EMMET O’NEAL, Alabama’s 36th governor, was born in Florence, Alabama, on September 23, 1853. He was the son of Alabama Governor Edward Asbury O’Neal (1882-1886). He was educated in public schools in Florence, and graduated from the University of Alabama in 1873. O’Neal studied law under his father’s tutelage, was admitted to the bar in 1875, and partnered with his father until the elder O’Neal was elected governor. O’Neal entered politics in 1880, when he was chosen as a member to the State Democratic Executive Committee. He served in numerous capacities prior to his election as governor; among them presidential elector in 1884 and 1892; delegate to the 1901 Alabama Constitutional Convention; and U.S. District Attorney from 1893 to 1897. On November 8, 1910, O’Neal was elected Governor of Alabama, and was sworn into office on January 17, 1911. During his tenure, a rural school library system was inaugurated, prohibition was repealed, and a local liquor option was enacted. The Oyster Commission and the State Highway Department were created. Laws passed for the protection of miners and child labor laws were amended. O’Neal was the first chief executive to occupy the new governor’s mansion. His administration was crippled by the embezzlement scandals in the Department of Agriculture and Industries, and the State Convict Department. O’Neal left the governor’s office on January 18, 1915, and was appointed a referee in bankruptcy cases. O’Neal died on September 7, 1922, in Florence, Alabama.
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.