1892 Birmingham municipal election

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The 1892 Birmingham municipal election was an election for a two-year term as Mayor of Birmingham and for open seats on the Birmingham Board of Aldermen. Though officially a partisan election, the City Democratic Party enrolled the vast majority of voters and its primary served as a de facto election to office.

Five days before the March 26 primary, the home of the leading candidate, Alderman and former iron worker David Fox, along with his family's J. Fox & Sons store on 8th Street were damaged in a fire caused by an "incendiary device".

Nevertheless, the primary was won by Fox and his slate of Aldermen, largely due to the support of fellow members of the laboring classes marshaled by his Workingmen's Democratic Social Club in Ward 1. His opponent enjoyed support from leading business owners represented by the Commercial Club of Birmingham.

Fox campaigned on extending more power to the city's working class, which was perceived by employers as a pledge to "make war on capital". During the primary, opponents of Fox's machine accused his supporters of stuffing ballot boxes and destroying votes. Fox's representatives tried to close down the Ward 4 polling place rather than allow his opponents' agents to enter, triggering a fistfight.

Unhappy with the result, some party members affiliated with the Citizens' Reform Union threatened to challenge the returns or to back an independent candidate against Fox in the December 7 general election, but ultimately backed down in order to preserve party unity.

Before Fox took office in January 1893 a bill supported by the Commercial Club and endorsed in Rufus Rhodes' Birmingham Daily News was passed, creating a "Birmingham Police Commission" which would be independent of the Mayor. Jefferson County Probate Court Judge M. T. Proctor appointed five members to the commission. Once Fox took office, he and his Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance requiring the Mayor's approval for all personnel matters taken up by that Board. Fox refused to swear in any of the commission's force and set up his own Birmingham Police Department with S. H. Norton as chief.

The police controversy notwithstanding, Fox promised to stand for "equal and exact justice" in his administration. He followed through by rewarding both supporters and prominent opponents with positions at City Hall.



David Fox

General election

Fox and his slate of Aldermen ran unopposed in the general election of December 7 and received all 1,579 votes cast.


  • McKiven, Henry M. (1995) Iron and Steel: Class, Race, and Community in Birmingham, Alabama, 1875-1920. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press ISBN 0807845248
  • "Local News" (March 30, 1892) Weekly Age-Herald, p. 4. Accessed via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections on March 28, 2014.