Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/277

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ALABAMA
ALABAMA
241

adoption of a constitution under an Enabling Act of 2 March, 1819, the State was, 14 December, formally admitted into the Federal Union. St. Stephens was the seat of government for the Territory. Cahaba was selected as the capital in 1818; Tuscaloosa, 1826; and Montgomery, 1846. In 1825 General Lafayette, on his last tour through the United States, visited several towns in Alabama. In the thirties the State University was opened, the terms of the judges were fixed for six years, the first railroad track west of the Alleghany Mountains was laid from Tuscumbia in the direction of Decatur, the Indians were removed to the West, a financial panic fell heavily upon the people, a State penitentiary was provided by law, and imprisonment for debt, except in cases of fraud, was abolished. To the struggles of the heroic Texans Alabama contributed a number of brave sons; and to the Mexican War she gave 3,026 volunteers.

Under the leadership of William Lowndes Yancey, Alabama had early taken a most advanced position in opposition to the Abolition sentiment and agitation of the North, and in 1860 the Legislature provided for a convention, in case of the election of Lincoln, to do whatever in the opinion of said convention, the rights, interests and honor of the State of Alabama require to be done for their protection. The convention met 7 January, 1861, and on 11 January passed an Ordinance of Secession by a vote of 61 to 39. After its passage the members of Congress from Alabama withdrew in a body. On 4 February, 1861, in the Senate Chamber of the State capitol at Montgomery, the delegates from six seceding States, including Alabama, met and formed the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America. On 15 April, 1861, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, issued a formal proclamation of war, and at once the brave and patriotic people of the State rallied to her defense. The Tennessee Valley was the theater of numberless raids, and the people suffered many indignities at the hands of the Federals. The forts below Mobile, although strongly defended, were taken in 1864, and the town was taken 1865. The University buildings were wantonly burned in 1865, by an invading force under General Croxton. Selma and Montgomery were taken in 1865. Alabama contributed to the war from 1861 to 1865 more than 100,000 men, out of a total white population, in 1860, of 526,271. There was no important battle east of the Mississippi River in which her troops did not perform an honorable part. Among the general officers credited to Alabama were Longstreet, Gordon, Withers, Forney, Rodes, Clayton, Allen, Pettus, Morgan, Gracie, Battle, Sanders, Kelly, and Gorgas. Admiral Semmes and the gallant John Pelham were on the Confederate rolls as from Alabama. On 21 June, 1865, by the appointment of Lewis E. Parsons as Provisional Governor, civil government was in a measure set in motion, but it was almost ten years before the people of the State finally entered upon a normal and healthy growth. The period from 1865 to 1874, known as the Reconstruction Era, was one continuous series of sickening experiences in social, business, and political life, and as a legacy a debt of many millions was fixed upon the people. Constitutional conventions have been held in 1819, 1861, 1865, 1867, 1875, and 1901.

Population.—As previously stated, Mobile and vicinity were the first settled portions of the State. The inhabitants were largely French. For about one hundred years the interior had only an isolated settlement here and there. In 1800, population had so increased on the Tombigbee that the settlements were formed into Washington county. About 1805 the Tennessee Valley; in the vicinity of Huntsville, received its first settler, and in 1808 Madison county was created. After the Creek War, or about 1815, settlers in large numbers rushed in from the South Atlantic seaboard, consisting principally of American pioneers of British origin. The Spanish came to Mobile in considerable numbers from 1780 to 1811 and the Gulf city today is the only community in the State in which there is any very large infusion of the Latin races. The territory embraced in the State is said to have been settled more rapidly than any other section of the United States, and in 1819 passed from territorial pupilage. In 1800 Washington county, then in the Mississippi Territory, had a population of 1,250; in 1810 the counties of Baldwin, Madison, and Washington, also in the Mississippi Territory, had 9,046. In 1820 the population of the State at the first census was 127,901. In 1900 the population was 1,828,697, or more than fourteen times that of 1820. From 1820 to 1830 the population increased 142 per cent, and from 1830 to 1840, 90.9 per cent, but subsequently the rate of increase declined until the decade from 1860 to 1870, when it was only 3.4 per cent. The rate of increase of 1900 over 1890 is 20.9 per cent. The total land surface of the State is approximately 51,540 square miles, and the average number of persons to the square mile was, for 1890, 29.4; for 1900, 35.5. Detailed population statistics are as follows: 1820, white 85,451, colored (including slaves and free Negroes) 42,450, total 127,901; 1830, white 190,406, colored 119,121, total 309,527; 1840, white 335,185, colored 255,571, total 590,756; 1850, white 426,514, colored 345,109, total 771,623; 1860, white 526,271, colored 437,770, total 964,041; 1870, white 521,384, colored 475,510, all others 98, total 996,992; 1880, white 662,185, colored 600,103, all others 217, total 1,262,505; 1890, white 830,796, colored 681,431, all others 790, total 1,513,017; 1900, white 1,001,152, colored 827,307, all others 238, total 1,828,697. The estimated population of Alabama on 31 December, 1905, was 2,017,877, and the estimated population of the following cities, same date, is as follows: Anniston, 10,919; Birmingham, 45,869; Huntsville, 8,110; Mobile, 42,903; Montgomery, 40,808; and Selma, 12,047.

Education.—During the territorial period, or prior to 1819, educational advantages were limited to a few private schools and academies. The Congressional Enabling Act granted seventy-two sections of land "for the use of a seminary of learning", and all 16th sections, or an equivalent, "to the inhabitants for the use of schools". The constitution of 1819 provided that "schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged". In the execution of this mandate the Legislature passed a number of Acts regulating (1) the State University and its land grant, (2) the incorporation and regulation of academies, and (3) the management and preservation of the 16th section funds. On 10 January, 1826, the schools of Mobile county were regulated by an Act, through which they were organized in a more or less effective way, but it was not until 15 February, 1854, that "a system of free public schools" was adopted for the State. The State University was incorporated 18 December, 1821, and on 18 April, 1831, it opened its doors for students. The University and well-conducted academies in all parts of the State afforded the principal means for education prior to the Public-school Act of 1854, and even for many years after its passage. The higher education of women received much attention, and in Alabama was located the first chartered institution to grant diplomas to women. The last quarter of a century has witnessed a remarkable increase of interest in education, and at present (1905) about one-half of the State's revenues go into support of the public or common schools and the higher institutions of learning. The State University, the head of the system, is located at Tusca-