St. Stephens and the Alabama Territory

November 10, 2017 – Spring 2018
Second Floor Lobby

This temporary exhibit explored the history of St. Stephens, which was designated as the capital of the Alabama Territory in 1817. This frontier town, located along the Tombigbee River, became an epicenter of commerce, with first class accommodations and entertainment befitting a capital city.

In January 1818, the territorial legislature met at St. Stephens and selected Alabama’s first congressional representative, drew judicial districts, created new counties, and provided for a census. But Alabama’s rapid march to statehood created new centers of political power which marked the town’s rapid decline. Lawmakers chose to hold the state’s constitutional convention in Huntsville and selected Cahawba as the first permanent capital. By mid century, once bustling St. Stephens was a ghost town.

The exhibit featured material from the collections of the Alabama Archives, as well as unique artifacts excavated from the site of the town, all of which are on loan from the St. Stephens Historical Commission. Together, the items shed light on the story of St. Stephens and daily life in the Alabama Territory.

Press Release