AN OVERVIEW OF
ALABAMA'S SIX CONSTITUTIONS
Throughout its history, Alabama has operated under six (6) Constitutions, each providing the framework within which the legislative branch could enact statutes.
Each of these instruments is distinct and, indeed, Alabama legislative history can be fairly divided according to the operative dates of these Constitutions. While Capitals and the administrations of governors are often utilized as political benchmarks in Alabama history, no study of legislative history in Alabama can be deemed complete, without a full understanding of the powers and limitations provided the legislative branch of Alabama government by the various Constitutions and Constitutional Amendments. Moreover, each of these documents charts the progressive decline of the constitutional power of the legislative branch. The powers of the Alabama Legislature, under the provisions of the Constitution of 1901, are but a remnant of the legislative supremacy allowed under the Constitution of 1819.
Alabama's first three constitutions, those of 1819, 1861 and 1865, were not submitted to the electorate for ratification, but instead became operable upon adoption of the Conventions that framed them. Of the latter three, the Constitution of 1868 was not, under the provisions of the Second Reconstruction Act, legally ratified, although subsequent Congressional action resulted in this constitution becoming operable. In contrast, both the 1875 and 1901 Constitutions were properly ratified by the electorate.
Within these pages, the reader will find the full text of each of Alabama's six (6) Constitutions, as well as the enabling instruments providing for each, the delegates attendant to the Conventions that framed each, and any amendments subsequently appended to each. In addition, the Journals of each of the Constitutional Conventions are being added, including the "Official Proceedings" (Debates) of the Constitutional Convention of 1901.
Through extensive research, we have been able to add full names to the various Delegates who served in the six constitutional conventions. As was the practice in the 19th Century, most delegates were listed in the Journals of the conventions by mere initials for their first and middle names. For the sake of providing more illumination upon the men who served in these conventions, we have determined, with accuracy, the full names of the majority of these. It is our hope that persons or groups who choose to use such information on their respective sites, offer the proper attribution to the Alabama Legislature, which should be accorded. As it is, the information contained herein is for the benefit of all Alabamians. We ask only that proper courtesy be extended to us whenever such material is appropriated for use on other sites.
The reader should note that every effort has been made to reproduce historical documents precisely as they were written, including spellings and punctuation marks which may, at times, seem odd and archaic.
Although various secondary sources can be utilized, it must be said that all those who study Alabama constitutional history owe a great debt to the painstaking, scholarly work of the late Dr. Malcolm McMillan, of the Auburn University History Department. His Constitutional Development in Alabama, 1798-1901, remains the most comprehensive and exhaustive study of Alabama's six constitutions. As a secondary source, it is without peer.
Comments, suggestions or questions relating to the material contained in this site should be directed to Mike Murphy