710-0.
  • Upshaw, William D (1893). Earnest Willie, Or Echoes From A Recluse. Franklin Printing And Publishing Co.

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