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Harry Toulmin (1766-1823)
Harry Toulmin (1766-1823)
Harry Toulmin was a pioneering settler of Alabama and one of the prominent early legal figures of the Territory and the State. Toulmin was born in 1766 in Taunton, England. He came to the United States in 1793. He became President of Transylvania College in Lexington, Kentucky and in 1796 was appointed Secretary of State of Kentucky.

Toulmin supported Thomas Jefferson for President and he was rewarded in 1804 when President Jefferson appointed him Judge of the Superior Court in the Tombigbee District of the Mississippi Territory. He was the second judge to have this appointment but because his predecessor only served six months and did not hold court in present-day Alabama, Toulmin became the first United States Judge on what is now Alabama soil.

Judge Toulmin was a remarkable man who because of the sparsely populated Alabama wilderness wore many hats. He served as judge, postmaster, minister, and physician. His tenure as judge extended through the existence of the Mississippi Territory until Mississippi became a state in 1817, and then continued through the time of the Alabama Territory - 1817 to 1819. He became a member of the Alabama Constitutional Convention of 1819, and was one of the prime movers behind Alabama’s statehood.

Toulmin continued to influence the law of Alabama in a most important way. He compiled the first Alabama Law Digest in 1823.

Harry Toulmin served Alabama well for many years. One of his sons became a prominent legislator for twenty-five years. A grandson followed in his footsteps and served as a Federal District Judge from 1886 to1916. Other descendants have continued to serve our state. We now honor the progenitor of this great family with his induction into the Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame.

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