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John Gayle

Gov. John Gayle

  • November 26, 1831 - November 21, 1835
  • Democratic
  • September 11, 1792
  • July 21, 1859
  • South Carolina
  • South Carolina College
  • Married twice--Sarah Ann Haynsworth, Clarissa Stedman Peck; ten children
  • Representative


JOHN GAYLE, Alabama’s seventh governor, was born in Sumter District, South Carolina, to Matthew and Mary Gayle. He attended Newberry Academy and graduated in 1813 from South Carolina College. Gayle migrated to Monroe County, Alabama, Territory, where he was admitted to the Alabama Bar in 1818. He started a law practice in Mobile, Alabama, and entered politics in 1817 as a member of the Alabama Territorial Council. In 1819 he was elected solicitor of the First Alabama Judicial District. Gayle also was a member of the Alabama House of Representatives (1822-1823), and in 1823 he became a judge of the Third Circuit Court. He was appointed to the Alabama Supreme Court in 1828, but resigned in 1829 to serve in the Alabama House of Representatives where he was speaker until 1831. At the time of the governor’s race, Gayle was a spokesperson against nullification-a major election issue. He was elected Governor of Alabama on August 1, 1831, and sworn into office on November 26, 1831. During his term, nine new counties were created, the first railroad was completed, the state bank was enlarged, and the state legislature incorporated the first cotton factory. In 1832 the Treaty of Cusseta was signed that granted the Creek Indians new land west of the Mississippi River. Violence resulted when federal marshals attempted to remove white settlers from Indian land. Gayle denounced the removal policy, claiming that the state had priority in negotiations concerning land in its territory. During this controversy, Gayle won reelection in a landslide victory. He served his second term until November 21, 1835. After leaving office, Gayle served as Presidential Elector from 1836 to 1840, and as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1847 to 1849. He also was a U.S. District Judge for Alabama from 1849 to 1859. He died July 21, 1859, and is buried at Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, Alabama.


Alabama Department of Archives and History

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Library of UNC-Chapel Hill

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.

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