Random Thoughts: The Brothers Bibb – Part 2


As we saw last week, only three people in U.S. history have served as governor of one state and as a United States senator from another.

One was Sam Houston who was a senator from Texas after serving as governor of Tennessee. Another is Mitt Romney, a current Utah senator who previously was governor of Massachusetts.

The first person to pull off this feat, however, was William Wyatt Bibb. A native of Virginia, Bibb was born in 1781 into a political family. His father, also named William, was a member of the Virginia state legislature.

The elder Bibb was also a veteran of the American Revolutionary War, so in 1784 the family relocated to Georgia to take advantage of a federal government program granting land in that state to former soldiers.

When he became a teenager, young William returned to Virginia to attend the College of William and Mary. From there, he completed medical training at the University of Pennsylvania. When he received his medical degree he was only 19 years old!

Soon, back in Georgia, William Wyatt was elected to the state house of representatives, serving from 1803 to 1805. A year later, he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served from 1807 to 1813.

In the latter year, a U.S. senator from Georgia resigned and the state legislature chose 32-year-old William Wyatt Bibb to take his place. Bibb remained in the senate for three years.

In late 1816 Bibb accepted an offer from newly elected president James Monroe to become the first (and, as it turned out, the only) territorial governor of Alabama. Bibb held this position from March 1817 to December 1819.

In the meantime, Alabama had been admitted to the Union and an election was held to choose the state’s first governor. And that governor was … William Wyatt Bibb!

His election was a significant event because territorial governors (who, like Bibb, were political appointees from somewhere else) rarely became state governors. We will see what happened next in part 3 of this story.


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