In this Book
While much has been written about the significant events in the history of early Alabama, there has been little information available about the people who participated in those events. In Alabama Founders:Fourteen Political and Military Leaders Who Shaped the State Herbert James Lewis provides an important examination of the lives of fourteen political and military leaders. These were the men who opened Alabama for settlement, secured Alabama’s status as a territory in 1817 and as a state in 1819, and helped lay the foundation for the political and economic infrastructure of Alabama in its early years as a state.
While well researched and thorough, this book does not purport to be a definitive history of Alabama’s founding. Lewis has instead narrowed his focus to only those he believes to be key figures—in clearing the territory for settlement, serving in the territorial government, working to achieve statehood, playing a key role at the Constitutional Convention of 1819, or being elected to important offices in the first years of statehood.
The founders who readied the Alabama Territory for statehood include Judge Harry Toulmin, Henry Hitchcock, and Reuben Saffold II. William Wyatt Bibb and his brother Thomas Bibb respectively served as the first two governors of the state, and Charles Tait, known as the “Patron of Alabama,” shepherded Alabama’s admission bill through the US Senate. Military figures who played roles in surveying and clearing the territory for further settlement and development include General John Coffee, Andrew Jackson’s aide and land surveyor, and Samuel Dale, frontiersman and hero of the “Canoe Fight.” Those who were instrumental to the outcome of the Constitutional Convention of 1819 and served the state well in its early days include John W. Walker, Clement Comer Clay, Gabriel Moore, Israel Pickens, and William Rufus King.