Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Alabama

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ALABAMA, one of the Southern States of the North American Union, lies between 30° 13' and 35° N. lat., and between 85° and 88° 35' W. long. It is bounded by Florida and the Gulf of Mexico on the S., Mississippi on the W., Tennessee on the N., and Georgia on the E. Its length is 330 miles, average breadth 154, and area 50,722 square miles. The Alleghany range stretches into the northern portion of the state, but the elevation is nowhere great; the centre is also hilly and broken; on the south, however, for nearly 60 miles inland, the country is very flat, and raised but little above the sea-level. The Alabama is the chief river of the state. It is formed by the junction of the Coosa and the Talapoosa, which unite about 10 miles above the city of Montgomery. Forty-five miles above Mobile the Alabama is joined by the Tombigbee, and from that point is known as the Mobile River. It is navigable from Mobile to Wetumpka, on the Coosa, some 460 miles. The Tombigbee is navigable to Columbus, and the Black Warrior, one of its chief tributaries, to Tuscaloosa. The Tennessee flows through the northern portion of the state, and the Chattahoochee forms part of its eastern boundary. The climate of Alabama is semi-tropical. The temperature ranges from 82° to 18° Fahr. in winter, and in summer from 105° to 60°; the mean temperature for the year being a little over 60°. The average severity of the winter months is considered to have increased—a result due, it is said, mainly to the felling of the forests, which gives more unrestricted scope to the cold north-west winds from the Rocky Mountains. The uplands are healthy, but the inhabitants of the low-lying lands are subject to attacks of intermittent, bilious, and congestive fevers. The stratified rocks of the state belong to the Silurian, carboniferous, cretaceous, and tertiary systems. The silurian strata throw up numerous mineral springs along the line of the anticlinal axes, some of which, such as Blount Springs and the St Clair Springs, are much resorted to for their health-giving properties. There are also several noted springs arising from the tertiary beds, such as those of Tallahatta and Bladon. Alabama possesses extensive coal deposits. Mr Tait, the state commissioner for the industrial resources of Alabama, considers that the area of the coal-lands in the state amounts to 5500 square miles, of which 5000 belong to the Warrior, and the remaining 500 to the Cahawba and Coosa fields. Assuming that only one-half of this area can be worked to advantage, Mr Tait further estimates the aggregate possible yield at 52,250,000,000 tons. At present, however, the annual output probably does not exceed 12,000 tons. In regard to iron, the natural wealth of Alabama is also very great. Mr Tait asserts that a ridge of iron, of an average thickness of 15 feet, runs parallel to one of the principal railway lines for a distance of 100 miles; and in other parts of the country there are large deposits of ore, both red hematite and blackband. The ores of Alabama are said to yield from 10 to 20 per cent. more iron than those of Britain. Granite, marble, flagstones, roofing-slate, lime, and porcelain clay, are among the other mineral products. A little gold has also been found in the state.

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The soil of Alabama varies greatly in character, but is for the most part productive to a greater or lesser extent, except in the south, where there are considerable tracts of sandy, barren, and almost worthless soil. The forests are mainly in the central and northern parts of the state, and embrace oaks, poplars, cedars, chestnuts, pines, hickories, mulberries, elms, and cypresses. The following table exhibits the chief agricultural statistics of Alabama for 1870, as compared with 1860, the year before the war:—

1870. 1860.

Land in
 Improved acres
 Live Stock 
 Mules and Asses 
 Indian Corn bushels
 Pease and Beans 
 Cotton bales
 Molasses  gallons 
5,062,204  6,385,724 
9,898,974  12,718,821 
80,770  127,063 
76,675  111,687 
487,163  773,396 
241,934  370,156 
719,757  1,748,321 
 16,977,948   33,226,282 
1,055,068  1,218,444 
18,977  72,457 
770,866  682,179 
2,033,872  5,931,563 
156,574  1,482,036 
3,213,753  6,028,478 
429,482  989,955 
381,253  775,117 
222,945  493,465 
152,742  232,914 
433,281  140,768 

Alabama possesses comparatively few manufactures. It is estimated that in 1870 the capital invested amounted to £1,140,806, and the total products in the same year were valued at £2,608,124. There were in 1870 thirteen establishments for the manufacture of cotton goods, whose products amounted in all to 2,843,000 ℔, including 4,518,403 yards of sheetings and shirtings, and 1,039,321 yards of ginghams and checks. In the same year 613 flour mills operated on 3,298,848 bushels of grain. There were 284 lumber mills, producing 1,115,000 laths, 97,192 feet of lumber, and 1,422,000 shingles. In the iron manufactures there has been a marked advance, which is the more noticeable because several other industries have experienced a serious decline. Thus, in 1850 the quantity of ore used for making pig-iron was only 1138 tons, in 1860 it had risen to 3720 tons, and in 1870 to 11,350; the value of the products being respectively £4500, £12,918, and £42,051. Alabama has also manufactories of rolled and cast iron; but the rise in the value of their products is not so marked. There are, besides, tanneries, carriage and waggon works, and machinery factories, in addition to industries of a local nature. Mobile is the chief mercantile city of the state. In the years ending June 30, 1871 and 1872, 688 and 369 vessels (gross burden, 558,525 and 272,853 tons) entered, and 711 and 369 (551,310 and 277,356 tons) cleared the port of Mobile. Cotton was the principal article of export—the amount in 1871 being 287,074 bales, and in 1872, 137,977; of which 240,660 and 123,522 bales went to Great Britain. Mobile is connected with the general network of railways of the United States. A line runs from the city through Montgomery and on to Atlanta in Georgia; another runs from Mobile to Meridian in Mississippi; a line crosses the state from Meridian through Cahawba to Montgomery; a loop-line runs from Montgomery to Troy, and proceeding round by Columbus in Georgia, rejoins the main line at Opelika; from Selma a line proceeds north-easterly, following the valley of the Coosa, and passing through Georgia and Tennessee; and another traverses the valley of the Tennessee, from which a branch strikes off to the north to join the Tennessee group of railways at Nashville. A line also connects Mobile with New Orleans. The part of the line from Mobile to Montgomery between Mobile and Tensas was completed under considerable engineering difficulties. It crosses the Mobile river by a swing drawbridge 1000 feet in length, with a draw of 260 feet; while the Tensas river bridge is built on cylindrical piers, each span measuring 152 feet, and its total length 2084 feet. There are at present 1602 miles of railway and 2135 of telegraph lines in operation in Alabama.

Alabama returns 8 members to Congress. The state government is vested in a governor, Senate, and House of Representatives. The Senate consists of 33 members elected for four years, one half retiring every two years. The House of Representatives consists of not more than 100 members, elected for two years, and apportioned among the counties according to population, each county, however, being entitled to at least one representative. The members of both houses receive 16s. 8d. each per diem, and the governor £520, 16s. 8d. per annum. The taxation in 1870 amounted to $2,982,932, and the public debt to $13,277,154. In 1860 the taxation was only $851,171. The state is divided into 65 counties, and Montgomery is the capital. The other principal towns are Mobile, Tuscaloosa (the former capital), Florence, Huntsville, Selma, and Wetumpka.

Alabama was first penetrated by the Spaniards in quest of gold in 1541, under the celebrated leader De Soto. The natives defended themselves stubbornly, and in their defence inflicted and sustained very severe losses. The present site of Mobile was first occupied by the French in 1711. In 1763 the French possessions east of the Mississippi, including Alabama, were ceded to England. Alabama was originally included in Georgia, but in 1802 became part of the territory of Mississippi. In 1813 the Creek Indians made a desperate effort to check the encroachments of the Anglo-Saxons, but were eventually crushed in the battle of Horse Shoe Bend by General Jackson, who compelled them to surrender three-fourths of their territory. In 1819 Alabama was admitted into the Union as an independent member of the confederation. It seceded in the year 1861, but since the close of the war has been again admitted into the Union.

The census of 1870 showed the following results:—Total population of Alabama, 996,992; coloured, 475,510; with 98 Indians. Of these, 987,030 were native born, and 9962 foreign. In 1860 the population was 964,201, of whom 526,271 were whites and 437,770 (435,080 slaves) were coloured; in 1820 (the year after Alabama had been admitted into the Union) the numbers were—total, 127,901; whites, 85,451; coloured, 42,450 (41,879 slaves). Of the total population in 1870, 488,738 were males (255,023 whites, 233,677 coloured, 38 Indians) and 508,254 females (respectively, 266,361, 241,833, 60). In regard to education, there were in the state between 5 and 18 years of age, 173,273 males (91,989 whites, 81,274 coloured, and 10 Indians) and 169,703 females (89,798, 79,882, and 23); of whom 77,139 have attended school (viz., 31,098 white and 7502 coloured males, and 30,226 white and 8313 coloured females). The returns give 2969 schools, with 2372 male and 992 female teachers. Of persons 10 years and upwards, there were 349,771 returned as unable to read, and 383,012 as unable to write.

[Compiled according to Census of 1880 and latest surveys.]
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