/al'euh bam"euh/, n.1. a state in the SE United States. 3,890,061; 51,609 sq. mi. (133,670 sq. km). Cap.: Montgomery. Abbr.: AL (for use with zip code), Ala.2. a river flowing SW from central Alabama to the Mobile River. 315 mi. (505 km) long.
* * *State (pop., 2000: 4,447,000), southern central U.S. It is bordered by Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi; the Gulf of Mexico lies to the southwest.Covering 51,718 sq mi (133,950 sq km), its capital is Montgomery. Its original inhabitants included Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek Indians; evidence of their activity can be found near Tuscaloosa. Hernando de Soto traveled there, and the French founded a settlement at Fort Louis in 1702. The Alabama Territory was created in 1817, and statehood was granted in 1819. Alabama seceded from the Union in 1861, becoming part of the Confederacy; it was readmitted in 1868. Efforts during Reconstruction to include blacks in government failed, and Alabama remained segregationist until the 1960s. Dependent on cotton until the early 20th century, the state has since diversified its agricultural production and developed industrially, especially at Birmingham; Mobile has become a major ocean terminal.
* * *IntroductionAlabama, flag of constituent state of the United States of America, admitted in 1819 as the 22nd state. Alabama forms a roughly rectangular shape on the map, elongated in a north-south direction. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, and Mississippi to the west. The Florida panhandle blocks Alabama's access to the Gulf of Mexico (Mexico, Gulf of) except in Alabama's southwestern corner, where Mobile Bay is located. Montgomery is the state capital.The state offers much topographical diversity. The rich agricultural valley of the Tennessee River occupies the extreme northern part of the state. In northeastern Alabama the broken terrain of the southwestern fringe of the Appalachian Mountains begins and continues in a southwesterly progression across the northern half of the state. Below that the band of prairie lowland known as the Black Belt has rich soils that once cradled a rural cotton-producing way of life central to the state's development. Farther south stretch piney woods and then coastal plains until one reaches the moss-draped live oaks of Mobile and the white beaches of the gulf.The landscape of Alabama has been the scene of many of the major crises in the settlement of the continent and in the development of the country. It was a battleground for European powers vying for the lands of the New World, for the fights between the European settlers and the indigenous communities, for the struggles between North (North, the) and South (South, the) during the American Civil War, for the civil rights movement, and for other forces of economic and social change that have extensively altered many aspects of the Deep South in the years since the mid-20th century. Although Alabama continues to reside in the lower segment nationally in many significant social and economic rankings, there has been improvement in some areas, particularly in ethnic relations, including the integration of schools and the election of African Americans to political offices. Nevertheless, Alabamians and outsiders alike tend to agree that the state retains a distinctive way of life, rooted in the traditions of the Old South. Area 51,700 square miles (133,902 square km). Pop. (2000) 4,447,100; (2007 est.) 4,627,851.Land (Alabama)ReliefAlthough the average elevation of Alabama is about 500 feet (150 metres) above sea level, this represents a gradation from the high point of 2,407 feet (734 metres), atop Cheaha Mountain in the northeast, down across the Black Belt to the flat, low southern Gulf Coast counties. Within this gradation, several relief regions may be distinguished.The southern extremities of the Appalachians cover nearly half the state. In the far north the Cumberland Plateau region, segmented by upper branches of the Cumberland (Cumberland River), Kentucky (Kentucky River), and Tennessee (Tennessee River) river systems, thrusts southward from Tennessee. Elevations rise to 1,800 feet (550 metres) in the more rugged eastern portions. The Great Appalachian Valley forms another marked division to the east. A small triangular portion of the Piedmont Plateau juts across from Georgia at an elevation averaging 1,000 feet (300 metres).The character of the state changes markedly as the rugged, forest-clad hills and ridges of the Appalachian extremities give way to the lower country of the coastal plain. The plain has a number of subdivisions: in the north lie the rolling Fall Line Hills, while farther south the pine and hardwood belts add irregularity to the flat landscapes. Arcing into the heart of the lowlands of Alabama, the Black Belt has been distinctive because of its association with the cotton production that long dominated its rich soils—though little cotton is grown there now. The 53 miles (85 km) of coastline have occasional swamps and bayous, backed by timber growth on sandy soils and fronted by stretches of white sand beaches.DrainageThe Cumberland Plateau region drains to the northwest through the Tennessee River and the often deep valleys of its tributaries, with much water retained in large scenic lakes formed in the 1930s by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The rest of the state is drained southward through broad valleys. The Coosa (Coosa River) and the Tallapoosa (Tallapoosa River) rivers join north of Montgomery to form the Alabama River, which meanders southwestward until it connects with the Tombigbee River, which drains the state's western portion. Their waters are discharged into Mobile Bay through the Mobile (Mobile River) and Tensaw rivers.SoilsThere are four main soil zones found in Alabama. In the far north the Tennessee valley contains dark loams and red clays that add vivid dashes of colour to the landscape when exposed. Farther south lie the varied soils of a mineral belt, and these are succeeded by the rich limestone and marl soils of the Black Belt. The soils along the coast of Alabama consist of sandy loams and deep porous sands.ClimateThe Alabama climate is temperate, with an average annual temperature of about 64 °F (18 °C), mellowed by altitude to some 60 °F (16 °C) in the northern counties and reaching 67 °F (19 °C) in the southern counties, although summer heat is often alleviated somewhat by the winds blowing in from the Gulf of Mexico. Occasionally the temperature may rise to 100 °F (38 °C) in the summer, whereas frosts occur with more frequency; snow may sometimes fall in the northern counties. The average summer temperature is 79 °F (26 °C); the winter average is 48 °F (9 °C).Precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, with an annual average of 56 inches (1,420 mm) and a concentration on the coast. Droughts are infrequent. These favourable conditions have given the state a long growing season, ranging from about 200 days in the north to some 300 days in the south.Plant and animal lifeThe warm climate of Alabama has nurtured a rich plant cover, including more than 100 tree varieties. Most of the thick forests are in the north and northeast. Pine trees predominate, and live oaks (live oak) are also found statewide, adding character to the streets of the older towns and cities. Sweet gum and black walnut are also common, while the colourful red cedar is most abundant in the Tennessee valley and the Black Belt, with stately black cypress clustering around rivers and ponds. There are many varieties of shrubs and grasses, and bamboo, large canes, and mistletoe are widespread. Muscadine and scuppernong grapes and blackberries also flourish. Beardlike Spanish moss grows in the coastal woodlands.Birdlife too is rich. Bluebirds, cardinals, blue jays, mockingbirds, doves, woodpeckers, owls, hawks, yellow-shafted flickers (called yellowhammers in Alabama), and an occasional eagle are found here. Other wildlife includes rabbits, squirrels, opossums, foxes, bobcats, raccoons, muskrats, deer, and even a few bears. Coyotes and armadillos have spread into Alabama from the west. Snakes include poisonous rattlesnakes, water moccasins, copperheads, and coral snakes, as well as some nonpoisonous types, such as black snakes. Alligators still exist in some of the swamps and bayous of the coastal regions, notably in the Mobile River delta.People (Alabama)Population compositionThe great majority of the state's population is of European ancestry (white), descended primarily from 19th-century settlers who came from adjoining regions to the east and north. Alabamians of African descent (black) comprise about one-fourth of the population and largely trace their ancestry in the state to the days of slavery. Other ethnic minorities, as well as foreign-born residents, make up only a small proportion of Alabama's population. Religious affiliations in the state are overwhelmingly Christian and predominantly Protestant, with large groups of Baptists and Methodists.Settlement patterns and demographic trendsBy the late 20th century the state's population had shifted from an overwhelmingly rural character to a primarily urban and suburban one. The population of much of the old cotton region of the Black Belt has been declining for many decades, relocating its residents to more-urban settings. Although the growth of cities has slowed, the suburban areas around Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham, and Huntsville have been gaining population rapidly.Birmingham remains the major metropolitan area of the state, with an increasingly service-oriented economy. Mobile, the state's port city and second largest metropolitan area, has been expanding at a moderate pace since experiencing a major growth spurt in the 1970s. Since the 1960s, Huntsville has been expanding as a result of its national defense installations and ever-enlarging high-technology industries. Growth of state government has contributed to Montgomery's increase in population.EconomyAmong the 50 states, Alabama is relatively poor, and median family income has remained well below the national average. Rural poverty skews the state average downward, however, concealing more-promising trends and the stronger economic base that exists in the urban areas. Much of this has been based on manufacturing's steady contribution to the state economy, but an important development has been the continued growth of the service sector.AgricultureThe Alabamian rural economy challenges the traditional view of a dependency on cotton. Although cotton has continued to be of local importance, it suffered a heavy blow with the onset of the boll weevil blight in 1915, and acreage has continued to decline. Mechanization and consolidation increased the average farm size after the 1930s. The diversification of agricultural production then brought a great increase in the acreage devoted to forestry, and cotton fields were given over to pasture for dairy and beef cattle. Poultry has become a major farm product in the state. The principal crops are cotton, peanuts (groundnuts), soybeans, and corn (maize). Farm income has continued to rise, and the average value of a farm has multiplied many times since the mid-20th century. Farm and farm-related employment, however, have declined steadily over the same period, as has agriculture's share of the state's economy.Resources and powerIndustrial development in Alabama is historically rooted in the iron and steel industry of Birmingham, the development of which was facilitated by accessible deposits of iron ore, coal, and limestone. Other minerals include the state's well-known white marble, now distributed primarily in crushed form for use in various applications, including paper pigment. Petroleum production in commercial quantities dates from the mid-1940s; there are a number of wells in the coastal regions. Natural gas production is also significant in coastal areas.The bulk of Alabama's electric power is generated by thermal plants, the great majority of which are coal-fired. Nuclear-generating stations contribute about one-fourth of the total. Hydroelectricity from multiple facilities, including several operated by the TVA, supplies a small but still significant fraction of the state's overall power.ManufacturingWorld War II defense industries gave an impetus to the industrial economy of the state in the mid-20th century. Although production of iron and steel has continued to have some importance in Alabama's economy, the manufacture of food products, textiles and apparel, wood products and paper, chemicals, and plastics has reduced the reliance on primary metals. The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center at Huntsville, notable for producing the Saturn booster rockets that propelled the Apollo and Skylab spacecraft of the 1960s and early '70s, has been a major contributor to the state's economy. That and other high-value industries have contributed to Huntsville's overall prosperity and have helped establish the city as an important nexus of technology.The number of non-U.S. companies operating industries in Alabama greatly multiplied beginning in the late 20th century. In the 1990s Alabama attracted its first automobile manufacturing plants, one near Tuscaloosa and the other near Talladega, both of which were built by foreign corporations. Others followed in the early 2000s.Services and taxationBirmingham has emerged as a financial and commercial centre, especially as the home of major state banks, regional utilities, national insurance companies, and international construction concerns. In its shift toward a service base, the city reflects the overall trend of Alabama's economy, where some three-fourths of nonagricultural jobs statewide are in the service sector.Alabama has generally low taxes on property and comparatively high taxes on consumption and spends a significant percentage of its total revenue on education, health and hospitals, welfare, and highways. Various programs in those areas, as well as in agriculture, conservation, urban development, and public works, are also supported by federal funds. Several institutions in Alabama are maintained by the federal government, including the Air University in Montgomery, the Marshall Space Flight Center and the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, several veterans' hospitals, and a part of the TVA operations.TransportationTogether, the six major rivers of Alabama provide about 1,300 miles (2,100 km) of navigable waterways. Mobile Bay has been deepened by a ship channel, and Mobile has developed into one of the country's top seaports. The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, a 234-mile (377-km) canal that opened in 1985, links two of the state's main river systems. Although railroad transportation, as elsewhere in the United States, has suffered a relative decline in Alabama, bus, truck, and airline traffic have increased in the state. Interstate highways link Alabama's major population centres and connect the state to the national highway system.Government and societyConstitutional frameworkAlabama is governed by a bicameral legislature and a governor and cabinet. The legislature consists of the Senate, with 35 members, and the House of Representatives, with 105 members, who meet annually in regular sessions; members of both chambers are elected for four-year terms. The constitution is a complex document dating from 1901, with hundreds of subsequent amendments. The chief administrative officers of the state, ranging from the governor to the state Board of Education, are also all elected for four-year terms. The state Supreme Court of nine elected members is the highest judicial body.At the county level the chief elected officials in Alabama are the county commissioners, judges of probate, tax assessors and collectors, and boards of education. In the municipalities there is no uniform system of government; the mayor-council form is most common, but some cities have a commission, and some employ a city manager.Alabama's penal system has been stretched well beyond capacity. Although the rate of imprisonment for violent crimes peaked in the early 1990s before beginning a steady decline, more citizens have been incarcerated for drug-related offenses. Alabama typically ranks among the top states for the highest murder rate per capita. The state built new prisons in the 1980s and '90s and for a time reinstituted a system of convicts working on state roads; the program was abandoned near the end of the 20th century.The Democratic Party of Alabama has long held political control of the state government, although there has been an increased Republican showing. In 1986 the state elected its first Republican governor since Reconstruction, and beginning in the 1990s, Republicans, usually from suburban areas, won places in the state legislature, on judicial benches, and in local government bodies. Even though the Democrats have continued to control the state legislature, most white Democratic representatives are fairly conservative in political orientation. At the national level, Republicans generally comprise the majority of the Alabama delegation, and Republican presidential candidates have won the state in most elections since 1964. African Americans holding public office had become well-established by the 1970s, with Birmingham electing its first African American mayor in 1979. Several political organizations have also helped increase African American participation in the political process.Health and welfareIn rural areas and within minority communities, educational and economic opportunities are fewer, and health and medical resources and services are less available. Some rural areas of the state continue to be plagued with high rates of infant mortality. Welfare payments in Alabama rank low by national standards. Penal institutions include several prisons and camps for youthful offenders.EducationElementary and secondary education in Alabama improved substantially in the latter half of the 20th century, though public schools in the state have continued to suffer from weak local funding resulting from the state's low property taxes. Teachers' salaries have been rising, but still rank among the lowest in the country. Rural schools receive less support than those in urban and metropolitan areas.Alabama has state-supported four-year colleges, private colleges and universities, a large network of junior colleges and trade schools, and, increasingly, online degree-granting institutions. The University of Alabama (Alabama, University of) system comprises the state's original college at Tuscaloosa and newer campuses in Huntsville and Birmingham, the latter being home to a nationally renowned medical centre. Auburn University and Alabama A & M (Agricultural and Mechanical) University, the state's two land-grant (land-grant college) institutions, provide the headquarters for agricultural extension work. Many African American college students are enrolled in historically black institutions, the best-known of which is Tuskegee University (founded in 1881), which was the home of its founder, Booker T. Washington (Washington, Booker T), and of the renowned agricultural chemist George Washington Carver (Carver, George Washington).Higher education in Alabama suffers from duplication of effort caused by the overabundance of institutions, which dilutes resources. This duplication was the product of both a dual system for racial separation that persisted into the 1960s and a tendency to build schools as political favours.Cultural lifeThe artsAlabama is rich in rural cultural traditions. Storytelling in particular has attracted the attention of folklore specialists, and quilt making is also a highly developed art. Sacred music, in the form of gospel ensembles and shape-note, or “fa-so-la,” singing, remains a vital part of Alabama's cultural life. The experiences of rural life have contributed important elements to various genres of American popular music, including ragtime, jazz, and country music. W.C. Handy (Handy, W.C.), noted for blending blues and ragtime into a new popular style in the early 20th century, and Hank Williams (Williams, Hank), a mid-20th-century pioneer of country music, are among Alabama's most musically influential progeny. During the 1960s and '70s, numerous hit records were made in studios in the Muscle Shoals region (a section of the Tennessee River in the northwest corner of the state).Several Alabama writers have won attention through their focus on local themes. Johnson J. Hooper, John Gorman Barr, and Joseph G. Baldwin were popular local-colour writers in the 19th century. Booker T. Washington and Helen Keller (Keller, Helen) wrote powerful and popular autobiographies in the early 20th century. The novelist William March made a distinguished literary contribution in his stories and novels in the 1930s and '40s, particularly Company K and The Looking Glass. T.S. Stribling, in a trilogy of realistic novels in the 1930s; Harper Lee (Lee, Harper), in To Kill a Mockingbird (1960); and Mary Ward Brown, in Tongues of Flame (1986), explored social conditions, especially racial issues, in critically acclaimed works.Cultural institutionsMajor art museums are found in Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile, and Birmingham, the latter containing an especially notable collection of American art. The George Washington Carver Museum at Tuskegee University has unique material on African American history. The Sloss Furnace Museum focuses on Birmingham's industrial history, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute documents the city's struggle with racial conflicts in the 20th century. The U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville chronicles the development of space travel, and the EarlyWorks Museum Complex exhibits Huntsville's early history.Special library collections include those on medical history at the University of Alabama Medical Center in Birmingham, the Booker T. Washington Collection of black history material at Tuskegee University, and the Alabama and Southern history material at the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery, founded in 1901 as the first such department established in the United States.Several historic places in Alabama are supervised by the state, including the Mound State Monument in Hale county, an important site of the prehistoric Mississippian (Mississippian culture) culture; and Fort Morgan, a Confederate fortress standing at the entrance to Mobile Bay. Alabama boasts many surviving examples of 19th-century residential architecture, perhaps most notably Gaineswood Mansion in Demopolis. The U.S. National Park Service maintains two national historic sites of significance to black history: Tuskegee Institute (1974) and Tuskegee Airmen (1998).Sports and recreationDistinctive festivals are celebrated in various places. Mobile's Mardi Gras (in February) is a major event, as are its springtime Azalea Trail garden tours and the annual America's Junior Miss pageant. Birmingham explores culture from across the globe in its annual International Festival. The town of Opp hosts a yearly Rattlesnake Rodeo that draws large participation. Most Alabama towns and cities sponsor historical pilgrimages in April to celebrate architectural survivals. The Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery offers professional productions of classic and modern plays.The state maintains many parks and several large public lakes. Waterskiing, boating, and stock-car racing rank among the most popular recreational activities among Alabamians. The Talladega Superspeedway attracts hundreds of thousands of auto-racing enthusiasts each year. College gridiron football, especially the teams fielded by Auburn University and the University of Alabama (the latter of which has captured or shared several national championships), elicits avid devotion from a large proportion of the state's residents.Media and publishingDaily newspapers are published in all of Alabama's major cities. The Birmingham News, the Birmingham Post-Herald, the Montgomery Advertiser, and the Mobile Register are among the state's leading newspapers, though none is distinctive for more than local or state reporting. Alabama is served by an extensive system of radio and television stations. Most commercial stations are now owned by out-of-state corporations. The state has a strong network of public television stations, a reflection of Alabama having established the country's first state-owned educational television network in 1955.HistoryEarliest peoplesThe present-day state of Alabama was originally inhabited by various indigenous peoples (Native American). Visible traces of their occupancy, which spanned nearly 10,000 years, may be seen at Dust Cave, a Paleo-Indian site; at Russell Cave, a site dating to the Archaic period; and at Moundsville, a Mississippian (Mississippian culture) site nestled in a series of large mounds that snake across the land. Many place-names in the state are of Native American origin, including the name Alabama itself, which derives from a word that perhaps means “thicket clearers.” The principal indigenous groups at the time of the initial European exploration of the region were the Chickasaw, in the northwest; the Cherokee, in the northeastern uplands; the Upper Creek, or Muskogee, in the centre and southeast; and the Choctaw, in the southwest.European rivalry, settlement, and growthThe first known European explorers were Spaniards, who arrived at Mobile Bay in 1519. The main thrust of exploration came in 1540, when Hernando de Soto (Soto, Hernando de) and his army of about 500 men entered the interior from the valley of the Tennessee River to search for gold. His expedition, which crisscrossed the area extensively, included the first European sighting of the Mississippi River and added greatly to European knowledge of southern indigenous cultures; it also opened the whole region to European settlement. A battle with the warriors of Choctaw chief Tuscaloosa, however, resulted in the slaughter of several thousand Native Americans in the area, one of the bloodiest single encounters between Europeans and indigenous peoples in North America. De Soto ultimately found no gold, and the Spaniards who followed him failed to establish settlements in Alabama.The ensuing 250 years were characterized by struggles among the French, British, and Spanish for control of the region, often in shifting alliances with the native peoples of the area. In 1702 the French founded the first permanent European settlement in Alabama, at Fort Louis, north of present-day Mobile. The British had also made a number of trips to the region from the Carolinas, but the French settlements—part of a string of forts arcing southward from Canada and designed to contain the British—were more numerous. Port Dauphin, on Dauphin Island, received the first Africans when a slave ship landed there in 1719.The Treaty of Paris (1763) (Paris, Treaty of) gave to Britain what was then the only settled part of Alabama, the Mobile area. In another Treaty of Paris (1783) (Paris, Treaty of), which officially ended the American Revolution, Spain gained Mobile, and the new United States received the rest of the territory now constituting the state. Then, in 1813, the United States, claiming Mobile as a part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, drove the Spanish out of the area and established authority throughout the state. In the meantime, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw had ceded some land by 1806. In 1814 Gen. Andrew Jackson (Jackson, Andrew) inflicted a decisive defeat on the Creek at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. The subsequent influx of white settlers and the institution of the cotton economy caused a rapid removal of the Native Americans to the west. The Creek cession of 1832 virtually ended the claims of indigenous peoples to territorial rights in Alabama. Although a small number of Creeks remain in the southern part of the state, most descendants of Alabama's original inhabitants live in Oklahoma.The antebellum periodAlabama was established as a separate territory in 1817 and became a state in 1819. By 1820 Alabama's population was more than 125,000, including about 500 free blacks. By 1830 there were 300,000 residents, nearly one-fifth of them slaves, and cotton was the principal cash crop. Until the Civil War, domestic politics centred on land policy, the banking system, the question of slavery, and the removal of indigenous peoples. The state suffered severely for almost a decade in the economic depression that followed the panic of 1837 financial crisis. During the late 1840s and '50s many efforts were made to create a more industrialized economy. Railroads, cotton manufacturing, and some mining were begun, though such efforts often suffered from a shortage of capital. The vast majority of investment remained in cotton and slaves. By 1860 the population was approaching one million; roughly half of the people were black, and all but 5 percent of the state's population was rural.The Civil War and its aftermathIn 1861 Alabama seceded from the Union and joined the Confederate States of America, which established its first capital in Montgomery. The state legislature conscripted soldiers and appropriated several million dollars for military operations and for the support of the families of soldiers. Some 35,000 of the 122,000 Alabamians who served in the war died. Following the collapse of the Confederacy and the refusal of the state legislature to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Constitution of the United States of America) (that granted citizenship to former slaves), Alabama was placed under military rule in 1867. The next year the state ratified a new constitution that protected the civil rights of black citizens, and Alabama was readmitted to the Union.From 1868 to 1874 the state was in political turmoil. To many white Alabamians the Reconstruction period was tragic, but to most black Alabamians it was a period of opportunity and hope. The Huntsville Advocate asserted, “This is a white man's government and a white man's state,” and the Ku Klux Klan used terror to enforce that view. Among white Alabamians, a struggle ensued between those who defied the notion of black people having political rights and power and those willing to cooperate with the black community and its Northern allies. Black Alabamians demanded access to education and were given it, but most of the white majority insisted that schools be racially separate. Although the black contingent participated in the constitutional conventions and in the state legislatures, its political power was not as strong as that of its counterparts in South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana. In 1874 the white Democrats of Alabama, most of whom had been supporters of the Confederacy, regained control of the state political machinery. Black Alabamians were rendered almost powerless until the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Throughout the period, however, some black citizens worked diligently to stimulate political activity, to enlighten and influence the white community, and to encourage the state and federal governments to guarantee political and social rights to those of African ancestry.In 1875 a state constitutional convention was held, and a new conservative constitution was ratified. Subsequent conservative political efforts centred on restricting black participation in government, reducing expenditures and state services, and fostering the expansion of railroads and industry. By 1901, when another state constitution was ratified—this one disenfranchising the black population—there was virtually no African American participation in government, and a tide of social and political reaction was in full flood.The economy recovered slowly from the devastation of the war. Sharecropping as a system of land tenure and labour relations emerged, and with it came an even greater dependence on a single crop: cotton. Depressed agricultural conditions fanned a populist revolt among small farmers in the 1890s. After 15 years of delay because of depression and capital shortages, cotton manufacturing and pig-iron production began to grow steadily in the state from about 1880. Despite a long interruption brought about by the depression of the 1890s, Alabama had by the turn of the 20th century become one of the more highly industrialized Southern states.Since 1900In 1900 Alabama was still largely rural. The onset of the boll weevil blight in 1915 seriously damaged its one-crop agriculture, forcing a diversification of the rural economy. Rural dwellers, mostly poor and black, embarked on the Great Migration, an exodus to Southern cities and to the North, where cheap foreign labour supplies had dried up during World War I. A factor in encouraging the out-migration of black Alabamians was the pattern of racial segregation under the Jim Crow (Jim Crow law) system, which was enforced legally and extralegally. The proportion of blacks in the state's population began a slow decline, which reduced their numbers to less than one-third of the total population by mid-century.The Great Depression of the 1930s made suffering virtually universal in the state. Many thousands of tenant farmers lost their credit when the price of cotton fell to its lowest point. Birmingham's industrial economy almost came to a standstill. Federal relief programs alleviated some problems, and the Tennessee Valley Authority created new economic activity in northern Alabama.The buildup of military spending in the state lifted the Alabama economy out of depression in the World War II years. Statewide, the war did more to encourage industrialization than any other historical factor. After the war the contributions of the federal government in support of agriculture and national defense, including the space program, and the provision of such services as road building, education, and welfare, helped to transform the state's economy. The mechanization of agriculture in the 1940s and '50s completed the revolution in the state's agricultural economy.Racial segregation (segregation, racial) nevertheless continued to give rigidity to the social framework of Alabama and effectively excluded the black population from political and economic power. The 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Board of Education (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka) decision declaring segregation in public education unconstitutional encouraged black Alabamians to work to improve race relations. Progress was nevertheless slow and bitter. The state acquired international significance as the site of such noteworthy civil rights (civil rights movement) actions as the bus boycott of 1955–56 in Montgomery, which introduced Martin Luther King, Jr. (King, Martin Luther, Jr.), to the country; the Freedom Rides of 1961; street demonstrations in Birmingham in 1963 in which commissioner of public safety Eugene (“Bull”) Connor turned fire hoses and police dogs on black protesters; Gov. George C. Wallace (Wallace, George C.)'s defiant attempt to stop the desegregation of the state university that same year; the death of four black children in an explosion that destroyed their Birmingham Sunday school, also in 1963; and the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.This period of black activism precipitated major revisions in U.S. federal law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 finally ended segregation in public accommodations and provided protection against some forms of employment discrimination. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed most means of limiting the political rights of blacks.As a result of these activities, African American citizens attained better access to public services, broader educational and economic opportunities, and freer political participation. By the early 21st century the proportion of registered black voters had increased dramatically, and African Americans have been elected in increasing numbers to state and local government positions. Job opportunities in some professions and in government have improved markedly for African Americans, though poverty in the state is still disproportionately high in black communities. Many professional and civic bodies and most schools have achieved a good measure of integration. Progress has been sometimes slow and incomplete but nevertheless significant. Symbolic of changing attitudes was, in 2007, Alabama's becoming the fourth state to apologize officially for its role in the institution of slavery.Charles Goode Gomillion Robert J. NorrellAdditional ReadingNeal G. Lineback and Charles T. Traylor, Atlas of Alabama (1973); DeLorme Mapping Company, Alabama Atlas & Gazetteer, 3rd ed. (2006); and Virginia O. Foscue, Place Names in Alabama (1989), are useful resources on geography and local history. Early works on society and culture include Carl Carmer, Stars Fell on Alabama (1934, reissued 1985), a report of selected observations and experiences while traveling in Alabama; and Clarence Cason, 90° in the Shade (1935, reprinted 1970), which includes observations on Southern people in their physical setting.Studies of the state's history include William Warren Rogers et al., Alabama: The History of a Deep South State (1994); Robert J. Norrell, The Alabama Journey (1998); Thomas Perkins Abernathy, The Formative Period in Alabama, 1815–1828, 2nd ed. (1965), the story of Alabama as a part of the Mississippi Territory; J. Mills Thornton III, Politics and Power in a Slave Society: Alabama, 1800–1860 (1978), on the decades leading to the Civil War; Walter L. Fleming, Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama (1905, reprinted 1978), which includes an account of the factors leading to the secession of Alabama from the Union in 1861; and Allen J. Going, Bourbon Democracy in Alabama, 1874–1890 (1951, reprinted 1972). Historical discussions of race relations are provided in Peter Kolchin, First Freedom: The Response of Alabama's Blacks to Emancipation and Reconstruction (1972); Robert J. Norrell, Reaping the Whirlwind: The Civil Rights Movement in Tuskegee (1985, reprinted 1998); and Dan T. Carter, Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South, rev. ed. (1979).Robert J. Norrell
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