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Genl. & Governor William Calvin Oates

Male 1833 - 1910  (77 years)

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  • Name William Calvin Oates 
    Prefix Genl. & Governor 
    Born 1833  Oates Cross Roads, near Troy, Pike county, Alabama, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died Sep 09, 1910  Montgomery, Montgomery county, Alabama, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Oakwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery county, Alabama, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • He was a General in the Spanish-American War
      (from )
          William Calvin Oates was born in 1833 (on either November 30 or December 1) to William and Sarah Sellers Oates of Pike County. He grew up on the family farm and attended local schools. Oates taught school for four years in Henry County and also worked as a carpenter and house painter. In 1858 he began studying law in the office of Pugh, Bullock, and Buford of Eufaula. The young attorney established his own practice in Abbeville in 1859 after he was admitted to the bar. In addition to his law practice, Oates edited a weekly Democratic newspaper.
          Oates joined the Confederate Army in 1861 as captain of the 15th Alabama Infantry Regiment. He served as commander of the regiment from the Battle of Sharpsburg until he was transferred in July 1864 to the 48th Alabama Infantry Regiment. In August 1864 Colonel Oates was wounded and lost his right arm near Petersburg, Virginia. He returned to Abbeville after the war and resumed his legal career.
          Oates became involved in politics in 1868 by serving as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in New York. In 1870 he was elected to one term in the state legislature where he was chairman of the ways and means committee. The Confederate veteran chaired the judiciary committee of the state's constitutional convention in 1875. After an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. Congress in 1878, Oates was elected in 1880 to the U.S. House of Representatives. He remained in the House for seven consecutive terms until November 1894 when he was elected governor.
          Oates "was a firm advocate of states rights and laissez-faire, ...." "In Congress he voted against the Interstate Commerce Commission Act, against the bill to raise the Agricultural Bureau to the status of a department, and for the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act." (Hackney, p. 57)
          The 1894 gubernatorial contest between the conservative Oates and Populist Reuben Kolb represented the last serious attempt by Kolb to attain this office. Oates' inauguration on December 1, 1894 was challenged unsuccessfully by the Populist candidate, who took the oath of office before a Montgomery justice of the peace simultaneously with Oates. Kolb's anti-climactic attempt to forcefully gain control of the governorship revealed the decline in support for both the candidate and his platform.
          During Oates' administration the state continued its struggle with the effects of the national depression. There were a few bright spots, however. The state's iron industry began exporting its product overseas. In 1896 hydroelectric power was generated on the Tallapoosa River.
          After serving as governor, Oates was defeated in 1897 by Edmund W. Pettus in the race for a U.S. Senate seat. President William McKinley appointed Oates brigadier-general during the Spanish-American War, but the conflict ended before he got there. In 1901 Oates played a major role in the state constitutional convention, serving as chairman of the committee on the legislative department and as a member of the committee on suffrage and elections.
          Oates continued his law practice in his later years. He was married to Sarah (Sallie) Toney of Eufaula on March 28, 1882. They had one son, William Calvin, Jr. Oates died in Montgomery on September 9, 1910.
      Alabama Department of Archives and History, Public Information Subject Files - Governors.
      Hackney, Sheldon. Populism to Progressivism in Alabama, 1969.
      National Cyclopedia of American Biography, sv.
      Owen, Thomas M. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, 1921.
      Stewart, John Craig. The Governors of Alabama, 1975.
      Summersell, Charles G. Alabama: A State History, 1955.
      Another source writes:
          William C. Oates lived in rough and tumble times.  As a youth of 17, he fractured a man's skull in a fight in Alabama and fled to Florida.  He remained there for a number of years, working as a housepainter's assistant and a crewman on a schooner.  In Louisiana, he had another warrant issued for choking and hitting his employer in the face with his fists.  Moving on to Marshall, Texas, Oates became a gambler (as well as a house painter).  In a fight in Texas over insulting remarks, Oates nearly gouged out the eyes of his opponent and got himself another warrant.  This time he moved on to Waco. While in Waco he became a shingle cutter and there witnessed a murder. Not wanting to be questioned by the law, Oates planned to slip out of Waco but got involved in another altercation first.  Deciding not to meet his opponent in a gunfight, Oates left Waco.
        He moved to Bastrop, Texas, where he won a good deal of money from his fellow workers and decided to move again.  Landing in Port Lavaca, he fell in love but moved a short distance to Henderson, Texas.  While in Henderson, he met his brother and they went back to Alabama.  En route, he got involved in another card game, resulting in a fight were he again tried to gouge the eyes out of his opponent.
        In Alabama, he still had the original warrant open for his arrest so he couldn't go back to his home county.  He moved nearby and became a schoolteacher.  Later, he read law in Eufaula and passed the bar soon afterward.  Now a lawyer, he also became a newspaperman.  He joined the Confederate Army and went to Little Round Top.  At Chickamauga, he was accused of having his regiment fire a volley into the 19th Alabama.  Though he denied it, the stigma stuck with him.  He lost command of the 15th Alabama and found that his appointment to Colonel had never been confirmed.
    Person ID I40277  mykindred
    Last Modified Jun 20, 2005 

    Father William Truxton Oates,   d.  
    Mother Sarah Sellers,   d.  
    Family ID F14391  Group Sheet

    Family Sarah "Sally" Toney,   d.  
    Married Mar 28, 1882 
     1. William Calvin Oates, Jr.,   d.
    Family ID F14392  Group Sheet

  • Photos
    Oates, Genl. William Calvin (1833-1910)
    Oates, Genl. William Calvin (1833-1910)
    Oates, Gov. William Calvin
    Oates, Gov. William Calvin

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