September 20, 1819
The first Alabama general election began. As specified by the state’s Constitution of 1819 adopted one month earlier, the general election lasted two days and resulted in the election of William Wyatt Bibb as the first governor. Already the governor of the Alabama Territory, Bibb narrowly defeated Marmaduke Williams of Tuscaloosa by a vote of 8,342 to 7,140. The election also resulted in the selection of the first state legislators, including 45 representatives and 22 senators, and first court clerks, sheriffs and U.S. congressmen. Alabama, however, did not officially become a state until Dec. 14, 1819, when President James Monroe signed a law admitting it into the Union.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
The state of Mississippi and Alabama territory, from the Samuel Lewis atlas, 1817. (Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division)
William Wyatt Bibb (1781-1820) was a U.S. senator and member of the “Broad River Group,” wealthy Georgians who settled in what would become Alabama around the turn of the nineteenth century. Bibb was the first governor of the Alabama Territory and retained the governorship when Alabama became a state in 1819. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History)
Thomas Bibb (ca. 1783-1838) was Alabama’s governor from 1820-21, taking office when his brother, William Wyatt Bibb, died mid-term. While influential in financial and political sectors, he struggled with reapportionment and a faltering economy during his governorship. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History)
In 1819, the Alabama Territorial Legislature approved the new state’s first constitution in Huntsville, Madison County. Shown here is an image of the original title page of the document. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Photo courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives and History)
Constitution Hall, show here in this line drawing, was located in Huntsville and was the site where Alabama’s first state constitution was signed in 1819. A replica of the building now stands on the same spot in the Alabama Constitution Village living-history park. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Photo courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives and History)
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.