Alabama Academy of Honor

James E. Folsom

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1969.

James E. Folsom, 45th and 47th Governor of the State of Alabama, was born on a farm near Elba, in Coffee County, October 8, 1908. Governor Folsom was educated in the schools of Coffee County, and later attended the University of Alabama and Howard College. He served in the U.S. Merchant Marine from 1929 to 1932, then later served with the Civil Works Administration in Guntersville, Alabama and the office of WPA in Washington. While in Washington, he studied public speaking and political science at George Washington University.

Returning to Alabama in 1936, he ran twice unsuccessfully for Congress in the Third District, and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1942. In the meantime, he moved to Cullman to take the agency of an insurance business.

During World War II, Folsom served for a time in the Army, where he was discharged because of his excessive height, then later joined the Merchant Marines.

After his discharge in 1946, he ran again for Governor, and this time was successful. He served in the State's highest office form 1947 to 1951, and then ran again successfully for Governor in 1954. In the meantime, he served as an insurance executive in Cullman. Folsom is only the second Governor in Alabama history to have been elected for a second four-year term. The Folsom administrations were marked by progress in education, highway construction, legislative reapportionment, and old age pensions. Folsom campaigned strongly for better roads, and was instrumental in constructing hundreds of miles of arm-to-market roads throughout the state.

Since leaving office in 1959, Folsom has campaigned unsuccessfully for several political offices, including two bids for the governorship. At the time of his induction into the Academy, he continued his insurance business in Cullman, and also is president of a manufacturing firm.

Governor Folsom was married in 1936 to the former Sarah Carnley of Elba, deceased. He was married in 1948 to the former Jamelle Moore of Berry.