After the battle came the night. It was the night of March 27, 1814. The
soldiers stretched wearily by the campfires. General Andrew Jackson sat in
his tent at Horseshoe Bend and thought of the great victory. At last he had
broken the power of the Creek Indians. Hundreds of warriors lay dead in the
sweeping bend of the Tallapoosa River.
Across the river, deep in the forest, a man stood motionless and alone. He
was William Weatherford, also known as Red Eagle, a leader of the Creeks.
He had escaped from the battle, and he would be hunted.
Yet Red Eagle did not flee. He thought of the Creek women and children
hiding in the forest without food or protection. He sighed and made a
decision. He would offer his life in exchange for food and safety for his
Red Eagle crossed the dark river and stood before Jackson, waiting for
death. But Jack-son, admiring his courage, allowed Red Eagle to leave in
peace. Before long the Creeks and other tribes left Alabama, and settlers
took the land.
One of Alabama's nicknames, Heart of Dixie, comes from the fact that the
state is located in the heart, or center, of the South. There are several
stories about the origin of the word "Dixie." Perhaps it came from the
French word dix, meaning "ten." This word was printed on $10 bills used in
the state of Louisiana before the Civil War. The bills were called dixies,
and the name Dixie, or Dixie Land, came to be used for all the cotton-
Alabama has a long history as a farming area. The Indians were its first
farmers. Long before European settlers came to the New World, the Indians
cleared the thickets-thick growths of shrubs, bushes, and vines
—along Alabama's rivers and carried on agriculture. Then settlers took the
land, and fields of fluffy cotton began to stretch across Alabama. For
years the state was known as a land of cotton. But the time came when
Alabama's farmers realized that it was not wise to depend on a single crop.
They began to grow. many different kinds of crops and to raise hogs,
cattle, and chickens. Today leaders of the state say that Alabama's farms
can produce enough foods to give every one of its citizens a well-balanced
diet without having to repeat a menu for 30 days.
Roaring blast furnaces at Birmingham show that factories as well as farms
are important in Alabama. Birmingham is known as the Pittsburgh of the
South because of its steel mills. It is the largest of Alabama's industrial
cities. There are many others.
The U.S. Army's Redstone Arsenal, located at Huntsville, took Alabama into
the space age. Here scientists worked on the Jupiter C rocket. This rocket
hurled the nation's first successful satellite into orbit. Huntsville is
also known for the Redstone III rocket and the Saturn. The Redstone III
boosted the nation's first astronaut into outer space. The Saturn enabled
U.S. astronauts to land on the moon. Later, the space shuttle was tested at
The map on the state seal proudly displays Alabama's rivers. They have
been important for transportation. Dams in some of the rivers have great
power plants. These plants supply electric power to help light Alabama's
farms and cities and to run its factories. The dams also create strings of
sparkling lakes, where residents and visitors can enjoy fishing, boating,
and other forms of recreation. Besides its rivers and lakes, Alabama has a
share of the Gulf of Mexico. Mobile, on beautiful Mobile Bay, is one of the
important ports of the nation.
Timber from the forest and fish from the sea add to Alabama's wealth. Many
of the people still grow cotton and corn, but agriculture alone is no
longer the main concern of the state.
STATEHOOD: December 14, 1819; the 22nd state. SIZE: 133.915 km2 (51,705 sq
mi); rank, 29th.
POPULATION: 3.893,888 (1980 census); rank, 22nd.
ORIGIN OF NAME: From the Alibamu. or Alabamu. tribe of Indians, members of
the Creek Confederacy. The name may have come from words in the Choctaw
language, alba ayamule, meaning "I clear the thicket."
ABBREVIATIONS: Ala.; AL.
NICKNAMES: Heart of Dixie, from its location in the center of the Deep
South. Yellowhammer State, from Civil Wa'r times, when troops from Alabama
were called Yellowhammers.
STATE SONG: "Alabama," by Julia S. Tutwiler; music by Edna Goeckel Gussen.
STATE MOTTO: Audemus jura nostra defendere (We " dare defend our rights).
STATE SEAL: A map of Alabama showing the bordering states, the Gulf of
Mexico, and the major rivers.
STATE COAT OF ARMS: The shield in the center contains the emblems of five
governments that have ruled over Alabama—France (upper left), Spain (upper
right), Great Britain (lower left), the Confederacy (lower right), and the
United States (center). The eagles on each side of the shield represent
courage. They stand on a banner that carries the state motto. The ship
above the shield shows that Alabama borders on water.
STATE FLAG A crimson field. cross of St. Andrew on a white.
Alabama is one of the East South Central group of states. It could be
called an Appalachian state or a Gulf state. The southern end of the
Appalachian Mountain system extends into Alabama and covers the
northeastern part of the state. The Gulf of Mexico forms a small but
important part of Alabama's southern border.
Within the state of Alabama there are three major landforms. They are the
Interior Low Plateau, the Appalachian Highlands, and the Gulf Coastal
Plain. The Gulf Coastal Plain is the largest of the three regions. It lies
south of a line that begins in the northwestern corner of the state, runs
southeastward through the city of Tuscaloosa, and continues to Phenix City,
on the eastern border.
The Interior Low Plateau enters Alabama from the state of Tennessee and
covers a small area in the extreme northwest. The average elevation of this
part of Alabama is 210 meters (700 feet). It is a region of knobby hills,
cut through by the broad valley of the Tennessee River.
The Appalachian Highlands include three areas. They arc the Appalachian
Plateau, the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region, and the Piedmont Plateau.
The average elevation of the highlands varies from 150 to 200 meters (500
to 700 feet), with most of the highest points in the Ridge and Valley
The Appalachian Plateau, also known as the Cumberland Plateau, enters the
northeast corner of the state and extends southwest-ward. This plateau is
rather rugged. It has some good farmland, but it is mainly an area of
lumbering and mining.
The Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region is made up of narrow valleys
between steep mountain ridges. It is known for its mineral riches and
forests of oak and pine.
The Piedmont Plateau is a wedge-shaped area southeast of the Ridge and
Valley Region. It gets its name from the word pied-mont, which means "lying
at the base, or foot, of mountains." This region is generally hilly, with
some rolling land. The most rugged part is in the northwest, where Cheaha
Mountain rises to 734 meters (2,407 feet).
The Gulf Coastal Plain is mainly a flat to rolling plain. Ages ago it was
covered by oceans. The part adjoining the Appalachian
Highlands is called the Upper Coastal Plain. This is the oldest part, as
well as the highest in elevation. South of it is a strip of nearly level
land known as the Black Belt because of its dark-colored soils. The
southeastern quarter of the state is known as the Wire Grass area because
it was once covered with a kind of coarse grass called wire grass.
For many years the Coastal Plain was the heart of the cotton fields. It is
changing gradually to an area where livestock graze and many different
crops are grown.
Rivers, Lakes, and Coastal Waters
Alabama is drained by three major river systems. The Tennessee River dips
down' into Alabama from the state of Tennessee. It flows westward through
northern Alabama and then northward to join the Ohio River. The other major
rivers of Alabama flow toward the Gulf of Mexico. The Mobile River system
is made up of several important rivers. The Tombigbee River and its main
tributary, the Black Warrior River, drain the western part of the state.
The Coosa and the Talla-poosa rivers flow through east central and eastern
Alabama. They join near Montgomery to form the Alabama River, which flows
southwestward toward the Tombigbee. North of Mobile, the Alabama and the
Tombigbee rivers join to form the Mobile River, which drains southward into
Mobile Bay. The Chat-tnhoochee is the major river of southeastern Alabama.
Guntcrsvillc Lake is the largest of the many lakes in the state.
The Tennessee-Tombigbee (Tenn-Tom) Waterway project was designed to
provide a water route from the Tennessee Valley to the Gulf of Mexico, by
way of the Tombigbee River. It includes a canal in the northeastern corner
of Mississippi that links the rivers.
Alabama's general coastline on the Gulf of Mexico is 85 kilometers (53
miles) long. If the shorelines of inlets, bays, and offshore islands are
added, the total shoreline is 977 kilometers (607 miles).
People sometimes think of Alabama as an uncomfortably hot, tropical state,
but this impression is false. Actually, there is a wide variety of climate
from the highlands of the north to the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.
Winter temperatures in the southern half of the state rarely drop below
freezing. Snow is so rare that many children have never seen a snowfall. In
the northern part of the state, winters are not so mild. Northwest winds
bring cold snaps, but they are usually short and are followed by mild
Summer temperatures tend to be about the same over the state. The summer
is long, but extended heat waves are almost unknown. Along the coast the
hot days are relieved by frequent breezes blowing in from the Gulf of
Mexico. Nights are cool and comfortable even in midsummer. In the north,
summer temperatures are relieved by the higher altitudes and by cool forest
shade. Spring and autumn are long and delightful. Autumn extends from early
September to well after Thanksgiving.
LOCATION: Latitude—30° 13' N to 35" N
.Longitude—84" to 53' W to 88° 28' W.
Tennessee to the north, Mississippi on the west, the Florida panhandle and
the Gulf of Mexico to the south, Georgia on the east.
ELEVATION: Highest—Cheaha Mountain, 734 m (2,407 ft). Lowest—Sea level,
along the Gulf of Mexico.
LANDFORMS: Highlands (the Interior Low Plateau and the Appalachian
Highlands) in the northern part of the state; lowlands (the Gulf Coastal
Plain) in the south and west.
SURFACE WATERS: Major rivers—Tennessee; Tombigbee, with its main tributary,
the Black Warrior; Coosa and Tallapoosa, which join to form the Alabama;
Mobile, formed by the joining of the Alabama and the Tombigbee;
Chattahoochee. Major artificial lakes—Pickwick, Wilson, Wheeler, and
Guntersville, on the Tennessee River; Lay, Mitchell, Weiss, and Jordan, on
.the Coosa; Martin and Thurlow, on the Tallapoosa; Holt Reservoir on the
CLIMATE: Temperature—July average, about 27°C (80°F) statewide. January
average, about 7°C (44°F) in north, 12°C (53°F) in south.
Precipitation—Rainfall average, 1,350 mm (53 in); varies from 1,320 mm (52
in) in north to 1,730 mm (68 in) along the coast. Growing season—Varies
from about 200 days in north to 300 days in south.
Leaders of the state like to say that Alabama has more natural resources
than any other area of its size in the world. These resources include
soils, minerals, forests, and water.
Soils. Alabama may be divided into several major soil areas. Along the
Coosa and the Tennessee rivers, there are valleys called limestone valleys.
The soils in these valleys are mainly red clay loams. They were formed by
the weathering of limestone rock. The soils of the Appalachian Plateau are
mainly sandy loams. Red sandy loams and clay loams cover much pf the
Piedmont Plateau. The soils of the Gulf Coastal Plain were formed from
sediment laid down in the oceans that once covered the plain. Most of these
soils are sandy loams or clay soils.
Long years of growing cotton and corn lowered the fertility of Alabama's
soils. The abundant rainfall also caused the topsoil to be washed away. In
many places, especially in the Piedmont Plateau and the Black Belt, farms
are now planted in grasses to improve the soil and provide pasture for
Forests. About 60 per cent of all the land of Alabama is forested. Many
kinds of trees are found, but the soft pine is the most common. It is also
the most valuable for wood pulp, which is used for making paper. The pine
forests grow mainly in the central and southern parts of the state.
To improve worn-out soils, farmers have developed many tree farms for
future harvest. Paper companies, farmers, and the government all help in a
continuing program of reforestation.
Minerals. Most of Alabama's minerals are in the northern half of the
state. Coal and iron ore are found in the Appalachian Plateau and in the
Ridge and Valley Region. One of the largest deposits, or fields, of coal is
the Warrior field. It extends through all of Walker County and parts of
Fayette, Tuscaloosa, and Jefferson counties. Some of the best beds of iron
ore are in the Birmingham area.
Limestone occurs in the Tennessee Valley and in the Ridge and Valley
Region, as well as in areas of the Gulf Coastal Plain. Marble is found in
Coosa and Talladega counties.
Petroleum is the most important mineral of the Gulf Coastal Plain. It has
been found in the extreme southwestern counties. There are important salt
deposits north of Mobile. Henry and Barbour counties, as well as other
parts of the state, have deposits of bauxite, a claylike mineral from which
aluminum is obtained.
| POPULATION |
|TOTAL: 3,893,888 (1980 census). Density—29.6 |
|persons to each square kilometer (76.7 persons |
|to each square mile). |
|GROWTH SINCE 1820 |
|Year Population |
|Year Population |
|1820 127,901 |
|1920 2,348,174 |
|1860 964,201 |
|1960 3,266,740 |
|1880 1,262,505 |
|1970 3,444,354 |
|1900 1,828,697 |
|1980 3,893,888 |
|Gain Between 1970 and 1980—13.1 percent |
|CITIES: Fifteen of Alabama's cities have a |
|population of more than 25,000 (1980 census). |
|Birmingham 284,413 Prichard 39,541 |
|Mobile 200,452 Florence 37,029 |
|Montgomery 177,857 Bessemer 31,729 |
|Huntsville 142,513 Anniston 29,523 |
|Tuscaloosa 75,211 Auburn 28,471 |
|Dothan 48,750 Phenix City 26,928 |
|Gadsden 47,565 Selma 26,684 |
|Decatur 42,002 |
Waters. Alabama's water is one of its most valuable resources. The
supply is abundant. Mainly it is soft, pure water that does not require
treatment before being used in homes and industries.
Hydroelectric plants line the Coosa, Talla-poosa, Tennessee,
Chattahoochee, and Black Warrior rivers. Along the rivers there arc also
steam power plants, fed by Alabama's coal. Additional plants are now being
built or planned. They will provide ample power for years to come.
Wildlife. Alabama has more than 300 species of birds. Among the largest
are bald eagles, hawks, ospreys, and wild turkeys, ducks, and geese.
Rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, foxes, and white-tailed deer are found in
most of the state, and black bears in some areas. Fresh-water fish include
bass, perch, bluegill, and trout. Some fisheries have been closed by
In 1955 the tarpon was named the state salt-water fish. It is a big
fighting fish found in the warm, blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It has
no commercial value. The main products of the sea fisheries are shrimp,
oysters, and crabs.
THE PEOPLE AND THEIR WORK
There are very few foreign-born people living in Alabama. The majority
ants of European settlers who came to the area in colonial times. About one
third of the people are blacks whose ancestors were brought to the South as
slaves. Among the people of Indian heritage, the most active organized
group is the Creek Nation East of the Mississippi, at Atmore.
In 1960, for the first time, more Alabam-ians lived in cities than in
rural areas. The number of persons who work on farms has dropped steadily
since the 1940's. And the number who work in manufacturing and other kinds
of jobs has continued to grow.
Industries and Products
For some time the value of products manufactured in Alabama has been far
greater than the value of livestock and crops and of the different kinds of
minerals that are produced in the state.
Manufacturing. The mast important industries are the ones that manufacture
metals, textiles, chemicals, and forest products. Many of the industries
make use of Alabama's own raw materials.
The areas around Birmingham and Gadsden are the only places in the nation
where iron ore, coal, and limestone are found close together. These are
basic raw materials needed in the making of steel. About 90 percent of all
the steel making in the South is carried on in Alabama, mostly in and
around Birmingham, Anniston, and Gadsden. New factories that make products
from iron and steel continue to spring up throughout the state, mainly
along the water routes.
Around Mobile, as well as in other areas, there are plants that extract
aluminum from bauxite. These plants provide metal for factories in the
Tennessee Valley that make aluminum products. A large copper-tubing plant
at Decatur, on the Tennessee River, is a new development for Alabama.
The textile industry produces yarn and thread, woven fabrics, clothing,
and other goods. Textile mills are spread throughout the state.
WHAT ALABAMA PRODUCES
MANUFACTURED GOODS: Primary metals, paper and related products, chemicals
and related products, fabricated metal products, textiles, rubber and
plastic products, clothing, processed foods.
AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS: Broilers, cattle and calves, soybeans, eggs,
peanuts, cotton, milk.
MINERALS: Coal, petroleum, natural gas. Iron ore, cement, stone, sand and
Many of the chemical industries make use of coal tar, a tar that is left
from the process of making coke. Some of the by-products of coal tar are
medicines, explosives, dyes, and plastics. The salt deposits near Mobile
provide raw material for the making of chlorine products, such as bleaches,
disinfectants, and water purifiers. At Muscle Shoals in northwestern
Alabama there is a federal plant where fertilizers and munitions are
developed for the benefit of agriculture and industry.
Alabama ranks among the first five timber producers in the nation. The
forests supply lumber for furniture and other wood products as well as wood
pulp for the paper industries. The first pulp and paper plant in the state
was built at Tuscaloosa in 1929. Other cities that now have large pulp
mills are Mobile and Brewton, in southern Alabama, and De-mopolis, in the
western part of the state. Most of the pulp is made into finished products
such as newsprint, stationery, corrugated boxes, and kraft paper. Kraft
paper is the strong brown paper used in grocery bags.
Agriculture. In Enterprise, Alabama, there is a monument to the boll
weevil. It is perhaps the only monument in the world to an insect pest. The
monument was erected in 1919 after the boll weevil destroyed the cotton
crops. It reminds Alabama's farmers of the part that the boll weevil played
in teaching them not to depend on cotton alone for their living.
For a long time cotton ranked first among Alabama's crops, but today
cotton brings only a fraction of the total income from crops. Alabama also
produces substantial amounts of soybeans, peanuts, corn, hay, sweet
potatoes and other garden vegetables, and fruits and pecans. Some crops are
identified with particular areas. Soybeans are grown extensively in the
Black Belt and around Mobile Bay. Peanuts are a main crop in the Wire Grass
area. Strawberries are grown commercially around Cullman in Cullman County,
Clanton in Chilton County, and Georgiana in Butler County. Clanton is also
known for peaches. Truck farming is carried on in many areas.
An interesting fact about Alabama's agriculture is that since 1958
livestock sales have brought more income than crops. Cattle are raised
chiefly in the Black Belt and hogs in the Wire Grass area. Poultry raising
is concentrated north of Birmingham. Dairying is carried on throughout the
Mining. Alabama is well-known for its production of coal, cement, and
limestone. A number of other' minerals are produced in varying quantities
including petroleum, iron ore, clays and shale, mica, sand and gravel,
bauxite, gold, silver, and manganese. Marble from Alabama's quarries is
sold throughout the United States.
The first producing oil well began operating near Gilbertown, in Choctaw
County, in 1944. Later, oil was found in Escambia County and near
Citronelle, in Mobile County. There arc more than 200 producing wells in
southwestern Alabama. In the northwest a large natural gas field is being
Transportation and Communication
Waterways, railroads, highways, and airways connect Alabama to other
parts of tlic nation. The port of Mobile connects the state to the seaports
of the world.
Waterways. Alabama has the finest river system in the nation. The U.S.
Corps of Engineers classifies large portions of its rivers as
suitable for navigation. Millions of dollars have been spent to develop the
harbor and build docks at Mobile, to widen and deepen the channels of the
rivers, and to build public docks along the waterways.
The Black Warrior and Tombigbee waterway extends all the way from the
port of Mobile to Jefferson and Walker counties. This waterway carries
great quantities of limestone as well as millions of tons of cargo for the
industries of Birmingham and other cities along the rivers. The Alabama
River provides water transportation between Mobile and the capital city,
Montgomery. The Tennessee River is the main water route of northern
Alabama. The Chattahoochee waterway, on the east border of the state,
serves the cities of Columbia, Eufaula, and Phenix City.
Railroads and Highways. Alabama was among the pioneers in railroad
building. Its first railway, between Decatur and Muscle Shoals, was
completed in 1832. Today Alabama's railroads are used largely for freight.
Hubs of state, federal, and interstate highway systems are Birmingham and
Airlines. Several airlines provide commercial flights to cities in
different parts of the state. Frequent daily schedules are available from
major centers. Most of the interstate traffic uses the airports at
Birmingham, Huntsville, and Mobile. Alabama's system of local airfields,
with paved and lighted runways for smaller planes, is considered to be
among the best in the nation.
Newspapers, Radio, and Television. Almost every city has its own local
newspaper. More than 100 newspapers are published in the state, but only
about 20 are dailies. Among the more influential daily newspapers are the
Alabama Journal and the Montgomery Advertiser, both published at
Montgomery, and the Birmingham News. The Mobile Press-Register, originally
the Gazette, is one of the oldest newspapers in the state. It was founded
Birmingham had the state's first licensed radio station, WBRC, in 1925,
and the first television stations, WABT and WBRC-TV, both in 1949. In 1955
Alabama began operating one of the first state-owned educational television
networks (ETV) in the nation. Stations of this network are capable of
reaching almost all the people in the state.
Alabama is proud of its natural resources and its industrial development
in recent years. State and community leaders also recognize the importance
of developing its educational and cultural institutions.
Schools and Colleges
The first teachers in Alabama were probably French and Spanish priests who
gave instruction to the Indians. In 1799 a New England cotton merchant,
John Pierce, opened a school for the children of wealthy settlers in the
Mobile Bay area. It was the kind of pioneer school known as a blab .school
because the pupils studied by repeating their lessons aloud.
When Alabama became a state in 1819, an attempt was made to establish a
system of public schools. The attempt failed, as did others in later years,
largely because of a lack of money. Private schools sprang up to educate
the children of parents who could afford to pay. It was not until after the
Civil War that the state was able to make progress toward establishing its
present system of public elementary schools, high schools, and colleges.
Alabama has more than 50 institutions of higher education. About half of
these are 2-year institutions, mainly state-supported junior or community
colleges. The others are universities and senior colleges.
The University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa (post office address, University)
is Alabama's oldest college. It was established by the legislature in 1820.
Other state-supported universities are located at Auburn, Birmingham,
Florence, Huntsville, Jacksonville, Livingston, Mobile, Montcvallo,
Montgomery, Normal, and Troy. Tuskegcc Institute, the famous school
established by Booker T. Washington in 1881, is partly supported by the
Throughout the state there are many pub lic and private libraries. The
largest public libraries are in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile. The
Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, on the campus of the University of Alabama, is
one of the largest libraries in the entire South.
Fine Arts and Museums
Most high schools and junior high schools in the state have bands or
orchestras. The Birmingham Civic Symphony gives annual concerts in the
city. It also tours the state.
Before the Civil War, architecture was one of the most important fine
arts. Some of the beautiful homes that were built before the war may be
seen in the older cities, such as Selma, Huntsville, Eufaula, Greensboro,
Mobile, Tuscaloosa, and Montgomery.
The Art Museum at Birmingham and the Museum of Fine Arts at Montgomery
have large collections of paintings. The following arc among the other
The Alabama Museum of Natural History, at
the University of Alabama, has an excellent display of rocks and minerals.
Mound State Monument, a state park and museum at Moundville, near
Tuscaloosa, preserves ancient mounds that Indians built for their temples,
council" houses, and burial places. Relics from the grounds in the park,
such as skeletons, tools, ornaments, and pottery, are displayed in the
The Regar Museum of Natural History, at Anniston, contains an unusual
display of 900 specimens of birds, with nests and eggs.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Some of the many other interesting places have been made by people. Some,
such as mountains, forests, and white sand beaches, arc nature's own work.
Many historic treasures are preserved in Alabama's museums. The following
are a few of the historic places in various parts of the state:
Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, on
the Tallapoosa River, marks the site of General Andrew Jackson's victory
over the Creek Indians.
The Natchez Trace Parkway crosses the northwestern corner of Alabama. It
extends from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. The parkway
commemorates a famous Indian trail and pioneer highway.
Russell Cave National Monument, at Bridgeport in northeast Alabama, was
established in 1961. In the cave, scientists have found records of almost
continuous human habitation from at least 6000 b.c. to about a.d. 1650.
Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site includes Tuskegee Institute, the
George Washington Carver Museum, and Booker T. Washington's home. The
museum includes displays of African art and George Washington Carver's
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception,
at Mobile, stands on land that the first settlers used as a burying ground.
The State Capitol, Montgomery, is a stately building, similar in
appearance to the National Capitol. For the first few months of the Civil
War, it served as the capitol of the Confederacy.
Jefferson Davis' Home, in Montgomery, is known as the first White House of
the Confederacy because it was here that President Davis lived when
Montgomery was the Confederate capital.
Parks and Forests
Alabama has four national forests. The Talladega National Forest has two
sections, one in the central part of the state and the other in the east.
The William B. Bankhead National Forest, formerly the Black Warrior
National Forest, is in the northwest. The Tuskegee, smallest of the
national forests, is in the east, and the Conecuh is in the south.
State parks and forests total about 30. They are planned to conserve the
natural beauty of the state and to provide places where people may go for
outdoor recreation—picnicking, camping, hiking and nature study, fishing
and other water sports.
The following are among other places that attract visitors from all over
the nation and the world:
Ave Maria Grotto, at St. Bernard, near Cull-man, displays more than 100
small reproductions of famous religious buildings of the world.
The Azalea Trail, in Mobile, is a 55-kilometer (35-mile) trail of flowers
that leads through residential parts of the city, past historic homes and
Bellingrath Gardens and Home, south of Mobile, is a beautifully
"landscaped estate. Here the finest flowers, shrubs, and trees have been
brought together in a setting of great natural beauty. The home is noted
for its rich furnishings and priceless art objects.
Cathedral Caverns, north ofGuntersville, contains a large forest of
stalagmites and one cavern 27 meters (90 feet) deep.
Ivy Green, in Tuscumbia, is Helen Keller's birthplace and childhood home.
Vulcan Statue, at the summit of Red Mountain, Birmingham, is a statue of
the god of fire. It was made of iron from the local area and is said to be
one of the largest statues in the world.
Many of Alabama's annual events center upon sports, the products of the
state, and the interests and traditions of the people. From the early
French settlers. Mobile inherited the celebration of Mardi Gras. Mobile's
Mardi Gras festival is the oldest such celebration in the United States. It
begins on the Friday before the first day of Lent and reaches its high
point on the night of Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras.
Mobile celebrates the azalea season from late February to early April,
when thousands of visitors tour the Azalea Trail. The Deep-Sea Fishing
Rodeo, at Mobile and Dauphin Island, climaxes the fishing season, usually
late in July or early in August.
Other events include the state fair at Birmingham, in September, and the
River Boat Regatta at Guntersville, in August.
No one region claims all or most of the cities. Large cities are found in
each part of the state—central, north and south.
Besides being the capital, Montgomery is a center of agricultural trade
and the leading cattle market of southeastern United States. The large
ranches and herds of cattle in the area remind one of Texas. Industries of
the city include textile mills, meat-packing plants, and furniture
Montgomery has several institutions of higher education, including
Alabama State University, campuses of Troy State and Auburn universities,
and Huntingdon College, a private senior college. The Air University at
Maxwell Air Force Base is a national center for research and for education
and training of U.S. Air Force personnel.
Alabama's largest city is located at the southern end of the Ridge and
Valley Region. It is sometimes called the Magic City because of its rapid
growth. Since it was founded in 1871 as the town of Ely ton, it has grown
into a metropolitan area of about 850,000 people. It is the South's only
major producer of iron and steel. The hundreds of other industries in the
area manufacture such items as cast-iron pipe, heavy machinery, chemicals,
textiles, and wood and paper products.
Birmingham is a leading educational and cultural center. It is also noted
for mountain scenery and places of outdoor recreation.
The second-largest city and only seaport is known as Alabama's Gateway to
the World. It was founded by the French and was named for the Mobile
Indians, who lived in the area. Today it is a busy industrial center with
chemical plants, shipyards, and seafood industries. It is also a gracious
and beautiful resort city, known for its flowers and ancient oak trees
draped with Spanish moss.
The following are some of the other important cities:
Huntsville, now the Rocket City, was one of Alabama's first settlements.
It remained a small farming community for more than 125 years. Its
population was only 16,000 in 1950. About that time the Army began to
develop a rocket and guided-missile center at the Redstone Arsenal at
Huntsville. Thousands of scientists and other workers came to the area. So
did dozens of new industries. Within 20 years Huntsville's population
increased to more than 135,000. In 1960 a part of the arsenal was
transferred to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This part
was named the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center.
Tuscaloosa, the home of the University of Alabama, is located on the
Black Warrior River at the edge of the Appalachian Plateau. Its name comes
from the Indian words tuska, meaning "black," and lusa, meaning "warrior."
The city's many industries include a large paper mill, a rubber-tire plant,
textile mills, oil refineries, and plants that make metal products.
Gailstleii, northeast of Birmingham, is an important iron and steel
center, as well as a distribution point for livestock and grain produced in
the surrounding area.
Duthan, leading city of southeastern Alabama, is located in a rich
farming area. The main crop is peanuts. Industries in the city manufacture
such products as peanut oil, hosiery, and cigars.
The legislative department of the state government is made up of the
Senate and the House of Representatives. The members of both bodies serve 4-
year terms. An amendment to the state constitution, adopted in 1975,
provided for annual legislative sessions, beginning in 1976. Before that,
regular sessions had been held every other year.
The chief executive is the governor, who is elected by the people. The
people also elect a lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney
general, treasurer, auditor, and commissioner of agriculture and industry,
as well as the members of the state board of education.
The highest state court is the supreme court. It consists of a chief
justice and eight associate justices elected statewide for 6-year terms.
The court of appeals is divided into two courts, one to hear civil appeals
and one to hear criminal appeals. The major trial courts in Alabama are its
numerous circuit courts.
Capital—Montgomery. Number of counties—67. Representation in Congress—U.S.
senators, 2; U.S. representatives, 7. State Legislature—Senate, 35
members; House of Representatives, 105 members;
all 4-year terms. Governor—4-year term. Elections— Primary elections to
select candidates, first Tuesday in May; general and state elections,
Tuesday after first Monday in November
The state is divided into 67 counties. Each county is governed by a board
of commissioners, known as the county commission.
Alabama claims many persons who did important work in government,
education, the law, military affairs, business, and the arts. The following
are some of the honored names:
William Wyatt Bibb (1781-1820) was Alabama's only territorial governor
and the first governor of the state. He was born in Georgia.
Josiah Gorgas (1818-83), born in Pennsylvania, was a teacher and an army
officer. He became an Alabamian after his marriage to Amelia Gayle,
daughter of John Gayle, governor of Alabama from 1831 to 1835. During the
Civil War, Josiah Gorgas was chief of military supplies, and eventually a
brigadier general, in the Confederate Army. Later he served for a year as
president of the University of Alabama. His son, William C. Gorgas (1854-
1920), who was born near Mobile, is world famous as the U.S. Army surgeon
and sanitation expert who stamped out yellow fever in the Canal Zone and
made possible the building of the Panama Canal.
Julia Strudwick Tufwiler (1841-1916) was born in Greene County. She
established several girls' vocational schools and secured admission of
women to the University of Alabama. She was also active in prison reform.
She wrote the words of "Alabama," the state song.
Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) is known throughout the world as the
founder of Tuskegec Institute and as an educator, author, and lecturer. He
was born in Virginia and was educated at Hampton Institute. His biography
is included in Volume W.
George Washington Carver (1864-1943), botanist and agricultural scientist,
gained international fame for his work in agricultural research at Tuskegee
Institute. He taught improvement of the soil and developed hundreds of
products from the peanut, sweet potato, and soybean. A biography of George
Washington Carver, who was born in Missouri and educated in Iowa, is
included in Volume C.
William Brockman Bankhead (1874-1940) was born in Moscow (now Sulligent),
Alabama. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1917 to 1940.
He was speaker of the House from 1936 to 1940. His daughter, Tallulah
Brockman Bankhead, became one of America's best-known actresses. His
father, John H. Bank-head, and his brother, John H. Bankhead, Jr., were
both U.S. senators.
Helen Adams Keller, who was born in Tus-cumbia in 1880, lost both sight
and hearing before she was 2 years old. Because she could not hear, she
also lost the ability to speak. In spite of her disabilities, she gained an
education, learned to speak, and then spent her life lecturing and writing
to raise money for the training of other disabled persons. Her biography is
included in Volume K.
George Corley Wallace (1919- ) was born in Clio, Alabama. He was a judge
and state legislator before his election in 1962 as governor of Alabama. He
was re-elected to that office in 1970, 1974, and 1982. He was also a
presidential candidate in 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1976. A bullet from an
assassination attempt during the 1972 campaign left him disabled.
Three Alabamians have become justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices
John McKinley and John A. Campbell, who served during the I 800's, were
born in other states. Hugo L. Black, who became a justice in 1937, was born
in Clay County, Alabama.
Writers, musicians, and entertainers who were born in Alabama include
novelists Nelle Harper Lee (Monroeville) and Bordcn Deal(Tuscaloosa),
composer William C. Handy (Florence), and singer Nat "King" Cole
Famous names in sports include heavyweight champion Joe Louis (born Joe
Louis Barrow, Lafayette); baseball players Henry "Hank" Aaron (Mobile),
Frank Lary (North-port), and Willie Mays (Fairfield); and sports announcer
Mel Alien (born Melvin Alien Israel, Birmingham).
At the time of Columbus, Alabama was inhabited by four main groups of
Indians. They were the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws.
Sometimes there were skirmishes resulting from border disputes. But usually
the Indians lived in peace, hunting, fishing, and raising corn and
vegetables on small plots of land.
Exploration and Settlement
During the early 1500's Spanish explorers sailed along the coast of the
Gulf of Mexico. But Europeans were not seen in the interior of Alabama
until 1540, when Hernando de Soto passed through with a band of well-armed
soldiers. De Soto forced the peaceful Indians to provide him with food and
servants, and his harsh methods stirred up resentment. When he reached the
land governed by the gigantic Choctaw chieftain, Tuskaloosa, he ran into
trouble. De Soto captured the chief and took him to the tribe's strongly
fortified village. Here the Indians rose up to free their chief. For many
hours the bloody battle raged. The Spanish soldiers slaughtered Indian men,
women, and children alike. When the battle was over, the village was in
ruins and its population was destroyed. De Soto's troops also suffered
heavy losses. Later, in 1559, Spanish colonists started a settlement on
Mobile Bay, but storms and other troubles caused the settlers to leave.
English traders from the Carolinas and Georgia traded with the Indians
during the late 1600's, but the English made no permanent settlements in
Alabama at that time. In 1702 the French established Fort Louis on Mobile
Bay. This settlement was moved, in 1711, to the present site of Mobile. It
became the first permanent white settlement in what is now Alabama.
During the 1700's the French and the British fought over the territory
of which Alabama was a part. After the French and Indian War, the Treaty
of Paris, in 1763, gave the territory to England. Spain, Georgia, and the
Carolinas still argued over who owned the land. It was not until 1813 that
all of what is now Alabama passed into undisputed possession of the United
States and became part of the Mississippi Territory.
After 1800 more and more settlers came into Alabama from the states on
the Atlantic Coast. The invention of the cotton gin and the growth of the
cotton textile industry in England made cotton a valuable crop. The
settlers grew cotton on most of the land that they cleared. But settling
the territory was not without its perils. Much of the good farmland was
already being used by the Indians, whose ways of living easily adapted to
the settlers' ways. The Indians resisted the theft of their lands. The
Creeks, who held more than half the land in the
|IMPORTANT DATES |
|1540 Hernando de Soto marched across Alabama, |
|exploring and searching for gold. |
|1559 Tristan de Luna, Spanish colonizer, started a |
|temporary settlement on Mobile Bay. |
|1699 An expedition under the. French explorer Pierre |
|Lemoyne, Sieur d'lberville, explored the coast and |
|claimed the area for France. |
|1702 Pierre Lemoyne's brother, Jean Baptiste Lemoyne,|
|Sieur de Bienville, founded Fort Louis de la Mobile. |
|1711 The French moved Fort Louis to the present site |
|of Mobile. |
|1763 At the end of the French and Indian War, France |
|gave the area east of the Mississippi River, |
|including Alabama, to Great Britain. |
|1783 After the Revolutionary War, Great Britain gave |
|the Mobile area to Spain and the rest of Alabama to |
|the United States. |
|1813 United States captured Mobile and added it to |
|the Mississippi Territory. |
|1814 General Andrew Jackson defeated the Creek |
|1817 Congress created the Alabama Territory. |
|1819 Alabama admitted to Union December 14, as 22nd |
|1847 Montgomery became state capital. |
|1861 Alabama seceded from the Union January 11 and |
|formed the Republic of Alabama, which lasted until |
|February 8, when Alabama joined the Confederacy. 1868|
|Alabama re-admitted to the Union. |
|1875 A new constitution adopted, ending the period of|
|1888 First steel produced in Birmingham. |
|1901 Present state constitution adopted. |
|1944 First petroleum produced near Gilbertown. |
|1949 Redstone Arsenal, at Huntsville, became a center|
|for rocket and missile research. |
|1970 Black Alabamians won seats (two) In the state |
|legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. |
|1981 Tuskegee Institute celebrated its 100th |
especially bitter. They sided with the British in the War of 1812. The
Indians raided Fort Mims and killed several hundred settlers. In a final
battle at Horseshoe Bend, the Creeks were defeated, and before long they
were moved out of the territory. The Cherokees, who had remained neutral in
the war, were later moved from their lands. They were the most progressive
of the Indian tribes. They lived in brick houses, grew cotton, raised
rattle, and even had a written language.
Alabama Becomes a State
When Mississippi became a state in 1817, the eastern half of the
Mississippi Territory was removed and made the Alabama Territory. Its
capital was St. Stephens, a small town lo the north of Mobile. At that time
settlers were found mainly in three regions—in the Tennessee Valley, around
Huntsville; along Ihc Tombigbee and Black Warrior rivers, with centers at
St. Stephens and Tusca-loosa; and along the Alabama and Coosa rivers, near
such towns as Wetumpka and Montgomery.
Alabama was not a territory very long. With the approval of Congress,
leading citi-/cns met at Huntsville on July 5, 1819, and drafted Alabama's
first constitution. Soon after, on December 14, 1819, Alabama became a
state. The capital was situated at Ca-haba, a town built for just this
purpose at the junction of the Cahaba and the Alabama rivers. The choice of
this town was bad. It lay in low, swampy land that flooded regularly. In
1825 the session of the legislature could be held only on the second floor
of the capital, and the legislators had to get there by row-boat. Because
of this situation the state capital was moved in 1827 to Tuscaloosa, where
it stayed for 20 years. In 1847 the increase in wealth and political
strength of the cotton planters of the Black Belt caused another move of
the state capital—this time to Montgomery, where it is today.
King Cotton, Slavery, and the Civil War
Between 1820 and 1860 Alabama's economy was closely tied to slavery. The
large cotton plantations could not be worked profitably without slaves. In
the 1840's Alabama was one of the wealthiest states in the Union. In 1860
forces in the North moved toward
the abolition of slavery. The leaders of Alabama opposed federal
interference in the affairs of their state. They proposed secession. After
a special election among the people, a convention was held in Montgomery on
January 7, 1861. On January 11 a resolution of secession was adopted, and
Alabama invited all the other southern states to meet in Montgomery to form
a new union.
On February 4, 1861, the convention met and drew up the constitution for
the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis was sworn in as the
president on February 18, 1861.
During the Civil War there were many minor battles in the state. No major
battles took place within its borders, but the state was badly hurt by the
fighting. When the war was over, Alabama's economy was destroyed.
Between 1865 and 1875 Alabama lived under a partly military government
called the Reconstruction. These were harsh times— times of agricultural
failures, general poverty, and great political confusion. In 1875 a new
constitution was adopted and approved by Congress. Between 1875 and 1900
Alabama went through a period of economic recovery. Cotton was still king,
but industry grew.
Modern Times and the Future
After the Reconstruction era, blacks in Alabama were stripped of their
newly won civil rights, including the right to vote. They had to attend
different schools from whites. Racial segregation of many kinds was the law
in Alabama for a long time.
In the 1960's, however, federal legislation enabled blacks in Alabama to
vote in large numbers. Progress has also been made against many forms of
racial segregation. Much of this progress in Alabama resulted from peaceful
protest conducted under the leadership of Martin Luther King.
Alabama has undergone many other. changes recently. Industry has grown
rapidly. The state's waterways are being enlarged and improved. With its
abundance of raw mate-trials, and its vital people, Alabama should continue
to be the industrial heart of the New South.