Civil War and Reconstruction

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.

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