Alabama also was an early leader in the ‘Space Age’. Huntsville is nicknamed ‘Rocket City – U.S.A.,’ and the city has become a leading research center on space vehicles and rockets. Alabama additionally boasts beautiful forests rising up from the northern red clay soil, rolling grasslands and pine forests, and its southern bayous and swamp lands.
Alabama is a football-crazy state, and the University of Alabama’s football squad has won quite a few national championships. The state definitely no longer is the rural area it was back in the day and has turned in to an increasingly modern and cosmopolitan state.
Quick Facts about Alabama
- Alabama has Introduced Mardi Gras to the Western World.
- Alabama had the first railroad west of the Alleghenies, the Tuscumbia Railroad.
- The rocket that put first men on the moon was built in Huntsville.
- First in U.S. steel pipe and cast-iron production.
- The only U.S. state that has all required raw material to produce iron and steel.
- Montgomery had, in 1886, the first electric trolley system in the world.
Alabama Brief history
Hernando de Soto, a Spanish explorer, together with his army, first set foot on the land that we know as Alabama in 1540. They enslaved or had killed practically all native peoples before they went on.
In 1704, the Parish of Mobile was established. Later that century, the American Revolution was not really affecting the region that is present-day Alabama, but the Spanish captured Mobile Bay in 1780 to keep it for Spain for the duration of the war.
After the American Revolution, and after battles were fought with the British in the War of 1812, portions of Alabama became possession of the United States, and the victory of Andrew Jackson in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (1814) brought the rule of the great Creek Confederacy to an end. Near Russellville, the pioneer built enormous smelters in 1818 that were the real forerunners of Alabama’s leadership in iron & steel in later days.
The 1830’s marked the beginning of one of Alabama’s saddest periods in history. In those days, the state forced the Five Civilized Tribes to move westwards and to give up their fine homes. They were forced to go the ‘Trail of Tears’ without getting any sort of compensation for their valuable property.
Alabama broke away from the Union in 1861, on January 11th, and on the 4th of February that year, Montgomery was the city where delegates from six states were meeting to form the Confederate States of America, and Montgomery became the capital. This was also the year that the Confederate flag for the first time was shown in Alabama. Mobile, Selma, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa were falling to Union troops in the Civil war.
When the Civil War had come to an end, Alabama was refusing to agree with the 14th Amendment, and during the period of Reconstruction, it suffered enormous hardships. The Federal forces stayed in Alabama till 1876, and only thereafter began a modest recovery in the state. The living and working conditions of freed slaves was not improving significantly, but Booker T. Washington had taken over the Tuskegee Institute in 1881, and he was working hard to enhance education and living standards of African-Americans.
George Washington Carver was Director of the Tuskegee institute’s Agricultural Research Department, and he wrote:
…taking pride in progress and privileges coming to us should be the result of severe and constant struggle instead of artificial forcing… It is just and crucial that all privileges provided by the law become ours, though it is extremely important at the same time that we will be prepared to exercise these privileges….
The first time steel was produced in Alabama was in 1888, and in 1898 a totally black battalion of volunteers was teaming up with the state’s recruits during the Spanish-American War.
1932 is an important year in Alabama’s history. The U.S. Supreme court ruled that the Alabama Supreme Court had to redo its work in the famous Scottsboro case as nine black men were trialed were in an unfair and prejudiced way. The men were trailed again, and later five were convicted, and four were released.
While in World War I almost 87.000 Alabama residents saw military service in the conflict, in World War II some 288,00 Alabamans served in the U.S. armed forces.
In 1950, German scientist Werner von Braun, and with him a small army of over one hundred German rocket scientists, settled in relatively small Huntsville, giving the town the name ‘Rocket Capital of the World’, and it was in 1955 that Rosa Parks contested the state’s segregation rules as she refused to go to the back of a bus.
In 1972, on May 15th, Governor George Wallace got shot as he was campaigning to secure the presidential nomination for the Democratic party. He became partially paralyzed, and lost the nomination. He was reelected Governor though in 1974, and won a fourth Governor term in 1982.
In 1991, Alabama was ordered by a federal district judge that the state’s universities must employ more instructors and other staff and change their admission and financial.