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Alabama Governors

Albert Preston Brewer

photo of portrait of Ala. Governor Albert Preston Brewer

 

1968-1971

 

Albert Preston Brewer was born on October 26, 1928, in Bethel Springs, Tennessee. His family moved to Decatur, Alabama, in 1935 where Brewer attended public school. He won the 1966 Democratic primary for lieutenant governor without a runoff. Upon the death of Governor Lurleen Wallace on May 7, 1968, Brewer became governor.

 

As governor Brewer did nothing to change the states' rights philosophy and programs set into motion by the Wallaces. He worked quietly, however, to achieve many much needed reforms and programs. During his administration appropriations for public schools received the largest increase in state history and funding from the state to local school systems was equalized. The Alabama Commission on Higher Education and the Education Study Commission were created. A constitutional amendment was approved that provided for the election of state Board of Education members and the appointment of the state Superintendent of Education by these board members.

 

Brewer created the Alabama Development Office from several loosely organized state agencies to coordinate planning and industrial development in the state. He made numerous out-of-state trips to meet with national business leaders and worked to bring quality industries that would provide long-term growth and employment opportunities into the state.

 

Governor Brewer also introduced several measures to economize the operation of state government. He created the state motor pool which reduced the number of vehicles in state service. These economic measures made it possible for the state to construct the State Agricultural Building and the new wing of the Department of Archives and History without borrowing any funds. The Court of Appeals was divided into the Court of Civil Appeals and the Court of Criminal Appeals to provide relief from overcrowded dockets. He also expanded the state Supreme Court by adding two additional justices. Brewer created the first Ethics Commission to promote honesty and integrity in state government. Other accomplishments included increased Medicaid benefits, a stiffer drunk driving law, an anti-air pollution bill and the continued construction of new highways.

 

A racial moderate, Brewer managed to guide the state through the application of the desegregation orders in a manner that strengthened the state's confidence and improved its public perception. As a result Brewer was recognized as an effective leader by national organizations. He served on the Executive Committee of the National Governor's Conference, was chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission, vice -president of the Southern Governor's Conference and chairman of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Authority.

 

Brewer was defeated in the 1970 governor's race by former Governor George Wallace, who reportedly waged one of the dirtiest campaigns in state history. In his farewell address to the state legislature, Brewer summed up his years as governor as a time of "peace and progress." (Birmingham News, January 15, 1971).

 

Brewer returned to his private law practice in Montgomery until 1979 and then practiced law in Decatur until the late 1980s. He ran for governor unsuccessfully in 1978.

 

Brewer came to Samford University as Distinguished Professor of Law and Government in 1987 and was a founder and the first executive director of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabamain 1988. Over the years, he taught Alabama history to undergraduates and constitutional law and other courses to students of Samford's Cumberland School of Law. He also co-authored a book on Alabama constitutional law with Cumberland professor Charles Cole. In 1999 and 2000, he renewed efforts at constitutional reform that he had initiated as governor during the late 1960s. He recently was recognized for his role in the constitutional reform movement by the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences, which inducted him into its Hall of Fame.

 

Brewer was married to Martha Farmer, who passed in April, 2008. They had two children: Allison and Rebecca.

 


Authorities:
Alabama Journal, March 5, 1979.
Birmingham News, January 15, 1971.
Birmingham News, January 17, 1971.
Brewer, Albert P. Resume, November 1991.
Brewer Journal, 1970 (campaign newspaper).
"How George Did It," Newsweek, June 15, 1970.
"How George Did It," Time, June 15, 1970.
Huntsville Times, December 24, 1968.
Montgomery Advertiser, May 1, 1979.
Stewart, John Craig. The Governors of Alabama, 1975.
William A. Nunnelley, Director of Media and Public Relations, Samford University