William J. Samford

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William James Samford
William J. Samford.jpg
31st Governor of Alabama
In office
December 1, 1900 – June 11, 1901
LieutenantWilliam D. Jelks
Preceded byJoseph F. Johnston
Succeeded byWilliam D. Jelks
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 3rd district
In office
March 4, 1879 – March 3, 1881
Preceded byJeremiah N. Williams
Succeeded byWilliam C. Oates
Personal details
BornSeptember 16, 1844
Greeneville, Meriwether County, Georgia
DiedJune 11, 1901 (aged 56)
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Caroline Elizabeth Drake

William James Samford (September 16, 1844 – June 11, 1901) was an American Democratic politician who was the 31st Governor of Alabama from 1900 to 1901.


Early life[edit]

William James Samford was born on September 16, 1844 in Greenville, Georgia. His father was William Flewellyn Samford and his mother, Susan Lewis Dowdell Samford. In 1846, he moved with his parents to Chambers County, Alabama. He was educated in the public schools of Chambers and Auburn, Alabama. He then attended the East Alabama Male College (now Auburn University) before transferring to the University of Georgia.

Civil War[edit]

During the American Civil War, he served in the Confederate States Army. He was captured in 1863 and held as a prisoner of war for eighteen months by Union soldiers.


After the Civil War, he took up farming. In 1867 he was admitted to the bar. He set up a law practice in Opelika, Alabama. He was also a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church South.

He entered politics in 1872 serving as a city alderman and alternate elector for the Horace Greeley ticket, although he thought the democrats had erred in supporting Greeley. In 1874 he was a delegate to the state constitutional convention. In 1878, he was elected as a democrat to the U.S. Congress where he served one term. He missed the first few weeks of his term because he was out of the state seeking medical treatment, so William D. Jelks acted as governor from December 1 to December 26, 1900.

Personal life[edit]

Samford married Caroline Elizabeth Drake in 1865.

He died in office on June 11, 1901, and Jelks again assumed the role of governor.

A complete biography of Governor Samford is available in the Samford University library ("The Life and Times of William J. Samford") and Auburn University library. It also includes a complete family history from 1600 until 1970, and Mr. Samford's time in U.S. Congress and as a Civil War prisoner.

External links[edit]

  • United States Congress. "William J. Samford (id: S000022)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • Encyclopedia of Alabama article on Samford
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jeremiah N. Williams
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 3rd congressional district

March 4, 1879 – March 3, 1881
Succeeded by
William C. Oates
Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph F. Johnston
Governor of Alabama
Succeeded by
William D. Jelks