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Map of Alabama

Alabama

Alabama, originally part of Mississippi Territory, became a separate territory in 1817. The formation of Alabama Territory was strongly influenced by a group of Georgia politicians aligned with William Crawford. This Georgia faction, or "Broad River" group, was led by two of Georgia's senators, Charles Tait and William Wyatt Bibb. Both moved west to Alabama where they and other elite Georgians came to be known as the “Royal Party.” Bibb was appointed the first and only territorial governor by President James Madison. The territory's General Assembly, a bicameral body, was relatively weak compared to the governor, as was the case in most federal territories.

In July, 1819 forty-four delegates met in Huntsville to write Alabama’s Constitution to prepare for statehood. They created a bicameral General Assembly divided into a Senate and a House of Representatives. Members of the House served one year terms while members of the Senate served three years. The Governor served two-year terms and was limited to two terms in office. Both members of the General Assembly and the Governor were popularly elected by ballot. The suffrage was restricted to white men over the age of 21 who had resided in the state for at least one year, but there were no property requirements.

The voters of Alabama elected William Wyatt Bibb the first governor of the state where he encountered a more powerful General Assembly than he had been accustomed to in the territorial period. Legislators elected all of the heads of executive departments and they could override gubernatorial vetoes with a simple majority vote.

Formal partisan divisions played almost no role in Alabama's early political history. Because the territory and state were formed during the Era of Good Feelings after the collapse of the Federalist Party through much of the country, most of Alabama’s political leaders and voters claimed allegiance to the Republican majority. Factions in Alabama formed around the Royal Party, the elite settlers with roots in the Broad River region of Georgia, and the politicians who opposed them. Because many of the leaders aligned with the Royal Party were involved in banking in Alabama, the financial collapse associated with the Panic of 1819 sharpened political conflict and gave ammunition to their more populist-oriented opponents. Regional divisions also shaped Alabama’s factionalism, especially as politicians fought over the location of the new state capital. The territorial assembly favored Tuscaloosa, a site far enough north to make it accessible to the residents of the Tennessee Valley. William Wyatt Bibb chose Cahawba instead, a site more closely situated to his political base in central Alabama. The new state assembly accepted that decision but also granted the General Assembly power to select a permanent capital in 1825 without input from the governor. At that time the seat of government shifted to Tuscaloosa, where it remained until moving to Montgomery in the 1840s.

Bibliography and Related Sources

  • Alabama Legislative History
  • Alabama Department of Archives and History
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls, Wayne Flynt, William Warren Rogers, and David Ward. Alabama: The History of a Deep South State
  • Dupre, Daniel S. Transforming the Cotton Frontier: Madison County, Alabama, 1800-1840. </em>Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1997.</li> <li>Owen Thomas M. <title/><em>History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography 4 vols. </em>1921.</li> <li>Peirce, Neal R. <title/><em>The Deep South States of America: People, Politics, and Power in the Seven Deep South States </em>(1974). Information on politics and economics 1960–72.</li> <li>Rogers, William Warren, et al., eds. <title/><em> Alabama: The History of a Deep South State.</em> Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 1994.</li> <li>Thorton, J. Mills, III. <title/><em>Politics and Power in a Slave Society. </em>Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978.</li> <li>Webb, Samuel L. and Margaret E. Armbrester, eds. <title>Alabama Governors: A Political History of the State.Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2001.

Republican splinter parties

See Republican. These are elections in which two distinct and separate Republican tickets were run.

Anti-Caucus:

New Jersey 1820: Several newspapers, including the Elizabeth-Town Gazette and the True American (Philadelphia) listed a separate ticket of dissident Republicans for the U.S. House of Representatives race in New Jersey in 1820, referred to as the "Anti-Caucus" ticket. Nominations for At Large candidates on a state wide level could often cause problems. Rotation of candidates, or lack thereof, from different regions/counties would sometimes cause dissension, and occasionally regional candidates, often an incumbent who had been dropped from the list, would be set up in opposition. As the Federalist Party declined, the process of country meetings, conventions and the Legislative caucus to nominate candidates came under increased criticism and with less party competition the idea of a more open and balanced method of selecting candidates was becoming a political issue.

Adamite / Crawford:

While many tickets would grow up around support for one person (such as Clintonians in New York or Snyderites in Pennsylvania), the affiliations of many candidates in various elections in 1823 and 1824 were based around which candidate for President in 1824 the individual candidate was supporting. While those supporters of Andrew Jackson would become the mainstream part of the Republican Party as it transitioned into the Democratic Party, there were also the followers of John Quincy Adams, many of whom would soon form the basis for, first the National Republican Party, then its successor, the Whig Party. The followers of William H. Crawford were also identified, though they never coalesced into any sort of larger organization and mostly existed in Georgia, Crawford's home state, though they found support among the Bucktails of New York.

Friends of Reform:

In 1820, these were Republican candidates in Pennsylvania, mostly in Bucks County, opposed to the present administration.

New School / New School Republican / Old School / Old School Democrat / Old School Republican:

Used in Pennsylvania throughout the 1810's. They were often in opposition to the Constitutionalists. (See also: Crucible of American Democracy: The Struggle to Fuse Egalitarianism and Capitalism in Jeffersonian Pennsylvania. Andrew Shankman. University Press of Kansas. 2004.)

Opposition Republican:

Used in several states over the course of over 20 years.

"Prior to the election of 1802 there had been minor divisions based largely upon personal jealousies and the quest for offices; and a vague dissatisfaction with the Governor had developed. A new cause of dissension became prominent in 1803 and 1804 as the legislature began to attempt modifications in the judicial system and to use its powers of impeachment against the judges of the State courts. McKean's opposition to most of these measures alienated many Republicans; and some of his supporters sought Federalist aid to redress the political balance." (The Keystone in the Democratic Arch: Pennsylvania Politics, 1800-1816. Sanford W. Higginbotham. 1952. p 49)

"The election of 1803 found the Republican splits becoming deeper and more widespread. The quarrel over Federal patronage in Philadelphia nearly reached the point of an open breach, while the Rising Sun movement against Leib gained added strength in Philadelphia County. In Lancaster some of the State officeholders made an unsuccessful attempt to organize a third party movement in support of McKean. The Federalists for the most part abandoned active politics, although the dissident Republican factions courted their aid." (Higginbotham, p 58)

Union:

Used in several states over the course of over 20 years.

In Rhode Island in 1807 and 1808 this was a splinter party formed by a combination of those republicans who were supporters of Governor James Fenner, combined with Federalists.

In New Jersey, for several years, from 1807 through 1822, this was a quasi-merged group between Federalists and Republicans, similar to the Quids in Pennsylvania.