WILLIAM WYATT BIBB
FIRST GOVERNOR OF ALABAMA
Autauga County, Ala
WILLIAM WYATT BIBB
FIRST GOVERNOR OF ALABAMA
Autauga County, Alabama
William Wyatt was the only Territorial Governor and the first State Governor of Alabama. He was born in Amelia County, Virginia Oct 2, 1781. His father was Captain William Bibb, a colonial officer in 1776, who later served in the Virginia Legislature and his mother was Sally Wyatt from New Kent County, Virginia. William’s parents moved to Elbert County, Georgia in 1789 where his father died in 1796. He left his wife with eight children of whom William was the eldest and considerable debt. “Benajah, the ninth child, was born a few months after the death of his father.
William’s mother worked the estate out of debt, educated her children, and lived to see them all in affluence with many in offices of honor and profit. She was known by the early inhabitants of Alabama as the esteemed Mrs. Barnett having married a William Barnett of Wilkes Co, GA, long after the death of her first husband. William Barnett was the son of Nat Barnett (b. in Amherst Co., VA.) They moved to Montgomery Co., Alabama, where both died.i
William, the eldest, was sent to an academy presided over by Rev. Hope Hull and later educated at William and Mary for two years. He then went to the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania where he received his degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1801. He returned to Georgia and establish himself as a physician in Petersburgh, in Elbert County where he soon developed a thriving practice. Mary Freeman, the only daughter of Col. Holman Freeman a revolutionary soldier, of Wilkes County, Georgia soon became his wife. “She was one of the most beautiful and accomplished ladies of her day.” ii
William Wyatt Bibb was five feet ten inches in height with an erect frame. “He was exceedingly easy and graceful in his bearing. His interesting face bore the marks of deep thought and great intelligence. His eyes, of a dark color, were mild, yet expressive. Whether thrown into the company of the rude or refined, his language was pure and chaste.”iii
In 1803, William was elected to the Legislature and served four years and is remembered as one of President Madison’s confidential advisors. Once while serving as a representative, he lacked but a few votes of being elected speaker of the House. In the fall of 1813, Hon. William H. Crawford resigned his seat in the Senate in order to accept the French Mission and William was chosen as his successor. He was “a fearless advocate of the war of 1812 and a conscientious supporter of the administration of Madison.”iv
In the spring of 1816, a “compensation law” was passed by Congress, which provided payment to each Senator and Representative of fifteen hundred dollars per anum and this act resulted in a so much disfavor by the people of Georgia that all the House members, whether they supported the act or not, were compelled to resign or be ejected from office. Dr. William Bibb decided to resign before his term was up and retire to his Georgia home.
He was called from retirement a few months later when President Monroe appointed him governor of the newly-formed Territory of Alabama and was elected by the people of Alabama as Governor of the new State of Alabama, defeating Hon. Marmaduke Williams of Tuskaloosa with the vote of Bibb 8342 to William 7140.
Bibb was inaugurated Governor in Huntsville November 9, 1819. However, he was Governor for only a few months when he was mortally injured after his horse fell with him while he was riding in the woods at his home near Coosada in Autauga County, Alabama. He died July 20, 1820, in his 39th year surrounded by numerous friends and relations.
One of his brothers, Thomas, who was President of the Senate, succeeded him as Governor after his death. Gov. Bibb and his wife had four children, only two lived to adulthood; a son,
1.George Bailey Bibb
Five of William Wyatt Bibb’s brothers became citizens of Alabama. One was the Hon. B. S. Bibb of Montgomery, Alabamavi
Governor Bibb is buried in the Bibb Family Cemetery in Elmore County, Alabama.
Findagrave.com # 10634663 # 37383692# 37383144 # 86477680
iiPickett, Albert (History of Alabama)
ivPickett, Albert (History of Alabama)
v “William Wyatt Bibb” Jones, Dr. Charles Edgeworth (Transactions of Alabama Historical Society Vol III 1899
viAlabama, Her History, Resources, War Record and Public Men.