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|Top > Regional > North America > United States Alabama|
Alabama is a state located in the southern United States; the population of Alabama is 4,447,100 as of 2000.
Alabama was once a region claimed by the Spaniards as part of Florida. The English also cliamed it as part of the province of Carolina. Nevertheless, when the french took over Louisiana they also took over the territory including Alabama. Later when the United States acquired the Louisiana Purchase and the Mississippi Territory, there was much controversy as to whether or not Alabama was included. Nevertheless, Alabama became the 22nd state in 1819.
The state of Alabama seceded from the Union and became a Confederate state on January 11, 1861. While not many battles were fought in the state, it contributed about 120,000 soilders to the Civil War. After the war a provisional government was setup in 1865 and Alabama was readmitted to the Union in June 1868.
The first Europeans to enter the limits of the present state of Alabama were Spaniards, who claimed this region as a part of Florida. It is possible that a member of Panfilo de Narvaez's expedition of 1528 entered what is now southern Alabama, but the first fully authenticated visit was that of Hernando de Soto, who made an arduous but fruitless journey along the Coosa, Alabama and Tombigbee rivers in 1539.
The English, too, claimed the region north of the Gulf of Mexico, and the territory of modern Alabama was included in the province of Carolina, granted by Charles II of England to certain of his favourites by the charters of 1663 and 1665. English traders of Carolina were frequenting the valley of the Alabama river as early as 1687.
Disregarding these claims, however, the French in 1702 settled on the Mobile river and there erected Fort Louis, which for the next nine years was the seat of government of Louisiana. In 1711 Fort Louis was abandoned to the floods of the river, and on higher ground was built Fort Conde, the germ of the present city of Mobile, and the first permanent white settlement in Alabama. Later, on account of the intrigues of the English traders with the Indians, the French as a means of defence established the military posts of Fort Toulouse, near the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers, and Fort Tombecbe on the Tombigbee river.
The grant of Georgia to Oglethorpe and his associates in 1732 included a portion of what is now northern Alabama, and in 1739 Oglethorpe himself visited the Creek Indians west of the Chattahoochee river and made a treaty with them.
The peace of Paris, in 1763, terminated the French occupation, and England came into undisouted possession of the region between the Chattahoochee and the Mississippi. The portion of Alabama below the 31st parallel then became a part of West Florida, and the portion north of this line a part of the Illinois country," set apart, by royal proclamation, for the use of the Indians. In 1767 the province of West Florida was extended northward to 32 degrees 28' N. lat., and a few years later, during the War for Independence, this region fell into the hands of Spain.
By the Treaty of Versailles, on September 3, 1783, England ceded West Florida to Spain; but by the Treaty of Paris, signed the same day, she ceded to the United States all of this province north of 31 degrees, and thus laid the foundation for a long controversy.
By the Treaty of Madrid, in 1795, Spain ceded to the United States her claims to the lands east of the Mississippi between 31 degrees and 32 degrees 28'; and three years later (1798) this district was organized by Congress as the Mississippi Territory. A strip of land 12 or 14 m. wide near the present northern boundary of Alabama and Mississippi was claimed by South Carolina; but in 1787 that state ceded this claim to the general government. Georgia likewise claimed all the lands between the 31st and 35th parallels from its present western boundary to the Mississippi river, and did not surrender its claim until 1802; two years later the boundaries of the Mississippi Territory were extended so as to include all of the Georgia cession.
In 1812 Congress annexed to the Mississippi Territory the Mobile District of West Florida, claiming that it was included in the Louisiana Purchase; and in the following year General James Wilkinson occupied this district with a military force, the Spanish commandant offering no resistance. The whole area of the present state of Alabama then for the first time became subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
In 1817 the Mississippi Territory was divided; the western portion became the state of Mississippi, and the eastern the territory of Alabama, with St Stephens, on the Tombigbee river, as the temporary seat of government.
In 1819 Alabama was regularly admitted as the 22nd state to the Union.
One of the first problems of the new commonwealth was that of finance. Since the amount of money in circulation was not sufficient to meet the demands of the increasing population, a system of state banks was instituted. State bonds were issued and public lands were sold to secure capital, and the notes of the banks, loaned on security, became a medium of exchange. Prospects of an income from the banks led the legislature of 1836 to abolish all taxation for state purposes. This was hardly done, however, before the panic of 1837 wiped out a large portion of the banks' assets; next came revelations of grossly careless and even of corrupt management, and in 1843 the banks were placed in liquidation. After disposing of all their available assets, the state assumed the remaining liabilities, for which it had pledged its faith and credit, and these form a part ($3,445,000) of its present indebtedness.
The Indian problem was important. With the encroachment of the white settlers upon their hunting-grounds the Creek Indians began to grow restless, and the great Shawnee chief Tecumseh, who visited them in 1811, fomented their discontent. When the outbreak of the second war with Great Britain in 1812 gave the Creeks assurance of British aid they rose in arms, massacred several hundred settlers who had taken refuge in Fort Mims, near the junction of the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers, and in a short time no white family in the Creek country was safe outside a palisade. The Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians, however, remained the faithful allies of the whites, and volunteers from Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, and later United States troops, marched to the rescue of the threatened settlements. In the campaign that followed the most distinguished services were rendered by General Andrew Jackson, whose vigorous measures broke for ever the power of the Creek Confederacy. By the treaty of Fort Jackson (August 9, 1814) the Creeks ceded their claims to about one-half of the present state; and cessions by the Cherokees, Chickasaws and Choctaws in 1816 left only about one-fourth of Alabama to the Indians.
In 1832 the national government provided for the removal of the Creeks; but before the terms of the contract were effected, the state legislature formed the Indian lands into counties, and settlers flocked in. This caused a disagreement between Alabama and the United States authorities; although it was amicably settled, it engendered a feeling that the policy of the national government might not be in harmony with the interests of the state--a feeling which, intensified by the slavery agitation, did much to cause secession in 1861. The pol
itical history of Alabama may be divided into three periods, that prior to 1860, the years from 1860 to 1876, and the period from 1876 onwards.
Political history until 1860 - The first of these is the only period of altogether healthy political life. Until 1832 there was only one party in the state, the Democratic, but the question of nullification caused a division that year into the (Jackson) Democratic party and the State's Rights (Calhoun Democratic) party; about the same time, also, there arose, chiefly in those counties where the proportion of slaves to freemen was greater and the freemen were most aristocratic, the Whig party. For some time the Whigs were nearly as numerous as the Democrats, but they never secured control of the state government. The State's Rights men were in a minority; nevertheless under their active and persistent leader, William L. Yancey (1814-1863), they prevailed upon the Democrats in 1848 to adopt their most radical views. During the agitation over the introduction of slavery into the territory acquired from Mexico, Yancey induced the Democratic State Convention of 1848 to adopt what is known as the "Alabama Platform," which declared in substance that neither Congress nor the government of a territory had the right to interfere with slavery in a territory, that those who held opposite views were not Democrats, and that the Democrats of Alabama would not support a candidate for the presidency if he did not agree with them on these questions. This platform was endorsed by conventions in Florida and Virginia and by the legislatures of Georgia and Alabama. Old party lines were broken by the Compromise of 1850. The State's Rights party, joined by many Democrats, founded the Southern Rights party, which demanded the repeal of the Compromise, advocated resistance to future encroachments and prepared for secession, while the Whigs, joined by the remaining Democrats, formed the party known as the "Unionists," which unwillingly accepted the Compromise and denied the "constitutional" right of secession. The "Unionists" were successful in the elections of 1851 and 1852, but the feeling of uncertainty engendered in the south by the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill and the course of the slavery agitation after 1852 led the State Democratic convention of 1856 to revive the "Alabama Platform"; and when the "Alabama Platform" failed to secure the formal approval of the Democratic National convention at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1860, the Alabama delegates, followed by those of the other cotton "states," withdrew. Upon the election of Abraham Lincoln, Governor Andrew B. Moore, according to previous instructions of the legislature, called a state convention on January 7, 1861. After long debate this convention adopted on January 11 an ordinance of secession, and Alabama became one of the Confederate states of America, whose government was organized at Montgomery on February 4, 1861. Yet secession was opposed by many prominent men, and in North Alabama an attempt was made to organize a neutral state to be called Nickajack; but with President Lincoln's call to arms all opposition to secession ended.
Political history 1860-1876 - In the early part of the Civil War Alabama was not the scene of military operations, yet the state contributed about 120,000 men to the Confederate service, practically all her white population capable of bearing arms, and thirty-nine of these attained the rank of general. In 1863 the Federal forces secured a foothold in northern Alabama in spite of the opposition of General Nathan B. Forrest, one of the ablest Confederate cavalry leaders. In 1864 the defences of Mobile were taken by a Federal fleet, but the city held out until April 1865; in the same month Selma also fell.
According to the presidential plan of reorganization, a provisional governor for Alabama was appointed in June 1865; a state convention met in September of the same year, and declared the ordinance of secession null and void and slavery abolished; a legislature and a governor were elected in November, the legislature was at once recognized by the National government, and the inauguration of the governor-elect was permitted after the legislature had, in December, ratified the thirteenth amendment. But the passage, by the legislature, of vagrancy and apprenticeship laws designed to control the negroes who were flocking from the plantations to the cities, and its rejection of the fourteenth amendment, so intensified the congressional hostility to the presidential plan that the Alabama senators and representatives were denied their seats in Congress. In 1867 the congressional plan of reconstruction was completed and Alabama was placed under military government. The negroes were now enrolled as voters and large numbers of white citizens were disfranchised.4 A Black Man's Party, composed of negroes, and political adventurers known as "carpet-baggers," was formed, which co-operated with the Republican party. A constitutional convention, controlled by this element, met in November 1867, and framed a constitution which conferred suffrage on negroes and disfranchised a large class of whites. The Reconstruction Acts of Congress required every new constitution to be ratified by a majority of the legal voters of the state. The whites of Alabama therefore stayed away from the polls, and, after five days of voting, the constitution wanted 13,550 to secure a majority. Congress then enacted that a majority of the votes cast should be sufficient, and thus the constitution went into effect, the state was admitted to the Union in June 1868, and a new governor and legislature were elected.
The next two years are notable for legislative extravagance and corruption. The state endorsed railway bonds at the rate of $12,000 and $16,000 a mile until the state debt had increased from eight millions to seventeen millions of dollars, and similar corruption characterized local government. The native white people united, formed a Conservative party and elected a governor and a majority of the lower house of the legislature in 1870; but, as the new administration was largely a failure, in 1872 there was a reaction in favour of the Radicals, a local term applied to the Republican party, and affairs went from bad to worse. In 1874, however, the power of the Radicals was finally broken, the Conservative Democrats electing all state officials. A commission appointed to examine the state debt found it to be $25,503,000; by compromise it was reduced to $15,000,000. A new constitution was adopted in 1875, which omitted the guaranty of the previous constitution that no one should be denied suffrage on account of race, colour or previous condition of servitude, and forbade the state to engage in internal improvements or to give its credit to any private enterprise.
Since 1874 the Democratic party has had constant control of the state administration, the Republicans failing to make nominations for office in 1878 and 1880 and endorsing the ticket of the Greenback party in 1882. The development of mining and manufacturing was accompanied by economic distress among the farming classes, which found expression in the Jeffersonian Democratic party, organized in 1892. The regular Democratic ticket was elected and the new party was then merged into the Populist party. In 1894 the Republicans united with the Populists, elected three congressional representatives, secured control of many of the counties, but failed to carry the state, and continued their opposition with less success in the next campaigns. Partisanship became intense, and charges of corruption of the ignorant negro electorate were made. Consequently after division on the subject among the Democrats themselves, as well as opposition of Republicans and Populists, a new constitution with restrictions on suffrage was adopted in 1901.
Alabama is the 30th largest state in the United States with 135,765 km2 (52,419 mi2) of total area. 3.2% of that is water, making Alabama 23rd in the amount of surface water. About three-fifths of the land area is a gentle plain with a general incline towards the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Alabama ranges in elevation from sea-level to a little more than 1800 ft near the Georgia line.
The surface of Alabama in the N. and N.E., embracing about two-fifths of its area, is diversified and picturesque; the remaining portion is occupied by a gently undulating plain having a general incline south-westward toward the Mississippi and the Gulf. Extending entirely across the state of Alabama for about 20 m. S. of its N. boundary, and in the middle stretching 60 m. farther S., is the Cumberland Plateau, or Tennessee Valley region, broken into broad table-lands by the dissection of rivers. In the N. part of this plateau, W. of Jackson county, there are about 1000 sq. m. of level highlands from 700 to 800 ft. above the sea. South of these highlands, occupying a narrow strip on each side of the Tennessee river, is a country of gentle rolling lowlands varying in elevation from 500 to 800 ft. To the N.E. of these highlands and lowlands is a rugged section with steep mountain-sides, deep narrow coves and valleys, and flat mountain-tops. Its elevations range from 400 to 1800 ft. In the remainder of this region, the S. portion, the most prominent feature is Little Mountain, extending about 80 m. from E. to W. between two valleys, and Asing precipitouslyon the N. side 500 ft. above them or 1000ft. above the sea. Adjoining the Cumberland Plateau region on the S.E. is the Appalachian Valley (locally known as Coosa Valley) region, which is the S. extremity of the great Appalachian Mountain system, and occupies an area within the state of about 8000 sq. m. This is a limestone belt with parallel hard rock ridges left standing by erosion to form mountains. Although the general direction of the mountains, ridges and valleys is N.E. and S.W., irregularity is one of the most prominent characteristics. In the N.E. are several flat-topped mountains, of which Raccoon and Lookout are the most prominent, having a maximum elevation near the Georgia line of little more than 1800 ft. and gradually decreasing in height toward the S.W., where Sand Mountain is a continuation of Raccoon. South of these the mountains are marked by steep N.W. sides, sharp crests and gently sloping S.E. sides. South-east of the Appalachian Valley region, the Piedmont Plateau also crosses the Alabama border from the N.E. and occupies a small triangular-shaped section of which Randolph and Clay counties, together with the N. part of Tallapoosa and Chambers, form the principal portion. Its surface is gently undulating and has an elevation of about 1000 ft. above the sea. The Piedmont Plateau is a lowland worn down by erosion on hard crystalline rocks, then uplifted to form a plateau. The remainder of the state is occupied by the coastal plain. This is crossed by foot-hills and rolling prairies in the central part of the state, where it has a mean elevation of about 600 ft., becomes lower and more level toward the S.W., and in the extreme S. is flat and but slightly elevated above the sea. The Cumberland Plateau region is drained to the W.N.W. by the Tennessee river and its tributaries; all other parts of the state are drained to the S.W. In the Appalachian Valley region the Coosa is the principal river; and in the Piedmont Plateau, the Tallapoosa. In the Coastal Plain are the Tombigbee in the W., the Alabama (formed by the Coosa and Tallapoosa) in the W. central, and in the E. the Chattahoochee, which forms almost half of the Georgia boundary. The Tombigbee and Alabama unite near the S.W. corner of the state, their waters discharging into Mobile Bay by the Mobile and Tensas rivers. The Black Warrior is a considerable stream which joins the Tombigbee from the E. The valleys in the N. and N.E. are usually deep and narrow, but in the Coastal Plain they are broad and in most cases rise in three successive terraces above the stream. The harbour of Mobile was formed by the drowning of the lower part of the valley of the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers as a result of the sinking of the land here, such sinking having occurred on other parts of the Gulf coast.
The fauna and flora of Alabama are similar to those of the Gulf states in general and have no distinctive characteristics.
Climate and Soil.
The climate of Alabama is temperate and fairly uniform. The heat of summer is tempered in the S. by the winds from the Gulf of Mexico, and in the N. by the elevation above the sea. The average annual temperature is highest in the S.W. along the coast, and lowest in the N.E. among the highlands. Thus at Mobile the annual mean is 67 degrees F., the mean for the summer 81 degrees, and for the winter 52 degrees ; and at Valley Head, in De Kalb county, the annual mean is 59 degrees, the mean for the summer 75 degrees, and for the winter 41 degrees . At Montgomery, in the central region, the average annual temperature is 66 degrees, with a winter average of 49 degrees, and a summer average of 81 degrees . The average winter minimum for the entire state is 35 degrees, and there is an average of 35 days in each year in which the thermometer falls below the freezing-point. At extremely rare intervals the thermometer has fallen below zero, as was the case in the remarkable cold wave of the 12th-13th of February 1899, when an absolute minimum of 17 degrees was registered at Valley Head. The highest temperature ever recorded was 109 degrees in Talladega county in 1902. The amount of precipitation is greatest along the coast (62 in.) and evenly distributed through the rest of the state (about 52 in.). During each winter there is usually one fall of snow in the S. and two in the N.; but the snow quickly disappears, and sometimes, during' an entire winter, the ground is not covered with snow. Hail-storms occur in the spring and summer, but are seldom destructive. Heavy fogs are rare, and are confined chiefly to the coast. Thunderstorms occur throughout the year, but are most common in the summer. The prevailing winds are from the S. As regards its soil, Alabama may be divided into four regions. Extending from the Gulf northward for one hundred and fifty miles is the outer belt of the Coastal Plain, also called the ``Timber Belt, whose soil is sandy and poor, but responds well to fertilization. North of this is the inner lowland of the Coastal Plain, or the ``Black Prairie, which includes some 13,000 sq. m. and seventeen counties. It receives its name from its soil (weathered from the weak underlying limestone), which is black in colour, almost destitute of sand and loam, and rich in limestone and marl formations, especially adapted to the production of cotton; hence the region is also called the ``Cotton Belt. Between the ``Cotton Belt and the Tennessee Valley is the mineral region, the ``Old Land area---``a region of resistant rocks--whose soils, also derived from weathering in silu, are of varied fertility, the best coming from the granites, sandstones and limestones, the poorest from the gneisses, schists and slates. North of the mineral region is the ``Cereal Belt, embracing the Tennessee Valley and the counties beyond, whose richest soils are the red clays and dark loams of the river valley; north of which are less fertile soils, produced by siliceous and sandstone formations.
Governors of the Territory
William Wyatt Bibb . . . . 1817-1819
Governors of the State
William Wyatt Bibb . . . . 1819-1820 Democrat. Thomas Bibb 1 . . . . . . 1820-1821 " Israel Pickens . . . . . . 1821-1825 " John Murphy . . . . . . . 1825-1829 " Gabriel cloore . . . . . . 1829-1831 " Samuel B. Moore . . . . . 1831 " John Gayle . . . . . . . . 1831-1835 " Clement C. Clay . . . . . 1835-1837 " Hugh M`Vay 2 . . . . . . . 1837 " Arthur P. Bagby . . . . . 1837-1841 " Benjamin Fitzpatrick 3 . . 1841-1845 " Joshua L. Martin . . . . . 1845-1847 " Reuben Chapman . . . . . . 1847-1849 " Henry W. Collier . . . . . 1849-1853 " John A. Winston . . . . . 1853-1857 " Adrew B. Moore . . . . . . 1857-1861 " John Gill Shorter . . . . 1861-1863 " Thomas H. Watts . . . . . 1863-1865 " Lewis E. Parsons . . . . . 1865 Provisional. Robert M. Patton . . . . . 1865-1867 Republican. Wager Swayne . . . . . . . 1867-1868 Military. William H. Smith . . . . . 1868-1870 Republican. Robert B. Lindsay . . . . 1870-1872 Democrat. David P. Lewis . . . . . . 1872-1874 Republican. Ceorge S. Houston . . . . 1874-1878 Democrat. Rufus W. Cobb . . . . . . 1878-1882 " Edward A. O'Neal . . . . . 1882-1886 " Thomas Seay . . . . . . . 1886-1890 " Thomas G. Jones . . . . . 1890-1894 " William C. Oates . . . . . 1894-1896 " Joseph F. Johnston . . . . 1896-1900 " William J. Samford . . . . 1900-1901 " William D. Jellis . . . . 1901-1907 " B. B. Comer . . . . . . . 1907 "
1.William Wyatt Bibb died in 1820, and Thomas Bibb, then president of the state senate, filled the unexpired term of one year (1820).
2. In 1837 Governor Clay was elected United States Senator, and Hugh M`Vay, the president of the state senate, filled the unexpired term.
3. Until 1845 the term of state officials was one year; from then until 1901 it was two years; since 1901 it has been four years.
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International Assistance Project of Alabama
A volunteer organization that provides economic and family orientation assistance to Alabama's new international residents and long-term visitors.
Provides public domain information about U.S. immigration and nationality law and U.S. visas. Offers frequently used INS forms for download and links to other helpful sites. Sponsored by the Immigration Law Center on the Internet.
Chilton County Alabama
Chilton County Alabama Cemeteries for Clanton, Cooper, Verbena, Billingsly, Thorsby, Jemison, Minooka and other towns.
Von Braun Astronomical Society
The Von Braun Astronomical Society was founded in 1954 by a high school student (Sam Pruitt) with the assistance and supervision of Wernher von Braun under the name Rocket City Astronomical Association (RCAA).
North Alabama's Amateur Astronomy Club now operates a planetarium and observatory located on a 13.5 acre tract of land atop Monte Sano Mountain in Monte Sano State Park just east of Huntsville,Alabama. Learn more about this fascinating astronomy club!
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