DAVID PETER LEWIS, Alabama’s 23rd governor, was born in Charlotte County, Virginia, in 1820. As a child he moved with his family to Madison County, Alabama, where he was educated. Lewis studied law in Huntsville, Alabama, passed the bar, and opened a successful law practice in Lawrence County, Alabama. Lewis, who opposed secession, was a member of the 1861 Alabama Secession Convention, signing the secession ordinance after it passed. He was elected to the Confederate Provisional Congress, but resigned his seat when he was appointed to the circuit court bench in 1863. After serving the court for several months, Lewis was ordered to report for Confederate military service and eventually crossed the Union lines to Nashville, Tennessee, until the war was over. He returned in 1865, and resumed his law practice in Huntsville. Lewis was elected Governor of Alabama on November 5, 1872, and was sworn into office on November 17, 1872. During his term, the Democrats regained control of the legislature, a move Lewis refused to acknowledge—instead, he recognized a body of radical Republicans. The Republicans met at the federal courthouse and became known as the “courthouse” legislature. The U.S. attorney general eventually intervened and restored the Democrats to power. Lewis’s administration was plagued with the continuing railroad bond issue and the increasing public debt. Also during his term, Anniston was incorporated as a city in 1873, the State Normal School (the University of North Alabama today) was established, and the State Colored Normal and Industrial School (Alabama A&M University today) was created. Lewis was defeated in his bid for reelection, and left office on November 24, 1874. He resumed his law career in Huntsville, and died on July 3, 1884. Lewis is buried at the Maple Hill Cemetery, in Huntsville, Alabama.
NOTE: exact birth month and date are not known.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.