Alabama Academy of Honor


John Malcolm Patterson

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



John Malcolm Patterson, Alabama's 49th Governor, was born in the Goldville community, in the red clay hills of Tallapoosa County, Alabama, the son of the late Albert L. Patterson and Mrs. Agnes Louise Benson Patterson.

Governor Patterson received his education in several Central and East Alabama towns, where both his parents were school teachers, and graduated from high school in Phenix City, where his father would later enter law practice.

Graduating in 1939, Patterson entered the U. S. Army the next year as a private, and served in the North African, Sicilian, Italian, Southern France, and the German campaigns of World War II. He emerged in 1945 as major, and was recalled to active duty in Europe during the Korean Crisis from 1951 to 1953.

After completing his World War II military service, Governor Patterson entered the University of Alabama, where he was active in campus affairs and was an honor student. He graduated from the university with his law degree in 1949, and promptly joined his father in law practice in Phenix City.

Following the Korean Conflict, Patterson returned to Phenix City in time to help his father campaign for Alabama Attorney General. The elder Patterson won the Democratic nomination but was shot to death in Phenix City in June, 1954. John Patterson, his son, was nominated in a special election to replace his father on the Democratic ticket, and in November the 33-year- old Patterson was elected as Alabama's chief legal officer.

In 1956, Patterson was named by the U. S. Junior Chamber of Commerce as one of the "Ten Outstanding Young Men in America." In 1958, he won election as Alabama's 49th Governor, becoming the youngest Governor to ever hold the office, at age 37. He was the first Attorney General to ever move directly to the Governor's Office.

Governor Patterson's administration saw progress in education, highway construction, airports, and other state services. A $100 million school-building program was approved, and the State Docks Department was restored to a money-making operation. Alabama's first effective small-loan law was enacted, and the state saw continued progress in industrial expansion and waterway development.

After leaving office, Governor Patterson established law offices in Montgomery in partnership with Edmon L. Rinehart, and has been a practicing attorney since that time except for one unsuccessful Governor's race in 1966.

Governor Patterson is married to the former Florentina Brachert. Governor Patterson has two children, Albert L. Patterson III and Barbara Louise.