The Five Capitals of Alabama

The Story of Alabama's Capital Cities from St. Stephens to Montgomery

Tom Bailey

Photographs by Art Meripol and Robin McDonald

Title Details

Pages: 216

Illustrations: 250 color photos

Trim size: 9.000in x 12.000in



Pub Date: 09/22/2020

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8427-0

List Price: $29.95


NewSouth Books

The Five Capitals of Alabama

The Story of Alabama's Capital Cities from St. Stephens to Montgomery

Tom Bailey

Photographs by Art Meripol and Robin McDonald

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  • Description
  • Reviews
The story of Alabama's five capitals—St. Stephens, Huntsville, Cahawba, Tuscaloosa, and Montgomery—begins in a rough semi-civilized Washington County village and ends at the old cotton town in central Alabama. Between these bookending governmental centers, the capitals have criss-crossed the state from north to south and east to west, following the political powers and fortunes of the times, and amid more noble arguments that the capital should be near the center of the state. It is the story of Alabama's government, buildings, and laws. It is the story of towns, some that sprang up and died when the capital moniker left. Most of all, the story of Alabama's capitals is the story of its people: some whose undying devotion to statehood brought Alabama to life; some who used state government in their rise to power and financial prominence; some whose generosity and pureness of heart kept Alabama on solid moral and financial ground; and some whose prejudices held back this state when it should have moved forward. The Five Capitals of Alabama paints a dramatic picture of where we began, where we are today, and the twisting journey taken along the way.
Well-written, thoroughly researched, thoughtfully designed, and gorgeously illustrated – what’s not to like about The Five Capitals of Alabama? It’s a book that does the fascinating history of Alabama’s five capitals justice.

—Jim Noles, author of A Pocketful of History: 400 Years of American History – One State Quarter at a Time

A must-read for current Alabama adventurers as well as history buffs! This guide blends key elements of a travel guide with a detailed account of each of the five sites of Alabama’s state capitals: St. Stephens, Huntsville, Cahawba, Tuscaloosa, and Montgomery. Tom Bailey weaves a wonderful story that entices the reader to visit and explore. The Five Capitals of Alabama fills the reader with a sense of awe and pride in the history of Alabama.

—Roz Morris, author of Hank Aaron, Rosa Parks, and Harper Lee in the Alabama Roots Biography Series

The Five Capitals of Alabama is lavishly illustrated and beautifully designed. What you will discover between its covers is just as impressive. In a lively voice and with abundant wit, Tom Bailey relates the selection, fortunes, and fate of each of Alabama’s capitals. Themes of influence, enterprise, and occasional chicanery are entwined with the sometimes visionary but almost always ultimately pragmatic politics of each site. The stories he tells are enriched with excellent reproductions of maps and superb photographs, including buildings, interiors, and artifacts. The result is a riveting and informative volume.

—Jay Lamar, executive director, Alabama Bicentennial Commission

Tom Bailey’s The Five Capitals of Alabama is an outstanding contribution to Alabama history. Bailey exhaustingly examines the five territorial and state capitals, as well as the period in which these respective capitals served as the seat of government. Bailey's eloquent prose, mixed in with excellent photographs, work to bring life to these capitals and their inhabitants. This book should be on every Alabamian's bookshelf.

—Herbert James Lewis, author of Clearing the Thickets: A History of Antebellum Alabama; Alabama Founders: Fourteen Political and Military Leaders Who Shaped the State; and contributing author to Alabama: From Territory to Statehood - An Alabama Heritage Bi

Twenty-five years ago I visited each of America's fifty state capitals and learned that each state, and each capital, was remarkable in its own right. But the tale of how and why the location of Alabama’s capital crisscrossed the state before finally, in 1846, alighting in Montgomery is in a category of its own. That story is finally told in this absorbing, informative, richly illustrated new volume.

—Edgar Welden, Chairman of the Board, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame

About the Author/Editor

Tom Bailey (Author)
TOM BAILEY is an author, editor, and former teacher in the creative writing program at Susquehanna University. He has published two novels, a collection of short fiction, and two textbooks on writing short stories. He has also been widely published in anthologies and literary journals including New Stories from the South and DoubleTakes. The latter published his short story, "Snow Dreams," which was selected for the 2000 The Pushcart Prize anthology and would become the basis for his debut novel, The Grace that Keeps this World. He received a Newhouse Award from the John Gardner Foundation and was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction.

Art Meripol (Photographer)
Art Meripol is a photographer based in Birmingham, Alabama. His projects include the guide book Alabama Barbecue-Delicious Road Trips and the National ADDY Award-winning What Happened Here Changed the World. That book, documenting historic Civil Rights sites across the South, was recently presented to the board of UNESCO with the aim of gaining a World Heritage Site designation for the Civil Rights Trail. He also completed all the photography for the trail's website: