A state must have a capitol city where
the laws are made and the governor
resides. Alabama has had five capitols.
St. Stephens on the Tombigbee River
was the capitol of Alabama territory and
the first state capitol.
At one time, St. Stephen's was a busy
place. The town grew and in 1811, an
academy was opened. People moved in
and built comfortable homes. When
Alabama became a territory in 1817, St.
Stephens was the capitol of Alabama
Territory, and served as the first state capital
for a few short months.
Once the capitol was moved from St.
Stephen, the people began to move away
until it was entirely deserted, with nothing
to tell of its past life except an old
cemetery and some stone foundations of
the old buildings.
The second capitol of Alabama was
located in Huntsville. Soon after
Alabama became a state, Huntsville was
chosen as the place to meet to draw up a
plan of government. Huntsville is named
as Alabama's second capitol.
There is a wonderful spring in the heart of
the city of Huntsville that gushes into a
large stream. The story is told that a man
named John Hunt, having heard of the
spring, made up his mind to find the
spring and live near it. He asked the
Indians for directions to the spring and
built his cabin nearby. Other people
begin to hear of this lovely place and built
there also. By 1819, Huntsville was a
village with comfortable homes and many
Huntsville would have been a good town
for the capitol except for its location. Because
it was located in the northeastern part of
the state and far away from the middle and
southern part, where most of the people
lived at the time; it was decided to build a
capitol where the Cahaba River flows into
the Alabama River and name the town Cahaba.
Cahaba was near the middle of the state
and easy to get to by river and by road. It
had an excellent overflowing well which
would give a plentiful supply of healthy
water. Many people moved to Cahaba, but
during the long rainy seasons, the Alabama
and Cahaba Rivers would rise and flood the
town. The streets would become streams;
the yards and even the first floors of the
houses would be covered with water. The
governor had to go to the capitol building in
a canoe. Of course, this would not work, so
it was decided to move the capitol to
Tuscaloosa was well laid out, with three
rows of great oak trees, one row on each
side of the street and one row down the
middle of the wide streets. The streets
were lined with comfortable homes; lovely
flower gardens transformed Tuscaloosa into
the picture of a perfect park. The state
university was established there. The
people of Tuscaloosa were very proud of
In 1836, while Tuscaloosa was the capitol
of Alabama, theNative American Indians of
Alabama were moved west to what was then
called Indian Territory, now the state of Oklahoma.
A few words taken from a speech said to have been made by an
Indian chief to the legislature of Alabama, illustrates how the
Natives felt about giving up their homeland. This is a
translation of what the chief said:
"I come, brothers, to see the great house of Alabama and the
men that make the laws, and to say farewell in brotherly
kindness before I go to the far west…In these lands of
Alabama, which have belonged to my forefathers, and where
their bones lie buried, I see that the Indian fires are going out.
New fires are lighting in the west and we are going there. I
leave the graves of my fathers but the Indian fires are going
out, almost clean gone and new fires are lighting there for us"
After several years of discussion and debate it was decided to
move the capitol of Alabama to Montgomery. There were many
people disappointed because of the change in the location of
the capitol, but it was the logical choice because Montgomery
was more centrally located in the state, making it easier for
everyone to access the capitol city.