Back to former Alabama governors
Robert Burns Lindsay

Gov. Robert Burns Lindsay

  • November 26, 1870 - November 17, 1872
  • Democratic
  • July 4, 1824
  • February 12, 1902
  • Other
  • University of St. Andrews (Scotland)
  • Married Sarah Miller Winston; nine children
  • Army


ROBERT BURNS LINDSAY was born in Lochmaben, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, on July 4, 1824. Lindsay was educated at parochial schools, and attended the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. In 1844, he came to America to visit his brother in North Carolina. He remained in North Carolina, studied law, and taught school. Lindsay moved to Tuscumbia, Alabama, in 1849, and continued teaching until 1852. He was admitted to the Alabama bar in 1852, started a private practice, and served in the Confederate Army. Lindsay entered politics when he was elected in 1853 to the Alabama House of Representatives. He served in the Alabama Senate in 1857, 1865, and 1870. Lindsay also was a presidential elector in 1860. He was elected Alabama’s 22nd governor on November 8, 1870, and was sworn into office on November 26, 1870. For two weeks there were two governors of the state, when former Governor Smith refused to leave office. Smith was ordered by the Alabama circuit court to leave office, and finally did.  During Lindsay’s term, the cities of Gadsen and Birmingham were incorporated in 1871, and the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) opened. The debate over the state’s involvement with railroad construction paralyzed the general assembly during much of Lindsay’s administration. Lindsay, the only foreign-born citizen to serve as Alabama’s governor, declined to run for reelection, left office on November 17, 1872, and retired to his private law practice. He was stricken with paralysis two months after leaving office, and remained an invalid for the rest of his life. Lindsay died on February 12, 1902, and is buried at the Winston Family Cemetery, Tuscumbia, Alabama.


Alabama Department of Archives and History

The Political Graveyard

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.

Recent Alabama Governors