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Alabama(ăləbăm`ə), state in the SE United States. It is bordered by Tennessee (N), Georgia (E), Florida and the Gulf of Mexico (S), and Mississippi (W).
Facts and Figures
Area, 51,609 sq mi (133,677 sq km). Pop. (2010) 4,779,736, a 7.5% increase since the 2000 census. Capital, Montgomery. Largest city, Birmingham. Statehood, Dec. 14, 1819 (22d state). Highest pt., Cheaha Mt., 2,407 ft (734 m); lowest pt., sea level. Nickname, Heart of Dixie. Motto, We Dare Defend Our Rights. State bird, yellowhammer. State flower, camellia. State tree, Southern (longleaf) pine. Abbr., Ala.; AL
Except for the mountainous section in the northeast (the southern end of the Cumberland Plateau) Alabama is a rolling plain with an average elevation of c.500 ft (150 m) in two geologic regions—the Appalachian Piedmont above the fall linefall line,
boundary between an upland region and a coastal plain across which rivers from the upland region drop to the plain as falls or rapids. A fall line is formed in an area where the rivers have eroded away the soft rocks of a coastal plain more quickly than the older
..... Click the link for more information. and the coastal plain below. These plains, drained by the AlabamaAlabama,
river, 315 mi (507 km) long, formed in central Ala. by the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers N of Montgomery, Ala., and flowing SW to Mobile, Ala., where it joins the Tombigbee to form the Mobile River; drains c.22,600 sq mi (58,500 sq km).
..... Click the link for more information. and the TombigbeeTombigbee
, river, c.400 mi (640 km) long, rising in NE Miss. and flowing SE into W Alabama, then generally S to join the Alabama River and form the Mobile River before entering into Mobile Bay at Mobile. The Tombigbee is an important artery for manufactured goods.
..... Click the link for more information. rivers and their tributaries, are primarily devoted to agriculture. MontgomeryMontgomery,
city (1990 pop. 187,106), state capital and seat of Montgomery co., E central Ala., near the head of navigation on the Alabama River just below the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers, and in the rich Black Belt; inc. 1819.
..... Click the link for more information. is the capital and BirminghamBirmingham
1 City (1990 pop. 265,968), seat of Jefferson co., N central Ala., in the Jones Valley near the southern end of the Appalachian system; founded and inc. 1871.
..... Click the link for more information. the largest city of Alabama. MobileMobile
, city (1990 pop. 196,278), seat of Mobile co., SW Ala., at the head of Mobile Bay and at the mouth of the Mobile River; inc. 1814. Lying on one of the continent's greatest natural harbors, Mobile is one of the country's major ports, the only seaport in Alabama, and the
..... Click the link for more information. is the state's major seaport. Places of interest in Alabama include Russell Cave National Monument, near Bridgeport, the site of caves that were inhabited almost continuously from 6000 B.C. to A.D. 1650, and Mound State Monument, near Tuscaloosa, the site of numerous early Native American mounds.
The central Black BeltBlack Belt,
term applied to several areas of Mississippi and Alabama, the heart of the Old South, which are characterized by black soil and excellent cotton-growing conditions. The Black Belt area was historically important as the nation's main cotton producer in the mid-1800s.
..... Click the link for more information. , formerly a principal cotton-growing area, is now employed largely for raising poultry (the state ranks third in U.S. broiler chicken production) and cattle, Alabama's most valuable agricultural products. Cotton is still the chief crop; greenhouse plants, peanuts, and vegetables are also important.
Although about half of Alabama's area is devoted to agriculture, manufacturing accounts for a larger share of the state's income. Where the Tennessee River loops across the north, hydroelectric power from the Tennessee Valley AuthorityTennessee Valley Authority
(TVA), independent U.S. government corporate agency, created in 1933 by act of Congress; it is responsible for the integrated development of the Tennessee River basin.
..... Click the link for more information. has converted much agricultural land to industrial uses. Alabama has the second most extensive (after Georgia) forests in the contiguous United States, and pulp and paper products lead manufactures. Other major industries produce chemicals, electronics, textiles, processed foods, and automobiles. Oil and gas, cement, and stone lead mineral production; the state's once-prominent coal industry is gradually declining. The Marshall NASA Space Flight Center, Redstone Arsenal, Maxwell Air Force Base, and Forts Rucker and McClellan contribute significantly to the economy.
Government, Politics, and Higher Education
Alabama's constitution, adopted in 1901, provides for an elected governor and a bicameral legislature that is made up of a 35-member senate and a 105-member house of representatives. The state elects two senators and seven representatives to the U.S. Congress and has nine electoral votes.
Alabama politics was dominated by the Democratic party from Reconstruction until the 1980s, when Harold Guy Hunt became (1986) the first Republican to be elected governor in over a century. Since then, the two parties have tended to alternate control of the governorship. In 1998, Democrat Don Siegelman was elected governor, but he narrowly lost the office to Republican Bob Riley in 2002. Riley was reelected in 2006, and in 2010 Robert Bentley, a Republican, was elected to succeed Riley. Bentley was reelected in 2014. Bentley resigned in 2017 amid ethics and criminal investigations arising from an extramarital affair; Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey succeeded him.
Among Alabama's educational institutions are the Univ. of AlabamaAlabama, University of,
main campus at Tuscaloosa; state supported, coeducational; chartered 1820, opened 1831. An experimental station of the U.S. Bureau of Mines, the state natural history museum, the state geological survey, and a business research bureau are there.
..... Click the link for more information. , at Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Huntsville; Auburn Univ.Auburn University,
main campus at Auburn, Ala.; land-grant and state supported; opened 1859 as East Alabama Male College, reorganized 1872 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama; became coeducational 1892; renamed Alabama Polytechnic Institute 1899, Auburn Univ.
..... Click the link for more information. , at Auburn; Birmingham-Southern CollegeBirmingham-Southern College,
at Birmingham, Ala.; United Methodist; coeducational; formed 1918 by the merger of Southern Univ. (chartered 1856; opened 1859 at Greensboro, Ala.) and Birmingham College (opened 1898).
..... Click the link for more information. and Howard College, at Birmingham; Huntingdon College, at Montgomery; the Univ. of Montevallo, at Montevallo; and Tuskegee Univ.Tuskegee University,
at Tuskegee, Ala.; coeducational; chartered and opened 1881 by Booker T. Washington as Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. It became Tuskegee Institute in 1937 and adopted its present name in 1985.
..... Click the link for more information. , at Tuskegee.
Early History to Statehood
Agriculture was practiced by groups such as the Creeks and Cherokee in the east, and the Choctaws and Chickasaws in the west when Spanish explorers arrived. Cabeza de Vaca (and possibly Pánfilo de Narvaez) visited Alabama in 1528, and Hernando De Soto spent some time in the region in 1540. European settlement was begun, however, not by the Spanish but by the French in the Mobile area in 1702. The French and British contended for the furs gathered by Native Americans. In 1763 the region passed to the British, who were victorious over France and Spain in the French and Indian WarsFrench and Indian Wars,
1689–1763, the name given by American historians to the North American colonial wars between Great Britain and France in the late 17th and the 18th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. .
At the close of the American Revolution, Great Britain ceded (1783) to the United States all lands east of the Mississippi except the Floridas (see West Florida ControversyWest Florida Controversy,
conflict between Spain and the United States concerning possession of Florida. By the Treaty of Paris of 1763, Britain received Florida from Spain, and from France that portion of Louisiana lying between the Mississippi and Perdido rivers (exclusive of
..... Click the link for more information. ). The Territory of Mississippi, which included parts of present-day Alabama, was set up in 1798, but the land was still largely a wilderness with a considerable fur trade, centered at Saint Stephens, and with only the beginnings of cotton cultivation.
Both the fur trade and cotton production were interrupted during the War of 1812, when part of the Creek Confederacy began attacking under William Weatherford. Andrew Jackson defeated a group of Native Americans at Horseshoe Bend on Mar. 27, 1814. That victory, coupled with the British demand for cotton, ushered in a period of heavy settlement. New settlers poured into the Alabama region, especially from Georgia and Tennessee. The wealthy newcomers settled in the fertile bottomlands and established large plantations based on slave labor, which helped to produce cotton for the markets of Southern ports. Poorer newcomers took over less fertile uplands, where they eked out a living. The population grew to such an extent that the Territory of Alabama, taking Saint Stephens as its capital, was set up in 1817 with William W. Bibb as governor; two years later it became a state.
Civil War and Reconstruction
In Alabama the slave-owning planters were dominant because of the prosperous cotton crop, and as the Civil WarCivil War,
in U.S. history, conflict (1861–65) between the Northern states (the Union) and the Southern states that seceded from the Union and formed the Confederacy.
..... Click the link for more information. loomed closer, the support of Southern rights and secession sentiment grew under the urging of "fire-eaters" such as William L. Yancey. Alabama broke away from the Union on Jan. 11, 1861, when its second constitutional convention passed the ordinance of secession. The government of the Confederacy was organized at Montgomery on Feb. 4, 1861. Union troops held the Tennessee valley after 1862. One of the principal naval battles of the war was won by Admiral D. G. Farragut in Mobile Bay in 1864, but most of the state was not occupied in force until 1865. Alabama ratified the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865, but in 1867 it refused to ratify the Fourteenth AmendmentFourteenth Amendment,
addition to the U.S. Constitution, adopted 1868. The amendment comprises five sections. Section 1
Section 1 of the amendment declares that all persons born or naturalized in the United States are American citizens and citizens of their state
..... Click the link for more information. and was placed under military rule. That rule ended the following year when a new state legislature operating under a new constitution approved the Fourteenth Amendment. However, federal troops did not leave Alabama until 1876, and African Americans continued to suffer enormous oppression for decades.
In the ReconstructionReconstruction,
1865–77, in U.S. history, the period of readjustment following the Civil War. At the end of the Civil War, the defeated South was a ruined land. The physical destruction wrought by the invading Union forces was enormous, and the old social and economic
..... Click the link for more information. era Alabama's government was dominated by the so-called carpetbaggerscarpetbaggers,
epithet used in the South after the Civil War to describe Northerners who went to the South during Reconstruction to make money. Although regarded as transients because of the carpetbags in which they carried their possessions (hence the name carpetbaggers
..... Click the link for more information. and scalawagsscalawags
, derogatory term used in the South after the Civil War to describe native white Southerners who joined the Republican party and aided in carrying out the congressional Reconstruction program. A Republican who came from the north was called a carpetbagger.
..... Click the link for more information. , and corruption was widespread. Few reforms emerged during the period; but the mining of coal and iron was expanded by Daniel PrattPratt, Daniel,
1799–1873, American industrialist, b. Temple, N.H. He moved to Georgia at the age of 20, and after he had become a partner in a cotton gin he went (1833) to Alabama, where he founded (1835) Prattville, 12 mi (17 km) NW of Montgomery.
..... Click the link for more information. and his successor, H. F. De Bardeleben, marking the rise of industry in Alabama.
The railroads built during Reconstruction were a major impetus to the industrialization of Alabama's economy. Birmingham was founded in 1870, and its first blast furnace began operations in 1880. The cotton textile industry developed in the 1880s. At that time farming was still dominant, and the fortunes of the state rose and fell with the market price of cotton. Constant use and erosion, however, began to exhaust the land.
Diversification of crops, much advocated in the 20th cent., was accelerated in 1915 when the boll weevil invaded the cotton fields and the demand during World War I brought high prices for food crops. The Great Depression and the agricultural program of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal caused more farmers to produce subsistence crops and took more land away from the wasting cotton culture. Beginning in the 1920s, there was a large migration of African Americans out of the state to northern manufacturing centers.
Industrialization was greatly increased during World War II with the appearance of factories producing machines, munitions, powder, and other war supplies. HuntsvilleHuntsville.
1 City (1990 pop. 159,789), seat of Madison co., N Ala.; inc. 1811. A major center for U.S. space research, Huntsville is the site of the Redstone Arsenal, the U.S. army's control and procurement center for guided missiles and rockets. NASA's George C.
..... Click the link for more information. became a center for rocket research, and its population more than quadrupled between 1950 and 1960. Industrialization and commerce increased throughout the state. Adding impetus to that growth was an ambitious development program of Alabama's inland waterways to provide cheap water transportation, more hydroelectric power, and flood-control measures.
The Integration Years to the Present
In 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision ruling racial segregation in public elementary and secondary schools unconstitutional, and the decision was followed by an intensification of racial tension (see integrationintegration,
in U.S. history, the goal of an organized movement to break down the barriers of discrimination and segregation separating African Americans from the rest of American society.
..... Click the link for more information. ). Alabama has witnessed many civil-rights protests, including a year-long black boycott of public buses in Montgomery in 1955–56 to protest segregated seating and a Freedom March from Montgomery to Selma led by Martin Luther KingKing, Martin Luther, Jr.,
1929–68, American clergyman and civil-rights leader, b. Atlanta, Ga., grad. Morehouse College (B.A., 1948), Crozer Theological Seminary (B.D., 1951), Boston Univ. (Ph.D., 1955).
..... Click the link for more information. Jr. in 1965.
George C. WallaceWallace, George Corley,
1919–98, governor of Alabama (1963–67, 1971–79, 1983–87), b. Clio, Ala. Admitted to the bar in 1942, he was active in the Alabama Democratic party, serving in the state assembly (1947–53) and as a district court judge
..... Click the link for more information. , a Democrat elected governor in 1962, fought the federally ordered integration of schools in Alabama. He was reelected three times: 1970, 1974, and 1982, the final time with substantial African-American support. In 1968 he entered the U.S. presidential race as the candidate of the American Independent party. He ran for the presidency twice more—in 1972 and 1976.
Since the late 1970s, public attention has largely shifted to economic issues, and major efforts have been made to achieve growth by encouraging further diversification of manufacturing industries. A notable success in this campaign was the building by Mercedes-Benz of auto assembly plant in Alabama. The Tennessee-Tombigbee WaterwayTennessee-Tombigbee Waterway,
system of navigation channels, 234 mi (377 km) long, Ala. and Miss., connecting the Tennessee River with the Tombigbee River and, via the Mobile River, with the Gulf of Mexico. Constructed by the U.S.
..... Click the link for more information. , connecting the port of Mobile with the industries that have developed in N Alabama and elsewhere along the Tennessee, opened in 1985. In 1995 Hurricane Opal caused extensive damage in Alabama as far north as Montgomery, and parts of the state suffered again in 2004 from Hurricane Ivan and in 2005 from Katrina.
See C. P. Denman, The Secession Movement in Alabama (1933, repr. 1971); L. Griffith, Alabama: A Documentary History to 1900 (rev. ed. 1972); Federal Writers' Project, Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (1941, repr. 1973); N. G. Lineback and C. T. Traylor, ed., Atlas of Alabama (1973); R. A. Thigpen, Alabama Government Manual (7th ed. 1986); S. W. Wiggins, ed., From Civil War to Civil Rights, 1860–1960 (1987).
Alabama,ship: see Confederate cruisersConfederate cruisers,
in U.S. history, warships constituting the South's seagoing navy. At the outbreak of the Civil War the United States ranked next to Great Britain in merchant marine.
..... Click the link for more information. .
Alabama(ăləbăm`ə), indigenous people of North America whose language belongs to the Muskogean branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. ). They lived in S Alabama in the early 18th cent. and were members of the Creek confederacy. During the 19th cent. they moved to W Louisiana and E Texas. The state of Alabama takes its name from them. In Texas the Alabama share a reservation with the Coushatta, who also speak a Muskogean language. In 1990, there were over 1,000 Alabama and Coushatta in the United States.
Alabama,river, 315 mi (507 km) long, formed in central Ala. by the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers N of Montgomery, Ala., and flowing SW to Mobile, Ala., where it joins the Tombigbee to form the Mobile River; drains c.22,600 sq mi (58,500 sq km). In the 1800s the river played an important role in the development of the region's economy as a transporter of goods. It remains an important mover of farm products, lumber, and manufactured goods. The Cahaba River, its chief tributary, is the source of water for Birmingham, Ala.
Alabama State Information
Area (sq mi):: 52419.02 (land 50744.00; water 1675.01) Population per square mile: 89.80
Population 2005: 4,557,808 State rank: 0 Population change: 2000-20005 2.50%; 1990-2000 10.10% Population 2000: 4,447,100 (White 70.30%; Black or African American 26.00%; Hispanic or Latino 1.70%; Asian 0.70%; Other 2.20%). Foreign born: 2.00%. Median age: 35.80
Income 2000: per capita $18,189; median household $34,135; Population below poverty level: 16.10% Personal per capita income (2000-2003): $23,764-$26,505
Unemployment (2004): 5.20% Unemployment change (from 2000): 1.00% Median travel time to work: 24.80 minutes Working outside county of residence: 25.20%
List of Alabama counties:
- US National Parks
- Urban Parks
- State Parks
- National Wildlife Refuges
- National Trails
- National Scenic Byways
- National Forests
a state in southern United States. Most of its territory is covered by a low-lying coastal plain which is marshy in places. The spurs and foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, which are crossed by the Tennessee River, are located in the north and northeast. With an area of 133,700 sq km, Alabama has a population of 3,540,000 (1967), of which approximately 30 percent is Negro. Its capital city is Montgomery. The urban population constitutes 55 percent (1960). Between 1950 and 1960, 368,000 people, including 224,000 Negroes, migrated from Alabama. Economically, it is a relatively backward state, with poorly developed mechanical engineering and only 276,000 people employed in the processing industry (1965). The major branches of industry are the ferrous metal and the related metalworking industries. There is mining of pit coal (1965 output, 13.5 million tons), iron ore (1965 output, 1,519,000 tons of metal), and bauxite. The textile industry consists mostly of cotton cloth production. The chemical industry (Muscle Shoals and Huntsville) and lumber and paper industry (Childersburg) are being developed. The established capacity of the electrical power stations is 9.1 million kW, including 2 million kW from a hydroelectric power plant (1966). The largest industrial centers are Birmingham, Gadsden, and Mobile (the major seaport of Alabama). In the Tennessee River Valley there are chemical and other power-consuming enterprises. Huntsville has factories producing rockets, missiles, and explosives. Alabama’s major farm products are broilers (third place in the nation), cotton (192,000 tons in 1965, fifth place in the nation), and eggs. Cattle are bred (in 1968, 1,848,000 head). Sowing areas cover 2.4 million hectares and include maize, peanuts, and fodder.
M. E. POLOVITSKAIA
a conflict between the USA and England which arose because of the military aid provided by England to the insurgent slaveholding states during the US Civil War (1861–65). In particular, the British government outfitted military ships for the rebels. One such ship was the cruiser Alabama, a cannon-armed wooden screw-steamer displacing 1,040 tons. In Aug. 1862, the cruiser, commanded by Captain R. Semmes, began actions against the trading vessels of the Northerners. Between 1862 and 1864, it seized and destroyed 68 trading shfps and one military ship on the Indian and Atlantic oceans. On July 14, 1864, it was sunk near Cherbourg by the Union corvette Kearsarge. After the conclusion of the war the USA raised the issue of the so-called Alabama Claims concerning England’s responsibility for the actions of the Alabama and other Confederate cruisers. The conflict was not resolved until Sept. 14, 1872, by a court of arbitration in Geneva. In accordance with the court’s decision, England paid the US $15.5 million.
Twenty-second state; admitted on December 14, 1819 (seceded from the Union on January 11, 1861, and was readmitted on June 25, 1868)
Alabama does not observe the anniversary of its admission day, but did hold festivities in 1969 in honor of the 150th, or sesquicentennial, anniversary of statehood. There were historical pageants, a boat parade, formal balls, music, fireworks, and the issuance of a commemorative stamp. The state was named for a southern Indian tribe, possibly a subdivision of the Chickasaws.
State capital: Montgomery
Nicknames: The Heart of Dixie; The Yellowhammer State; The Cotton State
State motto: Audemus jura nostra defendere (Latin “We dare maintain our rights”)
State agricultural museum: Dothan Landmarks Park
State amphibian: Red Hills Salamander (Phaeognathus hubrichti Highton)
State barbecue championship: Demopolis Christmas on the River Barbecue Cook- Off
State bible: The Bible
State bird: Yellowhammer or Common Flicker (Colaptes auratus)
State butterfly and mascot: Easter tiger swallowtail
State championship horse show: Alabama State Championship Horse Show
State creed: Alabama’s Creed
State folk dance: Square dance
State fish: saltwater: Fighting tarpon (Tarpon atlanticus); freshwater: Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)
State flower: Camellia (Camellia japonica L.); wildflower: Oak-leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia Bartr)
State fossil: Basilosaurus cetoides
State fruit: Blackberry
State game bird: Wild turkey
State gemstone: Star blue quartz
State historic theatre: Alabama Theatre for the Performing Arts
State horse: Racking horse
State horseshoe tournament: Stockton Fall Horseshoe Tournament
State insect: Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexipuss)
State mammal: Black bear
State mineral: Hematite (red iron ore)
State nut: Pecan
State outdoor drama: The Miracle Worker
State outdoor musical drama: The Incident at Looney’s Tavern
State quilt: Pine Burr Quilt
State Renaissance faire: Florence Renaissance faire
State reptile: Red-bellied turtle (Pseudemys alabamensis)
State rock: Marble
State shell: Johnstone’s Junonia (Scaphella junonia johnstoneae)
State soil: Bama soil series
State song: “Alabama”
State spirit: Conecuh Ridge Alabama Fine Whiskey
State stone: Marble
State tree: Southern Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris Miller)
State tree fruit: Peach
More about state symbols at:
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 829 AnnivHol-2000, p. 208
State web site: www.alabama.gov
Office of the Governor State Capitol 600 Dexter Ave Suite N-104 Montgomery, AL 36130 334-242-7100 fax: 334-353-0004 www.governor.state.al.us
Secretary of State PO Box 5616 Montgomery, AL 36103 334-242-7200 fax: 334-242-4993 www.sos.state.al.us
Alabama Public Library Service 6030 Monticello Dr Montgomery, AL 36130 334-213-3900 fax: 334-213-3993 www.apls.state.al.us
Archives & History Dept 624 Washington Ave Montgomery, AL 30130 334-242-4435 fax: 334-240-3433 www.archives.state.al.us