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Albert Boutwell

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Albert Boutwell
19th Lieutenant Governor of Alabama
In office
January 19, 1959 – January 14, 1963
GovernorJohn M. Patterson
Preceded byWilliam G. Hardwick
Succeeded byJames B. Allen
22nd Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama
In office
Preceded byArt Hanes
Succeeded byGeorge G. Siebels, Jr.
Member of the Alabama Senate
In office
Personal details
Born(1904-11-13)November 13, 1904
Montgomery, Alabama
DiedFebruary 3, 1978(1978-02-03) (aged 73)
Birmingham, Alabama
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseHelen Balfour Drake(m. November 23, 1934)
Children3; including Drake
EducationUniversity of Alabama

Albert Burton Boutwell (November 13, 1904 – February 3, 1978) was the 19th Lieutenant Governor of Alabama. A Democrat, Boutwell served Governor John Malcolm Patterson of the same political party, from 1959 until 1963.[1] Earlier in his political career he served in the state senate including as senate president.

Early life and education[edit]

Boutwell was born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1904. Both his grandfathers were Confederate veterans. He graduated from (segregated) Greenville High School, and then attended the University of Alabama, receiving a Bachelor of Law degree in 1928. While attending university, Boutwell was a member of two fraternities: the Sigma Delta Kappa law fraternity and the Alpha Epsilon Phi honorary Forensic Fraternity. In his final year, Boutwell was also President of the Student Government Association and other groups.[1]


After admission to the Alabama bar, Boutwell practiced law in Birmingham, for many years, first with Sam Pointer during the Great Depression, then with Burgin Hawkins, as Bouthwell, Pointer & Hawkins. He was also active in the Birmingham Junior Chamber of Commerce (once becoming its president, and also becoming a national vice-president). He was also active in his Methodist Church, as well as the Elk, and Mason fraternal organizations.[1]

Beginning in 1939, Boutwell was elected to the state Democratic Committee, representing District 9. In 1944, he was one of Alabama's representatives at the National Democratic Convention. He also twice served as chair of his state party's finance committee.[1]

Boutwell first won election in 1946, as Birmingham voters elected him to the Alabama Senate. After he won re-election in 1950, fellow senators elected Boutwell as their president pro-tem. During his third four-year term, Boutwell served as Chairman of the Interim Legislative Committee on Segregation in the Public Schools, and actively opposed school integration. In response to the U.S. Supreme Court desegregation decisions in Brown v. Board of Education, secured passage of a pupil placement act designed to maintain segregation.[2]

He won statewide office, as lieutenant governor, in 1958.

Considered a moderate by many in Birmingham early in the civil rights movement, Boutwell was elected to the City Commission on April 2, 1963; he was selected as President of the Commission, equivalent to mayor under that system.[3] His election was seen as a rejection of vehement segregationist Eugene "Bull" Connor. Connor attributed his loss by 7,982 votes to a 10,000-strong “Negro bloc vote”; and in fact Fred Shuttlesworth had delayed mass demonstrations of the "Birmingham Campaign" until after the election. Martin Luther King Jr.'s April 1963 "Letter from Birmingham Jail" was addressed to Boutwell; King had been arrested on Good Friday after Boutwell had vowed to arrest, jail and punish anyone who disturbed the public peace and safety.[4] Connor in fact met those demonstrations with police dogs and fire hoses, and the movement's leaders and Birmingham businessmen declared a truce on May 10. Later that year, Boutwell declared that school integration was not in children's interest. He was in office for the forced integration of Birmingham schools by the National Guard and the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church, which killed four young girls.

Boutwell was defeated for re-election in 1967. His pupil placement act and its popular (among segregationists) freedom of choice provision were declared unconstitutional by federal courts in 1967.[2]

Personal life[edit]

In 1934, Boutwell married Helen Balfour. They had a daughter and two sons[1]

Death and legacy[edit]

Boutwell died in Birmingham. The Municipal Auditorium was renamed in his honor.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Alabama Department of Archives and History: Ala. Lieutenant Governor Albert Boutwell". archives.alabama.gov. Archived from the original on 2020-07-17. Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  2. ^ a b "Public Education in Alabama After Desegregation". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  3. ^ Harris, Carl V. (1977) Political Power in Birmingham, 1871-1921. Twentieth-Century America Series. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 0-87049-211-X
  4. ^ University, © Stanford; Stanford; California 94305 (2017-04-24). "Boutwell, Albert". The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. Retrieved 2020-02-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Alabama
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of Alabama
Succeeded by
Preceded by Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama
1963 — 1967
Succeeded by