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List of Governors of Alabama

The Governor of Alabama is the head of the executive branch of Alabama's government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has a duty to enforce state laws, and the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Alabama Legislature, to convene the legislature, and to grant pardons, except in cases of impeachment.

The first constitution of 1819 created the office of governor, to serve a term of two years and no more than four out of every six years. This remained in place until the constitution of 1868, which simply allowed governors to serve terms of two years. The current constitution of 1901 increased this to four years, but forbid governors from succeeding themselves. Amendment 282 to the constitution, passed in 1968, allowed governors to succeed themselves once. The constitution had no set date for the commencement of the governor's term until 1901, when it was set at the first Monday after the second Tuesday in the January following an election.

The office of lieutenant governor was created in 1868, abolished in the 1875 constitution, and recreated in 1901. According to the current constitution, should the governor be out of the state for more than 20 days, the lieutenant governor becomes acting governor, and if the office of governor becomes vacant the lieutenant governor fully becomes governor. Earlier constitutions said the powers of the governor devolved upon the successor, rather than them necessarily becoming governor, but the official listing includes these as full governors. The governor and lieutenant governor are not elected on the same ticket.

There have officially been 52 governors of the state of Alabama; this official numbering skips acting and military governors. In addition, the first governor, William Wyatt Bibb, also served as the only governor of Alabama Territory. Five people have served as acting governor, bringing the total number of people serving as governor to 57, spread over 62 distinct terms. Four governors have served multiple non-consecutive terms: Bibb Graves, James E. Folsom, Sr., and Forrest H. "Fob" James each served two terms, and George Wallace served three. Officially, these non-consecutive terms are numbered only with the number of their first term. William D. Jelks also served non-consecutive terms, but his first term was in an acting capacity. The longest-serving governor was George Wallace, who served twelve years over three terms. The shortest term for a non-acting governor was that of Hugh McVay, who served four and a half months after replacing the resigning Clement C. Clay. Lurleen Wallace, wife of George Wallace, was the first and so far only woman to serve as governor of Alabama, and only the third woman to serve as governor of any state. The current governor is Bob Riley, who took office on January 20, 2003; his term will expire in January 2011.

Governors

The land that became Alabama was mostly obtained by the United States in the American Revolution. The bulk was initially part of the state of Georgia, while the southern bit was part of the Spanish colony of West Florida. That portion was controlled in 1810 by the self-proclaimed Republic of West Florida, which had only one president, Fulwar Skipwith. Georgia sold its land to the federal government following the Yazoo land scandal, and Mississippi Territory was formed from that area in 1798, with part of the newly-annexed West Florida added to the territory in 1810. Alabama Territory was split from Mississippi Territory in 1817, and achieved statehood in 1819. See the lists of governors of Mississippi Territory (1798–1817), of Georgia (—1804), and colonial governors of Spanish Florida (—1810) for these periods.

Governor of Alabama Territory

Alabama Territory was formed on March 3, 1817 from Mississippi Territory. It had only one governor before it became a state; he later became the first state governor.

# Name Took office Left office Appointed by
1 William Wyatt Bibb March 6, 1817 December 14, 1819 James Monroe

Governors of Alabama

Alabama was admitted to the Union on December 14, 1819. It seceded from the Union on January 11, 1861 and was a founding member of the Confederate States of America on February 4, 1861; there was no Union government in exile, so there was a single line of governors. Following the end of the American Civil War during Reconstruction, it was part of the Third Military District, which exerted some control over governor appointments and elections. Alabama was readmitted to the Union on July 14, 1868.

Alabama was a strongly Democratic state before the Civil War, electing only candidates from the Democratic-Republican and Democratic parties. It had two Republican governors following Reconstruction, but after the Democratic Party established control, 119 years passed before voters chose another Republican.

# Name Took office Left office Party Lt. Governor Terms
1 William Wyatt Bibb December 14, 1819 July 10, 1820 Democratic-Republican None ½
2 Thomas Bibb July 10, 1820 November 9, 1821 Democratic-Republican None ½
3 Israel Pickens November 9, 1821 November 25, 1825 Democratic-Republican None 2
4 John Murphy November 25, 1825 November 25, 1829 Jackson Democrat None 2
5 Gabriel Moore November 25, 1829 March 3, 1831 Jackson Democrat None ½
6 Samuel B. Moore March 3, 1831 November 26, 1831 Democratic None ½
7 John Gayle November 26, 1831 November 21, 1835 Democratic None 2
8 Clement C. Clay November 21, 1835 July 17, 1837 Democratic None ½
9 Hugh McVay July 17, 1837 November 30, 1837 Democratic None ½
10 Arthur P. Bagby November 30, 1837 November 22, 1841 Democratic None 2
11 Benjamin Fitzpatrick November 22, 1841 December 10, 1845 Democratic None 2
12 Joshua L. Martin December 10, 1845 December 16, 1847 Independent None 1
13 Reuben Chapman December 16, 1847 December 17, 1849 Democratic None 1
14 Henry W. Collier December 17, 1849 December 20, 1853 Democratic None 2
15 John A. Winston December 20, 1853 December 1, 1857 Democratic None 2
16 Andrew B. Moore December 1, 1857 December 2, 1861 Democratic None 2
17 John Gill Shorter December 2, 1861 December 1, 1863 Democratic None 1
18 Thomas H. Watts December 1, 1863 May 1, 1865 Democratic None ½
19 Lewis E. Parsons June 21, 1865 December 13, 1865 Democratic None ½
20 Robert M. Patton December 13, 1865 July 24, 1868 Democratic None 1
Wager Swayne March 2, 1867 July 14, 1868 Military None
21 William H. Smith July 24, 1868 November 26, 1870 Republican None 1
Andrew J. Applegate
22 Robert B. Lindsay November 26, 1870 November 17, 1872 Democratic Edward H. Moren 1
23 David P. Lewis November 17, 1872 November 24, 1874 Republican Alexander McKinstry 1
24 George S. Houston November 24, 1874 November 28, 1878 Democratic Robert F. Ligon 2
None
25 Rufus W. Cobb November 28, 1878 December 1, 1882 Democratic None 2
26 Edward A. O'Neal December 1, 1882 December 1, 1886 Democratic None 2
27 Thomas Seay December 1, 1886 December 1, 1890 Democratic None 2
28 Thomas G. Jones December 1, 1890 December 1, 1894 Democratic None 2
29 William C. Oates December 1, 1894 December 1, 1896 Democratic None 1
30 Joseph F. Johnston December 1, 1896 December 1, 1900 Democratic None 2
William D. Jelks December 1, 1900 December 26, 1900 Democratic None
31 William J. Samford December 1, 1900 June 11, 1901 Democratic None
32 William D. Jelks June 11, 1901 January 14, 1907 Democratic None 1⅓
Russell M. Cunningham
Russell M. Cunningham April 25, 1904 March 5, 1905 Democratic acting as governor
33 B. B. Comer January 14, 1907 January 17, 1911 Democratic Henry B. Gray 1
34 Emmet O'Neal January 17, 1911 January 18, 1915 Democratic Walter D. Seed, Sr. 1
35 Charles Henderson January 18, 1915 January 20, 1919 Democratic Thomas Kilby 1
36 Thomas Kilby January 20, 1919 January 15, 1923 Democratic Nathan Lee Miller 1
37 William W. Brandon January 15, 1923 January 17, 1927 Democratic Charles S. McDowell 1
Charles S. McDowell July 10, 1924 July 11, 1924 Democratic acting as governor
38 Bibb Graves January 17, 1927 January 19, 1931 Democratic William C. Davis 1
39 Benjamin M. Miller January 19, 1931 January 14, 1935 Democratic Hugh D. Merrill 1
38 Bibb Graves January 14, 1935 January 17, 1939 Democratic Thomas E. Knight 1
40 Frank M. Dixon January 17, 1939 January 19, 1943 Democratic Albert A. Carmichael 1
41 Chauncey Sparks January 19, 1943 January 20, 1947 Democratic Leven H. Ellis 1
42 James E. Folsom, Sr. January 20, 1947 January 15, 1951 Democratic James C. Inzer 1
43 Gordon Persons January 15, 1951 January 17, 1955 Democratic James Allen 1
42 James E. Folsom, Sr. January 17, 1955 January 19, 1959 Democratic William G. Hardwick 1
44 John Patterson January 19, 1959 January 14, 1963 Democratic Albert Boutwell 1
45 George Wallace January 14, 1963 January 16, 1967 Democratic James Allen 1
46 Lurleen Wallace January 16, 1967 May 7, 1968 Democratic Albert Brewer ½
47 Albert Brewer May 7, 1968 January 18, 1971 Democratic vacant ½
45 George Wallace January 18, 1971 January 15, 1979 Democratic Jere Beasley 2
Jere Beasley June 5, 1972 July 7, 1972 Democratic acting as governor
48 Forrest H. "Fob" James Jr. January 15, 1979 January 17, 1983 Democratic George McMillan 1
45 George Wallace January 17, 1983 January 19, 1987 Democratic Bill Baxley 1
49 H. Guy Hunt January 19, 1987 April 22, 1993 Republican

James E. Folsom, Jr.
50 James E. Folsom, Jr. April 22, 1993 January 16, 1995 Democratic vacant ½
48 Forrest H. "Fob" James Jr. January 16, 1995 January 18, 1999 Republican

Don Siegelman 1
51 Don Siegelman January 18, 1999 January 20, 2003 Democratic

Steve Windom 1
52 Bob Riley January 20, 2003 incumbent Republican

Lucy Baxley 2
James E. Folsom, Jr.

Notes

Other high offices held

This is a table of congressional, confederate and other federal offices held by governors. All representatives and senators mentioned represented Alabama except where noted. * denotes those offices which the governor resigned to take. † denotes those offices from which the governor resigned to take the governorship.

Name Gubernatorial term U.S. Congress Other offices held
House Senate
William Wyatt Bibb 1817–1820 U.S. Representative and Senator† from Georgia
Israel Pickens 1821–1825 S
John Murphy 1825–1829 H
Gabriel Moore 1829–1831 H S*
John Gayle 1831–1835 H
Clement Comer Clay 1835–1837 H S*
Arthur P. Bagby 1837–1841 S U.S. Ambassador to Russia
Benjamin Fitzpatrick 1841–1845 S President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate (twice)
Joshua L. Martin 1845–1847 H
Reuben Chapman 1847–1849 H
John A. Winston 1853–1857 Elected to the U.S. Senate but was refused his seat
John Gill Shorter 1861–1863 Provisional Confederate Deputy
Thomas H. Watts 1863–1865 Attorney General of the Confederate States
Lewis E. Parsons 1865 Elected to the U.S. Senate but was refused his seat
David P. Lewis 1872–1874 Provisional Confederate Deputy
George S. Houston 1874–1878 H S
Joseph F. Johnston 1896–1900 S
William J. Samford 1900–1901 H
B. B. Comer 1907–1911 S
Bob Riley 2003–present H

Living former governors

, seven former governors were alive, the oldest being John Patterson (born ). The most recent death of a former governor was that of George Wallace (1971–1979, 1983–1987), on September 13, 1998.

Name Gubernatorial term Date of birth
John Patterson 1959–1963
Albert Brewer 1968–1971
Jere Beasley 1972 (acting)
Forrest H. "Fob" James Jr. 1979–1983, 1995–1999
H. Guy Hunt 1987–1993
James E. Folsom, Jr. 1993–1995
Don Siegelman 1999–2003

References

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