November 26, 1818
James Ferguson Dowdell was born on this day in Monticello, Georgia. After attending school earning a law degree and spending much of his life in Georgia, Dowdell moved his family to Chambers County, where he farmed and became president of the Oak Bowery Female College. He ran for the Alabama House of Representatives and was elected on his third attempt. Dowdell served in the U.S. Congress representing Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District from 1853 to 1855 and the Third Congressional District from 1855 to 1859. A wealthy plantation owner and strong proponent of states’ rights, Dowdell signed the Ordinance of Secession for the state of Alabama in 1861 and then served as the commander of the 37th Alabama Infantry regiment during the Civil War. After the war, Dowdell became a professor at East Alabama Male College (present-day Auburn University) and then served as its second president.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.