Simpson manuscript – St. Stephens, Alabama’s Territorial Capital


Excerpt transcription from






Late Recording Secretary to the Governor


Roemer Printing Co., Montgomery, Ala, Printers.

Prior to 1799, the territory now embraced in the States of Alabama and Mississippi lying north of the Florida possessions, owned at different times by France, England and Spain, formed a part of Georgia. This territory was ceded by Georgia to the United States, and in 1799 it was formed into the territory of Mississippi, the first Governor of which was Winthrop Sargent, whose term was from 1799 to 1801.

Winthrop Sargeant

In 1817, by an act of Congress, Mississippi territory was divided, and that portion now embraced in the State of Alabama was organized into Alabama territory, and in March of that year, William Wyatt Bibb, of Georgia, was appointed Governor of the newly created territory.

Mural of William Wyatt Bibb speaking at 1st Constitutional Convention

The Capital, or seat of government, was fixed by the act creating the territory at St. Stephens, Washington county. The act further provided that the territorial Governor should call a session of the Legislature, which should be composed of the members of the territorial Legislature of the territory of Mississippi resident in that portion erected into the territory of Alabama.

This body assembled at the territorial seat of government January 19th, 1818, when it was found there were thirteen members of the House of Representatives, residents of Alabama territory, and but one member of the Council or Senate. This solitary Senator was James Titus, who-proceeded at once to organize his branch of the General Assembly, and for the session he held forth, gravely passing upon the acts of the co-ordinate branch. Madison county had the distinction of furnishing this lone Senator. The second session of the territorial Legislature was held at St. Stephens in November, 1818. At this session a commission was appointed to select a location for a permanent seat of government for the territory. When the Legislature adjourned, it was to meet in Huntsville, which was named as the temporary seat of government, until suitable public buildings could be provided at the point which might be selected for the permanent Capital.

The St. Stephens, which was the seat of government of the territory of Alabama, has disappeared from the map. The present county seat of Washington county bears the name of the territorial Capital and is near the site of old St. Stephens, but it is not the same place.

In February, 1807, Aaron Burr, then a fugitive, charged with high treason, was arrested near St. Stephens. He was carried to that place to prison and from there set out on his journey to the court before which he was tried on the charge of treason. There is a newspaper story going the rounds that Aaron Burr cursed St. Stephens as he left it, and that the blight of his curse hung over the place until it passed into oblivion.

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS – Volume I – IV: Four Volumes in One

The first four Alabama Footprints books have been combined into one book,





From the time of the discovery of America restless, resolute, brave, and adventurous men and women crossed oceans and the wilderness in pursuit of their destiny. Many traveled to what would become the State of Alabama. They followed the Native American trails and their entrance into this area eventually pushed out the Native Americans. Over the years, many of their stories have been lost and/or forgotten. This book (four-books-in-one) reveals the stories published in volumes I-IV of the Alabama Footprints series.


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