Can you guess how many times the capital of Alabama moved? Here’s the answer [vintage pictures]

The Territory of Alabama was created by a division of Mississippi Territory in 1817, with St. Stephens as its capital city. The first and second Territorial Legislature met there — the first on the 18th of January, 1818, and the second in November of the same year.

Alabama state capital marker at CahabaMarker of the first capital of Alabama 

Met at the Douglass Hotel

The first legislature of the Alabama Territory convened at the Douglass Hotel on January 19, 1818.  Attendance was sparse with twelve members of the House, representing seven counties, and only one member of the Senate conducting the business of the new territory. The second Territorial Legislature met in November of the same year.  (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

territory-of-alabama-in-1819-nathan-h-glick-drawing-alabama-department-of-archives-and-historyTerritory of Alabama in 1819 Nathan H. Glick drawing (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Old St. Stephens1 - edSt. Stephens, Alabama 2010, photographer Carol Highsmith (Library of Congress)

This same year, Cahaba was made the seat of government, but as there was no town there, and no public buildings, Huntsville was designated as the temporary capital.

Huntsville temporary capital

In Huntsville, on the 5th of July, 1819, a convention assembled to prepare a State Constitution, in which twenty-two counties were represented, viz. : Autauga, Baldwin, Blount, Cahaba, Clarke, Conecuh, Cataco, Dallas, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marengo, Mobile, Montgomery, Monroe, St. Clair, Shelby, Tuscaloosa and Washington.

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS – Settlement: Lost & Forgotten Stories (Volume 2)

Moved to Cahaba

The first General Assembly of the new State met in Huntsville, October 25, 1819, and there, on the 9th of November, Governor Bibb was inaugurated. In 1820, the government offices and archives were removed to Cahaba.

Tuscaloosa became the capital

In 1826, Tuscaloosa became the capital, in the administration of Gov. John Murphy, who had been chosen the year previous.

Picture of Old Capitol Building at Tuscaloosa (Erected 1826) – ca. 1840-1849 Q67306 (ADAH)Picture above is of Old Capitol Building at Tuscaloosa (Erected 1826) – ca. 1840-1849 -This old building now destroyed by fire, was erected as the Capitol when the seat of government was removed from Cahaba, and served as such until 1847 when the state records were removed to Montgomery. On the back is an advertisement for Alabama’s Historical Festival and Pageant. Montgomery May 5th and 6th featuring The Spirit of the South/ $10,000 Night Spectacle/ 3,000—Cast—3000. Q67306


Finally moved to Montgomery

In 1846, the capital was removed to Montgomery, where the General Assembly of 1847 was held. “On January 28, 1846, Montgomery was selected as capital of Alabama by the state legislature on the 16th ballot. Montgomery won the final vote largely because of promises of Montgomery city leaders to provide $75,000 for a new capitol and because of the emerging prominence of the Black Belt region of the state.” (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Alabama’s State Capital, in fifty years, was moved five times;  capitals St. Stephens, Huntsville, Cahaba, Tuscaloosa and Montgomery.


Alabama State capital today in Montgomery, Alabama


  1. (from: Early Settlers of Alabama by James Edmonds Saunders – born in VA. 1806 – died 1896)
  2. Alabama Department of Archives and History


ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Statehood: Lost & Forgotten Stories  presents the times and conditions pioneers faced in establishing the State of Alabama

Some stories include:

  • Who Controlled And Organized The New State of Alabama?
  • Tuscaloosa Had Three Other Names
  • Chandelier Falls & Capitol Burns
  • Alabama Throws Parties For General LaFayette
  • Francis Scott Key Was Sent to Alabama To Solve Problems


  1. I love your posts … so informative. Keep them coming!

  2. I agree, very good info. I keep hoping to find any info on my Isaac Funderburg(h), my 4th great grandfather who was in Baldwin County, I believe, as early as 1803 and was on a Jury in 1811.

    1. RE Trish Funderburg Walls comment about wanting info on her ancestor Isaac – I am from Childersburg, Alabama. In one or more of the US census records for circa 1850-1880 there are (I think) a couple of Funderburg households, and I recall that one of them was Isaac. They would have lived in the Sylacauga-Fayetteville-Childersburg area. Or I may have seen the name on some other local listing.

  3. I agree, keep them coming. I am hoping someday I will see info on my Isaac Funderburg(h), my 4th great grandfather. I believe he was in Baldwin County as early as 1803 but I find him on a Jury in 1811.

  4. Ms. Causey — I read several years ago that the Alabama Legislature held on session in Selma after the Cahaba statehouse was flooded and voted there to move to Tuscaloosa. If so, would that have made Selma “capital for a day?”
    Joe McKnight

    1. Interesting question. I guess it probably would.

  5. Very informative and appreciated. It could be argued, however, that the State of Alabama had only four ‘state’ capitals since St. Stephens was only a ‘territorial’ capital.

  6. The article is wrong in saying the capital was moved 5 times. Alabama had 5 capitals but there were only 4 moves; the first time the capital was established at St. Stephens, not moved from somewhere else.

    1. Correct! 5 capitals, 4 moves.

  7. Something we never learned in Alabama History with Coach Meadows(?).

    1. Such is Alabama public school education.

    2. Yeah, and my experience was from the 50s and 60s.

  8. 5. Huntsville, st Stephens , Cahaba, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery

    1. 5 Capitals, 4 moves. The Capital did not move to its first location.

  9. 5 times.

    1. 5 Capitals, 4 moves. The Capital did not move to its first location.

  10. Nobody knew where St Stephens was, Huntsville was too far away from the rest of the state… Cahaba had major river flooding problems, Tuscaloosa’s population only cared about their college football team that had not even been started yet so Montgomery was a good choice.

  11. Wonderful article. Keep up the good work!

  12. My son & daughter-in-law were married in the ruins of the state capital building in Tuscaloosa.

  13. Cahaba means in Indian something like ” under water “, due to floods that kept Cahaba ” under water”, and that is why the Capital moved from the city. Gosh , the things I learned from studying history with my neice’s. I knew all the cities except the first one while it was the territory . How many people does it take to make a state ?

  14. I didn’t have to guess. I learned this in 4th grade Civics, taught by Mrs. Muriel French, mother of Lucy French, at https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=Bellenger+Hill+Elementary+School&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 in Montgomery, Alabama. The most memorable day in her class was when a cousin of Helen Keller visited our class.

    1. Me at Northington Elem. Tuscaloosa Al.

Leave a Reply