Overall History of Alabama

September 11th, 2011 9:32 pm

Alabama was among the first states to secede in the Civil War. Montgomery was the first Confederate capital, Mobile was a major Confederate port and Selma was a munitions center. Alabama lost around 25, 000 soldiers in the war, and reconstruction came slowly and painfully.

Racial segregation and Jim Crow laws survived into the mid-20th century, when the Civil Rights movement campaigned for desegregation of everything from public buses to private universities, a notion that Governor George Wallace viciously opposed. In perhaps the most famous moment in civil rights history, an African American woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger and was thus arrested; the ensuing uproar sparked a bus boycott and began to turn the tide in favor of racial equality. Alabama saw brutal repression and hostility, but federal civil rights and voting laws eventually prevailed. At a political level, reform has seen the election of dozens of African American mayors and representatives. And from funky Muscle Shoals all the way down to genteel Mobile, Alabama has contributed in positive ways to Southern culture.

Civil War and Reconstruction

September 10th, 2011 1:38 am

In Alabama the slave-owning planters were dominant because of the prosperous cotton crop, and as the Civil War 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 Amendment 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 Reconstruction era Alabama’s government was dominated by the so-called carpetbaggers and scalawags, and corruption was widespread. Few reforms emerged during the period; but the mining of coal and iron was expanded by Daniel Pratt and his successor, H. F. De Bardeleben, marking the rise of industry in Alabama.