Skip directly to content

Christopher Columbus Harris

Grace London, Auburn University
Christopher Columbus Harris (1842-1935) served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Alabama's Eighth Congressional District from 1914 to 1915. Smith was a member of the Democratic Party and an active member of his community in Lawrence County. Mostly concerned with local affairs, Harris's primary focus was his law practice and his involvement in establishing and managing several banks in Decatur, Morgan County.
Christopher Columbus Harris
Harris was born on January 28, 1842, in Lawrence County to William Harris and Nancy Stovall Harris. He had no siblings and was educated by private tutors and in public schools. In 1861, Harris enlisted in the Confederate States Army as a private but was quickly promoted to lieutenant and served in F Company of the 16th Alabama Infantry. He was wounded at several battles, including Shiloh (1862), Chickamauga (1863), Jonesboro (1864), and Franklin (1864). After the Battle of Franklin, Harris was confined to a private house in Tennessee for four months while he recovered from his wound. He was taken by Union forces and imprisoned at Camp Chase near Columbus, Ohio, where he remained until the end of the Civil War.
After his release, Harris returned to Alabama and worked as a clerk of the circuit court of Lawrence County from 1865 to 1867. During this time, he studied law and was admitted to the Alabama State Bar in 1866. On February 14, 1869, Harris married Julia Wert, with whom he had seven children, five of whom who lived to adulthood. Harris set up his first law practice in Moulton, Lawrence County, but in 1872, he moved his practice to Decatur and was employed by chief justice, Robert C. Brickell. In 1881, Harris helped establish the Bank of Decatur, which would change its name to First National Bank of Decatur in 1887. Harris served as president of the First National Bank until January 1913. Later that year, Harris organized Decatur's Bank of Commerce and was named the Chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee of the Eighth Congressional District.
In 1915, Harris was elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-third Congress to fill the vacancy left by the death of William Richardson, who served from 1914 to 1915. Harris declined to run for reelection, and the open seat was won by Edward Berton Almon. After leaving Congress, Harris became president of the City National Bank of Decatur, and on January 10, 1928, he was elected chairman of the bank's board of directors. On December 28, 1935, Harris died in Decatur. He was interred in the Decatur Cemetery.
Published:  June 21, 2017   |   Last updated:  June 21, 2017