‘Charles Henderson is now governor’

Published 7:49 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2022

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In 1914, Charles Henderson was elected the 35th Governor of Alabama.  He was sworn in on January 19, 1915 in Montgomery.  The story of his inauguration was published in the Troy Messenger on January 20, 1915.     

     With the low-hanging clouds momentarily adrift and several thousand Alabama people pressed about with uncovered heads, Charles Henderson, of Troy, yesterday took the oath of office as Governor of the State.  The oath was administered at 1:20 o’clock by John C. Anderson, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

     Immediately the new Executive of the State was given an ovation by the vast crown that surged before the stand at the State House front and by the distinguished group of Alabamians who occupied seats on the stand.

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     Administration of the oath by Chief Justice Anderson came as the climax of the most brilliant inaugural parade that has been witnessed in the Alabama Capital, and followed the delivery by Gov. Henderson of his able address to the people of the State.  This address, delivered in a clear, firm voice, and briefly sketching the policy that will be followed by the incoming Executive was frequently cheered by the multitude of hearers.

     Ominous clouds scurried across the sky throughout the day before a wind which sent fitful gusts of chilling rain upon the assembled throngs, but the crowd appeared completely to disregard the discomforts of the weather.

     The Bible used in administering the oath to Governor Henderson is one of the most treasured articles of the Department of Archives and History.  It is the same to which the State’s first native born Governor, John Anthony Winston, pressed his lips in 1853, and the Bible also that was used in 1861, when Jefferson Davis took the oath as President of the Confederate States of America.  The Holy Book was held by Dr. Charles A. Stakeley, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Montgomery, who also opened the impressive ceremonies with an earnest and beautiful prayer for Divine guidance during the administration of Charles Henderson as Governor.

Chief Justice Anderson thus read the oath to the man about to succeed to the State’s highest office:

“Do you, Charles Henderson, solemnly swear to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Alabama, so long as you continue a citizen thereof, and that you will faithfully and honestly discharge the duties upon which you are about to enter, to the best of your ability, so help you God?”

In a voice of clearness and earnestness, the Governor-elect made response:

“So help me God, I do.”

For the delivery of his inaugural address, Gov. Henderson was introduced by Emmett O’Neal, retiring executive.  Governor O’Neal spoke with marked brevity.  He said:

“With a feeling of most profound gratitude to the people of the State for the honor done me and with the proud consciousness of having performed my duties to the best of my ability, I take pleasure in introducing to you my successor in office, the Honorable Charles Henderson.”

Cheers from every quarter of the western grounds of the Capitol greeting the new executive when he arose from his seat to read his strong message to the people of the State.  There were traces of emotion in his bearing at the outset, but quickly he was in complete command of himself and proceeded with the delivery of his address in even, vigorous tones.

All of these articles can be found in previous editions of The Troy Messenger.  Stay tuned for more.  Dianne Smith is the President of the Pike County Historical, Genealogical and Preservation Society.