George S. Houston

For other people named George Houston, see George Houston (disambiguation).
George Smith Houston
United States Senator
from Alabama
In office
March 4, 1879  December 31, 1879
Preceded by George E. Spencer
Succeeded by Luke Pryor
24th Governor of Alabama
In office
November 24, 1874  November 28, 1878
Lieutenant Robert F. Ligon
Preceded by David P. Lewis
Succeeded by Rufus W. Cobb
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 5th district
In office
March 4, 1843  March 3, 1849
Preceded by James Dellet
Succeeded by David Hubbard
In office
March 4, 1851  January 21, 1861
Preceded by David Hubbard
Succeeded by John Benton Callis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1841  March 3, 1843
Preceded by District inactive
Succeeded by District inactive
Personal details
Born January 17, 1811
Franklin, Tennessee
Died December 31, 1879 (aged 68)
Athens, Alabama
Political party Democratic

George Smith Houston (January 17, 1811 – December 31, 1879) was an American Democratic politician who was the 24th Governor of Alabama from 1874 to 1878. He was also a congressman and senator for Alabama.


Born in 1811 in Franklin, Tennessee, Houston was the son of David Ross and Hannah Pugh Reagan Houston. He worked on the family farm and attended a local academy. He read law in the office of Judge George Coalter of Florence, and completed his studies in a private law school at Harrodsburg, Kentucky.He was admitted to the bar in 1831.[1] In May 1835, he married Mary Jackson Beatty, and they had eight children; Mary Ida, Ross Jones, William Parrott, David Robert, Robert Beatty, George Smith, John Pugh, and Mary Ella. With his second wife, Ellen Irvine, he had three children, Mary E, Emma, and Maggie Lou.[2]


George S. Houston, photograph by Mathew Brady

A successful cotton farmer and a shrewd investor, by 1860, Houston possessed large landholdings and 78 slaves. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1841, he served from March 3, 1841 to March 3, 1849. Because of his unpopular stance (in the south) on the issue of slavery in new territories,[3] he decided not to run for reelection in 1848. He ran again in 1851, won the seat, and served from March 3, 1851 to March 3, 1861.[4]

Houston was elected Alabama's 24th governor on November 3, 1874, and was sworn into office on November 24, 1874. He was reelected in 1876, serving until 1878. During his two terms, the 1875 Alabama Constitution was ratified, the Alabama State Board of Health was established, taxes were reduced, and state spending was controlled.[5] His governorship began a string of Democratic governors which was unbroken until H. Guy Hunt, a Republican, became governor in 1987.

Elected to the Senate in 1866, Houston was not allowed to take the seat, as Alabama was still under Reconstruction. He was later reelected and served in the Senate from March 4, 1879 until his death on December 31, 1879.[4]


Houston died in Athens, Limestone County, Alabama, on December 31, 1879 (age 68 years, 348 days). He is interred at Athens City Cemetery, Athens, Alabama.[6] Alabama's southeasternmost county was named for him in 1903, and the George Houston Memorial Bridge in Guntersville, Alabama (old and new) were named in his honor. The old bridge, a truss bridge built in 1930, was demolished in 1994 after receiving an imminent failure inspection rating.[7]


  1. "George Smith Houston". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  2. "George Smith Houston". Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  3. "George Smith Houston". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  4. 1 2 "George S. Houston". Govtrack US Congress. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  5. "George Smith Houston". National Governor's Association. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  6. "George Smith Houston". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  7. "George Houston Bridge". Bridgehunter. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to George S. Houston.

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
District inactive
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's at-large congressional district

March 4, 1841 – March 3, 1843
Succeeded by
District inactive
Preceded by
James Dellet
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 5th congressional district

March 4, 1843 – March 3, 1849
Succeeded by
David Hubbard
Preceded by
David Hubbard
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 5th congressional district

March 4, 1851 – March 3, 1861
Succeeded by
John Benton Callis
Political offices
Preceded by
David P. Lewis
Governor of Alabama
Succeeded by
Rufus W. Cobb
United States Senate
Preceded by
George E. Spencer
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Alabama
March 4, 1879 – December 31, 1879
Served alongside: John T. Morgan
Succeeded by
Luke Pryor
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