Lewis E. Parsons

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"Lewis Parsons" redirects here. For the American Civil War general, see Lewis B. Parsons, Jr..
Lewis Eliphalet Parsons
Lewis E. Parsons - Brady-Handy.jpg
19th Governor of Alabama
In office
June 21, 1865 – December 13, 1865
Appointed by Andrew Johnson
Preceded by Thomas H. Watts
Succeeded by Robert M. Patton
Personal details
Born April 28, 1817
Lisle, Broome County, New York
Died June 8, 1895 (aged 78)
Political party Democratic

Lewis Eliphalet Parsons (28 April 1817 – 8 June 1895) was the appointed provisional and 19th Governor of Alabama from June to December, 1865, following the American Civil War.

Parsons was Alabama's 19th governor. He was born in Broome County, New York, on April 28, 1817. He was educated in public schools, and studied law at the Frederick Tallmadge office in New York and the G.W. Woodward offices in Pennsylvania. Parsons moved to Talladega, Alabama, in 1840, and practiced law with Alexander White. He was a presidential elector in 1856 and 1860, and a member of the Alabama House of Representatives in 1859 and 1865. Parsons fought as a Confederate lieutenant at the brief Battle of Munford near Talladega in April, 1865.

In April 1865, Alabama's civil government underwent a drastic change because of the surrender of the Confederate States of America's armies. General George H. Thomas was ordered to manage state affairs until a provisional government was appointed. President Andrew Johnson appointed Parsons provisional governor of Alabama on June 21, 1865.[1] His first deed was to reinstate the laws of 1861, except those pertaining to slavery. He ordered the election of delegates to a constitutional convention that met September 12, 1865. The convention repealed the ordinance of secession, renounced the state's war debts, abolished slavery, and scheduled elections to choose state officials and representatives to Congress. He attempted to purchase the panhandle of Florida for Alabama which sparked rumors that he had access to unclaimed confederate gold. Parsons's term ended on December 13, 1865, with the inauguration of Robert M. Patton. Parsons was elected to the U.S. Senate, but was refused his seat by the Republican party. In addition, he served as U.S. District Attorney for northern Alabama.

Memoirs of the Civil War[edit]

One of Parsons’ most memorable lectures was made in New York, after he visited the devastated city of Selma, Alabama, immediately following the war in 1865:

Death and burial[edit]

Parsons died on June 8, 1895, and is buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery, Talladega, Alabama.


Parsons' son Lewis E. Parsons, Jr. (1846-1916) served as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. His grandson, James K. Parsons was a career United States Army officer who attained the rank of major general and received the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism in World War I.


  1. ^ Presidential Proclamation No. 43, 21 June 1865, 13 Stat. 767
  2. ^ Cox, Samuel Sullivan. "Three Decades of Federal Legislation, 1855 to 1885". Mills 1885, pp. 402-403. 
  • Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789–1978, Vol.1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas H. Watts
Governor of Alabama
Succeeded by
Robert M. Patton