ROBERT MILLER PATTON was born in Russell County, Virginia, on July 10, 1809. In 1818 he moved with his family to Huntsville, Alabama, where he attended Green Academy. Patton started a mercantile business in Florence, Alabama, in 1829, and entered politics in 1832 when he was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives. He was elected in 1837 to a special legislature that convened in response to the financial panic and depression of that year. Patton served almost continuously as a member of the Alabama legislature, serving from 1837 to 1861. He represented Alabama at the Democratic National Convention in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1860, and was present at the Secession Convention in Montgomery. He was a trustee at the University of Alabama, and at the Alabama Normal College. He also represented his county at the 1865 Constitutional Convention. Patton was elected Alabama’s 20th governor on November 6, 1865, and was sworn into office on December 13, 1865. Patton ran for the governor’s seat as a Whig, but later joined the Republican Party. During his term, Patton helped procure rations for indigent families in the state, and was successful in reducing the state debt. In March 1867, Congress stripped Patton of his authority, when presidential reconstruction ended with the passage of the Reconstruction Acts. Major General John Pope was placed in charge of the Third Military District, and General Wager Swayne continued as the commanding officer of Alabama. Patton, a figurehead, was allowed to remain in office and draw a salary, but could do no more than make recommendations to General Swayne. His successor having been sworn in as governor on July 13, 1868, Patton left office on July 24 as the provisional government came to an end. After his political career ended, Patton was active in rebuilding the University of Alabama, which was burned by federal troops during the war. He also was involved in several ventures to establish and build railroads in Alabama. Patton died on February 28, 1885, and is buried at the Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville, 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.