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 people.
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 always
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
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);
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
South. Yellowhammer State, from Civil Wa'r times, when troops from Alabama were
STATE SONG: "Alabama," by Julia S. Tutwiler; music by Edna Goeckel
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
It is a region of knobby hills, cut through by the broad valley of the
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
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
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
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
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
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 weather.
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 cattle.
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 mercury pollution.
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 are descend 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,
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 state.
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
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 in 1815.
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 state.
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 noted
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 museum.
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 agricultural
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
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 buildings.
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
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,
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
Montgomery has several institutions of higher education,
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
The following are some of the other important cities:
Huntsville, now the Rocket City, was one of Alabama's first
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 |
territory,were 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
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
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
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
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.