Alabama Secretaries of State

Patrick Henry Brittan

image of Alabama Secretary of State
    Patrick Henry Brittan


Secretary of State: 1860-1865


Patrick Henry Brittan, publisher, and editor, Secretary of State of Alabama, 1859-1865, was born September 21, 1815, at Thornton's Gap, Va., and died on March 18, 1868, at Montgomery; son of George Brittan, a native of Ireland, who emigrated to America and settled in Thornton's Gap, Va. Gen. Brittan was an uncle of Barbee, the sculptor.


He learned the printing trade in Washington, D.C.; went to Columbus, Ga., in 1839; and was connected with the press of that city until 1843 when he established the LaFayette Tribune, in LaFayette, Chambers County. He remained with the latter paper until 1847, then moved to Montgomery and entered journalism in that city. In 1848, he bought a half interest in the Advertiser, and the next year his partner, Mr. McCormack, withdrew from the publication, selling his interest in the paper to Thomas DeWolf, of the State Gazette, and to Gen. Brittan. They changed the name from the Advertiser to that of the Advertiser and State Gazette. In May, 1853, Mr. DeWolf sold his interest to M. P. Blue, and the paper was continued under the firm name of Brittan and Blue, until 1856. During the six years he was in partnership with Mr. De Wolf and Mr. Blue, Gen. Brittan was state printer. Brittan and Blue applied steam to their presses, November 1853, being the first publishers in the state to do so. In 1856, Gen. Brittan began a small daily, the Montgomery Messenger. It was a non-political publication devoted entirely to local news. It ceased to exist January 18, 1858, when it was merged into the Confederation, of which J. J. Siebles, R. A. Wyatt and Gen. Brittan were owners.


Gen. Brittan served as quartermaster-general of Alabama from 1857 until 1859, and as Secretary of State of Alabama from 1859 until 1865. He was a Democrat and a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church.


Married: February 28, 1839, at Columbus, Ga., Ora Williams, daughter of John and Elizabeth (Holland) Williams, of Morgan County, Ga. Children: 1. Kate, m. John E. Simpson, resides at Birmingham; 2. Mary, m. John H. Stillman, resides at Birmingham; 3. Henry S., deceased; 4. Emmett, deceased; 5. Grattan, m. Annie Doland, resides at Birmingham; 6. Lizzie B., m. W. W. Bloodworth, resides at Sylacauga, Talladega County; 7. Lucy, m. John B. McClary, resides at Birmingham; 8. Sallie, deceased, m. B. S. Williams; 9. Belle, m. George S. Mooar, resides at Birmingham. Last residence: Montgomery.


Owen, Thomas McAdory, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. Spartanburg: The Reprint Company Publishers, 1978 (1921), III, 219-20.