JOSHUA BURNS MOORE, a prominent member of the Colbert county bar, and indeed of northern Alabama, was born in Franklin county, Ala., in 1833. His grandfathers, Moses Moore and William Burgess, were from South Carolina, both coming to Alabama during the early history of the state, locating in Franklin county. The former died at the age of eighty-six and the later at the age of ninety-six. William Moore, the father of Joshua burns Moore, was a soldier in the war of 1812, and died in 1849. On account of poverty he was unable to educate his children as he desired, and Joshua B. Moore received only such education as could be acquired at an old field school, attending school when he could not work in the fields until he was fourteen years old. He then undertook a course of study without a teacher and when fifteen borrowed a copy of Blackstone’s commentaries, commenced the study of law and was admitted to the bar at the age of seventeen. From the beginning of his professional career he was unusually successful, and in later years his abilities as a criminal lawyer have been abundantly demonstrated. His reputation n this respect is second to that of no other lawyer in northern Alabama. His appeals to the jury are generally effective, and his adversary in the trial of causes is nearly always taken by surprise in the course of the argument or in the appeal that Mr. Moore takes or makes. Mr. Moore was a state senator during the important sessions of the legislature of 1874-75, taking an active part in all the important reforms then instituted. Previous to the war Mr. Moore took no active part in politics, preferring to confine himself exclusively to his profession. When the great question of the secession of Alabama came up for discussion he, together with the great proportion of the people of the northern portion of the state opposed it; but when the war was actually begun his sympathies were then with the people of the south. On account of ill health, however, he took no active part in the war, but contributed in every other way to the success of the southern cause. After the war he advised the people to acquiesce in the policy of the government of the United States, an in September, 1865, he was a member of the constitutional convention that met in Montgomery to revise the constitution of the state of Alabama, to make it conform to the new condition of the slave population, in their emancipation. The work of the convention was not acceptable to congress, and it together with the whole of President Johnson’s policy was overthrown. Then came reconstruction measures which to a great extent disfranchised the intelligent portion of the southern people and place local government in the hands of a foreign element and former slaves, wholly incompetent to rule, and in 1874, a great revolt occurred against the ignorant and irresponsible element, and an effort was made which resulted in success to rescue the government of the state and place it in competent and experienced hands. During this crisis Mr. Moore abandoned his profession—took the stump and bent all his energies to the work, the result being the election of Governor George S. Houston and the majority of each branch of the legislature. In 1858, Mr. Moore married Miss Thomas Ella Pearsall, daughter of Edward and Parthenia Pearsall, by which marriage he had four daughters. In 1874, while Mr. Moore was at Montgomery in attendance upon a session of the legislature, a tornado swept over Tuscumbia, leveling his fine brick residence to the ground and killing his wife and his two youngest daughters. His other two daughters are still living. Mr. Moore is still actively engaged in his profession.

[SOURCE: Memorial Record of Alabama. A concise account of the state’s political, military professional and Industrial progress, together with the personal memoirs of many of its people. In Two Volumes. Illustrated. Brant & Fuller, Madison Wis., 1893. Volume I. pp. 696-697.]

JOSHUA BURNS MOORE, the gentleman whose name heads this sketch is a noted example of what can be achieved by industry and indomitable resolution. He is a leading and distinguished lawyer of the North Alabama bar, and as an advocate before juries has few equals in the State.

Mr. Moore’s grandfathers, Moses Moore and William Burgess, were South Carolinians, and emigrated to Alabama, locating in Franklin County, in the early history of the State. Each lived to an unusually old age; the former died at the age of eighty-six, and the latter at the age of ninety-six years. Mr. Moore’s father, William Moore, was a soldier in the war of 1812, and died in 1849. He was a poor man, and the subject of this sketch received only such education as could be picked up at the old-field schools, which he attended in the interim of working in the fields during crop season until he was fourteen years of age. At this time he quit school, undertook a course of study without a teacher, and a year afterwards borrowed a copy of Blackstone’s Commentaries, commencing the study of law, which he diligently prosecuted until admitted to the bar at the early age of seventeen years.

His first practice at the bar foreshadowed the marked success that has attended his professional career.

As an advocate in criminal cases, Mr. Moore is eminently successful. Not only is he formidable in argument, but there is scarcely a passion of the human heart he can not play upon. In the management of either civil or criminal causes he is so reticent of the points relied upon that among his contemporaries he is called the “silent lawyer.”

His adversary can never anticipate when, where, or how he will be stricken.

His impressive, earnest, and eloquent addresses to juries are well calculated to carry conviction home to them.

Mr. Moore served as a senator in the Legislature of Alabama during the sessions of 1874-5 and 1875-6, taking a leading part in all the measures of reform enacted during those important sessions.

In 1858, Mr. Moore was married to Thomas Ella, youngest daughter of Edward and Parthenia Pearsall—a beautiful and accomplished woman. Their union was blessed with four daughters, two of whom are still living. In 1874, while Mr. Moore was at Montgomery, attending a session of the Legislature as a member of the senate, a tornado swept over the city of Tuscumbia, in which his wife and two youngest daughters were killed, his large brick residence being leveled with the ground.

Mr. Moore, before the war, took no active part in politics, but confined himself exclusively to his profession. With a large majority of the people of the northern section of the State, he opposed the secession of Alabama from the Union, but when the war came, every sympathy he had was with the Southern people. From ill health he took no active part in the war, but in every other way he contributed to the Confederate cause. After the surrender, when President Johnson’s proclamation was issued, he urged the people to acquiesce in the inevitable course of events, and when a Constitutional Convention was called to meet in Montgomery in September, 1865, to revise the Constitution of the State in conformity with the abolition of slaves, he was elected a delegate from Franklin County, and took a leading part in its proceedings. But the policy of the President was not acceptable to Congress, and the action of the Convention was not recognized. Reconstruction measures were enacted by which the intelligence of Alabama and other Southern States were disfranchised, and illiteracy ruled the hour. It culminated finally in a great upheaval in Alabama, in which local government was the issue.

Mr. Moore, like many others, abandoned his profession and took the stump for many months. It was the most memorable contest ever fought in the State, and there are many who will never forget the grand appeals he made in favor of the supremacy of the white people over the ignorant negro race in the local government of the State.

It is hardly necessary to add that Mr. Moore is a Democrat in politics.

[SOURCE: Northern Alabama Historical and Biographical. Illustrated. Smith and De Land, Birmingham, Ala. 1888., p. 431-2] This biography typed for inclusion here by Linda Ledlow.

Return to Biographies