Alabama's First Capitals
On March 3, 1817, Congress designated the town of St. Stephens on the Tombigbee River north of Mobile as capital of the newly formed Alabama Territory. There in 1818, the territorial legislature named Huntsville as the temporary seat of government and Cahawba (near present-day Selma) as the first permanent capitol. The constitutional convention and legislature met in Huntsville and on December 14, 1819, Alabama was admitted into the Union. Meanwhile a suitable building was erected at Cahawba. Cahawba was prone to flooding which resulted in another change of locale in 1826-this time to Tuscaloosa. An elegant statehouse erected there served until 1846 when Montgomery became the capital of the state.
The Alabama State Capitol
Anticipating that Montgomery might some day be Alabama's capital, city founder Andrew Dexter in 1819 set aside "Goat Hill," at what was then the eastern edge of a small frontier town, as the locale for a future statehouse. The first capitol on this site was erected in 1846-47 after a design by Philadelphia architect Stephen Decatur Button. Burned only two years later in 1849, this Greek Revival-style structure was replaced by the present capitol, also in the Greek Revival-style, in 1850-51. Additions since that time include a large rear wing (1885), side wing (1908-1912), and another rear addition completed in 1992. In February 1861, delegates from seceding southern states convened in this building to organize the Confederate States of America. On March 25, 1965, the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ended on the capitol steps.