List of Governors of Alabama
|Governor of Alabama|
|Residence||Alabama Governor's Mansion|
|Term length||Four years, can succeed self once|
|Inaugural holder||William Wyatt Bibb|
|Formation||December 14, 1819|
|Deputy||Lieutenant Governor of Alabama|
The Governor of Alabama is the chief executive of the U.S. state of Alabama. The governor is the head of the executive branch of Alabama's state government and is charged with enforcing state laws. The governor has 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 governor is also the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces.
There have officially been 53 governors of the state of Alabama; this official numbering skips acting and military governors. The first governor, William Wyatt Bibb, served as the only governor of the Alabama Territory. Five people have served as acting governor, bringing the total number of people serving as governor to 58, spread over 63 distinct terms. Four governors have served multiple non-consecutive terms: Bibb Graves, Jim Folsom, and Fob James each served two, and George Wallace served three non-consecutive periods. 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 sixteen years over four 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 Comer Clay. Lurleen Wallace, wife of George Wallace, was the first and so far only woman to serve as governor of Alabama, and the third woman to serve as governor of any state. The current governor is Republican Robert J. Bentley, who took office on January 17, 2011.
Governor of the Territory of Alabama
- For the period before Alabama Territory was formed, see the list of Governors of Mississippi Territory.
Alabama Territory was formed on March 3, 1817, from Mississippi Territory. It had only one governor appointed by the President of the United States before it became a state; he became the first state governor.
|Picture||Governor||Took office||Left office||Appointed by|
|William Wyatt Bibb||March 6, 1817[a]||December 14, 1819||James Monroe|
Governors of the State 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 Alabama government in exile, so there was a single line of governors. Following the end of the American Civil War, Alabama during Reconstruction 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.
The first Alabama Constitution, ratified in 1819, provided that a governor be elected every two years, limited to serve no more than four out of every six years. This limit remained in place until the constitution of 1868, which simply allowed governors to serve terms of two years. The current constitution of 1901 increased terms to four years, but prohibited 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 a 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 1875, 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.
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 re-established control, 112 years passed before voters chose another Republican.
|#[e]||Governor||Term start||Term end||Party||Lt. Governor[f][g]||Terms[h]|
|1||William Wyatt Bibb||December 14, 1819||July 10, 1820||Democratic-
|2||Thomas Bibb||July 10, 1820||November 9, 1821||Democratic-
|3||Israel Pickens||November 9, 1821||November 25, 1825||Democratic-
|4||John Murphy||November 25, 1825||November 25, 1829||Jackson
|5||Gabriel Moore||November 25, 1829||March 3, 1831||Jackson
|6||Samuel B. Moore||March 3, 1831||November 26, 1831||Democratic||1⁄2[j]|
|7||John Gayle||November 26, 1831||November 21, 1835||Democratic||2|
|8||Clement Comer Clay||November 21, 1835||July 17, 1837||Democratic||1⁄2[k]|
|9||Hugh McVay||July 17, 1837||November 30, 1837||Democratic||1⁄2[j]|
|10||Arthur P. Bagby||November 30, 1837||November 22, 1841||Democratic||2|
|11||Benjamin Fitzpatrick||November 22, 1841||December 10, 1845||Democratic||2|
|12||Joshua L. Martin||December 10, 1845||December 16, 1847||Independent||1[l]|
|13||Reuben Chapman||December 16, 1847||December 17, 1849||Democratic||1|
|14||Henry W. Collier||December 17, 1849||December 20, 1853||Democratic||2|
|15||John A. Winston||December 20, 1853||December 1, 1857||Democratic||2|
|16||Andrew B. Moore||December 1, 1857||December 2, 1861||Democratic||2|
|17||John Gill Shorter||December 2, 1861||December 1, 1863||Democratic||1|
|18||Thomas H. Watts||December 1, 1863||May 1, 1865||Democratic||1⁄2[m]|
|19||Lewis E. Parsons||June 21, 1865||December 13, 1865||Democratic||1⁄2[n]|
|20||Robert M. Patton||December 13, 1865||July 24, 1868||Pre-War Whig||1[o]|
|—||Wager Swayne||March 2, 1867||July 14, 1868||Military||—[p]|
|21||William Hugh Smith||July 24, 1868||November 26, 1870||Republican||None||1[q]|
|Andrew J. Applegate[i]|
|22||Robert B. Lindsay||November 26, 1870||November 17, 1872||Democratic||Edward H. Moren||1[q]|
|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|
|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||2|
|27||Thomas Seay||December 1, 1886||December 1, 1890||Democratic||2|
|28||Thomas G. Jones||December 1, 1890||December 1, 1894||Democratic||2|
|29||William C. Oates||December 1, 1894||December 1, 1896||Democratic||1|
|30||Joseph F. Johnston||December 1, 1896||December 1, 1900||Democratic||2|
|—||William D. Jelks||December 1, 1900||December 26, 1900||Democratic||1⁄3[r]|
|31||William J. Samford||December 1, 1900||June 11, 1901||Democratic||1⁄3[i]|
|32||William D. Jelks||June 11, 1901||January 14, 1907||Democratic||None||1 1⁄3[s][t]|
|Russell M. Cunningham|
|—||Russell M. Cunningham||April 25, 1904||March 5, 1905||Democratic||Acting as governor||—[u]|
|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||—[v]|
|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 Davis Merrill||1|
|38||Bibb Graves||January 14, 1935||January 17, 1939||Democratic||Thomas E. Knight[i]||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||Jim Folsom||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||Jim Folsom||January 17, 1955||January 19, 1959||Democratic||William G. Hardwick||1|
|44||John M. 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||1⁄2[i][w]|
|47||Albert Brewer||May 7, 1968||January 18, 1971||Democratic||Vacant||1⁄2[w][x]|
|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||—[y]|
|48||Fob James||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||Jim Folsom, Jr.[z]||1 1⁄2[aa]|
|50||Jim Folsom, Jr.||April 22, 1993||January 16, 1995||Democratic||Vacant||1⁄2[x]|
|48||Fob James||January 16, 1995||January 18, 1999||Republican||Don Siegelman[z]||1|
|51||Don Siegelman||January 18, 1999||January 20, 2003||Democratic||Steve Windom[ab]||1|
|52||Bob Riley||January 20, 2003||January 17, 2011||Republican||Lucy Baxley[z]||2|
|Jim Folsom, Jr.[z]|
|53||Robert J. Bentley||January 17, 2011||Incumbent||Republican||Kay Ivey||2[ac]|
Other high offices held
Eighteen of Alabama's governors have served higher federal or confederate offices. All but three were elected to the U.S. Congress, although one of those represented only Georgia. The remaining three served in the confederate government, two as members of the Provisional Confederate Congress, and one was the Confederate States Attorney General. One governor served as Minister to Russia. Two governors (marked with *) resigned to take seats in the Senate, and two (marked with ) resigned their positions to take office as governor.
Additionally, two governors were elected to the U.S. Senate shortly after the American Civil War, but were did not take office: Lewis E. Parsons was refused his seat because Alabama had not yet been reconstructed, and John A. Winston would not take the oath of allegiance.
All representatives and senators listed represented Alabama except where noted.
|Governor||Gubernatorial term||Other offices held||Sources|
|Bibb, William WyattWilliam Wyatt Bibb||1817–1820||Representative and Senator from Georgia|||
|Pickens, IsraelIsrael Pickens||1821–1825||Representative from North Carolina, Senator|||
|Murphy, JohnJohn Murphy||1825–1829||Representative|||
|Moore, GabrielGabriel Moore||1829–1831||Representative, Senator*|||
|Gayle, JohnJohn Gayle||1831–1835||Representative|||
|Clay, Clement ComerClement Comer Clay||1835–1837||Representative, Senator*|||
|Bagby, Arthur P.Arthur P. Bagby||1837–1841||Senator, Minister to Russia|||
|Fitzpatrick, BenjaminBenjamin Fitzpatrick||1841–1845||Senator (including as President pro tempore)|||
|Martin, Joshua L.Joshua L. Martin||1845–1847||Representative|||
|Chapman, ReubenReuben Chapman||1847–1849||Representative|||
|Winston, John A.John A. Winston||1853–1857||Elected to the Senate but was refused his seat|||
|Shorter, John GillJohn Gill Shorter||1861–1863||Provisional Confederate Deputy|||
|Watts, Thomas H.Thomas H. Watts||1863–1865||Confederate States Attorney General|||
|Parsons, Lewis E.Lewis E. Parsons||1865||Elected to the Senate but was refused his seat|||
|Lewis, David P.David P. Lewis||1872–1874||Provisional Confederate Deputy|||
|Houston, George S.George S. Houston||1874–1878||Representative, Senator|||
|Johnston, Joseph F.Joseph F. Johnston||1896–1900||Senator|||
|Samford, William J.William J. Samford||1900–1901||Representative|||
|Comer, B. B.B. B. Comer||1907–1911||Senator|||
|Riley, BobBob Riley||2003–2011||Representative|||
Living former U.S. governors of Alabama
As of May 2015[update], there are six former U.S. governors of Alabama who are currently living at this time, the oldest U.S. governor of Alabama being John M. Patterson (1959–1963, born 1921). The most recent death of a former U.S. governor of Alabama was that of H. Guy Hunt (1987–1993), who died on January 30, 2009.
|Governor||Gubernatorial term||Date of birth (and age)|
|John M. Patterson||1959–1963||September 27, 1921|
|Albert Brewer||1968–1971||October 26, 1928|
|September 15, 1934|
|Jim Folsom, Jr.||1993–1995||May 14, 1949|
|Don Siegelman||1999–2003||February 24, 1946|
|Bob Riley||2003–2011||October 3, 1944|
- Records are scarce as to when Bibb was actually appointed. The territory was formed on March 3, 1817, but he was appointed by President James Monroe, who did not take office until the next day. Other resources indicate that other major appointments for the territory were made on March 6, 1817.
- Includes four terms served by repeat governors and four terms served by acting governors.
- The military governor is not included in the official numbering.
- Includes one term served by a repeat governor.
- Repeat governors are officially numbered only once; subsequent terms are marked with their original number italicized.
- The office of Lieutenant Governor was created in the 1868 constitution, abolished in the 1875 Constitution, and recreated in the 1901 Constitution.
- Lieutenant governors represented the same party as their governor unless noted.
- The fractional terms of some governors are not to be understood absolutely literally; rather, they are meant to show single terms during which multiple governors served, due to resignations, deaths and the like.
- Died in office.
- As president of the state senate, filled unexpired term.
- Resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate.
- Martin was a Democrat who opposed party leaders and ran as an independent.
- Arrested by Union forces soon after the American Civil War ended; he was released a few weeks later.
- Provisional governor appointed by the Union occupation; between Watts's arrest and Parsons's appointment, Alabama had no governor, instead being under direct rule of General George Henry Thomas.
- The U.S. Congress stripped Patton of most of his authority in March 1867, after which time the state was effectively under the control of Major General Wager Swayne.
- Military governor appointed during Reconstruction; though Patton was still officially governor, he was mostly a figurehead. The term start date given is the date of the first Reconstruction Act, which placed Alabama into the Third Military District; all references only say "March 1867" and "when the Reconstruction Acts were passed". The term end is also ambiguous, but it is assumed Swayne lost power when Alabama was readmitted to the Union.
- Robert Lindsay was sworn into office on November 26, 1870, but William Hugh Smith refused to leave his seat for two weeks, claiming Lindsay was fraudulently elected, finally leaving office on December 8, 1870, when a court so ordered.
- Acting governor for 26 days. Jelks was president of the state senate when William J. Samford was out of state at the start of his term seeking medical treatment.
- As president of the state senate, filled unexpired term, and was subsequently elected in his own right.
- The 1901 constitution increased term lengths from two to four years; Jelks' first term was filling out Samford's two-year term, and he was elected in 1902 for a four-year term.
- Acting governor for nearly a year. Cunningham was lieutenant governor when William D. Jelks was out of state for medical treatment.
- Acting governor for two days. McDowell was lieutenant governor when William W. Brandon was out of state for 21 days as a delegate for the 1924 Democratic National Convention.
- Governor Lurleen Wallace left the state for 20 days for medical treatment; as lieutenant governor, Albert Brewer became acting governor on July 25, 1967. Wallace returned to the state later that day.
- As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term.
- Acting governor for 32 days. Beasley was lieutenant governor when George Wallace spent 52 days in Maryland for medical treatment following an assassination attempt while campaigning for President of the United States.
- Represented the Democratic Party.
- Removed from office upon being convicted of illegally using campaign and inaugural funds to pay personal debts; he was later pardoned by the state parole board based on innocence.
- Represented the Republican Party.
- Governor Bentley's second term expires on January 14, 2019; he will be term limited.
- "Constitution of the State of Alabama". Alabama Legislature. 1901.
- "Constitution of the State of Alabama". Alabama Legislature. 1875.
- "Constitution of the State of Alabama". Alabama Legislature. 1868.
- "Constitution of the State of Alabama". Alabama Legislature. 1865.
- "Constitution of the State of Alabama". Alabama Legislature. 1861.
- "Constitution of the State of Alabama". Alabama Legislature. 1819.
- "CSG Releases 2013 Governor Salaries". The Council of State Governments. June 25, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
- AL Const., art. V.
- "Alabama Governors". Alabama Department of Archives and History. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
- 1819 Const. art. IV, § 4
- 1868 Const. art. V, § 2
- AL Const. art. V, § 114
- AL Const. art. V, § 116
- AL Const. amendment 282
- 1868 Const. art. V, § 1
- 1875 Const. art. V, § 1
- AL Const. art. V, § 112
- AL Const. art. V, § 127
- 1819 Const. art. IV, § 18; 1861 Const. art. IV, § 18; 1865 Const. art V, § 19; 1868 Const. art. V, § 15; 1875 Const. art. V § 15
- "William Wyatt Bibb". Our Georgia History. Retrieved March 26, 2008.
- "Bibb, William Wyatt". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Pickens, Israel". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Murphy, John". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Moore, Gabriel". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Gayle, John". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Clay, Clement Comer". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Alabama Governor Arthur Pendleton Bagby". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 13, 2008.[dead link]
- "Fitzpatrick, Benjamin". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Martin, Joshua Lanier". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Chapman, Reuben". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Alabama Governor John Anthony Winston". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 13, 2008.[dead link]
- "Alabama Governor John Gill Shorter". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 13, 2008.[dead link]
- "Alabama Governor John Shorter". Alabama Department of Archives & History. Retrieved March 26, 2008.
- "Alabama Governor Thomas Hill Watts". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 13, 2008.[dead link]
- "Alabama Governor Lewis Eliphalet Parsons". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 13, 2008.[dead link]
- "Alabama Governors: David Peter Lewis". Alabama Department of Archives and History. Retrieved April 8, 2011.
- "Houston, George Smith". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Johnston, Joseph Forney". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Samford, William James". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Comer, Braxton Bragg". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Riley, Robert". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- Shearer, Benjamin. The Uniting States – The Story of Statehood for the Fifty United States, Volume 1: Alabama to Kentucky. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 41. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
- "Alabama Governor Joshua Lanier Martin". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 13, 2008.[dead link]
- "Alabama Governor Thomas Hill Watts". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 13, 2008.[dead link]
- "Alabama Governor Robert Miller Patton". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 13, 2008.[dead link]
- "Alabama Governor Robert Patton". Alabama Department of Archives & History. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- White, James Terry (1900). The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. James T. White & Company. p. 435. Retrieved January 18, 2008.
- "Alabama Governor William Jelks". Alabama Department of Archives & History. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Alabama Governor Russell Cunningham". Alabama Department of Archives & History. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- Owen, Thomas McAdory (1979). Alabama Official and Statistical Register. Alabama Department of Archives & History. p. 17. Retrieved September 28, 2008.
- Nossiter, Adam (12 June 1997). "Ex-Gov. Hunt of Alabama Cleared by Pardon Board". The New York Times. p. 18. Retrieved September 28, 2008.
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