Early Alabama

Early Alabama: An Illustrated Guide to the Formative Years
© 2019 Mike Bunn
184 pages

Published in time for the celebration of Alabama’s bicentennial, Early Alabama invites readers back to when the Heart of Dixie was still a wilderness, save for settlements in its extreme north and south.   The first hundred pages of the work deliver a history of the state from the organization of the original Mississippi Territory (then including most of the areas of both Alabama and Mississippi) to the move of the state capital to Tuscaloosa in 1826, and the second half includes photos of sites related to or illustrative of colonial Alabama history, including spots in Mississippi since the territory was initially governed from Natchez.  Although the United States legally gained this territory from Britain and Spain through both war and diplomacy,  in the early years Americans were only allowed to settle in the extreme north and extreme south, along the Tennessee river and around the Mobile river and bay area. The rest remained the province of various Creek tribes, who ranged from allies who embraced aspects of European culture,  to factions like the bellicose Redsticks.  Altercations between settlers just above Mobile and the Redsticks led to a more general conflagration, however, and in 1814 the actions of the US Army forced the Creeks (allies included) to cede over all remaining territory. “Alabama fever” then followed, as ambitious men of varying means  from the Carolinas, Georgia,  and Virginia were soon planting their stakes along the fertile fields of the Blackbelt and other now-open territory.  Although the state’s politics were initially dominated by the ‘Royal Party’, a group of elite planters, there was not as yet a firmly-rooted  planter-patrician class, and the constitution created after Alabamians petitioned for statehood was fairly egalitarian – far more so than the 1901 constitution the southern bourbons would impose a century later.   The seat of political power shifted constantly in the early years,  with the temporary capital in Huntsville testifying to north Alabama’s (the Huntsville-Florence area)  initial status as a counterweight to the planters of the coastal plain.   Although the book is generously supplied with photos, they don’t overwhelm the narrative, and are illustrative of the text rather than constituting the mass of the book. Alabamians will find this little volume serves them well, both for its survey of early Alabama, and as a guidebook to colonial sites. It’s certainly redoubled my interest in visiting old Natchez!

Battle for the Southern Frontier: The Creek War and the War of 1812, Mike Bunn
Backroads Alabama”,   a post about my visiting various sites related to the Creek war and early Alabama. 
The Five Capitals of Alabama, an illustrated history of how early Alabama’s fluctuations in population and local power centers led to the territorial and the state capital shifting across the state before centering on Montgomery and the upper Alabama river.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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