Skip to main content

Samuel Francis Hobbs papers

 Collection
Identifier: MSS-0682

Scope and Contents note

This collection is made up of correspondence, memoranda, pamphlets, government publications and other materials concerning Samuel Francis Hobbs's career as the U.S. Congressman (1934-1951) from the 4th district of Alabama.

The collection is comprised of six series, the primary one being the correspondence, both incoming and outgoing, during his eight terms in Congress. While in Congress, Hobbs was a member of the House Judiciary Committee and served as lead prosecutor during the impeachment trial of Judge Halstead L. Ritter. (On 2 March 1936, the U. S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Ritter by 181 votes to 146 on seven articles of impeachment. The seven articles were: (1) ordering the payment of "exorbitant" legal fees with intent to embezzle; (2) showing favoritism in bankruptcy cases; (3) two charges of practicing law while a judge; (4) two charges of tax evasion; and (5) bringing the judiciary into disrepute. Although the House voted to impeach Ritter, the Senate acquitted him of all but the last account. Ritter was removed from office on 17 April 1936.) The correspondence is in roughly alphabetical order by subject, depending mainly on what Hobbs determined was the subject matter.

The other series include miscellaneous bills and reports, miscellaneous newspaper clippings, notebooks and scrapbooks, as well as some mineral artifacts. Approximately 156 photographs, snapshots and studio portraits, were separated from the collection and moved to the Photograph Unit.

The miscellaneous bills and reports are arranged chronologically and most do not have readily recognizable related material in the correspondence series. The miscellaneous newspaper clippings consist mainly of articles that either dealt with bills before Congress or were of personal interest to Hobbs. The majority of the articles are not organized in any manner. Also most are not identified as to the newspaper or date published. Three of the folders (numbers 0682.0546/23, 0682.0546/24, and 0682.0546/25) cover the Hobbs Anti-Racketeering bill that was signed into law in 1951. Other than these, the clippings are not organized in any manner.

The materials from Hobbs's various pocket notebooks cover a wide range of topics and appear to have been used to collect speech outlines and notes, Sunday school class lectures, poems, jokes, letters, and newspaper clippings. With one exception - the law notes (folder 0682.050/001) - there does not appear to be any real rhyme or reason to what is in each notebook. Because of the randomness within the notebooks, the folders are in no particular order.

The scrapbooks in the fifth series were created by Sarah John (Mrs. Henry William) English, of Jackson, Illinois (Mrs. English was a friend of the Hobbs). Apparently she created the scrapbooks about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln and gave them to Hobbs.

The final series is a collection of small vials of sand and minerals from plants in Alabama. There is also a rock with mica in it. Because the six vials of sand are only closed with glass stoppers, all ten of the vials and the rock were removed from the correspondence dealing with mines and minerals (box 0682.030).

Dates

  • 1921-1952
  • Majority of material found within 1945 - 1950

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

None

Biographical/Historical note

Samuel Francis Hobbs was born on 5 October 1887 in Selma, Alabama. He attended the public schools there, Marion (Alabama) Military Institute, and Vanderbilt University at Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated from the law department of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in 1908. He was admitted to the bar that same year and commenced practicing law in Selma. He married Sarah Ellen Green and the couple had three children, Samuel Earle, Rosa Miller, and Truman McGill.

In 1921, Hobbs was appointed judge of the fourth judicial circuit of Alabama. He was elected to the same office in 1923 and served until his resignation in 1926. He then resumed the practice of law. He served as chairman of the Muscle Shoals Commission in 1931 as well as the chairman of the Alabama National Recovery Administration Committee in 1933.

Hobbs was elected in 1934, as a Democrat, to the Seventy-fourth and to the seven succeeding Congresses, serving from 3 January 1935 to 3 January 1951. Throughout his congressional service, Hobbs was closely allied with J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI. Hobbs was frequently advised by Hoover aide, Alexander Holtzoff, and in 1941, at the behest of Hoover, Hobbs introduced a bill that would have legalized wiretapping by the FBI, or any other government agency, if it was suspected that a felony was occurring. The bill was supported by Attorney General Robert H. Jackson, and seemed likely to pass, until FCC chairman James Lawrence Fly testified against the bill to Congress, and it did not pass. The conflict was much discussed in the national news. Hobbs also passed a bill that would have deported labor leader Harry Bridges. The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court where the deportation order was cancelled.

Hobbs was the lead manager appointed by the House of Representatives in 1936 to conduct the impeachment proceedings against Halsted L. Ritter, judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Ritter was acquitted of all but the last of seven articles of impeachment. These were: (1) ordering the payment of "exorbitant" legal fees with intent to embezzle; (2) showing favoritism in bankruptcy cases; (3-4) two charges of practicing law while a judge; (5-6) two charges of tax evasion; and (7) bringing the judiciary into disrepute. Ritter was removed from office on 17 April 1936.

Sam Hobbs successfully introduced The Hobbs Act, which criminalized at least three distinct forms of criminal conduct: robbery, extortion by force, fear or threat, and extortion under color of law. The Hobbs Act, codified in 18 U.S.C. § 1951, is frequently used today in federal prosecutions.

Hobbs did not seek re-election in 1950, but returned to Selma, Alabama and reestablished his law practice. He died in Selma on 31 May 1952.

Extent

47.8 Linear Feet (36,269 items)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Correspondence, memoranda, pamphlets, government publications and other materials concerning Samuel Francis Hobbs's career as the U.S. Congressman (1934-1951) from the 4th district of Alabama.

Provenance

Gift of Samuel Earle Hobbs and Rosa M. (Mrs. John H.) Joyce, 1957

Processed by

Martha Bace, 2011
Title
Guide to the Samuel Francis Hobbs Papers
Status
Completed
Date
March 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266
205.348.0500