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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF ALABAMA
Sketch of her history-General description of her resources—Tabular
statement comparing her with Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Virginia—Her diversified productions—Capacity for cereals and iron -Her mineral wealth–Industrial divisions of the State—Area of territory, etc.
ALABAMA, an Indian name signifying “here we rest,” was first known to the world from the adventures of De Soto. Marching from the coast of Florida, the cavalcade of that ill-fated Spaniard passed across what is now the State of Alabama. The chief of the great tribe of Coosas received him on the banks of that beautiful stream. Crossing the Tallapoosa and Coosa, the expedition moved toward the capital of the chief, Tuskaloosa, whose son had received De Soto in the present county of Montgomery. After daily struggles with the Mobilians and the Chickasaws, De Soto crossed the Tombigby, and moved on toward the Mississippi.
At the time of De Soto's march, Alabama was inhabited by the Coosas, Tallassees, Mobilians and Choctaws. These tribes having been almost ruined by his.invasion, their places were filled by the Muscogees and Alabamas, who had been driven from Mexico by Cortez, the former eventually swallowing up the latter and incorporating the tribes of the whole region in what was afterward known as the Creek Nation.
In 1702 the first white settlers invaded Alabama. Bienville, the father of Louisiana, sailed from Dauphin Island, seventeen years before the founding of New Orleans, passed up Mobile Bay, and established a fort and warehouse at the mouth of Dog River. Nine years later, the site of Mobile was fixed just above the mouth of Dog River, at its present location. Soon after the French invaded the Indian territory of Alabama from the west, the Virginia and Carolina traders commenced to invade it upon pack-horses from the east. To stop this Engļish invasion, Bienville passed up the Alabama River to Coosawda, just above the present city of Montgomery, disembarked and built a fort at Tuskegee, calling it Fort Toulouse. For half a century the influx of English whites continued, notwithstanding the constant disputes and
often bloody contests which ensued between the respective adherents of the Indian, the Spanish, the French and the English interest.
By the treaty of Paris in 1763, Alabama passed into the possession of the English, and was embraced in the territory of West Florida and of Illinois. The line dividing the two territories passed between Mont.gomery and Wetumpka, leaving the point now occupied by the former in West Florida, and the latter in Illinois. The former portion only was at that time occupied by the whites. The first English government was organized under George Johnson who garrisoned the forts at Mobile and Tuskegee.
At the treaty of peace with Great Britain the State of Georgia came into possession of all that portion of West Florida which lay north of the 31st parallel, and the United States having acquired the rights of Georgia, proceeded to erect the territory of Mississippi, with Winthrop Sargent as Governor. From this date the history of Alabama is the history of all the incipient States which grew up in the midst of an Indian population, although perhaps the Creek War, set on foot at the instigation of Tecumseh, in 1813, and suppressed by General Jackson, was more trying to the endurance of the white settlers than those which occurred elsewhere. After the defeat of the British at New Orleans, Alabama rapidly recovered from the shock of the Indian war, and began her career of progress.
A stream of emigration soon overspread the State, after her admission into the Union in 1819, from Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia. After the fall of Napoleon, even French refugees came and settled the town of Demopolis, in the county of Marengo, to engage in the cultivation of the olive.
The State of Alabama lies opening on its southern boundary with a spacious bay to the Gulf of Mexico; into which flow all of her rivers, with one exception, whose navigable waters drain a fertile country for 1945 miles. From Tuscaloosa on the Warrior, in the direction of Selma on the Alabama, are bituminous coal fields and iron ore, with marble and hard and soft limestone quarries, in rich and inexhaustible profusion. The lands are covered with splendid forests of white and live oak, cypress, pine, cedar, mulberry, hickory, etc. Water power is unlimited and never-failing.
The lands of Alabama are of amazing superiority, as may be seen from the value of her productions even under the system of slavery, which tended to strengthen a single branch of industry at the expense of all the rest. Now that slavery is gone, and that the value of the cotton fields is greater than even before 1860, and now that we see
diversified labor springing up to absorb' and increase the capital which formerly went from the cotton-planter into slaves, it is easy to calculate the greater ratio at which this beautiful state will increase in the future from the ratio at which she increased in the past. The actual value of the raw cotton produced by Alabama is an unquestionable basis for calculations as to her future growth in population and wealth.
In 1846–7 the cotton crop of Alabama amounted to 409,962 bales; in 1847–8 to 503,161; in 1848–9 to 596,000; in 1859–60 to 997,978; in 1867–8 to 366,193; in 1868–9 to 400,000 (estimated).
The value of the crop of 1846–7 was $24,570,972. That of 1847-8 was $17,321,317. That of 1848-9 was $17,956,200 That of 1868-9 is estimated at $50,000,000.
The amount of money which the cotton crop of Alabama has added to the wealth of the State may be estimated from the fact that up to 1860 she had expended in the purchase of slaves not less than $200,000,000. This amount of money spent in half a century upon works of public improvement and in factories would have doubled the present population and wealth of those Northern states which have been free from slave labor. What another system of labor would have done for Alabama is now a mere matter of speculation, but it is no matter of speculation to see that the cotton planters of Alabama in 1868–9 have made more money than they made in any year before the war, and that the surplus, above actual expenses; must hereafter find some other investment than slaves.
The cotton fields, being the basis of the wealth of the State, present the greatest inducements to the agriculturist. Probably not half of the available cotton lands are under cultivation. They can be bought at most reasonable prices. To industry and enterprise they offer a surety of fortune.
But the cultivation of cotton is not the only source of wealth presented to the citizen of Alabama. It is the extraordinary source which will at all times strengthen and expand the other sources; but, although it is the corner-stone, Alabama presents a hundred other resources to rear the superstructure. Her minerals, her water power for factories, her mild climate for constant labor, her splendid fruits, her natural advantages for a railroad and water-line system, her diversified farm products, her vineyards, her diversity of soil and climate, all present advantages, which, taken in connection with her cotton fields, place her in the front rank of American States. Throughout the entire length of her territory from the Tennessee river to the Gulf, we find everywhere the elements which constitute a great State, whether it be in the splendid wheat and corn valleys of the spurs of the Cumberland and on the
banks of the Tennessee, or among the hills which are bursting with precious ores, or among the fruits which grow in rank luxuriance on the hill-sides of north and middle Alabama, or in the cotton fields of the cretaceous and limestone belts, or further south among the figs and olives, or among the magnificent pine forests south of the prairies; or still further south, where the live oaks and the orange groves look out upon the swelling commerce of the Gulf.
Alabama was admitted as a State in 1819, with a population of 127,901. In 1830 her population was 309,527; in 1840, 590,753; in 1850, 771,623; in 1855, 841,704; and in 1860, 964,296.
Owing to the fertility of her soil and her favorable climate, she soon became pre-eminently an agricultural state, standing in this respect in the front rank. By the census of 1850, she possessed 41,964 farms, having 4,435,614 acres in cultivation, and producing annually 225,771,000 lbs. of cotton, 28,754,048 bushels of corn, 294,064 bushels of wheat, 2,965,697 bushels of oats, 892,701 bushels of beans and peas, 5,475,204 bushels of sweet potatoes, 261,482 bushels of Irish potatoes, 4,008,811 lbs. of butter, 2,311,252 lbs. of rice, and 164,990 lbs. of tobacco. The live stock was valued at $21,690,122.
In 1860 her population had increased since the last census at the rate of nearly twenty-five per cent., being a larger ratio of increase than is exhibited by the States of Kentucky and Massachusetts, almost as large as that of New York and Pennsylvania, twice as great as that of Virginia, and one-third greater than that of Georgia. Within the same period the number of acres of cultivated lands had increased to 6,462,987. Her number of bales of cotton had increased from 564,429 to 997,978. Her bushels of corn had increased to 32,761,194, her bushels of wheat to 1,222,487, and other productions in like proportion.
The following tabular statement from the census of 1860 exhibits the progress of Alabama as compared with that of the most celebrated of Southern States, and two of the most flourishing of the Northern States: