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W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library Manuscript Collections

Guide to the Henry Watkins Collier inaugural address mss.3760


University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 35487-0266

March 2014


This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2014-03-07T16:05-0600

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Collection Title:

Henry Watkins Collier inaugural address before the two houses of the General Assembly of the State of Alabama at its second biennial session

Unit ID:



University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama


0.05 Linear feet (pages of the printed address removed from binding)


1849 November 17

General Physical Description note

The pages have been removed from the original binding and all pages are loose. There is some staining, but in general, it is in good condition.


The inaugural address given by Governor Henry W. Collier in 1849.


Collier, H. W. (Henry Watkins), 1801-1855

General note

While the date given on the title page of the printed address is November 17, 1849, the actual date of Collier's inauguration was December 17, 1849.

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Martha Bace, 2014

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Preferred Citation:

Henry Watkins Collier inaugural address, University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama

Acquisition Information:

purchased from Williams Reese Co., 2014

Biographical/Historical note

Henry Watkins Collier, the son of James and Elizabeth Bouldin Collier, was born on January 17, 1801, in Lunenburg County, Virginia. In 1818, he settled in the Alabama Territory in Huntsville. He read law in Nashville, Tennessee, with Judge John Haywood of the Tennessee Supreme Court. He returned to Huntsville and opened a law practice there. He soon moved to Tuscaloosa and established a law practise there.

He married Mary Ann Battle in 1826. In 1827, Collier successfully ran for the legislature and gained a reputation for fairness, hard work, and a solid knowledge of the law. The legislature elected him as a judge to the Third Circuit Court, which automatically made him a member of the ad hoc Alabama Supreme Court. Once the legislature created a separate and distinct supreme court, Collier was elevated to that court and became the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Alabama.

He was elected governor in 1849, and despite stating his support for southern rights in his inaugural address, Collier was considered a moderate. He advocated for statewide educational reform as well as judicial reforms. He also supported prison reform and helped found the first state hospital for the insane. He championed economic diversification and recognized the importance of agriculture to the state's economy.

Collier was easily reelected in 1851 on the record of his first term. His moderation served as the glue binding the Alabama Democratic Party together, but within a very few years it would fracture as those who supported states' rights moved more and more toward the Southern Rights Party. In poor health, Collier retired from public life at the end of his term in 1853 and refused the legislature's offer of seat in the U.S. Senate. On the advice of his doctor, in June 1855, he traveled to Blount Springs and then to Bailey Springs in Lauderdale County. He died on August 28, 1855, of gastroenteritis.

Source: Encyclopedia of Alabama

Scope and Contents note

The collection contains an original printed copy of Henry Watkins Collier's inaugural address as the governor of Alabama in 1849. Three years earlier in 1846, the legislature had moved the seat of government to Montgomery, where a new capitol was constructed on Goat Hill. There the legislature certified Collier's election on November 16, 1849. The title page of the address is dated November 17, 1849, which was the day following the certification. Barely a month later, on December 14, three days before his inauguration, the new capitol building burned. Collier took his oath of office at the Montgomery Methodist Church.


William Reese Company. (Library_of_Congress_Name_Authority_File)

Alabama--History--1819-1950 (lcsh)

Governors--Alabama (lcsh)

Governors--Inaugural addresses (lcsh)

Address Box SC0095 Folder 3760.01