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State of Alabama

ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Probably after the Alabama Indian tribe.

NICKNAME: The Heart of Dixie.

CAPITAL: Montgomery.

ENTERED UNION: 14 December 1819 (22nd).

SONG: "Alabama."

MOTTO: Aldemus jura nostra defendere (We dare defend our rights).

COAT OF ARMS: Two eagles, symbolizing courage, support a shield bearing the emblems of the five governments (France, England, Spain, Confederacy, US) that have held sovereignty over Alabama. Above the shield is a sailing vessel modeled upon the ships of the first French settlers of Alabama; beneath the shield is the state motto.

FLAG: Crimson cross of St. Andrew on a square white field.

OFFICIAL SEAL: The map of Alabama, including names of major rivers and neighboring states, surrounded by the words "Alabama Great Seal."

BIRD: Yellowhammer.

FISH: Tarpon.

FLOWER: Camellia.

TREE: Southern (longleaf) pine.

GEM: Star Blue Quartz.

LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthdays of Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King, Jr., 3rd Monday in January; George Washington's/Thomas Jefferson's Birthdays, 3rd Monday in February; Mardi Gras, February or March; Confederate Memorial Day, 4th Monday in April; Jefferson Davis's Birthday, 1st Monday in June; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Columbus Day/American Indian Heritage Day, 2nd Monday in October; Veterans Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Day, 25 December.

TIME: 6 AM CST = noon GMT.


Located in the eastern south-central United States, Alabama ranks 29th in size among the 50 states.

The total area of Alabama is 51,705 sq mi (133,915 sq km), of which land constitutes 50,767 sq mi (131,486 sq km) and inland water, 938 sq mi (2,429 sq km). Alabama extends roughly 200 mi (320 km) e-w; the maximum n-s extension is 300 mi (480 km). Alabama is bordered on the n by Tennessee; on the e by Georgia (with part of the line formed by the Chattahoochee River); on the s by Florida (with part of the line defined by the Perdido River) and the Gulf of Mexico; and on the w by Mississippi (with the northernmost part of the line passing through the Tennessee River).

Dauphin Island, in the Gulf of Mexico, is the largest offshore island. The total boundary length of Alabama is 1,044 mi (1,680 km). The state's geographic center is in Chilton County, 12 mi (19 km) sw of Clanton.


Alabama is divided into four major physiographic regions: the Gulf Coastal Plain, Piedmont Plateau, Ridge and Valley section, and Appalachian (or Cumberland) Plateau. The physical characteristics of each province have significantly affected settlement and industrial development patterns within the state.

The coastal plain, comprising the southern half of Alabama, consists primarily of lowlands and low ridges. Included within the coastal plain is the Black Belthistorically, the center of cotton production and plantation slavery in Alabamaan area of rich, chalky soil that stretches across the entire width of central Alabama. Just to the north, the piedmont of east-central Alabama contains rolling hills and valleys. Alabama's highest elevation, Cheaha Mountain, 2,405 ft (733 m) above sea level, is located at the northern edge of this region. North and west of the piedmont is a series of parallel ridges and valleys running in a northeast-southwest direction. Mountain ranges in this area include the Red, Shades, Oak, Lookout, and other noteworthy southern extensions of the Appalachian chain; elevations of 1,200 ft (366 m) are found as far south as Birmingham. The Appalachian Plateau covers most of northwestern Alabama, with a portion of the Highland Rim in the extreme north near the Tennessee border. The floodplain of the Tennessee River cuts a wide swath across both these northern regions. The lowest point in the state is at sea level at the Gulf of Mexico. The mean elevation of the state is approximately 500 ft (153 m).

The largest lake wholly within Alabama is Guntersville Lake, covering about 108 sq mi (280 sq km) and formed during the development of the Tennessee River region by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The TVA lakesalso including Wheeler, Pickwick, and Wilsonare all long and narrow, fanning outward along a line that runs from the northeast corner of the state westward to Florence. Wetlands cover about 10% of the state.

The longest rivers are the Alabama, extending from the mid-central region to the Mobile River for a distance of about 160 mi (260 km); the Tennessee, which flows across northern Alabama for about the same distance; and the Tombigbee, which flows south from north-central Alabama for some 150 mi (240 km). The Alabama and Tombigbee rivers, which come together to form the Mobile River, and the Tensaw River flow into Mobile Bay, an arm of the Gulf of Mexico. The Mobile River, which has its source in Tickanetley Creek, Georgia, has a total length of 774 mi (1,246 km) and is the twentieth longest river in the country.

About 450 million years ago, Alabama was covered by a warm, shallow sea. Over millions of years, heavy rains washed gravel, sand, and clay from higher elevations onto the rock floor of the sea to help form the foundation of modern Alabama. The skeletons and shells of sea animals, composed of limy material from rocks that had been worn away by water, settled into great thicknesses of limestone and dolomite. Numerous caves and sinkholes formed as water slowly eroded the limestone subsurface of northern Alabama. Archaeologists believe that Russell Cave, in northeastern Alabama, was the earliest site of human habitation in the southeastern US. Other major caves in northern Alabama are Manitou and Sequoyah; near Childersburg is DeSoto Caverns, a huge onyx cave once considered a sacred place by Creek Indians.

Wheeler Dam on the Tennessee River is now a national historic monument. Other major dams include Guntersville, Martin, Millers Ferry, Jordan, Mitchell, and Holt.


Alabama's three climatic divisions are the lower coastal plain, largely subtropical and strongly influenced by the Gulf of Mexico; the northern plateau, marked by occasional snowfall in winter; and the Black Belt and upper coastal plain, lying between the two extremes. Among the major population centers, Birmingham has an annual average temperature of 63°f (17°c), with an average July daily maximum of 90°f (32°c) and a normal January daily minimum of 33°f (1°c). Montgomery has an annual average of 65°f (18°c), with a normal July daily average maximum of 92°f (33°c) and a normal January daily minimum of 37°f (2°c). The average in Mobile is 67°f (19°c), with a normal July daily maximum of 91°f (33°c) and a normal January daily minimum of 41°f (5°c). The record low temperature for the state is 27°f (33°c), registered at New Market, in the northeastern corner, on 30 January 1966; the all-time high is 112°f (44°c), registered at Centerville, in the state's midsection, on 5 September 1925. Mobile, one of the rainiest cities in the United States, recorded an average precipitation of 66.3 in (168 cm) a year between 1971 and 2000.

Its location on the Gulf of Mexico leaves the coastal region open to the effects of hurricanes. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina swept through the region, causing two deaths in Mobile, extensive flooding, and power outages for over 300,000 people.


Alabama was once covered by vast forests of pine, which still form the largest proportion of the state's forest growth. Alabama also has an abundance of poplar, cypress, hickory, oak, and various gum trees. Red cedar grows throughout the state; southern white cedar is found in the southwest, hemlock in the north. Other native trees include hackberry, ash, and holly, with species of palmetto and palm in the Gulf Coast region. There are more than 150 shrubs, mountain laurel and rhododendron among them. Cultivated plants include wisteria and camellia, the state flower.

In a state where large herds of bison, elk, bear, and deer once roamed, only the white-tailed deer remains abundant. Other mammals still found are the Florida panther, bobcat, beaver, muskrat, and most species of weasel. The fairly common raccoon, opossum, rabbit, squirrel, and red and gray foxes are also native, while nutria and armadillo have been introduced to the state. Alabama's birds include golden and bald eagles, osprey and various other hawks, yellowhammers or flickers (the state bird), and black and white warblers; game birds include quail, duck, wild turkey, and geese. Freshwater fish such as bream, shad, bass, and sucker are common. Along the Gulf Coast there are seasonal runs of tarpon (the state fish), pompano, redfish, and bonito.

In April 2006, a total of 96 species occurring within the state were on the threatened and endangered species list of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. These included 79 animals, the Alabama beach mouse, gray bat, Alabama red-belly turtle, finback and humpback whales, bald eagle, and wood stork among them, and 17 plant species.


Under the 1982 Alabama Environmental Management Act, the Alabama Environmental Management Commission was created and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) was established. The ADEM absorbed several commissions, programs, and agencies that had been responsible for Alabama's environment.

The Environmental Management Commission, whose seven members are appointed to six-year terms by the governor and approved by the Alabama Senate, is charged with managing the state's land, air, and water resources. The ADEM administers all major federal environmental requirements including the Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and solid and hazardous waste laws. The most active environmental groups in the state are the Alabama Environmental Council, Sierra Club, League of Women Voters, Alabama Audubon Council, and Alabama Rivers Alliance.

Major concerns of environmentalists in the state are the improvement of land-use planning and the protection of ground-water. Another issue is the transportation, storage, and disposal of hazardous wastes. In 2003, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) database listed 258 hazardous waste sites. As of 2006, 13 of these sites were on the National Priorities List; Alabama Plating Co. and Capitol City Plume were proposed sites. One of the nation's five largest commercial hazardous waste sites is in Emelle, in Sumter County. In 2005, the EPA allotted over $2.6 million through the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state. Alabama's solid waste stream is about 4.500 million tons a year (1.10 tons per capita). There are 108 municipal landfills and 8 curbside recycling programs in the state. Air quality is generally satisfactory. But in 2003, 118.4 million lb of toxic chemicals were released by the state. In 2005, federal EPA grants awarded to the state included over $20 million for clean water projects.


Alabama ranked 23rd in population among the 50 states in 2005 with an estimated total of 4,557,808, an increase of 2.5% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Alabama's population grew from 4,040,587 to 4,447,100, an increase of 10.1%. The population is projected to reach 4,663,111 by 2015 and 4,800,092 by 2025.

In 2004 the median age was 37. Persons under 18 years old accounted for 24.2% of the population, while 13.2% was age 65 or older.

Alabama experienced its greatest population growth between 1810 and 1820, following the defeat of the Creek Nation by General Andrew Jackson and his troops. Population in what is now Alabama boomed from 9,046 in 1810 to 127,901 in 1820, as migrants from older states on the eastern seaboard poured into the territory formerly occupied by the Creek Indians. Thousands of farmers, hoping to find fertile land or to become wealthy cotton planters, brought their families and often their slaves into the young state, more than doubling Alabama's population between 1820 and 1830. By 1860, Alabama had almost 1,000,000 residents, nearly one-half of whom were black slaves. The Civil War brought Alabama's population growth almost to a standstill, largely because of heavy losses on the battlefield. The total population gain between 1860 and 1870 was only about 30,000, whereas between 1870 and 1970, Alabama's population rose by 150,000-300,000 every decade. During the 1980s the population increased 148,000.

In 2004, Alabama had a population density of 89.3 persons per sq mi. First in size among Alabama's metropolitan areas comes greater Birmingham, which had an estimated 1,082,193 residents in July 2004. Other major metropolitan areas were Greater Mobile, 400,526; Greater Montgomery, 355,181; and Greater Huntsville, 362,459. The city of Birmingham proper was Alabama's largest city, with an estimated 233,149 residents in 2004; Montgomery had 200,983, and Mobile had 192,759.


Alabama's population is largely divided between whites of English and Scotch-Irish descent and blacks descended from African slaves. The 2000 census counted about 22,430 American Indians (up from 17,000 in 1990), or 0.5% of the total population, mostly of Creek or Cherokee descent. Creek Indians are centered around the small community of Poarch in southern Alabama; most of the Cherokee live in the northeastern part of the state, where the Cherokee reservation had 12,294 residents as of 2000. In 2004, 0.5% of Alabama's population was American Indian.

The black population of Alabama in 2000 numbered 1,155,930, or about 26% of the total population. In 2004, the black population of Alabama amounted to 26.4% of the total population. As before the Civil War, rural blacks are most heavily represented in the Black Belt of central Alabama.

In 2000, the Asian population totaled 31,346, or less than 1% of the total, and Pacific Islanders numbered 1,409; in the same year, the population of Hispanic or Latino descent totaled 75,830, up from 43,000 in 1990, an increase from 1% to 1.7% of the total population within the decade. In 2000, Alabama had 6,900 Asian Indians (up from 3,686 in 1990), 4,116 Koreans, and 6,337 Chinese (up from 3,529 in 1990). All told, the foreign born numbered 87,772 (2% of the state's population) in 2000, up from 1% 10 years earlier. Among persons reporting a single ancestry group, the leaders were Irish, 343,254 (down from 617,065 in 1990), and English, 344,735 (down from 479,499 in 1990). In 2004, 0.8% of the population of Alabama was Asian, 2.2% of the population was of Hispanic or Latino origin, and 0.9% of the population reported origins of two or more races.

Alabama's Cajuns, of uncertain racial origin (Anglo-Saxon, French, Spanish, Choctaw, Apache, and African elements may all be represented), are ethnically unrelated to the Cajuns of Louisiana. Thought to number around 10,000, they live primarily in the pine woods area of upper Mobile and lower Washington counties. Many Alabama Cajuns suffer from poverty, poor health, and malnutrition.


Four Indian tribesthe Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Cherokeeoccupied the four quarters of Alabama as white settlement began, but by treaty agreement they were moved westward between 1814 and 1835, leaving behind such place-names as Alabama, Talladega, Mobile, and Tuscaloosa.

Alabama English is predominantly Southern, with a transition zone between it and a smaller area into which South Midland speech was taken across the border from Tennessee. Some features common to both dialects occur throughout the state, such as croker sack (burlap bag), batter cakes (made of cornmeal), harp (harmonica), and snap beans. In the major Southern speech region are found the decreasing loss of final /r/, the /boyd/ pronunciation of bird, soft peach (freestone), press peach (clingstone), mosquito hawk (dragonfly), fire dogs (andirons), and gopher (burrowing turtle). In the northern third of the state are found South Midland arm and barb rhyming with form and orb, redworm (earthworm), peckerwood (woodpecker), snake doctor and snake feeder (dragonfly), tow sack (burlap bag), plum peach (clingstone), French harp (harmonica), and dog irons (andirons).

Alabama has experienced only minor foreign immigration, and in 2000, 96.1% of all residents five years old or older spoke only English at home, a slight decrease over the 97.1% recorded in 1990.

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "African languages" includes Amharic, Ibo, Twi, Yoruba, Bantu, Swahili, and Somali.

Population 5 years and over 4,152,278 100.0
  Speak only English 3,989,795 96.1
  Speak a language other than English 162,483 3.9
Speak a language other than English 162,483 3.9
  Spanish or Spanish Creole 89,729 2.2
  German 14,905 0.4
  French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 13,656 0.3
  Chinese 5,271 0.1
  Vitnamese 4,561 0.1
  Korean 4,029 0.1
  Arabic 2,620 0.1
  African languages 2,306 0.1
  Japanese 2,201 0.1
  Italian 2,158 0.1


Although predominantly Baptist today, Alabama was officially Roman Catholic throughout most of the 18th century, under French and Spanish rule. A century passed between the building of the first Catholic Church in 1702 and the earliest sustained efforts by Protestant evangelists. The first Baptist church in the state, the Flint River Church in Madison County, was organized in 1808; the following year, the Old Zion Methodist Church was founded in the Tombigbee area.

During the second decade of the 19th century, settlers from the southeastern states brought the influence of the Great Revival to Alabama, along with the various Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist sects that had developed in its wake. The first black church in Alabama probably dates from 1820. As in other southern states, black slaves who had previously attended the churches of their masters formed their own churches after the Civil War. One of the earliest of these, the Little Zion Methodist Church, was established in 1867 in Mobile. Most freed blacks became Baptists, however.

The vast majority of congregations in the state belong in the category of Evangelical Protestants. As of 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention was the fastest growing and the largest denomination within the state, with 1,380,121 adherents and 3,148 congregations, representing an increase of 83 congregations since 1990. In 2002, an additional 24,454 members joined the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2003, the United Methodist Church claimed 306,289 adherents with 1,505 congregations in all state conferences (which include some congregations in West Florida). In 2004, there were 140,365 Roman Catholics in the state. The Church of Christ had 119,049 adherents in 2000 and 895 congregations. The same year there were an estimated 9,100 Jews. About 45.2% of the population did not specify a religious affiliation.

The national headquarters of the Women's Missionary Union of the Southern Baptist Conference is located in Birmingham. The organization was founded in 1888 and is one of the largest Protestant women's mission organizations in the world, with about 1 million members.


The first rail line in the statethe Tuscumbia Railroad, chartered in 1830made its first run, 44 mi (71 km) around the Muscle Shoals from Tuscumbia to Decatur, on 15 December 1834. By 1852, however, Alabama had only 165 mi (266 km) of track, less than most other southern states. Further development awaited the end of the Civil War. Birmingham, as planned by John T. Milner, chief engineer of the South and North Railroad, was founded in 1871 as a railroad intersection in the midst of Alabama's booming mining country; it subsequently became the state's main rail center, followed by Mobile. As of 2003, Alabama had 3,735 total rail mi (6,013 km) of track, of which the state's five Class I railroads accounted for 2,900 rail mi (4,690 km). In that same year, coal accounted for the largest portion of all commodities (by weight) shipped by rail. As of 2006, Amtrak passenger service connected Birmingham, Anniston, and Tuscaloosa with Washington and New Orleans. Other passenger service included a route connecting Mobile with Jacksonville, Florida and New Orleans.

In settlement days the principal roads into Alabama were the Federal Road, formerly a Creek horse path, from Georgia and South Carolina; and the Natchez Trace, bought by the federal government (1801) from the Choctaw and Chickasaw, leading from Kentucky and Tennessee. Throughout most of the 19th century, road building was in the hands of private companies. Only after the establishment of a state highway department in 1911 and the securing of federal aid for rural road building in 1916 did Alabama begin to develop modern road systems.

As of 2004 there were 95,483 mi (151,778 km) of public streets, roads, and highways. In the same year, the state had 1.677 million registered automobiles, 2.778 million trucks of all types, and some 3,000 buses. There were 3.613 million licensed drivers in 2004. Most of the major interstate highways in Alabama intersect at Birmingham: I-65, running from the north to Montgomery and Mobile; and I-59 from the northeast and I-20 from the east, which, after merging at Birmingham, run southwestward to Tuscaloosa and into Mississippi. Route I-85 connects Montgomery with Atlanta; and I-10 connects Mobile with New Orleans and Tallahassee, FL.

The coming of the steamboat to Alabama waters, beginning in 1818, stimulated settlement in the Black Belt; however, the high price of shipping cotton by water contributed to the eventual displacement of the steamboat by the railroad. Thanks to the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Tennessee River has been transformed since the 1930s into a year-round navigable waterway, with three locks and dams in Alabama. The 234-mi (377-km), $2-billion Tennessee-Tombigbee project, which opened in 1985, provided a new barge route, partly through Alabama, from the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico, for which the US Army Corps of Engineers cut a 39-mi (63-km) canal and built 10 locks and dams. This was not only the largest civilian engineering project in the United States during the early 1980s but also by far the largest earth-moving project in US history, displacing more earth than was moved to build the Panama Canal.

The Alabama-Coosa and Black Warrior-Tombigbee systems also have been made navigable by locks and dams. River barges are used to carry bulk cargoes. There are 1,270 mi (2,043 km) of navigable inland waterways and 50 mi (80 km) of Gulf coast. The only deepwater port is Mobile, with a large oceangoing trade. As of 2004, Mobile was the 11th-busiest port in the United States, handling a total of 56.211 million tons. Total waterborne tonnage for the state in 2003 was 72.65 million tons. The Alabama State Docks also operates a system of 10 inland docks; and there are several privately run inland docks.

In 2005, Alabama had a total of 277 public and private-use aviation-related facilities. This included 182 airports, 90 heliports, one STOLport (Short Take-Off and Landing), and four seaplane bases. The state's largest and busiest airport is Birmingham International Airport. In 2004, the airport had 1,498,651 enplanements.


The region now known as Alabama has been inhabited for some 9,000-10,000 years. The earliest evidence of human habitation, charcoal from an ancient campfire at Russell Cave in northeastern Alabama, is about 9,000 years old. These early peoples, probably descended from humans who crossed from Asia to North America via the Bering Strait, moved from caves and open campsites to permanent villages about ad 1000. Some of their descendants, popularly called Mound Builders, erected huge earthen temple mounds and simple huts along Alabama's rivers, beginning around 1100. Moundville (near Tuscaloosa), one of the most important Mound Builder sites in the southeastern US, includes 20 "platform mounds" for Indian buildings, dating from 1200 to 1500. When the first Europeans arrived, Alabama was inhabited by Indians, half of them either Creek or members of smaller groups living within the Creek confederacy. The Creeks resided in central and eastern Alabama; Cherokee Indians inhabited northeastern Alabama, the Chickasaws lived in the northwest, and the Choctaws settled in the southwest.

During the 16th century, five Spanish expeditions entered Mobile Bay or explored the region now called Alabama. The most extensive was that of Hernando de Soto, whose army marched from the Tennessee Valley to the Mobile Delta in 1540. In 1702, two French naval officersPierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville; and Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienvilleestablished Ft. Louis de la Mobile, the first permanent European settlement in present-day Alabama. Mobile remained in French hands until 1763, when it was turned over to the British under the terms of the Treaty of Paris. Because a British garrison held Mobile during the American Revolution, that city was captured in 1780 by the forces of Spain, an ally of the rebellious American colonists. In 1803, the United States claimed the city as part of the Louisiana Purchase, but in vain. Spanish control of Mobile lasted until the city was again seized during the War of 1812, this time by American troops in 1813. West Florida, including Mobile, was the only territory added to the United States as a result of that war.

At the start of the 19th century, Indians still held most of present-day Alabama. War broke out in 1813 between American settlers and a Creek faction known as the Red Sticks, who were determined to resist white encroachment. After General Andrew Jackson and his Tennessee militia crushed the Red Sticks in 1814 at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in central Alabama, he forced the Creek to sign a treaty ceding some 40,000 sq mi (103,600 sq km) of land to the United States, thereby opening about three-fourths of the present state to white settlement. By 1839, nearly all Alabama Indians had been removed to Indian Territory.

From 1814 onward, pioneers, caught up by what was called "Alabama fever," poured out of the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky into what Andrew Jackson called "the best unsettled country in America." Wealthy migrants came in covered wagons, bringing their slaves, cattle, and hogs. But the great majority of pioneers were ambitious farmers who moved to the newly opened area in hopes of acquiring fertile land on which to grow cotton. Cotton's profitability had increased enormously with the invention of the cotton gin. In 1817, Alabama became a territory; on 2 August 1819, a state constitution was adopted; and on the following 14 December, Alabama was admitted to statehood. Alabama, then as now, was sparsely populated. In 1819, its residents comprised 1.3% of the US population. That percentage had grown to only 2% in 1980, but by 2004, the percentage had increased to 6.5%.

During the antebellum era, 95% of white Alabamians lived and worked in rural areas, primarily as farmers. Although "Cotton was king" in 19th-century Alabama, farmers also grew corn, sorghum, oats, and vegetables, as well as razorback hogs and cattle. By 1860, 80% of Alabama farmers owned the land they tilled. Only about 33% of all white Alabamians were slave owners. Whereas in 1820 there were 85,451 free whites and 41,879 slaves, by 1860 the number of slaves had increased to 435,080, constituting 45% of the state population. Large planters (owners of 50 slaves or more) made up less than 1% of Alabama's white population in 1860. However, they owned 28% of the state's total wealth and occupied 25% of the seats in the legislature. Although the preponderance of the wealth and the population in Alabama was located in the north, the success of Black Belt plantation owners at forging coalitions with industrialists enabled planters to dominate state politics both before and after the Civil War. The planters led the secessionist movement, and most other farmers, fearing the consequences of an end to slavery, eventually followed suit. However, 2,500 white Alabamians served in the Union Army and an estimated 8,000-10,000 others acted as Union scouts, deserted Confederate units, or hid from conscription agents.

Alabama seceded from the Union in January 1861 and shortly thereafter joined the Confederate States of America. The Confederacy was organized in Alabama's Senate chamber in Montgomery, and Jefferson Davis was inaugurated president on the steps of the capitol. Montgomery served as capital of the Confederacy until May, when the seat of government was moved to Richmond, VA.

Remote from major theaters of war, Alabama experienced only occasional Union raids during the first three years of the conflict. In the summer of 1864, however, Confederate and Union ships fought a major naval engagement in Mobile Bay, which ended in surrender by the outnumbered southern forces. During the Confederacy's dying days in the spring of 1865, federal troops swept through Tuscaloosa, Selma, and Montgomery. Their major goal, Selma, one of the Confederacy's main industrial centers, was left almost as heavily devastated as Richmond or Atlanta. Estimates of the number of Alabamians killed in the Civil War range from 25,000 upward.

During Reconstruction, Alabama was under military rule until it was readmitted to the Union in 1868. For the next six years, Republicans held most top political positions in the state. With the help of the Ku Klux Klan, Democrats regained political control of the state in November 1874.

Cotton remained the foundation of the Alabama economy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, with the abolition of slavery it was now raised by sharecropperswhite and black landless farmers who paid for the land they rented from planters with the cotton they harvested. Alabama also attempted to create a "New South" in which agriculture would be balanced by industry. In the 1880s and 1890s, at least 20 Alabama towns were touted as ironworking centers. Birmingham, founded in 1871, became the New South's leading industrial center. Its promoters invested in pig iron furnaces, coal mines, steel plants, and real estate. Small companies merged with bigger ones, which were taken over, in turn, by giant corporations. In 1907, Birmingham's Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Co. was purchased by the nation's largest steelmaker, US Steel.

Another major Alabama enterprise was cotton milling. By 1900, 9,000 men, women, and children were employed in Alabama mills; most of these white workers were farm folk who had lost their land after the Civil War because of mounting debts and low cotton prices. Wages in mills were so low that entire families had to work hours as long as those they had endured as farmers.

The rise in the rate of farm tenancy produced a corresponding increase in social and political unrest. Discontented farmers and factory workers allied during the 1890s in the Populist Party in an attempt to overthrow the Bourbon Democrats, who had dominated Alabama politics for two decades. Although a number of Populists were elected to the Alabama legislature, no Populist candidate succeeded in winning the governorship, primarily because Democrats manipulated the black vote to their own advantage. In 1901, Alabama adopted a new state constitution containing numerous restrictions on voting, supposedly to end vote manipulation and restore honest elections. The tangible result of these new rules was to disenfranchise almost all Alabama black voters and thousands of poor whites. For example, the total number of blacks registered in 14 counties fell from 78,311 in 1900 to 1,081 in 1903. As recently as 1941, fewer than 25% of Alabama adults were registered voters. In 1960, no blacks voted in Lowndes or Wilcox counties, which were 80% and 78% black, respectively.

As one of the poorest states in the country, Alabama benefited disproportionately from the New Deal. Yet, like other southern states, Alabama viewed the expansion of the national government's role with mixed feelings. Alabamians embraced federal aid, even lobbying for military bases, while seeing federal power as a threat to the "southern way of life," which included racial segregation.

During the 1950s and 1960s, national attention focused on civil rights demonstrations in Alabama, including the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955, the Birmingham and University of Alabama demonstrations of 1963, and the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. The primary antagonists were Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Governor George C. Wallace, an opponent of integration. These black protests and the sometimes violent reactions to them, such as the 1963 bombing of a church in Birmingham in which four young black girlsDenise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Rosamond Robertson, and Addie Mae Collinswere killed, helped influence the US Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Four former Ku Klux Klansmen were suspects in the church bombing: Robert E. Chambliss, Bobby Frank Cherry, Herman Frank Cash, and Thomas E. Blanton Jr. In 1977, Robert Chambliss was convicted of the murders and was sentenced to a life term. He died in prison in 1985. Suspect Herman Cash died in 1994, without having been charged of the crime. Blanton and Cherry were indicted on four counts each of first-degree and reckless murder in 2000. Cherry was subsequently ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial, but Blanton was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder in 2001, and sentenced to four life terms. Cherry was later deemed competent to stand trial, and in 2002, he was convicted and sentenced to an automatic life term in prison. Cherry died in 2004.

Once the most tightly segregated city in the nation, Birmingham has become thoroughly integrated in public facilities, and in 1979 the city elected its first black mayor, Richard Arrington. The civil rights era brought other momentous changes to Alabama. Hundreds of thousands of black voters are now an important force in state politics. Blacks attend school, colleges, and universities of their choice and enjoy equal access to all public facilities. On the whole, new racial attitudes among most whites have contributed to a vast improvement in the climate of race relations since 1960. Indeed, a significant amount of black support contributed to Wallace's election to a fourth term as governor in 1982. When he died in September 1998 he was given a full state funeral and his family received condolences from black leaders. In 1984 there were 314 black elected officials, including 25 mayors, 19 lawmakers in the Alabama state legislature, and an associate justice of the state supreme court. In 1990, 704 blacks held elective office, and by 2001, the number had increased to 756.

In many respects Alabama has resisted change more successfully than any other state in the Deep South. The state's tax system remains the most regressive in the country. In 1982, the state legislature passed a law prohibiting taxation at market value of land owned by timber companies (timber comprises the state's largest industry). Alabama does not use property taxes to fund schools; instead, public education revenue is derived principally from state income tax (54.6% in 2004) and sales tax (31.9% in 2004). In the late 1990s, the state worked to increase teachers' salaries and bring other measures in line with national education statistics. Alabama has had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation, owing in part to widespread poverty. (Alabama and West Virginia were tied for 43rd out of the 50 states in terms of general health and health care in 2004.) Though Alabama's poverty rate steadily declined during the last decades of the 1900s, it remained among the nation's poorer states. In 1969, 25.4% of Alabamians lived below federal poverty levels. By 1989 the figure dropped to 18.3%, and in 1998, it decreased to an estimated 15%, which was still the 13th-highest rate in the nation. By the end of the millennium, 16% of Alabamians lived in poverty, compared to 12.4% of the US population. Alabama is the only state to tax residents earning less than $5,000 a year. The poorest families in the state pay about 11% of their earnings in income, sales, and other local taxes.

A strange turn of events in 1986 resulted in the election of the first Republican governor since Reconstruction. The Democratic candidate, state attorney general Charles Graddick, was stripped of his party's nomination by a federal panel because of crossover Republican voting in the Democratic primary. His replacement, Lieutenant Governor Bill Baxley, lost the election to a little-known pro-business Republican and former Baptist preacher, Guy Hunt. Hunt was reelected in 1990 but was confronted early in his second term with accusations of financial misdeeds, including personal use of official resources and mismanagement of public funds. In 1992, Hunt was indicted on 13 separate felony counts. The following year, he was found guilty of fraud and conspiracy charges and forced to resign the governorship, becoming the fourth governor in the nation's history to be convicted of criminal charges while in office.

In 1999, Alabama received the second largest surplus in the history of the state; the $57 million budget surplus was credited to tight controls over agency spending. In 2003, the state had a $675 million budget deficit, and Governor Bob Riley proposed a $1.2 billion tax increase, raising individual and corporate taxes by $461 million and local and state property taxes by $465 million. In a September 2003 referendum, Alabama voters rejected Riley's tax increase; only 33% of voters cast their ballots in favor of the plan.

Alabama was severely affected by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. An original six Alabama counties (Baldwin, Mobile, Washington, Clarke, Choctaw, and Sumter) were declared by President George W. Bush to be federal disaster areas. Later, President Bush approved Governor Riley's request to add more Alabama counties to the federal disaster relief list: residents of Greene, Hale, Pickens, and Tuscaloosa were deemed eligible for individual assistance, and Hale, Jefferson, Marengo, and Tuscaloosa counties were deemed eligible for infrastructure assistance due to storm damage.


Alabama has had six constitutions, the most recent one dating from 1901. By January 2005 that document had been amended 766 times. In 2002, amid calls for a constitutional convention, voters approved a constitutional amendment providing that no constitution could be adopted without voter approval.

Alabama's bicameral legislature consists of a 35-seat Senate and a 105-seat House of Representatives, all of whose members are elected at the same time for four-year terms. Legislative sessions are held each year, convening on the second Tuesday in January in general election years, on the first Tuesday in March in years following general election years, and on the first Tuesday in February all other years. (There is a legal provision for an organizational session prior to the stated convening dateon the second Tuesday in January for ten calendar days in the year following a general election.) Session length is limited to 30 legislative days in 105 calendar days. Only the governor may call special sessions, which are limited to 12 legislative days in 30 calendar days. Senators must be at least 25 years old; representatives, 21. Legislators must have resided in the state for at least three years before election and in the district forat least one year. Under federal pressure, in 1983 the legislature approved a reapportionment plan, effective in 1986, that was expected to increase black representation. In 2004, Alabama's legislators received a per diem salary of $10 during regular sessions; each member was also paid $50 per diem for the performance of his or her duties as a member of any authorized interim legislative committee or subcommittee, and $75 for attendance for any other legislative business. Legislators in 2004 received living expenses in the amount of $2,280 per month plus $50 per day for the three days per week that the legislature actually meets. Legislators' terms of office begin on the day after election and expire on the day after election four years later.

State elected officials are the governor and lieutenant governor (separately elected), secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor, and commissioner of agriculture and industries. The governor, who serves for four years, must be at least thirty years old and must have been a US citizen for ten years and a citizen of the state for seven. The governor is limited to a maximum of two consecutive terms. As of December 2004, Alabama's governor earned a salary of $96,361, and was entitled to reimbursement of travel expenses.

Alabama Presidential Vote by Political Parties, 19482004
*Won US presidential election.
1948 11 Thurmond (SRD) 40,930 171,443 1,026 1,522
1952 11 Stevenson (D) 275,075 149,231 1,814
1956 11 Stevenson (D) 279,542 195,694 20,323
1960 11 *Kennedy (D) 318,303 236,110 4,367
1964 10 Goldwater (R) 479,085 210,782
1968 10 Wallace (Al) 195,918 146,591 687,664 3,814 10,518
1972 9 *Nixon (R) 256,923 728,701 11,928 8,559
1976 9 *Carter (D) 659,170 504,070 9,198 6,669 1,954
1980 9 *Reagan (R) 636,730 654,192
1984 9 *Reagan (R) 551,899 872,849 9,504
1988 9 *Bush (R) 549,506 815,576 8,460 3,311
IND. (Perot)
1992 9 Bush (R) 690,080 804,283 5,737 2,161 183,109
1996 9 Dole (R) 662,165 769,044 5,290 92,149
IND. (Buchanan) IND. (Nader)
2000 9 *Bush, G. W. (R) 692,611 941,173 5,893 6,351 18,323
IND. (Badnarik) IND. (Peroutka)
2004 9 *Bush, G. W. (R) 693,933 1,176,394 3,529 1,994 6,701

A bill becomes a law when it is passed by at least a majority of a quorum of both houses and is either signed by the governor, left unsigned for six days (Sundays excluded) while the legislature is in session, or passed over the governor's veto by a majority of the elected members of each house. A bill must pass both houses in the same form. The governor may pocket veto a measure submitted fewer than five days before adjournment by not signing it within 10 days after adjournment. The governor may amend one or more provisions of any bill, but the legislature may override them by a majority vote. The governor does not have the line-item veto.

The submission of a constitutional amendment to the electorate requires the approval of three-fifths of the membership of each house, but such amendments can also be adopted by constitutional convention. Amendments are ratified by a majority vote of the electorate.

Voters in Alabama must be US citizens, state and county citizens, and at least 18 years old. Restrictions apply to convicted felons and those declared mentally incompetent by the court.


The major political parties in Alabama are the Democratic and Republican parties, each affiliated with the national party organization. The Republicans are weak below the federal-office level.

Pre-Civil War political divisions in the state reflected those found elsewhere in the South. Small and subsistence farmers, especially in the northern hill country and pine forest areas, tended to be Jacksonian Democrats, while the planters of the Black Belt and the river valleys often voted Whig. After a period of Radical Republican rule during Reconstruction, the Bourbon Democrats, whose party then served largely the interests of wealthy proper-ty owners, business people, and white supremacists, ran the state for the rest of the century, despite a challenge in the 1890s by the Populist Party.

On two occasions, 1948 and 1964, the Alabama Democratic Party bolted the national Democratic ticket, each time because of disagreement over civil rights. Barry Goldwater in 1964 was the first Republican presidential candidate in the 20th century to carry Alabama. In 1968, George Wallace carried Alabama overwhelmingly on the American Independent Party slate.

In the 2004 presidential elections, incumbent president Republican George W. Bush carried the state, winning 62.5% of the vote to Democrat John Kerry's 36.8%. Bush increased his margin of victory in 2004; in 2000, Bush won 57% of the vote to Democrat Al Gore's 42%. In 2004 there were 2,597,000 registered voters; there is no party registration. The state had nine electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election. US Senator Richard Shelby was reelected as a Democrat in 1992, but switched his affiliation to Republican on 9 November 1994, the day after the Republicans swept into power in the Senate. He was reelected in 1998 and in 2004, when he won 67.5% of the vote. In 1996 Democratic Senator Howell Heflin retired, and his seat was won by Republican Jeff B. Sessions. Sessions was reelected in 2002. Alabama's delegation of US Representatives following the 2004 elections consisted of two Democrats and five Republicans.

During the 20th century, the Democratic Party commanded virtually every statewide office, major and minor. Democrat James Folsom was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1990 and became governor in April of 1993 when Governor Guy Hunt was convicted of illegally using money from his inauguration for personal expenses. Folsom lost his election bid for governor to Fob James Jr. in 1994. James had served as governor of the state from 1979 to 1983 as a Democrat, but he switched party affiliations for the 1994 election and upset Folsom in a narrow victory. In the 1998 election Democrat Don Siegelman was elected to the governor's office. In 2002, Republican Bob Riley was elected governor, after serving six years in the US House of Representatives. The Alabama legislature in 2005 consisted of 25 Democrats and 10 Republicans in the Senate and 63 Democrats and 42 Republicans in the House.


In 2005, Alabama had 67 counties, 451 municipalities, and 128 public school districts. There were 525 special districts, including the Northeast Mississippi-Northwest Alabama Railroad Authority, the Alabama Housing Finance Authority, and the Alabama Highway Authority. Counties are governed by county commissions, usually consisting of three to seven commissioners, elected by district. Other county officials include judges of probate, clerk, tax assessor and collector, sheriff, and superintendent of education. The oldest county in the state is Washington, established in 1800. The newest county, Houston, was established in 1903.

Mayor-council is the most common form of municipal government. But until the late 1970s, the predominant form of municipal government, especially in the larger cities, was the commission, whose members are elected either at-large or by district. Partly in response to court orders requiring district elections in order to permit the election of more black officials, after the 1970s there was a trend toward the mayor-council form, although the US Supreme Court ruled in May 1980 that Mobile may elect its public officials at-large. Elections for municipal officers are held every four years.

An alteration in local government had a significant effect on the racial climate in Birmingham during the 1960s, when the Young Men's Business Club led a movement to change to the mayor-council system, in order to oust a commission (including Eugene "Bull" Connor as public safety commissioner) that for nearly a decade had reacted negatively to every black demand. After a narrow vote in favor of the change, a moderate was elected mayor in April 1963, but the former commissioners then contested the initial vote that had changed the system. At the height of Birmingham's racial troubles, both the former commissioners and the newly elected council claimed to govern Birmingham, but neither did so effectively. When peace came, it was as the result of an unofficial meeting held between local black leaders and 77 of the city's most influential whites, with federal officials serving as mediators. Although the council, like the commissioners, publicly opposed these negotiations, once they were over and the council's election confirmed, the new moderate leadership permitted peaceful racial accommodation to go forward. In addition to the mayor-council and commission forms of administration, some municipalities employ city managers.

In 2005, local government accounted for about 188,349 full-time (or equivalent) employment positions.


To address the continuing threat of terrorism and to work with the federal Department of Homeland Security, homeland security in Alabama operates under the authority of state statute. The state Director of Homeland Security is designated as the state homeland security adviser.

Alabama's Ethics Commission administers the state's ethics law, makes financial disclosure records available to the public, and receives monthly reports from lobbyists. Educational services are administered primarily by the Department of Education and the Alabama Commission on Higher Education. The Alabama Public Library Service supports and promotes the development of public libraries. The Department of Aeronautics, Department of Transportation, and Public Service Commission (PSC) administer transportation services; the PSC supervises, regulates, and controls all transportation companies doing business in the state. Driver's licenses are issued by the Department of Public Safety.

Health and welfare services are offered primarily through the Department of Public Health, Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Youth Services, and Department of Senior Services. Planning for the state's future health-care needs is carried out by the Health Planning and Development Agency.

Public protection services are administered by the Military Department, Department of Corrections, and Department of Public Safety, among other agencies. Numerous government bodies offer resource protection services: the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Management, Alabama Forestry Commission, Oil and Gas Board, Surface Mining Commission, and Soil and Water Conservation Committee.


The Alabama Supreme Court is the highest court in the state, consisting of a chief justice and eight associate justices, all elected for staggered six-year terms. It issues opinions on constitutional issues and hears cases appealed from the lower courts. The court of civil appeals has exclusive appellate jurisdiction in all suits involving sums up to $10,000. Its three judges are elected for six-year terms, and the one who has served the longest is the presiding judge. The five judges of the court of criminal appeals are also elected for six-year terms; they choose the presiding judge by majority vote.

Circuit courts, which encompassed 131 judgeships in 1999, have exclusive original jurisdiction over civil actions involving sums of more than $5,000, and over criminal prosecutions involving felony offenses. They also have original jurisdiction, concurrent with the district courts, in all civil matters exceeding $500. They have appellate jurisdiction over most cases from district and municipal courts. A system of district courts staffed by judges who serve six-year terms replaced county and juvenile courts as of January 1977. Municipal court judges are appointed by the municipality.

As of 31 December 2004, a total of 25,887 prisoners were held in Alabama's state and federal prisons, a decrease (from 27,913) of 7.3% from the previous year. As of year-end 2004, a total of 1,748 inmates were female, down 12.7% (from 2,003) the year before. Among sentenced prisoners (one year or more), Alabama had an incarceration rate of 556 per 100,000 population.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Alabama in 2004 had a violent crime rate (murder/nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault) of 426.6 reported incidents per 100,000 population, or a total of 19,324 reported incidents. Crimes against property (burglary; larceny/theft; and motor vehicle theft) in that same year totaled 182,340 reported incidents or 4,025 reported incidents per 100,000 people. Alabama has a death penalty, which can be carried out by lethal injection or electrocution, depending upon the prisoner's request. From 1976 through May 2006, the state executed 34 persons; there were four executions in 2005. There were no executions from January to April 2006. As of 1 January 2006, there were 190 inmates on death row.

In 2003, Alabama spent $261,678,684 on homeland security, an average of $57 per state resident.


The US Department of Defense had 11,845 active military personnel in Alabama in 2004, and civilian personnel numbered 15,789. The major installation in terms of expenditures was the US Army's Redstone Arsenal at Huntsville. Redstone is the center of the Army's missile and rocket programs and contains the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which directs all private contractors for the space program. Among the spacecraft developed there were the Redstone rocket, which launched the first US astronaut; Explorer I, the first US earth-orbiting satellite; and the Saturn rocket, which boosted the Apollo missions to the moon. In 2004, Redstone had 8,753 civilian employees, the highest number in the state. Other installations include Ft. Rucker (near Enterprise); the Anniston Army Depot; Maxwell Air Force Base (Montgomery), site of the US Air University and Air War Colleges, and national headquarters for the Civil Air Patrol; and Gunter Air Force Base (also in Montgomery). The most military personnel in the state, 5,801, were stationed at Ft. Rucker (Army) in 2004. Reserve and National Guard numbered 4,577. During 2004, Alabama firms received defense contract awards totaling over $5.8 billion. That year the Defense Department payroll was about $3.2 billion, including retired military pay.

There were 426,322 veterans of US military service in Alabama as of 2003, of whom 50,383 served in World War II; 47,411 in the Korean conflict; 124,673 during the Vietnam era; and 71,523 in the Gulf War. In 2004, the Veterans Administration expended more than $1.3 billion in pensions, medical assistance, and other major veterans' benefits.

As of 31 October 2004, the Alabama Department of Public Safety employed 680 full-time sworn officers.


After 1814, Alabama was the mecca of a great migratory wave, mainly of whites of English and Scotch-Irish descent (some with their black slaves) from Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Since the Civil War, migration to Alabama has been slight. Many blacks left Alabama from World War I (191418) through the 1960s to seek employment in the East and Midwest, and the proportion of blacks in Alabama's population fell from 35% in 1940 to 26% in 1998, where it remained through mid-2002. Overall, Alabama may have lost as many as 944,000 residents through migration between 1940 and 1970, but enjoyed a net gain from migration of over 143,000 between 1970 and 1990, and an additional 114,000 in domestic and 13,000 in international migration between 1990 and 1998. In the period 200005, net international migration was 25,936 and net internal migration was 10,521, for a net gain of 36,457 people.


Among the interstate compacts and commissions in which Alabama participates are the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, Interstate Mining Compact Commission, Interstate Oil and Gas Compact, Southeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact, Southern Growth Policies Board, Southern Regional Education Board, Historic Chattahoochee Compact, and the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority. In 1997, the state began two new water resources projects: the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa (ACT) River Basin Compact between Alabama and Georgia, and the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin Compact among Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. The Office of State Planning and Federal Programs coordinates planning efforts by all levels of government. During fiscal year 2005, Alabama received federal grants amounting to $5.22 billion. For fiscal year 2006, federal grants to Alabama were estimated at $5.205 billion, and for fiscal year 2007, at $5.383 billion.


Cotton dominated Alabama's economy from the mid-1800s to the 1870s, when large-scale industrialization began. The coal, iron, and steel industries were the first to develop, followed by other resource industries such as textiles, clothing, paper, and wood products. Although Alabama's prosperity has increased, particularly in recent decades, the state still lags in wage rates and per capi-ta income. One factor that has hindered the growth of the state's economy is declining investment in resource industries owned by large corporations outside the state. Between 1974 and 1983, manufacturing grew at little more than half the rate of all state goods and services. Industries such as primary metals and apparel, once mainstays of Alabama's economy, were clearly losing importance.

In 2004, Alabama's gross state product (GSP) was $139.8 billion, of which manufacturing (durable and nondurable goods) accounted for $23.4 billion or 16.7% of GSP, followed by real estate, rental, and leasing at $14.3 billion or 10.2% of GSP, and health care and social assistance at $9.668 billion or 6.9% of GSP. As Alabama's traditional industries have declined, the role played by small business as an engine for economic growth has increased. As of 2004, of the 86,651 businesses that had employees, an estimated 84,277 or 97.3% were small businesses. However, new business creation did not offset business terminations that year. While an estimated 9,413 new employer businesses were created in 2004, up 4.4% from 2003, business terminations that same year totaled 10,104. There were 325 business bankruptcies in 2004, up 13.2% from the previous year. In 2005, Alabama had one of the nation's highest overall personal bankruptcy filings rates, at 939 (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) per 100,000 people, ranking the state at number two, behind Tennessee.


In 2005 Alabama had a gross state product (GSP) of $150 billion which accounted for 1.2% of the nation's gross domestic product and placed the state at number 25 in highest GSP among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2004 Alabama had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $27,695. This ranked 41st in the United States and was 84% of the national average of $33,050. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of PCPI was 4.1%. Total personal income (TPI) was $125,329,964,000, which ranked 24th in the United States and represented an increase of 5.7% from 2003, compared to a national change of 6.0%. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of TPI was 4.7%. Earnings of persons employed in Alabama increased from $87,574,951,000 in 2003 to $93,039,492,000 in 2004, an increase of 6.2%. The 200304 national change was 6.3%.

The US Census Bureau reports that the three-year average median household income for 2002 to 2004 in 2004 dollars was $38,111, compared to a national average of $44,473. During the same period an estimated 15.5% of the population was living below the poverty line, as compared to 12.4% nationwide.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in April 2006 the seasonally adjusted civilian labor force in Alabama numbered 2,173,500, with approximately 78,500 workers unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 3.6%, compared to the national average of 4.7% for the same period. Preliminary data for the same period placed nonfarm employment at 1,975,700. Since the beginning of the BLS data series in 1976, the highest unemployment rate recorded in Alabama was 14.4% in December 1982. The historical low was 3.3% in March 2006. Preliminary nonfarm employment data by occupation for April 2006 showed that approximately 5.6% of the labor force was employed in construction; 19.4% in trade, transportation, and public utilities; 4.9% in financial activities; 10.9% in professional and business services; 10.3% in education and health services; 8.5% in leisure and hospitality services; and 18.4% in government. Data for manufacturing was not available.

In 1871, James Thomas Rapier, a black Alabamian who would later serve a term as a US representative from the state, organized the first black labor union in the South, the short-lived Labor Union of Alabama. The Knights of Labor began organizing in the state in 1882. A serious obstacle to unionization and collective bargaining was the convict leasing system, which was not ended officially until 1923, and in practice, not until five years later. In 1888, the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Co. (later taken over by US Steel) was granted an exclusive 10-year contract to use the labor of all state convicts, paying the state $9-18 per person per month.

Child labor was also exploited. Alabama had limited a child's working day to eight hours in 1887, but a Massachusetts company that was building a large mill in the state secured the repeal of that law in 1895. A weaker measure passed 12 years later limited a child's workweek to 60 hours and set the minimum working age at 12.

The US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2005, a total of 195,000 of Alabama's 1,909,000 employed wage and salary workers were formal members of a union. This represented 10.2% of those so employed, up from 9.7% in 2004, but below the national average of 12%. Overall in 2005, a total of 223,000 workers (11.7%) in Alabama were covered by a union or employee association contract, which includes those workers who reported no union affiliation. Alabama is one of 22 states with a right-to-work law. Unions were especially strong in the northern industrial cities and in Mobile.

As of 1 March 2006, Alabama did not have a state-mandated minimum wage law, leaving employees in that state to be covered under federal minimum wage statutes. In 2004, women in the state accounted for 46.6% of the employed civilian labor force.


Alabama ranked 25th among the 50 states in farm marketing in 2005 with $3.89 billion, of which only $716 million came from crops.

There was considerable diversity in Alabama's earliest agriculture. By the mid-19th century, however, cotton had taken over, and production of other crops dropped so much that corn and other staples, even work animals, were often imported. In 1860, cotton was grown in every county, and one-crop agriculture had already worn out much of Alabama's farmland.

Diversification began early in the 20th century, a trend accelerated by the destructive effects of the boll weevil on cotton growing. In 2004, only 595,000 acres (223,000 hectares) were planted in cotton, compared to 3,500,000 acres (1,400,000 hectares) in 1930. As of 2004 there were some 44,000 farms in Alabama, occupying approximately 8.7 million acres (3.5 million hectares), or roughly 30% of the state's land area. Soybeans and livestock are raised in the Black Belt; peanuts in the southeast; vegetables, livestock, and timber in the southwest; and cotton and soybeans in the Tennessee River Valley.

In 2004, Alabama ranked third in the United States in production of peanuts, with 557,200,000 lb (253,273,000 kg), worth about $10,311,000. Other crops included soybeans, 6,650,000 bushels, $36,243,000; corn for fresh market, 23.9 million bushels, $57,564,000; wheat, 2,880,000 bushels, $10,224,000; tomatoes for fresh market, 342,000 hundredweight (15.5 million kg), $11,901,000; sweet potatoes, 380,000 hundredweight (17.3 million kg), $7.9 million; and pecans, 1,000,000 lb (450,000 kg), $1.3 million. The 2004 cotton crop of 820,000 bales was valued at $205,066,000.


The principal livestock-raising regions of Alabama are the far north, the southwest, and the Black Belt, where the lime soil provides excellent pasturage. In 2003 Alabama produced an estimated 522.2 million lb (237.4 million kg) of cattle and calves, valued at $371.5 million, and an estimated 48.7 million lb (22.1 million kg) of hogs, valued at $20 million. There were 1,360,000 cattle and an estimated 180,000 hogs and pigs on Alabama farms and ranches in 2004. According to preliminary figures, 18,000 milk cows yielded 252 million lb (114.5 million kg) of milk in 2003.

Alabama is a leading producer of chickens, broilers, and eggs. In broiler production, the state was surpassed only by Georgia and Arkansas in 2003, with an estimated 5.4 billion lb (2.5 billion kg), valued at $1.8 billion. That year, Alabama ranked fourth in chicken production, with over 76.38 million lb (34.7 million kg), worth $5.2 million. Egg production totaled 2.19 billion, worth $295.6 million.


In 2004, Alabama's commercial fish catch was about 26.6 million lb (12.1 million kg), worth $37 million. The principal fishing port is Bayou La Batre, which brought in about 19.1 million lb (8.7 million kg), worth $28.4 million. Alabama ranked fifth in the Gulf region for volume of shrimp landings with a total of 16.1 million lb (7.3 million kg).

Catfish farming is of growing importance. As of January 2005, there were 230 catfish farms (down from 370 in 1990) covering 25,100 acres (10,200 hectares) of water surface, with an average farm size of about 109 acres (44 hectares). In early 2006, Alabama growers had an inventory of 302.4 million stocker-size and 166 million fingerling/fry catfish.

As of 2003, there were 69 processing and 26 wholesaling plants in the state, with a combined total of about 1,649 employees. The commercial fishing fleet had about 1,775 boats and vessels in 2001.

There were 486,877 sport fishing licenses issued in Alabama in 2004.


Forestland in Alabama, predominantly pine, covering 22,981,000 acres (9,302,000 hectares), was over 3% of the nation's total in 2004. Nearly all of that was classified as commercial timberland, and 21,757,000 acres (8,805,000 hectares) privately owned. Four national forests covered a gross acreage of 1,288,000 acres (521,250 hectares) in 2003. Production of softwood and hardwood lumber totaled 2.72 billion board feet in 2004 (seventh in the United States).

Alabama has a program in place, called TREASURE Forest, to recognize and certify sustainable forestry management on private lands. This program has already certified over 1.57 million acres (635,000 hectares).


In 2004, Alabama's nonfuel mineral output was valued at $972 million, according to the US Geological Survey, and consisted entirely of industrial minerals. This was an 8% increase from 2003 and followed a 6.8% increase from 2002 to 2003, making the state 18th out of the 50 states in nonfuel mineral production. In 2004, the state accounted for over 2% of all nonfuel mineral production in the United States. The top four nonfuel mineral commodities in 2004 (by value) were cement, crushed stone, lime, and construction grade sand and gravel. These four products accounted for almost 93% of nonfuel mineral output, with cement and crushed stone alone accounting for 69% of production.

According to figures for 2004, Alabama produced: 4.8 million metric tons of portland cement valued at an estimated $320 million; 2.12 million metric tons of common clay worth $29.6 million; 49.1 million metric tons of crushed stone valued at $303 million; 2.280 million metric tons of lime valued at $164 million; and 14.7 million metric tons construction sand and gravel valued at $65.3 million.

Other industrial minerals produced in the state included chalk, building stone (limestone and sandstone), bauxite clays, salt (solution recovery), silicon, and recovered sulfur.


As of 2003, Alabama had 63 electrical power service providers, of which 36 were publicly owned and 23 were cooperatives. Of the remainder, one was federally operated, while the other was investor owned. As of that same year there were nearly 2.340 million retail customers. Of that total, over 1.363 million received their power from the state's only investor-owned service provider. Cooperatives accounted for 499,615 customers, while publicly owned providers had 476,247 customers.

Total net summer generating capability by the state's electrical generating plants in 2003 stood at 30.162 million kW, with total production that same year at 137.487 billion kWh. Of the total amount generated, 92.3% came from electric utilities, with the remainder coming from independent producers and combined heat and power service providers. The largest portion of all electric power generated, 76.696 billion kWh (55.8%), came from coal-fired plants, with nuclear fueled plants in second place at 31.676 billion kWh (23%).

As of 2006, Alabama had two operating nuclear power plants: the Browns Ferry plant, which is operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Joseph M Farley facility, which is operated by the Alabama Power Company's wholly owned subsidiary, the Southern Nuclear Operations Company.

Significant petroleum finds in southern Alabama date from the early 1950s. As of 2004, the state had proven crude oil reserves of 53 million barrels, or less than 1% of all US reserves, while output that same year averaged 20,000 barrels per day. Including federal offshore domains, Alabama that year ranked 18th (17th excluding federal offshore) in reserves and 16th (15th excluding federal offshore) among the 31 producing states. In 2004 Alabama had 824 producing oil wells, accounting for less than 1% of all US production. As of 2005, the state's three refineries had a combined crude oil distillation capacity of 113,500 barrels per day.

In 2004, Alabama had 5,526 producing natural gas and gas condensate wells. In that same year, marketed gas production (all gas produced excluding gas used for repressuring, vented and flared, and nonhydrocarbon gases removed) totaled 316 billion cu ft (8.9 billion cu m). As of 31 December 2004, proven reserves of dry or consumer-grade natural gas totaled 4,120 billion cu ft (117 billion cu m).

Alabama in 2004, had 49 producing coal mines, 41 of which were surface mines and 8 were underground. Coal production that same year totaled 22,271,000 short tons, up from 20,118,000 short tons in 2003. Of the total produced, underground mines in 2004 accounted for 16,114,000 short tons. Recoverable coal reserves in 2004 totaled 341 million short tons. One short ton equals 2,000 lb (0.907 metric tons).


Alabama's manufacturing boom began in the 1870s with the exploitation of the coal and iron fields in the north, which quickly transformed Birmingham into the leading industrial city in the South, producing pig iron more cheaply than its American and English competitors. An important stimulus to manufacturing in the north was the development of ports and power plants along the Tennessee River. Although Birmingham remains highly dependent on steel, the state's manufacturing sector has diversified considerably since World War II (193945).

According to the US Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) for 2004, Alabama's manufacturing sector covered some 20 product subsectors. The shipment value of all products manufactured in the state that same year was $76.095 billion. Of that total, the manufacturing of transportation equipment accounted for the largest portion, at $10.047 billion. It was followed by chemical manufacturing at $8.557 billion, primary metal manufacturing at $8.322 billion, food manufacturing at $8.019 billion, and paper manufacturing at $6.211 billion.

In 2004, a total of 259,058 people in Alabama were employed in the state's manufacturing sector, according to the ASM. Of that total, 200,645 were production workers. In terms of total employment, the food manufacturing industry accounted for the largest portion of all manufacturing employees at 35,549, with 28,186 actual production workers. It was followed by transportation equipment manufacturing with 26,868 employees (21,304 actual production workers); fabricated metal product manufacturing with 23,394 employees (17,211 actual production workers); wood product manufacturing with 19,269 employees (15,409 actual production workers); plastics and rubber products manufacturing with 17,136 employees (14,036 actual production workers); and primary metal manufacturing with 16,438 employees (12,764 actual production workers).

ASM data for 2004 showed that Alabama's manufacturing sector paid $9.357 billion in wages. Of that amount, the transportation equipment manufacturing sector accounted for the largest portion at $1.145 billion. It was followed by food manufacturing at $880.272 million; fabricated metal product manufacturing at $868.126 million; primary metal manufacturing at $805.290 million; and paper manufacturing at $709.987 million.


According to the 2002 Census of Wholesale Trade, Alabama's wholesale trade sector had sales that year totaling $43.6 billion from 5,747 establishments. Wholesalers of durable goods accounted for 3,800 establishments, followed by nondurable goods wholesalers at 1,579 and electronic markets, agents, and brokers accounting for 376 establishments. Sales by durable goods wholesalers in 2002 totaled $16.4 billion, while wholesalers of nondurable goods saw sales of $22.3 billion. Electronic markets, agents, and brokers in the wholesale trade industry had sales of $4.8 billion.

In the 2002 Census of Retail Trade, Alabama was listed as having 19,608 retail establishments with sales of $43.7 billion. The leading types of retail businesses by number of establishments were: gasoline stations (2,978); motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers (2,643); clothing and clothing accessory stores (2,379); and food and beverage stores (1,996). In terms of sales, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts stores accounted for the largest share of retail sales at $11.9 billion, followed by general merchandise stores at $7.6 billion; food and beverage stores at $6.08 billion; and gasoline stations at $4.3 billion. A total of 222,416 people were employed in the retail sector in Alabama for that year.

Exporters located in Alabama exported $10.7 billion in merchandise during 2005.


The Office of Consumer Affairs, established in 1972, was transferred to the Office of the Attorney General in 1979. The major duties of the office are to enforce the state's Deceptive Trade Practices Act and other criminal and civil laws to combat consumer fraud, and to offer programs in consumer education. In response to a myriad of inquiries, complaints, and fraudulent schemes, recent attorneys general have expanded the division's role in their administrations, and it has become one of the most effective arms of the attorney general's law enforcement efforts. The Office of Consumer Affairs also acts as a mediator or negotiator in response to approximately 3,000 consumer complaints received each year, three-quarters of which are registered by residents over age 65.

When dealing with consumer protection issues, the state's Attorney General's Office can initiate civil and criminal proceedings; represent the state before state and federal regulatory agencies; administer consumer protection and education programs; handle formal consumer complaints; and exercise broad subpoena powers. In antitrust actions, the Attorney General's Office can act on behalf of those consumers who are incapable of acting on their own; initiate damage actions on behalf of the state in state courts; and initiate criminal proceedings. However, the state's Attorney General cannot represent counties, cities and other governmental entities in recovering civil damages under state or federal law.

The Office of the Attorney General's Office of Consumer Affairs is located in the state capitol of Montgomery.


As of June 2005, Alabama had 160 insured banks, savings and loans, and saving banks, in addition to 71 state-chartered and 88 federally chartered credit unions (CUs). Excluding the CUs, the Birmington-Hoover market area accounted for the largest portion of the state's financial institutions and deposits in 2004, with 41 institutions and $19.824 billion in deposits. As of June 2005, CUs accounted for 4.7% of all assets held by all financial institutions in the state, or some $10.704 billion. Banks, savings and loans, and savings banks collectively accounted for the remaining 95.3%, or $214.840 billion in assets held.

The median net interest margin (NIMthe difference between the lower rates offered to savers and the higher rates charged on loans) of the state's insured institutions in fourth quarter 2005 stood at 4.25%, up from 4.12% for all of 2004 and 4.02% for all of 2003. The median percentage of past-due/nonaccrual loans compared to total loans stood at 1.59% as of fourth quarter 2005, down from 1.99% for all of 2004 and 2.68% for all of 2003.

The regulation of Alabama's state-chartered banks and other state-chartered financial institutions is the responsibility of the Alabama Banking Department.


In 2004 there were 6.2 million individual life insurance policies in force with a total value of $188.7 billion; total value for all categories of life insurance (individual, group, and credit) was $283.5 billion. The average coverage amount is $30,300 per policy holder. Death benefits paid that year totaled $986.2 million.

As of 2003, there were 22 property and casualty and 16 life and health insurance companies incorporated or organized in the state. In 2004, direct premiums for property and casualty insurance amounted to about $5.95 billion. That year, there were 41,912 flood insurance policies in force in the state, with a total value of $5.87 billion. There were also 3,169 beach and windstorm insurance policies in force against hurricane and other windstorm damage, with a total value of $317.69 million.

In 2004, 55% of state residents held employment-based health insurance policies, 3% held individual policies, and 26% were covered under Medicare and Medicaid; 14% of residents were uninsured. In 2003, employee contributions for employment-based health coverage averaged about 20% for single coverage and 28% for family coverage. Alabama does not offer extended health benefits in connection with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA, 1986), a health insurance extension program for those who lose employment-based coverage due to termination or reduction of work hours.

In 2003, there were over 3 million auto insurance policies in effect for private passenger cars. Required minimum coverage includes bodily injury liability of up to $20,000 per individual and $40,000 for all persons injured, as well as property damage liability of $10,000. In 2003, the average expenditure per vehicle for insurance coverage was $655.42.


Alabama has no securities exchanges. In 2005, there were 1,050 personal financial advisers employed in the state and 1,580 securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents. In 2004, there were over 59 publicly traded companies within the state, with over 28 NASDAQ companies, 17 NYSE listings, and 4 AMEX listings. In 2006, the state had two Fortune 500 companies; Regions Financial ranked first in the state and 354th in the nation with revenues of over $6.1 billion, followed by Saks. AmSouth Bancorp, Vulcan Materials, and Torchmark were in the Fortune 1,000. All five of these NYSE companies are based in Birmingham.


The Division of the Budget within the Department of Finance prepares and administers the state budget, which the governor submits to the legislature for amendment and approval. The fiscal year runs from 1 October through 30 September, making Alabama one of only four states in which the fiscal year (FY) does not begin in July. General funds for fiscal year 2006 were estimated

AlabamaState Government Finances
(Dollar amounts in thousands. Per capita amounts in dollars.)
Abbreviations and symbols: - zero or rounds to zero; (NA) not available; (X) not applicable.
source: U.S. Census Bureau, Governments Division, 2004 Survey of State Government Finances, January 2006.
Total Revenue 21,568,441 4,766.51
  General revenue 17,616,091 3,893.06
    Intergovernmental revenue 6,871,334 1,518.53
    Taxes 7,018,242 1,550.99
      General sales 1,892,560 418.25
      Selective sales 1,783,002 394.03
      License taxes 397,429 87.83
      Individual income tax 2,243,537 495.81
      Corporate income tax 292,051 64.54
      Other taxes 409,663 90.53
    Current charges 2,667,878 589.59
    Miscellaneous general revenue 1,058,637 233.95
  Utility revenue - -
  Liquor store revenue 172,430 38.11
  Insurance trust revenue 3,779,920 835.34
Total expenditure 19,544,560 4,319.24
  Intergovernmental expenditure 4,164,719 920.38
  Direct expenditure 15,379,841 3,398.86
    Current operation 10,740,445 2,373.58
    Capital outlay 1,644,475 363.42
    Insurance benefits and repayments 1,745,203 385.68
    Assistance and subsidies 1,013,301 223.93
    Interest on debt 236,417 52.25
Exhibit: Salaries and wages 3,141,319 694.21
Total expenditure 19,544,560 4,319.24
  General expenditure 17,621,702 3,894.30
    Intergovernmental expenditure 4,164,719 920.38
    Direct expenditure 13,456,983 2,973.92
  General expenditures, by function:
    Education 7,617,223 1,683.36
    Public welfare 4,568,332 1,009.58
    Hospitals 1,100,506 243.21
    Health 814,615 180.03
    Highways 1,199,566 265.10
    Police protection 130,234 28.78
    Correction 397,943 87.94
    Natural resources 237,615 52.51
    Parks and recreation 23,014 5.09
    Government administration 433,653 95.83
    Interest on general debt 236,417 52.25
    Other and unallocable 862,584 190.63
  Utility expenditure - -
  Liquor store expenditure 177,655 39.26
  Insurance trust expenditure 1,745,203 385.68
Debt at end of fiscal year 6,363,885 1,406.38
Cash and security holdings 29,992,119 6,628.09

at nearly $7.8 billion for resources and $6.7 billion for expenditures. In fiscal year 2004, federal government grants to Alabama were $7.0 billion. For fiscal year 2007, federal funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and the HOME Investment Partnership Program was increased.


In 2005, Alabama collected $7,800 million in tax revenues, or $1,711 per capita, which placed it 44th among the 50 states in per capita tax burden. The national average was $2,192 per capita. Property taxes accounted for 3.0% of the total, sales taxes 26.1%, selective sales taxes 25.1%, individual income taxes 32.5%, corporate income taxes 5.1%, and other taxes 8.3%.

As of 1 January 2006, Alabama had three individual income tax brackets ranging from 2.0 to 5.0%. The state taxes corporations at a flat rate of 6.5%.

In 2004, state and local property taxes amounted to $1,440,385,000, or $367 per capita. The per capita amount ranks the state as having the lowest property taxes in the nation. Local governments collected $1,440,385,000 of the total and the state government, $221,470,000.

Alabama taxes retail sales at a rate of 4%. In addition to the state tax, local taxes on retail sales can reach as much as 7%, making for a potential total tax on retail sales of 11%. Food purchased for consumption off-premises is taxable. The tax on cigarettes is 42.5 cents per pack, which ranks 39th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Alabama taxes gasoline at 18 cents per gallon. This is in addition to the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax on gasoline.

According to the Tax Foundation, for every federal tax dollar sent to Washington in 2004, Alabama citizens received $1.71 in federal spending, which ranks the state sixth-highest nationally.


Alabama seeks to attract out-of-state business by means of tax incentives and plant-building assistance. The Alabama Development Office (ADO) plans for economic growth through industrial development. It also extends loans, issues bonds, and offers other forms of financing to growing companies, to firms that create permanent jobs, and to small businesses. The International Trade Division of the ADO provides a variety of services to help Alabama companies export. In 1987 the Alabama Enterprise Zone Program was passed. As of 2006, 27 Enterprise Zones had been authorized across the state in areas considered to have depressed economies, each zone offering packages of local tax and nontax incentives to encourage businesses to locate in the area. As of 2006, qualified new and expanding businesses in eligible industries were able to receive a corporate income tax credit of up to 5% of capital costs per year for up to 20 years. Small businesses may qualify if they create 15 jobs and invest $1 million. Other new projects or expansions qualify if they create 20 jobs and invest $2 million. All companies must pay wages of at least $8 an hour or have an average total compensation of $10 per hour. Alabama's target industries in 2006 were automobiles, aviation, electronics, plastics, and wood and wood products. The Alabama Industrial Development Training Institute, within the Department of Education, provides job training especially designed to suit the needs of high-technology industries. Alabama offers zero-interest loans and grants to rural economic development projects. In an effort to attract new industries or help existing companies grow, the state helps counties and municipalities pay for site improvements, and assists communities in financing infrastructures such as water and sewer lines or access roads. The Alabama Commerce Commission promotes legislation that protects and nurtures the Alabamian economy, including infrastructural projects on the state's roads, bridges, and docks. In 2000, the Alabama Commission on Environmental Initiatives was created by executive order and charged with developing a program for improving the environmental quality of the state. In 2002, a Brownfields Redevelopment Program was introduced.

In September 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina which devastated the Gulf Coast region, President George W. Bush announced he would create a Gulf Opportunity Zone for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Businesses would be able to double (to $200,000) the amount they could deduct from their taxes for investments in new equipment. The act also provided a 50% bonus depreciation and made loan guarantees available. Congress passed the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act in December 2005, providing a number of tax incentives to encourage the rebuilding of areas ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.


The infant mortality rate in October 2005 was estimated at 8.8 per 1,000 live births. The birth rate in 2003 was 13.2 per 1,000 population. The abortion rate stood at 14.3 per 1,000 women in 2000. In 2003, about 83.8% of pregnant woman received prenatal care beginning in the first trimester. In 2004, approximately 82% of children received routine immunizations before the age of three.

The crude death rate in 2003 was 10.4 deaths per 1,000 population, representing the highest rate in the nation for that year. As of 2002, the death rates for all the major causes of death were higher than the national averages. The rates that year (per 100,000 resident population) were: heart disease, 294.1; cancer, 216.2; cerebrovascular diseases, 71.3; diabetes, 33.1; and chronic lower respiratory diseases, 51.9. The mortality rate from HIV infection was 4.2 per 100,000 population, lower than the national average of 4.9 per 100,000 population for 2002. In 2004, the reported AIDS case rate was about 10.3 per 100,000 population. In 2002, about 61% of the population was considered overweight or obese, representing the second-highest percentage in the nation (following West Virginia). As of 2004, Alabama ranked seventh in the nation for the percentage of smokers, with about 24.8%.

In 2003, Alabama had 107 community hospitals with about 15,600 beds. There were about 709,000 patient admissions that year and 8.9 million outpatient visits. The average daily inpatient census was about 9,700 patients. The average cost per day for hospital care was $1,166. Also in 2003, there were about 228 certified nursing facilities in the state, with 26,369 beds and an overall occupancy rate of about 89.4%. In 2004, it was estimated that about 69.2% of all state residents had received some type of dental care within the year. Alabama had 216 physicians per 100,000 resident population in 2004 and 818 nurses per 100,000 in 2005. In 2004, there was a total of 1,971 dentists in the state.

About 26% of state residents was enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare programs in 2004. Approximately 14% of the state was uninsured in 2004. In 2003, state health care expenditures totaled $5 million.


In 2004, about 119,000 people received unemployment benefits, with an average weekly unemployment benefit of $177. In fiscal year 2005, the estimated average monthly participation in the food stamp program included about 558,596 persons (222,132 households); the average monthly benefit was about $91.91 per person. That year, the total benefits paid through the state for the food stamp program was about $616 million.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the system of federal welfare assistance that officially replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1997, was reauthorized through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. TANF is funded through federal block grants that are divided among the states based on an equation involving the number of recipients in each state. Alabama's TANF program is called the Family Assistance Program (FA). In 2004 the state program had 45,000 recipients; state and federal expenditures on this TANF program in fiscal year 2003 totaled $50 million.

In December 2004, Social Security benefits were paid to 884,410 Alabamians. This number included 484,310 retired workers, 98,650 widows and widowers, 159,300 disabled workers, 47,110 spouses, and 95,040 children. Social Security beneficiaries represented 19.5% of the total state population and 92.6% of the state's population age 65 and older. Retired workers received an average monthly payment of $912; widows and widowers, $823; disabled workers, $866; and spouses, $451. Payments for children of retired workers averaged $458 per month; children of deceased workers, $590; and children of disabled workers, $261. Also in December 2004, Federal Supplemental Security Income payments went to 163,002 Alabama residents, averaging $374 a month. About $26,000 of state-administered supplemental payments was distributed to 434 residents.


In 2004, there were an estimated 2,058,951 housing units in Alabama, of which 1,755,332 were occupied. In the same year, about 71.9% of all housing units were owner-occupied. It was estimated that about 96,954 households across the state were without telephone service, 6,757 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 5,212 lacked complete kitchen facilities. About 67.3% of all housing units were detached, single-family homes; 14.6% were mobile homes. The average household had 2.51 members.

Approximately 27,400 new privately owned units were authorized in 2004. The median home value that year was $94,671. The median monthly housing cost for mortgage owners was $872, while the median cost for renters was $519. In September 2005, the state was awarded grants of $299,963 from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for rural housing and economic development programs. For 2006, HUD allocated to the state over $25.8 million in community development block grants. Also in 2006, HUD offered an additional $74 million to the state in emergency funds to rebuild housing that was destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in late 2005.

The Fairhope Single Tax Corporation, near Point Clear, was founded in 1893 by individuals seeking to put into practice the economic theories of Henry George. Incorporated under Alabama law in 1904, this oldest and largest of US single-tax experiments continues to lease land in return for the payment of a rent (the "single tax") based on the land's valuation; the combined rents are used to pay taxes and to provide and improve community services.


In 2004, 82.4% of Alabamians age 25 and older were high school graduates. Some 22.3% had obtained a bachelor's degree or higher.

The total enrollment for fall 2002 in Alabama's public schools stood at 740,000. Of these, 534,000 attended schools from kindergarten through grade eight, and 206,000 attended high school. Approximately 59.9% of the students were white, 36.4% were black, 2.1% were Hispanic, 0.9% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 0.8% were American Indian/Alaskan Native. Total enrollment was estimated at 734,000 in fall 2003 and was expected to be 709,000 by fall 2014, a decline of 4.1% during the period 2002 to 2014. There were 73,105 students enrolled in 408 private schools in fall 2003. Expenditures for public education in 2003/04 were estimated at $5.4 billion. Since 1969, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has tested public school students nationwide. The resulting report, The Nation's Report Card, stated that eighth graders in Alabama scored 262 out of 500 in 2005 compared with the national average of 278.

As of fall 2002, there were 246,414 students enrolled in college or graduate school. Minority students comprised 31.5% of total postsecondary enrollment that same year. As of 2005, Alabama had 75 degree-granting institutions. The largest state universities are Auburn University and the three University of Alabama campuses, including Birmingham, Huntsville, and the main campus in Tuscaloosa. Tuskegee University, founded as a normal and industrial school in 1881 under the leadership of Booker T. Washington, has become one of the nation's most famous predominantly black colleges.


The Alabama State Council on the Arts, established by the legislature in 1966, provides aid to local nonprofit arts organizations. The Alabama Humanities Foundation was established in 1974. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded 10 grants totaling $1,020,965 to Alabama organizations and the National Endowment for the Arts awarded 18 grants totaling $910,100 to Alabama arts organizations. The Alabama Center for Traditional Culture, established in 1990, works in conjunction with the state council to promote and preserve local arts and culture. The Alabama Jazz and Blues Federation, also established in 1990, has been very active in offering monthly jam sessions for artists, an annual summer festival, and several concerts throughout the year.

The Alabama Shakespeare Festival State Theater performs in Montgomery and as of 2006 was noted as the sixth-largest Shakespeare festival worldwide. The festival hosts over 300,000 annual visitors that travel from over 60 countries and all 50 states. The Birmingham International Festival (BIF) was founded in 1951 and works to promote mutual understanding among cultures through art, education, and economic development programs. Working to fulfill their mission the BIF highlights a different country each year.

Alabama is also home to the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, and the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra. Among several dance organizations in the state, the Alabama Ballet, founded in 1981, is notable for establishing a professional affiliation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, thus expanding opportunities for both students and audiences of dance.

As of 2006, the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention was held annually in October at Athens State College. The annual event began in mid-1960s, showcasing "old time" music. Every June, the annual Hank Williams Memorial Celebration is held near the country singer's birthplace at the Olive West Community. As of 2006, there were opera groups in both Huntsville and Mobile.


For the fiscal year ending September 2001, Alabama had 207 public library systems, with a total of 283 libraries, of which 77 were branches. The state's public libraries that same year had a combined total of 8,801,000 volumes of books and serial publications, and a total circulation of 15,988,000. The system also had 269,000 audio and 244,000 video items, 8,000 electronic format items (CD-ROMs, magnetic tapes, and disks), and 17 bookmobiles. The University of Alabama had 1,896,687 volumes, while the Birmingham Public Library had 19 branches and 973,936 volumes. The Alabama Department of Archives and History Library, at Montgomery, had 260,000 volumes and several special collections on Alabama history and government. Collections on aviation and space exploration in Alabama's libraries, particularly its military libraries, may be the most extensive in the United States outside of Washington, DC. In 1997 the Alabama Public Library Service and its regional library for the blind and physically handicapped had over 480,000 books, videos, and audiotapes, including more than 25,000 books in Braille. Memorabilia of Wernher von Braun are in the library at the Alabama Space and Rocket Center at Huntsville; the Redstone Arsenal's Scientific Information Center holds over 227,000 volumes and 1,800,000 technical reports. Total income for the public library system in 2003 was $64,927,000, including $908,978 in federal grants and $4,479,963 in state grants. State libraries spent 64.2% of that income on staff.

Alabama had 81 museums in 2000. The most important art museum is the Birmingham Museum of Art. Other museums include the George Washington Carver Museum at Tuskegee Institute, the Women's Army Corps Museum and Military Police Corps Museum at Ft. McClellan, the US Army Aviation Museum at Ft. Rucker, the Pike Pioneer Museum at Troy, the Museum of the City of Mobile, and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Also in Montgomery are Old Alabama Town and the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald home. Russell Cave National Monument has an archaeological exhibit. In Florence is the W. C. Handy Home; at Tuscumbia, Helen Keller's birthplace, Ivy Green.


In 2004, 92.2% of Alabama's occupied housing units had telephones. In addition, by June of that same year there were 2,301,847 mobile wireless telephone subscribers. In 2003, 53.9% of Alabama households had a computer and 45.7% had Internet access. By June 2005, there were 454,546 high-speed lines in Alabama, 408,937 residential and 45,609 for business. A total of 44,371 Internet domain names had been registered in Alabama by 2000.

During 2005, Alabama had 93 major operating radio stations (19 AM, 74 FM) and 22 major television stations. In 2000, 69% of television households in the Birmingham area subscribed to cable television.


The earliest newspaper in Alabama, the short-lived Mobile Centinel (sic), made its first appearance on 23 May 1811. The oldest newspaper still in existence in the state is the Mobile Register, founded in 1813.

As of 2005 Alabama had 21 morning dailies; 3 evening dailies; and 20 Sunday papers. The following table shows the leading dailies with their 2005 circulations:

*Owned by the Alabama Group of Advance Publications
Birmingham News * (m,S) 167,889 184,036
Post-Herald (m) 150,353
Huntsville Times * (e,S) 53,145 74,401
Mobile Register * (m,S) 88,253 111,778
Montgomery Advertiser (m,S) 48,389 58,429
Tuscaloosa News (m,S) 34,332 36,205

In 2005, there were 97 weekly publications in Alabama. Of these, 73 are paid weeklies, 3 are free weeklies, and 21 are combined weeklies. The total circulation of paid weeklies (416,280) and free weeklies (192,402) is 608,682. Of the combined weeklies in the United States, the Columbiana/Shelby counties Reporter ranked 25th with a circulation of 32,497.


In 2006, there were over 2,900 nonprofit organizations registered within the state, of which 2,063 were registered as charitable, educational, or religious organizations. National associations with headquarters in Alabama include Civitan International in Birmingham; and Klanwatch and the Southern Poverty Law Center, both in Montgomery. The last-named is one of the major civil rights organizations active in Alabama, along with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The League of the South, a national organization founded in 1994 as a political, economic, and civil rights advocacy organization, has its national headquarters in Killen. Two branches of the Ku Klux Klan are also active in Alabama.

The American Council on Alcohol Problems is based in Birmingham, which also hosts the central offices of the fourth district of Alcoholics Anonymous World Wide Services.

State cultural organizations include the Alabama Historical Association and Alabama Preservation Alliance, both in Montgomery. Sports and recreation associations based in the state include the American Baseball Foundation, the National Speleological Society, the Kampground Owners Association, and the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. Regional wildlife groups include the Alabama Mookee Association, the Alabama Santa Gertrudis Association, and the Alabama National Wild Turkey Federation, which has several chapters throughout the state.


In 2004, some 20 million people visited Alabama, spending $5.5 billion. With a statewide impact of 157,000 jobs, tourism is an important industry for Alabama. An estimated 73% of all tourists choose destinations in one of six counties: Baldwin, Jefferson, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa. In 2005, the number of visitors to Alabama increased as people fled Louisiana and Florida due to the severe hurricane season.

A top tourist attraction is the Alabama Space and Rocket Center at Huntsville, home of the US Space Camp. Other attractions include many antebellum houses and plantations: Magnolia Grove (a state shrine) at Greensboro; Gaineswood and Bluff Hall at Demopolis; Arlington in Birmingham; Oakleigh at Mobile; Sturdivant Hall at Selma; Shorter Mansion at Eufaula; and the first White House of the confederacy at Montgomery. Racing fans can visit the Talledega Super Speedway and the Motorsports Hall of Fame.

The celebration of Mardi Gras in Mobile, which began in 1704, predates that in New Orleans and now occupies several days before Ash Wednesday. Gulf beaches are a popular attraction and Point Clear, across the bay from Mobile, has been a fashionable resort, especially for southerners, since the 1840s. The state fair is held at Birmingham every October.

During 2004, Baldwin and Jefferson counties were the biggest tourist beneficiaries; home to Alabama's four national park sites, which include Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site and Russell Cave National Monument, an almost continuous archaeological record of human habitation from at least 7000 bc to about ad 1650. Tannehill Historical State Park features ante- and postbellum dwellings, a restored iron furnace over a century old, and a museum of iron and steel. There were some 500,000 visitors to Alabama's state parks that year.

The Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo at Dauphin Island also attracts thousands of visitors. Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is a major tourist attraction, with seven championship courses located from Huntsville to Mobile.


Alabama is home to a number of professional teams in various sports. The Birmingham Power was a member of the National Women's Basketball League until 2005, and the Birmingham Steel-dogs are an Arena League 2 football squad. There are minor league baseball clubs in Birmingham, Mobile, and Huntsville, and minor league hockey teams in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Mobile. Two major professional stock car races, Aaron's 499 and the UAW-Ford 500, are held at the Talladega Speedway. Dog racing was legalized in Mobile in 1971. Four of the major hunting-dog competitions in the United States are held annually in the state.

Football reigns supreme among collegiate sports. The University of Alabama finished number one in 1961, 1964, 1965 (against Michigan State), 1978 (against University of Southern California), 1979, and 1992 and is a perennial top-10 entry. Competing in the Southeastern Conference, Alabama's Crimson Tide won the Sugar Bowl in 1962, 1964, 1967, 1978, 1979, 1980, and 1993; the Orange Bowl in 1943, 1953, 1963, and 1966; the Cotton Bowl in 1942 and 1981; the Sun Bowl in 1983 and 1988; and the Independence Bowl in 2001. The Crimson Tide have won a total of 12 national championships and 21 SEC titles. Auburn University, which also competes in the Southeastern Conference, won the Sugar Bowl in 1984; the Florida Citrus Bowl in 1982 and 1987; the Gator Bowl in 1954, 1971, and 1972; and the Sun Bowl in 1968. The Tigers have won 14 bowl games, 6 SEC titles, and have produced 2 Heisman trophy winners (Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson). The Blue-Gray game, an all-star contest, is held at Montgomery on Christmas Day, and the Senior Bowl game is played in Mobile in January. Additionally, Alabama-Huntsville won National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II hockey championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998.

Boat races include the annual Dauphin Island Race, the largest one-day sailing race in the United States. The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame is located at Birmingham.

Some of the most notable athletes born in Alabama are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Jesse Owens, and Bo Jackson.


William Rufus De Vane King (b.North Carolina, 17861853) served as a US senator from Alabama and as minister to France before being elected US vice president in 1852 on the Democratic ticket with Franklin Pierce; he died six weeks after taking the oath of office. Three Alabamians who served as associate justices of the US Supreme Court were John McKinley (b.Virginia, 17801852), John A. Campbell (b.Georgia, 181189), and Hugo L. Black (18861971). Campbell resigned from the court in 1861, later becoming assistant secretary of war for the Confederacy; Black, a US senator from 1927 to 1937, served one of the longest terms (193771) in the history of the court and is regarded as one of its most eminent justices.

Among the most colorful figures in antebellum Alabama was William Lowndes Yancey (b.Georgia, 181463), a fiery orator who was a militant proponent of slavery, states' rights, and eventually secession. During the early 20th century, a number of Alabamians became influential in national politics. Among them were US senators John Hollis Bankhead (18421920) and John Hollis Bankhead Jr. (18721946); the latter's brother, William B. Bankhead (18741940), who became speaker of the US House of Representatives in 1936; and US Senator Oscar W. Underwood (b.Kentucky, 18621929), a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1912 and 1924. Other prominent US senators from Alabama have included (Joseph) Lister Hill (18941984) and John Sparkman (18991985), who was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1952. Alabama's most widely known political figure is George Corley Wallace (191998), who served as governor in 196367 and 197179 and was elected to a fourth term in 1982. Wallace, an outspoken opponent of racial desegregation in the 1960s, was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1964; four years later, as the presidential nominee of the American Independent Party, he carried five states. While campaigning in Maryland's Democratic presidential primary on 15 May 1972, Wallace was shot and paralyzed from the waist down by a would-be assassin. In 1976, Wallace made his fourth and final unsuccessful bid for the presidency.

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (b.Georgia, 192968), winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, first came to national prominence as leader of the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955; he also led demonstrations at Birmingham in 1963 and at Selma in 1965. His widow, Coretta Scott King (19272006), is a native Ala-bamian. Federal judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. (191899) has made several landmark rulings in civil rights cases.

Helen Keller (18801968), deaf and blind as the result of a childhood illness, was the first such multihandicapped person to earn a college degree; she later became a world-famous author and lecturer. Another world figure, black educator Booker T. Washington (b.Virginia, 18561915), built Alabama's Tuskegee Institute from a school where young blacks were taught building, farming, cooking, brickmaking, dressmaking, and other trades into an internationally known agricultural research center. Tuskegee's most famous faculty member was George Washington Carver (b.Missouri, 18641943), who discovered some 300 different peanut products, 118 new ways to use sweet potatoes, and numerous other crop varieties and applications. Among Alabama's leaders in medicine was Dr. William Crawford Gorgas (18541920), head of sanitation in Panama during the construction of the Panama Canal; he later served as US surgeon general. Brought to the United States after World War II (193945), the internationally known scientist Wernher von Braun (b.Germany, 191277) came to Alabama in 1950 to direct the US missile program.

Two Alabama writers, (Nelle) Harper Lee (b.1926) and Edward Osborne Wilson (b.1929), have won Pulitzer Prizes. Famous musicians from Alabama include blues composer and performer W(illiam) C(hristopher) Handy (18731958), singer Nat "King" Cole (191765), and singer-songwriter Hank Williams (192353). Alabama's most widely known actress was Tallulah Bankhead (190368), the daughter of William B. Bankhead.

Among Alabama's sports figures are track and field star Jesse Owens (James Cleveland Owens, 191380), winner of four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin; boxer Joe Louis (Joseph Louis Barrow, 191481), world heavyweight champion from 1937 to 1949; and baseball stars Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige (1906?82), Willie Mays (b.1931), and (Louis) Henry Aaron (b.1934), all-time US home-run leader.


Arsenault, Raymond. Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Council of State Governments. The Book of the States, 2006 Edition. Lexington, Ky.: Council of State Governments, 2006.

Flynt, Wayne. Alabama in the Twentieth Century. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2004.

Gaillard, Frye. Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement that Changed America. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2004.

Jordan, Jeffrey L. Interstate Water Allocation in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2006.

Lofton, J. Mack. Voices from Alabama: A Twentieth-Century Mosaic. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1993.

Norman, Corrie E., and Don S. Armentrout (eds.). Religion in the Contemporary South: Changes, Continuities, and Contexts. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2005.

Suitts, Steve. Hugo Black of Alabama: How His Roots and Early Career Shaped the Great Champion of the Constitution. Montgomery: NewSouth Books, 2005.

US Dept. of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, US Census Bureau. Alabama, 2000. Summary Social, Economic, and Housing Characteristics: 2000 Census of Population and Housing. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 2003.

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ALABAMA. Geography has had a great influence on the history of Alabama. The state is bound by Tennessee on the north, Georgia on the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico on the south, and Mississippi on the west. Alabama is a state of contrasts, with mountainous regions in the north, the prairie lowlands called the Black Belt in the middle of the state, and coastal plain regions in the south. Cheaha Mountain is the highest point in the state, with an elevation of 2,407 feet.

The thirteen major rivers of Alabama construct a framework for intense agricultural production, transportation, and hydroelectric power. The Tallapoosa and Coosa Rivers run southeast through the state, the Tennessee River loops through the northeastern part of the state, the Tombigbee and Black Warrior Rivers merge in the west-central part of Alabama, and the Chattahoochee marks a portion of the eastern border with Georgia. Early on, rivers were central to the lives of the native inhabitants for accessing food supplies and for transportation. Early European settlers followed the Native Americans' pattern, establishing communities near water sources first.

Early Inhabitants

Archaeologists estimate that the first human settlements in Alabama date from around 9000 b.c. The first inhabitants lived in communities located near cave and bluff sites around the state, such as Russell Cave in Jackson County. Moundville, situated in Hale and Tuscaloosa counties on the Black Warrior River, is one of the largest prehistoric communities north of Mexico. By the 1600s, most of the Native Americans living in what would become Alabama belonged to four major nations: Creek, Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw. These nations (which included the Alabama, Apalache, Coushatta, and Mobile tribes) were related through a common language, Muskogean, and many shared traditions. The Native Americans primarily lived in villages located on water sources, such as the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers. The largest group was the Creek Confederation, numbering about 22,000 when the Europeans first landed, but the effects of European communicable diseases were devastating to the Native Americans.

The state's name probably comes from the name of a Native American tribe that lived primarily in central Alabama. A major river in the state was named for this group, and the state was named for the river. Some experts believe that the name has roots in the Choctaw tongue; it is commonly translated as "thicket clearers."

European Contact

According to available documents, the first Europeans to reach Alabama were Spanish explorers Alonzo Alvares de Piñeda in 1519 and Pánfilo de Narváez in 1528. However, a 1507 German New World map depicts Mobile Bay in great detail, suggesting that an unknown individual charted the Alabama coast prior to the first Spanish explorers. Sometime in the 1540s Hernando de Soto entered the region. The treasurer from that expedition, Cabeza de Vaca, offered the first written account of the Alabama land, including the first description of the native inhabitants. A significant battle was fought at the village of Maubila between de Soto's Spaniards and Chief Tuscaloosa's (or Tascaluza's) warriors.

Don Tristán de Luna made the first attempt to establish a Spanish colony on the Alabama-Florida coast, but his efforts failed in 1561. The first permanent European settlement, Fort Louis de la Mobile, was established by Jean-Baptiste le Moyne de Bienville in 1702 at Mobile Bay (then part of Louisiana, ruled by the French). In 1717, Fort Toulouse was established on the Coosa River for trading purposes. The first African slaves arrived in Alabama in 1721, aboard the slave ship the Africane.

In 1780, during the Revolutionary War, Alabama was taken by Spain. The United States took back the Mobile area, considered the center of Spanish power, during the War of 1812. The Alabama Territory was created from Mississippi Territory land, and settlers disputed over rights to the land and fought to gain favor with the Creek Nation. The Creek War of 1813–1814 ended with the defeat of the Creeks at Horseshoe Bend. On 9 August 1814, Creek leader William Wetherford surrendered to General Andrew Jackson at Fort Jackson, where he signed a treaty that ceded the Creek lands to the federal government.

Becoming a State

After the defeat of the Creek nation, "Alabama Fever" swept the land. Thousands of settlers flocked to the state, seeking the temperate climate and rich soil that proved perfect for the production of cotton. Small farmers, planters, and professionals brought families from other Piedmont regions of the Southeast. The majority of newcomers to the state were farming-class families who brought with them few slaves and limited supplies. Most settled as squatters prior to land being made available for sale by the government.

William Wyatt Bibb, a former Georgia senator, was appointed the new territorial governor of Alabama in 1817. There have been five state capitals since the 1817 Congressional act that created Alabama: St. Stephens, Huntsville, Cahaba (at the juncture of the Cahaba and Alabama Rivers), Tuscaloosa, and finally Montgomery, on the Alabama River. The state's founders felt that a river location was important for the capital. The first steamboat, The Alabama, was built in St. Stephens in 1818.

Alabama was admitted to the Union on 14 December 1819 as the twenty-second state. The first Alabama Constitution was written in 1819, and William Wyatt Bibb was publicly elected that year as the first governor of the state. The 1830 Federal Census lists Alabama's population as 309,527; 190,406 were white and 119,121 were African American (with 117,549 designated as slaves and 1,572 as free blacks).

The Plantation and War

Alabama's cotton kingdom was built by the hands, minds, and spirits of slaves brought primarily from West Africa. Slavery, called the "peculiar institution," caused complicated social and cultural patterns to evolve in the state, the effects of which are still felt in Alabama. Plantations varied in size and aimed to be self-sufficient, but most farmers in the state worked small farms and owned no slaves.

In the 1830s, Alabama politicians aligned with President Andrew Jackson and his criticisms of the Bank of America and the idea of centralized wealth and power. European settlement continued to expand, and during Clement C. Clay's tenure as governor, the Creeks were exiled from the state. In 1832 the state's first railroad, the Tuscumbia Railway, opened. Its two miles of track ran from the Tennessee River to Tuscumbia. In 1854 the Alabama Public School Act was passed, creating a statewide education system.

As an agriculturally centered state, Alabama's politics were tied to the land. The dominant political parties were the Democrats and the Whigs, with the Democratic Party generally predominating. A fundamentally Jeffersonian and proslavery philosophy guided the Alabama government in the prewar years.

The debate over states' rights became more heated through the 1850s and early 1860s, and Alabama's leading advocate was William L. Yancy. Henry W. Hillard and supporters of sectional reconciliation could not dissuade those advocating secession. On 11 January 1861, the Alabama Secession Convention passed an Ordinance of Secession, making Alabama the fourth state to secede from the Union. The influence of Jacksonian democracy on the state was profound. Alabamians generally supported individualism and a steadfast perseverance for independence, combined with perceptions that hard work was a virtue and that education and wealth lead to corruption.

After the formation of the Confederate States, a government was built in Montgomery in central Alabama, creating the "Cradle of the Confederacy" (and the "Heart of Dixie"). Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as president of the Confederate States of America there on 18 February 1861.

During the Civil War, 202 land and naval events occurred within Alabama's borders and Alabama civilian involvement was great. Not only did 90,000 to 100,000 white men fight for the Confederacy, an estimated 2,700 white men from north Alabama and as many as 10,000 blacks from the Tennessee Valley area enlisted in the Union army. During the war, as in most other Southern states, women and children assisted the Confederacy by supplying as many goods as possible, even as they maintained homes and farms while a significant portion of the working white male population was gone. Women also established clinics in communities and on the battlefield to care for wounded soldiers all across the state.

Beyond the Civil War

After the war, Alabama rewrote its constitution. In February 1868, the constitution was ratified and Alabama was readmitted to the Union. The state was put under Federal control as congressionally warranted, and the new constitution allowed blacks suffrage for the first time.

When the political and social order of the Confederacy fell in spring 1865, Alabama entered a period of upheaval and was forced to redefine itself. Tensions grew between the planter class and the small farmers, between the races, and between political factions. Alabama was riddled with losses from the war—political, financial, and social loss, as well as loss of human life. Alabamians resented the Federal troops that came into the state under President Andrew Johnson's plan of Reconstruction. The state was politically split: the anti-Confederacy contingency in northern Alabama opposed the conservatives in the south, and the racial divide created a great chasm in the state. No group in the state wanted to lose power or status. There was a period of accommodation by white southerners toward blacks, but reactions against the Civil Rights Act of 1866—granting equal rights to people of every race and color—were violent. The freed black population complicated the political structure of the state, and the acts of violence and terror reflected whites' fear that blacks and a federal presence in the state would crumble the old Alabama power. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) moved into north Alabama after its birth in Tennessee and gradually moved through the state. Although federal response to Klan actions effectively stopped the group's activity for a while, the KKK would reappear later in Alabama's history.

Bourbon Democrats, claiming to have redeemed the people of Alabama from federal Reconstructionist rule by carpetbaggers and scalawags, passed a new constitution on 16 November 1875. Political dissension and corruption, along with animosity toward federal involvement in the welfare and control of the state, made Alabama a hotbed for trouble. While slavery had been abolished, sharecropping and farm tenancy systems—established to continue the state's agricultural production—were forms of legalized slavery. After the Civil War came the first movement of blacks away from Alabama: while some former slaves chose to stay where there was work, many immediately left the land and people that had held them in bondage.

Industry emerged in Alabama in the early 1870s. The textile industry made its start in the Chattahoochee River Valley and near Huntsville. North Alabama, especially around Birmingham, was dotted with an ever-growing expanse of coal and iron mines. Birmingham would for many years be the industrial center of the state. All the resources needed to make steel were available within twenty miles of the city, drawing investors like Henry DeBardeleben and James Sloss to the area. The Tennessee Coal and Iron Company (TCI) moved its headquarters to Birmingham.

With the boom in industry, Alabama needed to strike a balance between the long-established agricultural constituency and the new industrial one. The level of poverty was intense, especially for farmers: it cost more to produce agricultural goods than they were worth. The Farmers' Alliance quickly gained ground in Alabama, creating cooperatives and becoming a voice of reform. Interest in the Populist Party grew along with reformist sentiments. The established Bourbon hegemony was threatened by the Populists' appeals to the working classes, including blacks.

The Democrats even used legal means to step around the Fifteenth Amendment, disenfranchising blacks and poor whites—thus setting in motion the widely accepted practice of legalized discrimination and violence toward blacks and, to a much lesser extent, other minority groups. In 1901 delegates from across the state met at the Constitutional Convention. They established suffrage requirements of residency, literacy, land ownership, and taxation that disenfranchised most black voters, as well many poor whites. The new Constitution of the State of Alabama was adopted on 3 September 1901.

War and the Great Depression

Alabamians rallied to the World War I effort. The state sent 86,000 men to combat; 6,400 of these were casualties. Military bases throughout the state offered training facilities to prepare soldiers for war.

As in the rest of the country, black and white women in Alabama were seriously advocating for their right to vote in the 1910s. When Tennessee ratified the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, it was made law. Alabama ratified after that point, even though it was unnecessary. Women played a significant role in Alabama during the Progressive Era, leading education reforms, prohibition, child welfare, and prison reform. Both black and white women fought to improve the social and moral well-being of the state's inhabitants. Julia S. Tutwiler was one such reformer; she is remembered for advancing the educational opportunities for women and girls.

Although the early 1920s postwar era offered riches for some, most of the state remained poor. The boll weevil had come to Alabama in 1909, eventually forcing farmers to diversify crop production because of its devastating effects on cotton. While industry was a definite presence in the state, agriculture still reigned in the years between the World Wars. Because of poor conditions for crop production, the 1920s were a stark time for farmers all across the south. These conditions were echoed throughout the country during the Great Depression.

During the depression, some Alabama politicians played a significant role in the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, including the New Deal. Alabama's Senator Hugo C. Black, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, was appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1937. One New Deal program in particular had an enormous effect on the state: the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

The Great Depression was a time of such upheaval for families that many relocated to try to find work and stability. There was a mass migration of blacks leaving the state during this time and into the 1940s, when World War II's production demands offered work opportunities. New York, Chicago, Detroit, and other industrial cities offered blacks an opportunity for a better life.

World War II brought a measure of prosperity to the state. Most folks who wanted a job could find one. The Mobile Bay housed companies that built ships, and Childersburg was the home of the Alabama Ordnance Works, one of the nation's largest producers of smokeless gunpowder. Alabama sent 250,000 enlisted men to the war effort, with over 6,000 casualties.

Civil Rights

A shift occurred in Alabama's political allegiance to the Democratic Party starting in the 1940s, resulting mostly from questions and conflicts over civil rights.

As soon as federal troops left Alabama after Reconstruction, racial segregation was the understood, and eventually written, law of the state. In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that "separate but equal" facilities for blacks and whites were legal. But separate was not equal in Alabama, and the modern history of the state would be formed by the black struggle for equality.

When the KKK returned to Alabama in 1915, its actions were not solely directed toward blacks. Reacting to the heavy influx of immigrants into the state and the Progressive social movement, the Klan struck out against any one that seemed to threaten "traditional American values." By 1924, around 18,000 of Birmingham's 32,000 registered voters were Klan members, making the group a formidable presence.

The 1931 Scottsboro Boys incident placed Alabama and its politics in the international spotlight, raising questions about civil rights, the presence of the Communist Party, and northern political and social influence on the state. The incident started in March, when two white teenage girls riding a freight train near Scottsboro told police they had been raped by some black men on the train. Within fifteen days, nine young black men were arrested, charged, tried, convicted, and sentenced to die for the alleged rapes. The sentences met with international outrage over the mob atmosphere, and many activists called for a reversal of the rulings. This incident started a social and racial revolution in Alabama that would affect the racial dynamics of the entire country.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that separate but equal schools were illegal. Alabama's officials chose not to enforce or even recognize this mandate. In 1955 the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the University of Alabama to admit two black women who had been denied admission.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s presence in the state started when he began preaching at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery. He later wrote "Letter from the Birmingham Jail" after being arrested for his involvement in nonviolent protests. On 1 December 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the middle of a public bus to a white man. Her action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which crippled the city of Montgomery economically. The boycott was the first significant civil rights victory in Alabama. Black voter registration became an intense focus in the state, bringing Freedom Riders from all over the country to help with the cause.

Violence erupted in response to the civil rights movement, including bombings directed toward King and other prominent nonviolent leaders. In 1963, a bomb killed four girls at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham, possibly the most infamous act of violence during the civil rights movement. That same year, police commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor turned his intimidation tactics, fire hoses, and attack dogs on the peaceful protesters in Birmingham.

Forced federal integration was ordered in 1963. Governor George C. Wallace stood on the stairs at the University of Alabama and professed, "Segregation now; segregation tomorrow; segregation forever." Driven by what he thought people in the state wanted to hear, Wallace was vocally racist for most of his political career. He was first elected as governor of Alabama in 1962 and served four terms in that position over the next twenty years, with several unsuccessful bids at the White House.

The Selma to Montgomery March, led by King and other civil rights leaders, began in Selma on 21 March 1965 and ended four days later at the state capital. After the conclusion of the march and the speeches, Klansmen murdered a Detroit housewife as she helped take members of the march back home. This act, and others associated with voter registration drives, created a constellation of activism and violence.

The time was one of conflict, but black Alabamians and thousands of their supporters successfully birthed the movement that instigated change. The Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968, and other federal interventions, made discrimination based on race illegal.

After the Civil Rights Movement

Divided into sixty-seven counties, the land area of Alabama is 32.5 million acres. In 2000, 28 percent was used as farmland. Although cotton was no longer the dominant crop in Alabama at the end of the twentieth century, it still figured prominently. Cotton is predominantly grown in the Tennessee Valley area, and some is grown in the Black Belt, Mountain, and Plateau regions. Peanuts, soybeans, corn, peaches, and pecans are also important crops. Cattle and poultry are major agricultural assets as well.

Forests are one of Alabama's most important agricultural resources. The timber industry is influential throughout all regions of the state, and it is vital to the state's economy. Other natural resources that figure into the state's economy are natural gas, sand and gravel, lime, clay, and coal.

Alabama has also made historic contributions to space exploration. The first U.S. satellite, Explorer I (launched on 31 January 1958), was developed in Huntsville. The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, established in 1960, has played a significant role in the development of the space shuttle program and the space station.

At the end of the twentieth century, Alabama's rich resources made the state attractive to new industry. Tuscaloosa is known for electronics manufacturing, and Birmingham is home to cutting-edge biomedical research and engineering, and to telecommunications firms. New car manufacturing industries continued to come to the state. In 1989, the manufacturing sector of the state's economy employed 24 percent of Alabama's total workforce.

Alabama's rivers continue to be important to the state, especially for waterborne commerce. Alabama has more than 1,500 miles of navigable inland waterways. The Port of Mobile is a point of international shipping.

Alabama's population grew throughout the last thirty years of the century: 1970's population was 3,444,165, and 1990's population was 4,040,587. According to the 2000 Federal Census, there were 4,447,100 people living in Alabama, with the largest portion of the population aged 35 to 44 years old (685,512). There were 3,162,808 Alabamians who identified as white, 1,155,930 as black, 75,830 as Hispanic or Latino, 31,346 as Asian, 22,430 as American Indian and Alaska Native, and 1,409 as Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders.


Flynt, J. Wayne. Poor but Proud: Alabama's Poor Whites. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1989.

Jackson, Harvey H., III. Rivers of History: Life on the Coosa, Tallapoosa, Cahaba, and Alabama. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1995.

Kelley, Robin D. G. Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists during the Great Depression. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.

Letwin, Daniel. The Challenge of Interracial Unionism: Alabama Coal Miners, 1878–1921. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

Litwack, Leon F. Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow. New York: Knopf, 1998.

McKiven, Henry M., Jr. Iron and Steel: Class, Race, and Community in Birmingham, Alabama, 1875–1920. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

Rogers, William Warren, Robert David Ward, Leah Rawls Atkins, and Wayne Flynt. Alabama: The History of a Deep South State. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1994.


See alsoBourbons ; Civil Rights Movement ; Desegregation ; Ku Klux Klan ; Reconstruction ; Scottsboro Case ; South, the ; Tribes: Southeastern .

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Country group

For the Record

Breaking through Style Barriers

Success Follows Alabama into the 90s

Selected discography


Since it exploded onto the scene in the early 1980s, Alabama has been one of the most popular, best-selling, and most vilified groups in country musicall despite scorn by critics. Michael Bane of the Encyclopedia of Country Music wrote, it was the country music equivalent of fingernails on a chalk board. On the other hand, said Bane, when the music workedTennessee River or She and Iit transcended its genre. Part of the negative criticism was probably a normal critics reaction to a large, loyal and fanatical audience. Between 1980 and 1997 the band has sold more than 57 million records worldwide, including ten platinum, three double platinum, three quadruple platinum albums and one quintuple platinum album. They had 41 number one singles, before sales began to slump in the nineties. In other words, instead of multi-platinum sellers they are producing mere million seller albums.

The first country music supergroup, as Michael Bane called Alabama, got its start when cousins Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry began singing together in the Lookout Mountain Holiness Church up in the hills near the

For the Record

Members include Jeffrey Alan Cook (born August 27, 1949, Fort Payne, AL; married with one child. Education: Alabama State Technical College, Gadsden, AL), guitar, fiddle, and vocals; Teddy Wayne Gentry (born January 22, 1952, Fort Payne, AL; married with two children), bass and vocals; Mark Joel Herndon (born May 11, 1955, Springfield MA; married with one child), drums; Randy Yueull Owen (born December 13, 1949, Fort Payne, AL; married with three children. Education: Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, AL), vocals and guitar.

Cook, Gentry, and Owen formed band Young Country, 1969; changed name to Wildcountry, 1973; changed name to Alabama, 1977; Herndon joined band, 1979.

Awards: Cashbox New Vocal Group of the Year Album and Single, 1980; Billboard, New Group of the Year, 1981; Country Music Association, Entertainer of the Year, 1982-84; Academy of Country Music, Entertainer of the Year, 1982-86; Grammy for Mountain Music, 1983; Billboard, Top Overall Artist, 1983; Grammy for The Closer You Get, 1984; Inducted into Alabama Hall of Fame, 1985; Academy of Country Music Artist of the Decade, 1980-89; Cashbox Artist of the Decade, 1980-89; American Music Award, Favorite Country Group, 1982, 1983, 1991-96.

Addresses: Home Myrtle Beach, SC. Record company -RCA, One Music Circle, Nashville, TN 37203-4301. Management Barbara Hardin, Dale Morris & Associates, Inc., 118 16th Avenue South, Suite 201, Nashville, TN 37203-3104. Public relations Greg Fowles, Alabama Band Promotions, 101 Glenn Blvd. S., Fort Payne, AL 35967. Website

Georgia state line. When they reached their teens they hooked up with another cousin, Jeff Cook, and started playing together around Fort Payne, Alabama. Their band, Young Country, played whatever gigs it could find: local dances, bars, and picnics. Their first paying job was at the American Legion hall where they earned the princely sum of $5.37 each. An amusement park in the area hired them not long afterwards and they played there three years running, backing up the various artists passing through town, including some from the Grand Opry. Thanks to a local talent show they won, the three cousins were able to visit the Opry themselves.

While playing music on nights and weekends, the band members held down a variety of day jobs, including hanging dry wall, picking cotton, fixing typewriters, and deejaying. In 1973, despite the skepticism of family and friends they decided to quit their day jobs and devote themselves full-time to music. As if to make the attitude official they renamed themselves Wildcountry and headed off for the wild life in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

When we first got to Myrtle Beach it was an absolute shock, Randy Owen told the Washington Post People stayed up all night, dancing and playing music, and where we came from nothing like that was going on. People were on vacation and they were acting wild. They played at various clubs before finally settling in at the Bowery, a sweaty joint so small there wasnt even room for dancing. The club was the center of the craziness in Myrtle Beach, and it was where Alabama cut its teeth musically. They did have one advantage, however: they were the only country band in town. But the money they earned came from tips exclusively, so pleasing the crowds was their first priority. The audience could be completely different from one night to the next, demanding anything from rock to R&B to soul music. Wildcountry had to be prepared to play all of it. But, as Owen told the Post, they drew the line at disco.

The Bowery was the bands musical higher education; they learned all the different styles, honing their trademark vocal harmonies to a sharp edge. According to Owen, it taught him that alead singer couldnt simply stand around and sing, he had to move around on stage. And it helped build their stamina, playing the bar seven years, every night between March and mid-September, five hours at a stretch. Wed play til we got blisters. Then wed play til the blisters popped, recalled Teddy Gentry in the Comprehensive Country Music Encyclopedia, but it sure beat working the swing shift at the sock factory.

By 1977, they were the most popular thing in Myrtle Beach. Fans were traveling to the Bowery from New England and the Midwest in order to hear the band play. That same year they changed their name once and for all to Alabama, and added drummer Mark Herndon two years later. Their first record, which they financed themselves, was released in the late seventies and reached a respectable #77 on the charts. They paid to have some albums pressed as well and would sell them directly to their fans from the stage. Unfortunately, they had been unable to interest any of the larger Nashville record companies in signing them. It wasnt until their third single, My Homes in Alabama, shot up to the Top 5 and they were asked to perform at the New Faces show at Nashvilles annual Country Radio Seminar that their luck changed.

Breaking through Style Barriers

They must have wondered at first if it was really changing. Me and Jeff and Teddy had to stand up on stage without our instruments and sing, Owen told Billboards Chet Flippo, and Mark wasnt on stage at all. I wrote the song but I wasnt allowed to play on it. The reason was that the country music establishment at the time still had a heavy prejudice against bands. Groups that sang, like the Oak Ridge Boys or the Statler Brothers, were perfectly acceptable; but bands that sang and played their own instruments were associated with rock n roll, and rock was strictly taboo. Despite the handicap, Alabama electrified the DJs with their renditions of My Homes in Alabama and Tennessee River. RCA responded by singing the band and released the latter tune as their first single. It was an immediate hit and before long it was at the very top of the country charts. RCAs commitment to aggressively promoting Alabamas first album paid off as well. Owen later described RCAs modest expectations to Chet Flippo: At the beginning, RCA said that if we sold 60,000 albums, they would consider signing us a good deal. The album took off almost immediately and ended up selling over two million copies.

The first Alabama albums, influenced by their work at the Bowery, had a style that Michael Bane, in The Comprehensive Country Music Encyclopedia called typical of the pre-Garth Brooks era in country music: the hardshell Southern bar music filtered through a distinct 1960s pop group sensibilitysort of The Allman Brothers meet The Beatles. By the mid-eighties, with the release of albums like Roll On (1984) and 40 Hour Week (1985), the band had moved toward a more traditional, blue collar country sound. It did not hurt their popularity thoughthose two albums sold a combined five million plus units and produced eight number one singles.

However one feels about their music, their is no denying that Alabama changed the course of country music. The elements they introduced from other popular music, especially rock, ended the dominance of the traditional Nashville sound. The synthesis they created with rock was a bridge that enabled country to reach a new generation of fans too, new fans country desperately needed at the time. Suddenly country became acceptable across the nation. And the new fanswere attracted by precisely those qualities that Nashville considered flaws. Naturally, once the millions started rolling in, they werent flaws any longer. The fact that they were the biggest money machine country music had ever seen was, according to the Country Music Foundations Country: The Music and the Musicians, Alabamas greatest contribution to country music: Its popularity, especially during the industrys lean years, 1982 to 1986. Alabamas profitability helped RCA take chances on newer performers and to keep deserving but commercially shaky acts, like Gail Davies, on the roster.

Those new fans eventually became more knowledgeable and discriminating about country music, however. As they made a more purist breed of artist popular, typified by Garth Brooks and Dwight Yoakam, in the late eighties, Alabamas fortunes declined, although they did manage to maintain a large and loyal fan base. The band reciprocates that loyalty, taking time after each show to meet fans personally and sign autographs. Their merchandise is very popular, and Alabama was one of the very first country groups to aggressively pursue this avenue of money-making; their well-organized fans are a natural market. The official Alabama fan club has a quarter of a million members, and charges no dues. But members receive, together with regular newsletters, catalogs of Alabama T-shirts, hats, mugs, posters, belts, and more.

Success Follows Alabama into the 90s

By the 1990s the band had become an institution: they had won two Grammys and been voted the Artist of the Decade by the Academy of Country Music. Their career began to run on automatic. RCA began feeding them songs, as the bands own songwriting was discouraged. When In Pictures was released in 1995 only one cut was an Alabama composition. But around that time they gave up their plane and started touring by bus again, to have time to unwind between shows. The extra off-time on the road gave them more time together and before long the songs were flowing like never before.

When RCA executives visited Fort Payne to talk about a new Alabama album in 1996, they had briefcases full of music like always, but Owen and the band insisted on playing some of their own songs instead. Dancinon the Boulevard, released in 1997, contained seven songs written by Alabama. The album was one of their freshest in years, a mix of styles that looked back to their years playing for tips in Myrtle Beach. With this release, Alabama felt fully in charge of their own career again.

Selected discography

My Hearts in Alabama, RCA, 1980.

Feels So Right, RCA, 1981.

Mountain Music, RCA, 1982.

The Closer You Get, RCA, 1983.

Roll On, RCA, 1984.

40 Hour Week, RCA, 1986.

Alabama Christmas, RCA, 1986.

Alabamas Greatest Hits, RCA, 1986.

Cheap Seats, RCA, 1993.

In Pictures, RCA, 1995.

Dancin on the Boulevard, RCA, 1997.



The Comprehensive Country Music Encyclopedia, NY Times Books, 1994.

Country: The Music and the Musicians, Abbeville Press, 1988.


Billboard, September 7, 1985; May 23, 1992; September 2, 1995; March 1, 1997.

Close-Up, June 1997.

New Country, July 1997.

Washington Post, September 12, 1997.


Additional information was provided by RCA publicity materials.

Gerald E. Brennan

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Alabama (state, United States)

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 line and the coastal plain below. These plains, drained by the Alabama and the Tombigbee rivers and their tributaries, are primarily devoted to agriculture. Montgomery is the capital and Birmingham the largest city of Alabama. Mobile 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 BC to AD 1650, and Mound State Monument, near Tuscaloosa, the site of numerous early Native American mounds.


The central Black Belt, 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 Authority 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.

Among Alabama's educational institutions are the Univ. of Alabama, at Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Huntsville; Auburn Univ., at Auburn; Birmingham-Southern College and Howard College, at Birmingham; Huntingdon College, at Montgomery; the Univ. of Montevallo, at Montevallo; and Tuskegee Univ., 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 Wars.

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 Controversy). 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 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.


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. Huntsville 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 integration). 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 King Jr. in 1965.

George C. Wallace, 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 Waterway, 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).

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Alabama, traditionally one of the nation's poorest states, has survived the demise of a one-crop economy, the upheaval of a civil war, a revolution in race relations, and the challenges of a modern industrial economy. While the state still has many difficulties to overcome, it continues to be an important contributor to the nation's economy.

The first Europeans to arrive in Alabama found the land inhabited by Creek, Cherokee, and Chickasaw Indians. The Spanish first entered Mobile Bay during the sixteenth century. Hernando de Soto (c.14961542) entered the Mobile Delta via Tennessee in 1540. In the early 1700s French explorers established the first permanent settlement at Mobile. The British took over the territory by terms of the Treaty of Paris in 1763 but lost it again to Spain in 1780. The United States did not gain title to the land until after the War of 1812 (18121814). In 1814 a force led by Andrew Jackson (17671845) drove off most of the remaining Indian tribes, opening up the territory to white settlement. After this time many immigrants from southern states poured into Alabama in hopes of acquiring good land on which to grow cotton, a newly profitable crop in the South. Though still sparsely populated, Alabama became a state in 1819.

Alabama remained an almost entirely agricultural state for some decades to come. Cotton was the major crop though sorghum, corn, oats, vegetables, and livestock also were important. The farm economy, particularly on large plantations, was based on slave labor. By 1860 the number of slaves in the state constituted 45 percent of the population. Large planters, only about one percent of the total, owned 28 percent of all of the state's wealth and wielded the most power in the state legislature both before and after the American Civil War (18601865). They lived in columned mansions, which according to historian Virginia Van der Veer Hamilton, "betray[ed] their owners as among America's conspicuous consumers, free from Puritan scruples about showiness and lavish expenditure even when heavily in debt."

Small farmers, by contrast, led a hardscrabble life in Alabama at this time. In his Journey in the Back Country, Frederick Law Olmsted, a New York journalist who toured the South in 1853, noted that these farmers were hardworking yet reaped only minimal crops for their efforts. "They are very ignorant," he said. "The agriculture is wretched and the work hard."

The large planters led the movement to secede from the Union, and Alabama joined the Confederate States of America in 1861. Montgomery served as the Confederate capital until it was moved to Richmond in May of 1861, and Alabama native Jefferson Davis was elected president. After the South's defeat in 1865, a Reconstruction (18651877) government ruled the state for six years. It aroused the hatred of most Alabama whites, who resented both the radical Republicans and the blacks they placed in positions of power.

Although cotton was still "king" after the Civil War, many readjustments were necessary in Alabama. Without the free labor provided by slavery, landowners had to rely on landless farmers called sharecroppers who paid rent in cotton for the land they worked. This system tended to perpetuate a culture of dependency and deep divisions between wealthy landowners and poor sharecroppers.

The state attempted to diversify the economy in the 1880s and 1890s by encouraging industry, particularly the iron industry, in cities like Birmingham. The presence of coal fields and veins of iron in the state made this industry possible. In the early days in the iron mills, according to Hamilton, "Hammers rose and fell eighty strokes a minute, their steady throb audible for four to five miles on still days." Labor unrest, along with controversy over the leasing of convicts to work in the factories, plagued the iron business. The 1894 strike at Birmingham's Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company (TCI) ended with capitulation by the workers. Thereafter labor made few strides in the state until the mid-1930s. In 1907 U.S. Steel, the country's largest steel maker, bought-out TCI. Birmingham, like its sister city in England, had become an important manufacturing city by this time.

Cotton milling also became a vital industry, employing mostly poor farm people who had lost their land after the war and were forced to work long hours for low wages. By 1900 nearly 9,000 workers, including children, were employed in Alabama mills. Episcopal rector Edgar Gardner Murphy led a reform movement to prevent the exploitation of child workers, who often worked 12 hours a day for as little as 15 cents a day. In 1907 the Alabama legislature set the minimum age for workers at 12, limited the work week for children to 60 hours, and forbade those under 16 from working all night.

The increasing number of tenant farms in the state led to unrest among farmers in the late nineteenth century. In the 1890s many farmers joined the Grange, a cooperative organization for farmers, and, along with factory workers, supported the Populist Party in a vain attempt to overthrow longtime Democratic rule. Both African Americans and poor whites were becoming more and more disenfranchised by state Democratic administrations.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s Alabama was harder hit than most other states. One-third of the population was out of work, and private charities were overburdened. The New Deal programs of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (19331945) helped Alabama, one of the most destitute states, even though the federal government was viewed with suspicion by the people of Alabama. This period saw the shortening of the workweek, reform of child labor practices, and guarantees of the right to join a union. The Tennessee Valley Authority made many new industries possible, and the Rural Electrification Act brought people in remote areas from subsistence living into the twentieth century.

World War II (19391945) revived Alabama's industry, but the postwar period saw another relapse. War plants stood empty, and many blamed the labor and marketing practices of U.S. Steel for Birmingham's failure to compete successfully with plants in the East. In the late 1940s the Interstate Commerce Commission equalized freight rates, making it again profitable to produce steel in Birmingham.

The civil rights struggle of the mid-twentieth century brought white Alabama citizens into direct conflict with the national government. The first in a series of protests by African Americansthe Montgomery bus boycott of 1955took the form of an economic boycott. The young African American preacher Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. rose to prominence during this time of social change. Since the 1960s African Americans in Alabama have gained some of the political and civil rights they sought. Their economic status, while improved, remains much behind that of whites.

Alabama has resisted progressive changes such as education, health care, and the taxation that would pay for these social programs and bring the state to the level of most other states. The tax system is regressive and even exempts from taxation the property of giant lumber companies at their market value. No property taxes go toward education, putting Alabama near the bottom of all the states in funding schools. Infant mortality is also high in the state, and in 1990 more than 20 percent of the people in Alabama lived below the federal poverty level. Citizens of the state also had difficulty recovering from the serious recessions of the 1970s and 19801982, which caused the loss of 39,000 jobs in manufacturing.

Alabama, however, made some important economic strides during the last few decades of the twentieth century. The economy diversified from its heavy dependence on steel. Alabama employment opened up for thousands of workers in the food, textile, metal, electronic equipment, and transportation equipment industries in the 1990s. Birmingham's U.S. Steel spent well over one billion dollars in 1984 to improve the Fairfield steel plant, and in 1997 Mercedes Benz began producing a sport utility vehicle in the town of Vance. The state provides a number of tax incentives for new businesses, and the Alabama Development Office provides assistance in financing.

See also: Civil Rights, Civil War (Economic Causes of), Civil War (Economic Impact of), King Cotton, Reconstruction, Sharecropping


Agee, James, and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. New York: Ballantine Books, 1966.

Armes, Ethel. The Story of Coal and Iron in Alabama. Birmingham, UK: Book-keepers Press, 1972.

Lofton, J. Mack. Voices from Alabama: A Twentieth-Century Mosaic. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1993.

Olmsted, Frederick Law. A Journey in the Back Country. New York: Schocken Books, 1970.

Van der Veer Hamilton, Virginia. Alabama: A Bicentennial History. New York: Norton, 1977.

when [rural electrification] finally reached her, a rural [alabama] housewife expressed her heartfelt gratitude: "wonder of wonders, this delivery from the prison of isolation and darkness and drudgery."

carl elliott, annals of northwest alabama, 1958

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Country group

For the Record

Selected discography


Alabama is the most successful country group of the 1980s in terms of albums sold and awards bestowed. Consisting of three cousins born in AlabamaRandy Owen, Teddy Gentry, and Jeff Cookand a Massachusetts-born drummer, Mark Herndon, the band won Entertainer of the Year honors from the Country Music Association three consecutive years, making history as the first multi-member group to earn the coveted award. Recognition and million-selling albums have come after years of struggle for Alabama; according to Suzan Crane in Country Music magazine, the bands music has the unpretentious sincerity of the truest country tune.

Saturday Evening Post contributor Bob Allen likewise commented that because of the bands many fallow years before success came, the music is redolent of a sense of belonging, of a sense of home and of gratitude for the emotional ties that bind. Bill C. Malone elaborated on Alabamas sound in his book Country Music U.S.A.: Alabama discovered a winning commercial formula by judiciously mixing romantic ballads such as

For the Record

Originally formed in Fort Payne, Ala., in 1969 as Wild Country; name changed to Alabama, 1977; original group members include Randy Owen (born 1949 in Fort Payne, Ala.), guitar and vocals;Teddy Gentry (born 1952 in Fort Payne, Ala.), bass and vocals; Jeff Cook (born 1949 in Fort Payne, Ala.), guitar and keyboards. Mark Herndon (born 1955 in Massachusetts) joined Alabama as its sixth drummer in 1979 (also sings).

Awards: Named instrumental group of the year and vocal group of the year by Country Music Association, 1982; entertainer of the year awards from County Music Association, 1982, 1983, and 1984; entertainer of the year awards from Academy of Country Music, 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985; named country artist of the 1980s by Academy of Country Music, 1989.

Addresses: Management c/o Dale Morris Management, 818 19th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37203. Record company RCA Records 1133 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036-6758.

Feels So Right and An Old Flame Burning in Your Heart with rousing uptempoed tunes like Mountain Music and Tennessee River. The results have been a balanced and fruitful melange which has brought Alabama an enthusiastic and broad audience of both mainstream country listeners and youthful devotees.

Three of Alabamas four principal members were born and raised near Fort Payne, a small town in the Appalachian region of Alabama. Gentry and Owen lived on neighboring farms, where they helped to eke a bare subsistance living from the thin soil. Gentry told the Saturday Evening Post that neither family could afford such basics as indoor plumbing, television, or radio. As boyhood chums, Gentry and Owen sang together at the Lookout Mountain Pentecostal Holiness Church; both came from musical families in the rural gospel tradition. In high school the boys met a distantly related cousin, Jeff Cook, whose Fort Payne family was slightly more affluent.

Cook owned a veritable arsenal of musical equipment, to quote Crane, and he teamed with his country relatives to form a band. Their first performance in a local talent show resulted in a first prizetickets to Nashvilles Grand Ole Opry. Soon they were playing at theme parks and in small lounges in the vicinity of Fort Payne. Although they wanted to be full-time musicians, they took salaried jobs as carpet layers and as an electrician in order to make ends meet. They shared a rented house, where they spent their off-hours practicing and composing music. Cook told Country Music that late at night, even with the lights off wed lay there in the dark and sing until one by one wed drift off to sleep.

Finally, in 1972, the young men decided to quit their secure jobs to devote themselves entirely to the band. Calling themselves Wild Country, they hit the road in a battered Dodge van, playing gigs at Holiday Inns and honky tonk bars all across the South. One regular venue was The Bowery, in the seaside resort of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; the band members would perform and then sell albums they had produced at their own expense. No one in Alabama remembers those lean years with any fondness. After six months another group wouldve given up, Owen told People magazine. We started playing music as a business rather than just treating it like a big party. Cook told the Saturday Evening Post: We had just about every reason to quit. But we went on anyhow.

Wild Country changed its name to Alabama in 1977. Cook gave several reasons for the switch to the Saturday Evening Post: Alabama is a good short name, and you can copyright a state name. Its also a good alphabetical place to be in a music store. Thats the first album thats gonna be in there. In 1979 drummer Rick Scott left the band and was replaced by Mark Herndon. Within six months Alabama had its first recording contract. Dallas-based MDJ Records released the single I Wanna Come Over, and the song made the top thirty on the country charts. The groups debut professionally produced album, My Homes in Alabama (1980), also hit the country charts quickly and remained there for thirteen weeks. In the wake of that success, Alabama signed with RCA and became, in four short years, the best selling group in the history of country music.

Crane wrote that Alabamas lyrics take the listener on a journey through their past; bringing us to their home, introducing us to their lovers, and inviting us to share some of their experiences. Its a scenic ride on American roads and through human emotions. The music wont allow you to stay in one place too long, though, as tempos and sentiments change with every song. You get to like these boys on vinyl, their honesty and integrity, and especially their loyalty to their roots.

By all accounts the members of Alabama have remained as down-home genuine as their music. They all still live in Fort Payne, now with their wives and children; they do an annual benefit concert that helps finance numerous local charities, and they forbid public drinking among their retinue during concerts. According to Allen, You can call it country or you can call it rock, but one thing is certain: Alabama will never put on a show you couldnt take your children to see.

Owen explained the bands philosophy in the Saturday Evening Post: To me, all these awards weve won are something to live up to, he said. Were not a bunch of angels, by any means. But we do believe in promoting the positive things the kinds of things youve got to be aware of as far as the way you live your life. Having earned country musics most prestigious awards for songs they have written and performed themselves, Alabamas members have achieved their greatest goals. Owens told People, however, that he and his partners still nurture ambitions for the future. He called the country music business a never ending process of wanting to be bigger and go further.

Selected discography

My Homes in Alabama, RCA, 1980.

Feels So Right, RCA, 1981.

Mountain Music, RCA, 1982.

The Closer You Get, RCA, 1983.

Roll On, RCA, 1984.

Greatest Hits, RCA, 1986.

The Touch, RCA, 1986.

Just Us, RCA, 1987.

Southern Star, RCA, 1989.

Also recorded Alabama Christmas and 40 Hour Week, both with RCA.



Malone, Bill C., Country Music U.S.A., revised and enlarged edition, University of Texas Press, 1985.


Country Music, October, 1980.

People, May 3, 1982.

Saturday Evening Post, May, 1985.

Anne Janette Johnson

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Formed: 1969, Fort Payne, Alabama; Disbanded 2003

Members: Jeff Cook (born Fort Payne, Alabama, 27 August 1949); Teddy Gentry (born Fort Payne, Alabama, 22 January 1952); Mark Herndon (born Springfield, Massachusetts, 11 May 1955); Randy Owen (born Fort Payne, Alabama, 14 December 1949).

Genre: Country, Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Pass It on Down (1990)

Hit songs since 1990: "I'm in a Hurry (and Don't Know Why)," "Reckless," "Sad Lookin' Moon"

Combining country songwriting with the easy percussive sound of pop and rock, Alabama emerged as the most commercially successful country band of the 1980s, scoring twenty-seven number one singles over the course of the decade. Often dismissed by critics because of their slick style, Alabama deserve credit for popularizing the concept of the musical group within mainstream country, a genre in which most stars had been single vocalists during the 1960s and 1970s.

The key to Alabama's enduring appeal was its consistency. Although its albums of the early 1990s made a few concessions to the tougher neotraditionalist sound popular during the era, Alabama's musical foundation of electric bass, hard drums, and cheerful harmony singing did not change. Likewise, the durable appearance of its memberslong hair, beards, and blue jeanscultivated a "just folks" image that appealed to the band's working-class fan base. Blending predictability with professionalism, Alabama continued to score sizable hits throughout the 1990s.

The first cousins Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry, who grew up on separate cotton farms on Alabama's Lookout Mountain, formed the first incarnation of the group in 1969, naming it Young Country. Adding a third cousin, Jeff Cook, to its lineup, Young Country won first prize at a high school talent contest, performing a song by country star Merle Haggard. In 1972, after their members graduated from college, the band adopted the name Wildcountry and began attracting a loyal following through appearances in bars in the southeastern United States. Making one final name change to Alabama in 1977, the group achieved a minor country hit, "I Wanna Be with You Tonight," for the small GRT label. Unfortunately, GRT declared bankruptcy soon after, and, because of hidden contractual obligations, the band was prevented from recording for the next two years.

After addding the talents of the rock drummer Mark Herndon, Alabama reemerged in 1979 with the hit "I Wanna Come Over," released on the small MDJ label. The following year Alabama was signed by the major label RCA and quickly earned a number one country hit, "Tennessee River" (1980).

During the 1980s Alabama issued a slew of albums, each divided thematically between devotional ballads and nostalgic odes to the band's southern upbringing. Of these albums, Mountain Music (1982) is often cited by critics as the finest. The title track, sporting the steady kick of Herndon's drums, became a crossover pop hit because of its smooth, radio-groomed sound. Meanwhile, the string-drenched "Close Enough to Perfect" extols traditional marital values, a theme that resurfaced in the band's later work. Although none of the band's members were especially strong vocalists, their voices blended well together, creating an appealing harmony sound that recalled 1970s pop groups such as Three Dog Night. Despite the group's unprecedented chart success, critics were, for the most part, unkind. The 1982 edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide, for example, characterized the band's music as "flaccid country-rock." Although albums such as The Touch (1986) and Just Us (1987) sounded even slicker than their predecessors, the band returned to form with Southern Star (1989). Featuring production assistance from R&B keyboardist Barry Beckett, the album is enlivened by traditional-sounding harmonica and banjo on tracks such as "High Cotton."

By the early 1990s Alabama's albums were incorporating a slightly harder-edged sound that reflected neotraditionalism, a popular movement that returned country to a more basic, roots-oriented sound built upon fiddles, drums, and acoustic guitar. "I'm in a Hurry (and Don't Know Why)" (1992) uses this style to achieve a loose, free-spirited quality that contrasts favorably with the band's earlier recordings. At the same time Alabama continued to hit with syrupy ballads such as "Once upon a Lifetime" (1993), in which a father speculates on how his "first born" views the world: "through the innocence you see/the value of a family." Often the group's members displayed their true talent on nonhit album tracks, which allowed them a greater sense of freedom from the dictates of formula. Although In Pictures (1995) promotes the band's standard combination of religion and romance on the hit "The Maker Said Take Her," it also contains "I've Loved a Lot More Than I've Hurt," a rewarding slice of down-home philosophy. Set against gently strumming guitar and rustic-sounding barrel-house piano, the song conveys the wise, seasoned perspective of an aged romantic: "I've hurt a little now and then / But once you're broke you learn to bend." Likewise, "A Better World for Love," from Cheap Seats (1993), is a restrained, ruminative ballad, an anomaly within Alabama's catalog.

By 2001 Alabama no longer scored as high on the charts as it had in the 1980s and 1990s, but they continued to release successful albums such as When It All Goes South (2001). By this time critics observed that the group's lyrical emphasis on nostalgia and southern values was sounding dated, even inappropriate, within the modern climate of multicultural awareness. The album's title track, for example, seems to extol southern Confederate ideology with lines such as "Get yourself some rebel pride." Elsewhere, the song culls slogans that have often been used by racist and segregationist groups: "It really don't matter what state you're in / Some day the South's gonna rise again." While of dubious sensitivity in a thematic sense, "When It All Goes South" benefits from a rhythmic, funky supporting band. The album also features a strong track in "Wonderful Waste of Time," a breezy song whose gentle, Caribbean feel is enhanced by a full-bodied horn section. In 2003, after enjoying more than twenty-five years of success, Alabama's members made the decision to disband.

Alabama's rock-influenced sound and radio-friendly harmonies paved the way for the success of 1990s groups such as Lonestar and the Mavericks. Maintaining a reputation for consistency and professionalism, Alabama deviated little from the successful formula they developed during the 1980s and 1990s, performing songs of tradition and devotion with an assured, polished sound.


My Home's in Alabama (RCA, 1980); Mountain Music (RCA, 1982); Southern Star (RCA, 1989); Pass It on Down (RCA, 1990); American Pride (RCA, 1992); Cheap Seats (RCA, 1993); In Pictures (RCA, 1995); Twentieth Century (RCA, 1999); When It All Goes South (RCA, 2001).

david freeland

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ALABAMA. In August 1861, James D. Bulloch, a Confederate naval agent, contracted with the Laird shipyard of Liverpool, England, to build a steam sloop-of-war. Known only as "number 290," in order to conceal its true identity, the vessel slipped away on its first shakedown cruise in July 1862, never returning to port. After, traveling to the Azores, the ship was armed and commissioned the Confederate commerce raider C.S.S. Alabama. Commanded by Captain Raphael Semmes, the Alabama left a path of destruction from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, sinking over sixty U.S. merchant vessels and one Union warship, the U.S.S. Hatteras. After twenty consecutive months at sea, and in need of extensive repairs, the Alabama set sail for France to secure dry-dock facilities where the ship could be overhauled. When the ship dropped anchor at the port of Cherbourg on 10 June 1864, news of the Alabama's arrival in France spread quickly across Europe. Just four days later, the U.S.S. Kearsarge, commanded by Captain John S. Winslow, reached Cherbourg and took up post outside of the harbor in neutral waters. With no avenue of escape, and in spite of its poor condition, the Alabama sailed out to give battle to the Kearsarge on 19 June. As the two vessels closed on one another at a high speed, the Alabama opened fire first with no effect. The return salvo of the Kearsarge forced the Alabama to turn hard to port, resulting in both vessels exchanging broadsides as they steamed in a series of circles around one another. One hour later, with massive holes opened in its sides at the waterline, the Alabama sank. Captain Semmes and forty-one members of the crew were able to escape to England aboard the British yacht Deer-hound. During the course of her brief career the Alabama had wreaked havoc on the American merchant marine.


Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1894–1922. Ser. 1, v. 1–27; ser. 2, v. 1–3.

Robinson, Charles M. Shark of the Confederacy: The Story of the C.S.S. Alabama. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1995.

Semmes, Raphael. Memoirs of Service Afloat During the War Between the States. Secaucus, N.J.: Blue and Grey Press, 1987.


See alsoCivil War ; Navy, Confederate ; Warships .

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Birmingham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Mobile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

Montgomery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

The State in Brief

Nickname: Heart of Dixie; Camellia State

Motto: We dare defend our rights

Flower: Camellia

Bird: Yellowhammer

Area: 50,744 square miles (2000; U.S. rank: 30th)

Elevation: Ranges from sea level to 2,407 feet

Climate: Subtropical and humid; summers are long and hot, winters mild, rainfall abundant

Admitted to Union: December 14, 1819

Capital: Montgomery

Head Official: Governor Bob Riley (R) (until 2006)


1980: 3,894,000

1990: 4,040,587

2000: 4,447,100

2003 estimate: 4,500,752

Percent change, 19902000: 10.1%

Percent change, 20002003: 1.2%

U.S. rank in 2003: 23rd

Percent of residents born in state: 73.4% (2000)

Density: 87.6 people per square mile (2000)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 200,331

Racial and Ethnic Characteristics (2000)

White: 3,162,808

Black or African American: 1,155,930

American Indian and Alaska Native: 22,430

Asian: 31,346

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 1,409

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 75,830

Other: 28,998

Age Characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 295,992

Population 5 to 19 years old: 960,177

Percent of population 65 years and over: 13.0%

Median age: 35.8 years (2000)

Vital Statistics

Total number of births (2003): 59,356

Total number of deaths (2003): 46,598 (infant deaths, 519)

AIDS cases reported through 2003: 7,607


Major industries: Paper products, agriculture, chemicals, textiles, lumber, wood, metals, electronics, automobiles, food processing

Unemployment rate: 5.2% (November 2004)

Per capita income: $26,276 (2003; U.S. rank: 42nd)

Median household income: $37,419 (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Percentage of persons below poverty level: 15.1% (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Income tax rate: Ranges from 2.0 to 5.0%

Sales tax rate: 4.0%

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"Alabama." Cities of the United States. . 18 Dec. 2017 <>.

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Alabama State in se USA in the chief cotton-growing region; the state capital is Montgomery. Birmingham is the largest city and a leading iron and steel centre. Settled by the French in 1702, the region was acquired by Britain in 1763. Most of it was ceded to the USA after the American Revolution in 1783, and Alabama was admitted as the 22nd state of the Union in 1819. It seceded in 1861 as one of the original six states of the Confederacy, and was readmitted to the Union in 1868. It was a centre of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. The n of the state lies in the Appalachian Highlands, which have coal, iron ore, and other mineral deposits, and the rest consists of the Gulf coastal plain, crossed by a wide strip of fertile agricultural land. The Mobile river and its tributaries form the chief river system. The principal crops are peanuts, soya beans, and maize, with cotton decreasingly important. Industries: chemicals, textiles, electronics, metal and paper products. Area: 133,915sq km (51,705sq mi). Pop. (2000) 4,447,100.

Statehood :

December 14, 1819

Nickname :

The Heart of Dixie

State bird :


State flower :


State tree :

Southern pine

State motto :

We dare defend our rights

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"Alabama." World Encyclopedia. . 18 Dec. 2017 <>.

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The Alabama (Alibamu), with the Kaskinampo, Koasati (Alabama-Coushatta), Muklasa, Pawokti, and Tawasa, lived in south central Alabama and the northwestern tip of Florida. Their descendants now live principally on the Polk County Reservation in Texas (the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas), in the Alabama-Quassarte tribal town in Oklahoma, and in the Coushatta Community in Louisiana. They spoke Muskogean languages. The population of the Alabama-Coushatta tribe of Texas was 494 in 1980, and that of the Coushatta Community was 196 in 1966. A tourism-based economy has given economic stability to the community.


Bounds, John H. (1971). "The Alabama-Coushatta Indians of Texas." Journal of Geography 70:175-182.

Roth, Aline T. (1963). Kalita's People: A History of the Alabama-Coushatta Indians of Texas. Waco, Tex.

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"Alabama." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . 18 Dec. 2017 <>.

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Alabama (indigenous people of North America)

Alabama (ăləbăm´ə), indigenous people of North America whose language belongs to the Muskogean branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). 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.

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"Alabama (indigenous people of North America)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 18 Dec. 2017 <>.

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Alabama (ship)

Alabama, ship: see Confederate cruisers.

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AlabamaAlabama, clamour (US clamor), crammer, gamma, glamour (US glamor), gnamma, grammar, hammer, jammer, lamber, mamma, rammer, shammer, slammer, stammer, yammer •Padma • magma • drachma •Alma, halma, Palma •Cranmer • asthma • mahatma •miasma, plasma •jackhammer • sledgehammer •yellowhammer • windjammer •flimflammer • programmer •amah, armour (US armor), Atacama, Brahma, Bramah, charmer, cyclorama, dharma, diorama, disarmer, drama, embalmer, farmer, Kama, karma, lama, llama, Matsuyama, panorama, Parma, pranayama, Rama, Samar, Surinamer, Vasco da Gama, Yama, Yokohama •snake-charmer • docudrama •melodrama •contemner, dilemma, Emma, emmer, Jemma, lemma, maremma, stemma, tremor •Elmer, Selma, Thelma, Velma •Mesmer •claimer, defamer, framer, proclaimer, Shema, tamer

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