On January 19, 1818, the members of the Alabama Territory’s legislature gathered in St. Stephens for the ﬁrst of two lawmaking sessions conducted prior to statehood. All thirteen members present—twelve lower house members and one upper—originally had been elected to the Mississippi Territory’s General Assembly. To facilitate organizing the government of Alabama, the act enabling division of the territory had speciﬁed these representatives would serve the remainder of their terms as Alabama’s legislators. Beﬁtting Alabama’s humble and hurried origins, they met in rented rooms at the Douglas Hotel. Appointed Gov. William Wyatt Bibb set the tone for administering business at hand in his written address to the assembly, which recommended careful attention to internal improvements and the promulgation of the means of education. Thus keeping one eye ﬁrmly on the future state they planned to erect, over the course of the next four weeks the legislators laid the groundwork for their own government.
Mike Bunn currently serves as director of operations at Historic Blakeley State Park in Spanish Fort, Alabama. This department of Alabama Heritage magazine is sponsored by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission and the Alabama Tourism Department.