Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Alabama (State)

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ALABAMA, a State in the South Central Division of the North American Union; bounded by Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, and the Gulf of Mexico; gross area, 52,250 square miles; admitted into the Union, Dec. 14, 1819; seceded, Jan. 11, 1861; readmitted, June 25, 1868; number of counties, 67. Pop. (1900) 1,828,697; (1910) 2,138,093; (1920) 2,348,174. Capital, Montgomery.

Topography.—The surface is highest in the N. E., where the Blue Ridge range of the Appalachian mountains enters the State. South of this the surface is almost level, and consists of plains forming a gentle declivity toward the Gulf. The State comprises four distinctive belts: the cereal, mineral, cotton, and timber; the first covering 8 counties, the second 28, the third 17, and the fourth, the remainder. Among the valleys, those of the Tennessee, the Warrior, and the Coosa are the most important. The principal rivers are the Alabama, Tennessee, Mobile, Tombigbee, Black Warrior, and Chattahoochee. A number of others, rising in Alabama, have their outlets in Florida. Bays comprise the Grand, Bon Secours, Perdido, and Mobile, the last being one of the most important in the country.

Geology.—All of the formations of the Appalachian region are found in this State, which has three geological divisions: (1) the northern, showing subcarboniferous rock masses and coal measures; (2) the middle, metamorphic, and calcareous rocks, silurian sediments, and coal measures; and (3) the southern, drift beds over cretaceous and tertiary rocks.

Mineralogy.—The State has large wealth in its mineral resources, which include coal, iron, asbestos, asphalt, pottery and porcelain clays, marble, granite phosphates, natural gas, gold, silver, and copper. The most valuable of these at present are coal and iron. Alabama produces a large amount of coal and iron. The coal production, which is bituminous, was, in 1918, 21,280,000 short tons. The shipment of iron ore from the State in 1917 was 6,121,087 tons, valued at $15,334,561. The production for 1919 was valued at $21,280,000. In the production of iron Alabama ranks third, being surpassed only by Michigan and Minnesota. The State is also an important producer of cement, coke, and pig iron. The rapid development of its mineral resources in recent years has greatly increased the industrial importance of the State, as is indicated by the rapid growth of several cities, notably Birmingham. The total value of the mineral products of the State in 1917 was $65,371,469.

Soil.—In the S. part of the State the soil is a light alluvial and diluvial; in the central, the cotton belt, limestone and chalk lands predominate; and in the N. part, which contains the Tennessee valley, are exceedingly rich mineral lands. Besides the agricultural, mineral, and grazing lands, there are large tracts of valuable yellow pine forests.

Agriculture.—The production and value of the principal crops in 1919 was as follows: Corn, 62,843,000 bushels, valued at $99,920,000; wheat, 1,242,000 bushels, valued at $3,043,000; oats, 6,696,000 bushels, valued at $7,031,000; tobacco, 1,890,000 pounds, valued at $567,000; rye, 38,000 bushels, valued at $99,000; rice, 16,000 bushels; valued at $43,000; potatoes, 3,520,000 bushels, valued at $7,568,000; sweet potatoes, 14,194,000 bushels, valued at $16,139,000; hay, 1,367,000 tons, valued at $30,484,000; cotton, 715,000 bales, valued at $124,410,000; peanuts, 6,840,000 bushels, valued at $14,911,000.

Manufactures.—In 1914 there were 3,242 manufacturing establishments, with an average of 78,717 wage earners. The capital invested was $227,505,000; value of materials, $107,412,000; and value of the finished product, $178,798,000.

Banking.—In 1919 there were 95 National banks in operation, having $10,825,000 in capital. There were also 261 State banks, with $10,877,000 in capital, $81,576,000 in deposits, and $101,700,000 in resources. The exchanges at the United States clearing-house at Birmingham aggregated $146,918,000 in the year ending Sept. 30, 1919.

Education.—Alabama, in common with other Southern States, has had great difficulty in developing its educational system. The common schools of the State are fairly well equipped, and nearly all counties are provided with high schools. The percentage of illiteracy is high, but is steadily decreasing. The large percentage of negro population accounts in a large measure for the low average of literacy. The school population is about 750,000. The total enrollment in the schools is about 450,000. There are about 8,000 teachers in schools for white children and about 3,000 in schools for colored children. The principal universities and colleges are the University of Alabama (opened 1831; non-sectarian); the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (1881); Birmingham Southern College, Woman's College of Alabama, Spring Hill College, Alabama Polytechnic Institute, Howard College, St. Bernard College, Judson College, Athens Female College.

Churches.—The strongest denominations numerically in the State are the Baptist; Methodist Episcopal, South; Roman Catholic; Methodist Episcopal; and the Protestant Episcopal.

Railroads.—The total railway mileage in the State in 1919 was 5,420. During the year there were built about 12 miles of main track. Recent developments in the coal, iron, and manufacturing industries have greatly stimulated railroad construction and extension.

State Government.—The governor is elected for a term of four years. Legislative sessions are held biennially and are limited to 50 days each. The Legislature has 35 members in the Senate and 106 in the House, each of whom receives $4 per day and mileage. There are 10 representatives in Congress. In politics, the State is strongly Democratic.

History.—Alabama was first settled by Bienville, in 1702. The region N. of 31°, which belonged to France, was ceded to Great Britain in 1763, transferred to the United States in 1783, and attached to South Carolina and Georgia till 1802, when it was organized as the Mississippi Territory. The region S. of 31°, which belonged to Spain, was seized and joined to Mississippi Territory in 1812, and with Florida was purchased from Spain in 1819. The great Creek Indian war of 1813-1814 was waged within the present limits of the State. After Alabama was admitted to the Union, it became one of the strongest slave-holding States in the Union. It was one of the first of the Southern States to favor secession, and Montgomery, its capital, became the first capital of the Southern Confederacy. During the Civil War its soil and waters were the scenes of memorable conflicts, especially the Federal naval operations against Mobile (q.v.). Since the war, the State has had an era of uniform prosperity.

Collier's 1921 Alabama.jpg
Copyright, L. L. Poates Eng. Co., 1921