McLendon was the oldest of six children born to David Owen and Amanda Adaline (Jones) McLendon, and the grandson of pioneer settler Dixie McLendon. He grew up on a farm in Shelby County and attended district schools. He was made secretary of the Farmers' Alliance co-operative store at Calera , which he later managed for the proprietor's widow. After that he was hired as an express agent and messenger for the Southern Express Company, and then an employee of the Southern Railroad and Louisville & Nashville Railroad.
McLendon married the former Neva Lillian Davis on December 18, 1901 and resided at East Lake. He worked as vice-president and director of the Birmingham Dental Manufacturing Company and was a member of several Masonic lodges. He resigned from the railroad when he was first elected as Jefferson County Tax Assessor in 1912. He was re-elected in 1916 without opposition. His next years as a business investor were rocky, as two small manufacturers he had backed both went bankrupt.
McLendon won the presidency the City Commission in the 1921 Birmingham municipal election. Before taking office, he and his fellow Commissioners-elect were brought into a controversy over the city's purchase of land on the north slope of Red Mountain, now Altamont Park.
On June 16, 1922 McLendon and his fellow commissioners were indicted by a Grand Jury on charges of violating the Corrupt Practices Act by promising public offices to supporters. During his term, the Birmingham Fire Department and Birmingham Police Department were brought into the Civil Service system to counter such charges of favoritism.
In January 1925 McLendon sought to prohibit the Frolic Theater's series of "Midnight Revues" in which white audiences were invited to enjoy the black Vaudeville acts on its stage at special late performances every two weeks. Though he had not attended any of the shows, McLendon found them, "objectionable from the standpoint of health, morals, and the intermingling of the races," and asked city attorney W. J. Wynn to draft an ordinance to force theaters to close at a reasonable hour. After a meeting at which the Frolic's owner agreed to cease holding such events, McLendon dropped the planned ordinance.
|President of Birmingham City Commission
- Cruikshank, George H. (1920) History of Birmingham and Its Environs: A Narrative Account of Their Historical Progress, Their People, and Their Principal Interests 2 volumes. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- "Birmingham Grand Jury Accuses Three Officials of Promising Jobs." (June 17, 1922) The New York Times
- "Midnight Shows Seen as Menace" (January 10, 1925) The Birmingham News, p. 10
- "Midnight Shows to Be Abandoned" (January 11, 1925) The Birmingham News, p. 31
- Vick, Mary-Helen (1965) A Survey of the Governing Body of Birmingham, Alabama, 1910-1964. Master's thesis. Alabama College
- Harris, Carl V. (1977) Political Power in Birmingham, 1871-1921. Twentieth-Century America Series. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 087049211X