Prior to the first Europeans in the lands of Alabama, the Native American people populating the area were the Alabama (Alibamu), Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Koasati, and Mobile tribes. Spanish explorers are believed to have arrived at Mobile Bay in 1519, and the territory was visited in 1540 by the explorer Hernando de Soto.
The English claimed the area north of the Gulf of Mexico and the lands of what is now Alabama was part of the Province of Carolina, which was granted by King Charles II of England to his favored people in 1663-1665. By 1687, English traders from Carolina were frequenting the Alabama river valley.
In 1702 a French settlement was founded on the Mobile River, including the seat of government of Louisiana, Fort Louis de la Mobile. In 1711, floods forced the abandonment of Fort Louis, in favor of the first permanent European settlement, Fort Conde, the present city of Mobile built on higher ground.
With the ending of the French and Indian War in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris, the French occupation of Alabama ended. Great Britain obtained control of the area between the Chattahoochee and the Mississippi Rivers. But had to cede almost all the Alabama region to the U.S. after the American Revolution.
In 1817, the Mississippi Territory was divided into the area that later became the state of Mississippi, and the remainder became the Alabama Territory.
In 1819, Alabama was admitted as the 22nd state to the Union. The state became a center of slave plantations growing cotton in the Black Belt, with subsistence farmers (with few slaves) barely making a living on poorer lands. But the fear that Northern agitators were threatening their value systems angered the voters and they prepared to secede from the union when Abraham Lincoln was elected as president in 1860.
By a vote of 61-39 the State of Alabama adopted the ordinances of secession from the Union on January 11, 1861. The Confederacy was founded at Montgomery in February 1861 and, for a time, the city was the Confederate capital.
Governor Moore supported the Confederate war effort an prior to the start of hostilities in the Civil War, he seized federal facilities and covertly sent men to buy rifles in the Northeast, and scoured the state for weapons they could use for their war efforts. Despite resistance from the northern part of the state, Alabama joined the Confederate States of America. In the early part of the Civil War, Alabama did not see military operations, however 120,000 men were committed to Confederate service, amounting to practically all the white population of the state who were capable of bearing arms.
Till the end of the war in 1865, Alabama soldiers fought in hundreds of battles punctuated by the the loss of 1,750 men at Gettysburg compounded by even more men captured or wounded.
In June 1865, according to the presidential plan of reorganization, a provisional governor for Alabama was appointed. In September, a state convention declared the ordinance of secession null and void and slavery abolished. The Freedmen were now given voting rights and large numbers of white citizens were disfranchised. [Return to top]