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Bibb Graves

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Bibb Graves

David Bibb Graves
David Bibb Graves
38th Governor of Alabama
In office
January 17, 1927 – January 19, 1931
Lieutenant William C. Davis
Preceded by William W. Brandon
Succeeded by Benjamin M. Miller
In office
January 14, 1935 – January 17, 1939
Lieutenant Thomas E. Knight
Preceded by Benjamin M. Miller
Succeeded by Frank M. Dixon
Personal details
Born (1873-04-01)April 1, 1873
Hope Hull, Alabama, U.S.
Died March 14, 1942(1942-03-14) (aged 68)
Sarasota, Florida, U.S.
Resting place Greenwood Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Dixie Bibb Graves
Alma mater University of Alabama,
Yale Law School
Profession Teacher, lawyer
Religion Christian
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Battles/wars World War I

David Bibb Graves (April 1, 1873 – March 14, 1942) was a Democratic politician and the 38th Governor of Alabama 1927-1931 and 1935–1939, the first Alabama governor to serve two four-year terms.


  • Early life 1
  • Political life 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Legacy 4
  • Footnotes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Graves was born in Hope Hull, Alabama, son of David and Mattie Bibb Graves and a descendant of Alabama's first governor William Wyatt Bibb. Graves' father died when he was one year old, and he was reared first by his paternal grandfather on an Alabama farm and then by an uncle in Texas. Bibb attended the University of Alabama, where he was a member of the school's inaugural football team. After graduating with a degree in civil engineering (1893), Graves earned a degree from Yale Law School (1896). Graves was elected to the Alabama legislature and later served as the city attorney in Montgomery.

As adjutant general of the American Legion.

Political life

Bibb Graves Hall, the main administrative building at the University of North Alabama in Florence. Bibb Graves Hall is one of many public buildings in Alabama named after Graves, known as the “education governor.”

Graves lost his first campaign for governor in 1922, but four years later, with the secret endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan, he was elected to his first term as governor. Almost certainly Graves was the Exalted Cyclops (chapter president) of the Montgomery chapter of the Klan, but both Graves and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, another Alabama Klan member, were more opportunists than ideologues, politicians who used the temporary strength of the Klan to further their careers.[1] After receiving solid gold "passports" from the Klan, Graves and Black were collectively known in some Alabama circles as "The Gold Dust Twins."[2]

As governor, Graves earned a reputation as a reformer, abolishing the

Political offices
Preceded by
William W. Brandon
Governor of Alabama
Succeeded by
Benjamin M. Miller
Preceded by
Benjamin M. Miller
Governor of Alabama
Succeeded by
Frank M. Dixon
  • "David Bibb Graves".  

External links

  • Dictionary of American Biography (Supplement 3: 317-18, 1973)
  • William E. Gilbert, "Bibb Graves as a Progressive, 1927-1930," Alabama Review 10 (1957), 15-30.
  • New York Times, March 15, 1942, 43.
  • Arnold S. Rice, The Ku Klux Klan in American Politics (Washington: Public Affairs Press, 1962)


  1. ^ Glenn Feldman,Politics, Society and the Klan in Alabama, 1915-1949 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1999); Rice, 138.
  2. ^ Gerald T. Dunne, Hugo Black and the Judicial Revolution (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1977), 61.
  3. ^ Dictionary of American Biography (Supplement 3: 318, 1973)
  4. ^ John Craig Stewart, The Governors of Alabama (Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company, 1975), 177. Steward notes that although Graves "prompted his law enforcement agencies to crush violence and lawlessness wherever it was encountered," he "never took the leadership" in the fight against the Klan.
  5. ^ Harry S. Ashmore, Civil Rights and Wrongs (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1997)
  6. ^ BJU website.


The University of Montevallo has a Bibb Graves Hall, the University of West Alabama has a Bibb Graves Hall and a Bibb Graves Auditorium, the University of North Alabama has a Bibb Graves Hall, Auburn University has both a Bibb Graves Amphitheatre and a Bibb Graves Drive, the School of Education at the University of Alabama is named for him, and the oldest classroom building at Troy University that houses the Sorrell College of Business is named Bibb Graves Hall. The historically black Alabama A&M University has a Bibb Graves Hall, and the historically black Alabama State University has a women's dormitory named Bibb Graves Hall. Jacksonville State University also has an administrative building named Bibb Graves Hall. Bob Jones University had a residence hall named for Graves until 2011, when it was renamed for H. A. Ironside.[6] Bibb Graves High School in Millerville, Clay County, Alabama, closed in 2003.


Graves was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and an elder of the Christian Church. He was a founding member of the board of trustees of Bob Jones College and a personal friend of the founder, evangelist Bob Jones, Sr. Bibb Graves died in Sarasota, Florida while preparing for another gubernatorial campaign.

Personal life

Graves made many successful trips to Washington to secure funds for Alabama, which he called "plum-tree-shaking expeditions," and President Roosevelt appointed him to a national advisory committee on agriculture and to an interregional highway committee. Graves was a strong opponent of eugenic sterilization, and by 1938, he was on hand to greet the 1,200 delegates to the founding session of the Southern Conference on Human Welfare—a fifth of whom were black.[5]

Graves appointed his own wife, Dixie Bibb Graves, to serve the remainder of Black's term. She thus became Alabama's first woman U.S. senator.


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