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Thomas Seay

Gov. Thomas Seay

  • December 1, 1886 - December 1, 1890
  • Democratic
  • November 20, 1846
  • March 30, 1896
  • Alabama
  • Southern University
  • Married twice--Ellen Smaw, Clara de Lesdernier; six children
  • Army


THOMAS SEAY, Alabama’s 27th governor, was born on November 20, 1846, in Greene County, Alabama. Until the age of 12, Seay attended country schools. He was then sent to Greensboro, Alabama, for his preparatory education, and attended Southern University until the outbreak of the Civil War. Seay enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1863, and was captured and imprisoned on Ship Island. After the war, Seay returned to Southern University and graduated in 1867. He studied law with Judge A.A. Coleman in Greensboro, and was admitted to the bar in 1869. He was a junior partner with the Coleman and Seay law firm in 1869, and continued practicing until 1885. Seay entered politics in 1874, when he ran unsuccessfully for the Alabama Senate. In 1876 he was elected, and remained in the senate for 10 years, serving as its president from 1884 to 1886. Seay also served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1880 and 1884, and he was vice-president of the National Prison Association. On August 2, 1886, Seay was elected Governor of Alabama, and he was sworn into office on December 1, 1886. He was reelected to a second term on August 6, 1888. During his terms, pensions were provided for disabled Confederate veterans and their widows, the general tax rate was reduced, the first Alabama steel was produced at North Birmingham, and the Savannah and Western Railroad was opened to Birmingham. The State Normal School (now Troy University), the State Normal School for Colored Students (now Alabama State) in Montgomery, and the Alabama Academy for the Blind in Talladega were established. Also, the Farmers Alliance was organized in 1887, and in 1889 the Alabama Farmers and Laborers Union of America was formed. Seay left the governor’s office on December 1, 1890. After an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate, he returned to Greensboro, and died at the age of 49 on March 30, 1896. Seay is buried at the City Cemetery, Greensboro, 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.

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