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Frank William Boykin, Sr. (February 21, 1885, in Bladon Springs, Alabama – March 12, 1969, in Washington, D.C.[1]) served as a Democratic Congressman in Alabama's 1st congressional district from 1935-1963.

Boykin had little formal education, but became a successful businessman with interests in lumber and turpentine. During World War I, he was an executive with several shipbuilding companies. He was one of the more prominent defendants in Mobile's whiskey trials of 1924 and 1925.[2]

In 1935, he was elected to Congress from the Mobile-based 1st District following John McDuffie's appointment to a federal judgeship. He hadn't voted in any election himself since the 1920s, and had to pay 14 years' worth of back poll taxes to cast a vote for himself.[2] He won the seat in his own right in 1936 and was reelected 12 more times. He was chairman of the House Patents Committee from 1943 to 1947. He ran in a special election for the United States Senate in 1946, but finished a distant third.

Boykin was considered a mediocre congressman. Although his seniority allowed him to steer millions of federal dollars to his district, he was known for missing roll call votes more often than any other member of the state's congressional delegation.[2]

Although Boykin was an ardent supporter of racial segregation (as were most Alabama politicians of the time), he had a reputation for helping black constituents even if they couldn't vote. He had a particularly warm relationship with Alex Herman, the father of Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor, Alexis Herman. For example, he encouraged Herman to deliver black votes in the Mobile area to Senator Lister Hill during Hill's contentious 1962 election. It is believed that Hill's 6,000-vote margin of victory in that election was due mostly to heavy black turnout in Mobile.

He lost his seat when Alabama's congressional delegation was cut from nine to eight members after the 1960 United States Census. The state legislature couldn't agree on which district to eliminate, so all nine incumbents ran against each other in an unusual statewide election. The last-place finisher would be dropped, while the eight survivors would become at-large congressmen. Boykin finished last, trailing the eighth-place finisher, Kenneth A. Roberts of the 4th District, by 100,000 votes. He even lost Mobile, which came as a particular embarrassment.

Boykin was married to Ocllo Gunn Boykin for almost 56 years, even though he frequently cheated on her--something about which he openly bragged in the House cloakroom. According to one of his sons, Ocllo knew all along about her husband's numerous affairs.[3]

Boykin died in Washington, D.C. but is interred in Pine Crest Cemetery, Mobile, Alabama.[1]

References

Preceded by
John McDuffie
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 1st congressional district

1935-1963
Succeeded by
Vacant
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