1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Alabama
ALABAMA (see 1.459). In 1920 the pop. was 2,348,174 as against 2,138,093, in 1910, an increase of 210,081, or 9.8%, as compared with 309,396, or 16.3%, in the preceding decade. Although the proportion of urban pop. was greater than in 1910, yet in spite of the marked development of mining and manufacturing interests, more than three-fourths of the inhabitants were still rural and chiefly agricultural. The urban pop. (inhabitants of cities of 2,500 or more) was 509,317; the rural, 1,838,857. The growth of pop. in the chief cities is shown in the following table:—
|1920||1910|| Increase |
The distribution of pop. by race was as follows: whites, 1,447,032; negroes, 900,652; Indians, 405; Chinese, 59; Japanese, 18; all others, 8. During the decade 1910-20 the white pop. increased 17.8%, while the negro pop. decreased 0.8%, due to male negro migration to northern industrial centres.
Agriculture.—There were 256,099 farms in 1920; 262,901 in 1910, a decrease due to the negro migration noted above, but there was a marked increase in total production. The state Department of Agriculture estimated that in 1920 there were harvested 5,630,000 tons of commodities compared with 5,203,000 tons for the year 1919. The same department made the following estimates of the acreage, production and value of crops in 1920:—
The above estimates did not include the acreage grazed or “hogged” and not harvested, which the state department of Agriculture placed in 1920 at 1,344,000 ac. with an approximate value of $20,001,000. The Statistical Bureau of the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated the value of all crops in Alabama in the year 1920 at $240,000,000.
Industries and Transportation.—Three new lines of material progress during 1910-20 were notable: (1) The use of hydroelectric power; (2) shipbuilding; and (3) the utilization of the canalized Warrior and Tombigby rivers from the heart of the inland mineral district to tidewater at Mobile. A private corporation completed a great dam across the Coosa river and was in 1920 delivering electricity for lighting and power purposes to the chief centres of population and industry in northern and central Alabama; and the same company in 1921 began another great dam across the same river which would increase greatly the power available. In the meantime the U.S. Government undertook the famous “Wilson dam” across the Tennessee river at Muscle Shoals. The impetus given to shipbuilding at Mobile continued after the World War; and the great shipyard at Chickasaw, a suburb of Mobile, was in 1920 steadily sending down the ways ships of heavy tonnage, made from steel fabricated in the Birmingham district and barged down the Warrior and Tombigby rivers. The growth of down-stream tonnage of coal, iron, steel and timber on the canalized Warrior river continued for a year or two under private enterprise; but the closing months of the year 1920 marked a new era when the first vessel of a fleet of Government-owned and -operated self-propelling barges made its way down the Mississippi river to New Orleans and into the Gulf, then to Mobile and up the rivers to Birmingham and Cordova in the heart of the Warrior coal-fields. A balanced tonnage, up and down stream, was steadily being developed in 1921 by the transhipment at Mobile of manganese ore from Brazil, for use in making high-grade steel in the Birmingham district, and by the establishment of an all-water freight rate from New York and other eastern points, via Mobile, to the various river ports.
Mineral Production.—The Geological Survey of Alabama reported a decrease in 1918, as compared with the preceding year, in quantity but an increase in value of most of the mineral products of the state. In 1918 the production of coal was 19,184,962 short tons valued at $54,752,329, with a coke production of 4,892,589 short tons valued at $28,394,272. The iron ore mined in 1918 amounted to 6,121,087 long tons with an estimated value of $15,334,561; the gross tons of pig-iron marketed amounted to 2,645,179, valued at $80,893,678. Another important mineral product was graphite, of the crystalline variety, the value of which in 1918 was $999,152 as compared with $719,575 in 1917. It is estimated that Alabama furnished over 60% of the domestic graphite used in the World War.
Education.—The impetus given to public education, under the administration of Governor Comer (1907-11) by the creation of a system of county high schools and by more liberal appropriations both for the common schools and for the institutions of higher education, lost none of its momentum under his successors. In the beginning of Governor Kilby's administration the Legislature passed an Act, approved Feb. 6 1919, creating a commission of five members, appointed by the governor, to make a study of the educational system of the state with the object of determining its efficiency. The commission in turn invited the U.S. Bureau of Education to accept the task. The result was a series of Acts passed by the Legislature in 1919, constituting the School Code of Alabama. Among the most important of these Acts was one providing for a state Council of Education to coördinate the efforts of the university of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, the Alabama Polytechnic Institute at Auburn, and the Alabama Technical Institute and College for women at Montevallo, by assigning to each special fields for higher education. The efficiency of the public-school system of the state was perhaps best shown by the steady reduction of illiteracy. The total number of illiterates in 1920 was 278,082, of which number 210,690 were negroes, 65,394 native whites, and 1,893 foreign-born whites. During the two-year period between the school censuses of 1918 and 1920, the percentage of literates in the total population, white and negro, between the ages of 10 and 21 years, increased 5.2 per cent.
Taxation and Finance.—Owing to the limitation in the constitu- tion of 1901 of the rate of state taxation upon real and personal property to 0.65% upon assessed values, the Legislature in 1919, in an effort to increase revenues, incorporated in the general revenue bill among the license or privilege taxes a tax of two cents per ton on coal and three cents per ton on iron mined in the state, payable
monthly. At the same session a graduated income tax, ranging from 2% to 4% was levied; but the Supreme Court decided that it was repugnant to the constitution and null and void. By a decision of the Supreme Court handed down Feb. 3 1921, the amendment to the constitution hereafter noted, authorizing the issue of $25,000,000 highway improvement bonds, was declared to have been irregularly adopted and not a part of the constitution; but as the decision was rendered by a divided bench of four judges to three, an application for a rehearing was pending, and if not granted, an effort was to be made to have the amendment resubmitted for adoption according to the strict terms of the constitution by an extra called session of the Legislature.
History.—During the period from 1910 to 1921 the Government of Alabama remained in the control of the Democratic party, with little more than nominal opposition by the Republican party, the educational, property and other qualifications for voters under the state constitution of 1901 having eliminated the bulk of the negro Republican voters. It was only in the presidential election of 1920 that there were indications of the development of a real white Republican party in the state. In that election that party polled practically one-third of the vote cast, 31.9%, thus securing the privilege of a primary for the nomination of candidates in the next election at the expense of the state Government. Before this time factional differences in the Democratic party were fought out in the primary elections under state supervision, and the general elections were merely formal ratifications of the choice made in the primaries. It was not easy to distinguish clearly between the two leading factions that developed in the dominant party, but perhaps the terms “Conservative” and “Progressive” sufficiently indicate the line of cleavage. The former insisted on the fullest protection to vested financial interests, and before the adoption of the Eighteenth (prohibition) Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, on a liberal policy of “local option” in the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages. The latter stood generally for strict control, by the state, of corporate capital, especially in the matter of railway rate regulation, and for prohibition of the liquor traffic. Several amendments to the state constitution of 1901 were adopted during this period, most of them dealing with matters of local interest to counties and cities. Two, however, were general in their scope: one providing for local option by counties and school districts as to increased taxation in the interest of public schools; the other authorizing the issue of state bonds to the amount of $25,000,000 for the construction of a complete system of highways, thus enabling the state to secure the national appropriations in aid of that policy. At its regular session in 1919 the state Legislature refused to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing for woman suffrage; but as soon as the requisite number of states had made it a part of the Constitution, Governor Kilby called a special session of the Legislature (1920), which promptly passed an Act providing for the registration of women voters and for otherwise carrying into effect the provisions of the Amendment.
The total number of men enlisted for the World War in the state and inducted into the army was 73,811. As this did not include National Guard commands or other volunteers, the Alabama Department of Archives and History estimated that approximately 10% should be added. Alabama subscribed a total of $99,838,400 to the Liberty and Victory loans.
Recent governors were Braxton B. Comer (Dem.), 1907-11; Emmet O'Neal (Dem.), 1911-5; Charles Henderson (Dem.), 1915-9; Thomas E. Kilby (Dem.), 1919-