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Henry Hitchcock

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Henry Hitchcock
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama
In office
Preceded byReuben Saffold
Succeeded byArthur F. Hopkins
1st Attorney General of Alabama
In office
GovernorWilliam Wyatt Bibb
Thomas Bibb
Israel Pickens
Preceded byPosition Established
Succeeded byThomas White
1st Secretary of State of Alabama
In office
GovernorWilliam Wyatt Bibb
Preceded byPosition Established
Succeeded byThomas A. Rodgers
United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama
In office
PresidentJohn Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Preceded byPosition Established
Succeeded byJohn Elliot
Personal details
Born(1792-09-11)September 11, 1792
Burlington, Vermont, US
DiedAugust 11, 1839(1839-08-11) (aged 56)
Mobile, Alabama, US
Resting placeMagnolia Cemetery, Mobile Alabama
SpouseAnn Erwin (m. 1821-1839, his death)
RelationsSamuel Hitchcock (father)
Ethan Allen (grandfather)
Ethan Allen Hitchcock (brother)
Children8 (including Ethan Hitchcock and Henry Hitchcock
EducationUniversity of Vermont

Henry Hitchcock (September 11, 1792 – August 11, 1839) was the first attorney general of Alabama, having been elected by the Alabama General Assembly in December 1819 in its initial session. He was also the Secretary of the Alabama Territory, the position which was the precursor to the modern-day Secretary of State of Alabama.[1]

Early years[edit]

Henry Hitchcock was born in Burlington, Vermont, in 1792. He was the grandson of General Ethan Allen, leader of the Green Mountain Boys and hero of Ticonderoga, and the son of Judge Samuel Hitchcock. Major General Ethan Allen Hitchcock was his brother. Henry Hitchcock's son, Ethan Hitchcock, served as United States Secretary of the Interior under William McKinley. Another son, Henry Hitchcock, was a prominent attorney in St. Louis, Missouri.

Henry Hitchcock attended Middlebury College for a while and then graduated from the University of Vermont in 1811. While studying law, he cultivated a small farm in order to provide for the needs of his family. He became a member of the bar in 1815 and handled several important lawsuits before leaving Burlington for the lure of what was then called the Southwest. He traveled by flat boat down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, eventually arriving in Mobile on January 22, 1816, after a brief stay in Natchez.

Political career[edit]

On May 14, 1818, six months after the creation of the Alabama Territory, Hitchcock was appointed its first secretary by Governor William Wyatt Bibb. He also participated in the writing of Alabama's first constitution, representing Washington County in the constitutional convention in Huntsville on July 5, 1819. Hitchcock was elected as the State's first Attorney General by the General Assembly in December 1819. In 1821, he married Ann Erwin (1803-1854). Two sons were Henry Hitchcock (1829-1902), a prominent attorney in St. Louis, Missouri, and Ethan Hitcocock (1835-1909), served as United States Secretary of the Interior under William McKinley. Hitchcock then had the distinction of producing the first book printed in the State of Alabama entitled, The Alabama Justice of the Peace, Containing All the Duties, Powers and Authorities of That Office, which was published in Cahawaba, Alabama, in 1822. In 1826, Hitchcock was appointed United States District Attorney for the Mobile region. On January 9. 1835, Hitchcock was elected to fill a vacancy on the Alabama Supreme Court. He became Chief Justice in June 1836.[2] Hitchcock was also a very astute businessman, reputedly the wealthiest man in Alabama before feeling the effects of the Panic of 1837. On August 11, 1839, Hitchcock succumbed to yellow fever during one of the worst epidemics of that disease in Mobile's history.


  1. ^ List of past Secretaries of State of Alabama Archived 2007-12-17 at the Wayback Machine, from the Office Secretary of State of Alabama
  2. ^ "Members of the Supreme Court: JUDGES AND ASSOCIATE JUSTICES, 1820-2021". judicial.alabama.gov. Retrieved April 16, 2022.


  • William H. Brantley, Jr., "Henry Hitchcock of Mobile, 1816-1839." The Alabama Review V (January, 1952):3
  • Darell E. Bigham, From the Green Mountains to Tombigbee: Henry Hitchcock in Territorial Alabama, 1817–1819," The Alabama Review XXVI (July, 1973):209
Political offices
Preceded by
office established
Secretary of State of Alabama
Succeeded by
Thomas A. Rodgers
Legal offices
Preceded by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama
Succeeded by