Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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ALABAMA, a state of the American union, formed mainly from territory ceded to the United States by Georgia, the strip of land on the northern border having been ceded by South Carolina, and the southwestern corner by Spain, (see MISSISSIPPI; ANNEXATIONS, II.) It was separated from Mississippi territory, as Alabama territory, by act of March 3, 1817, St. Stephens being the temporary capital; an enabling act was passed March 2, 1819; a state constitution was formed at Huntsville, August 2, 1819, and the state was admitted by joint resolution, Dec. 14, 1819. Its boundaries, as prescribed by the enabling act, were as follows: Beginning at the point where the 31st degree of north latitude intersects the Perdido river; thence, east, to the western boundary line of the state of Georgia; thence, along said line, to the southern boundary line of the state of Tennessee; thence, west, along said boundary line, to the Tennessee river; thence, up the same, to the mouth of Bear creek; thence, by a direct line, to the northwest corner of Washington county; thence, due south, to the Gulf of Mexico; thence, eastwardly, including all islands within six leagues of the shore, to the Perdido river; and thence, up the same, to the beginning.


—The original constitution, closely following that of Mississippi, formed a free and independent state, with its capital at Catawba (changed in 1826 to Tuscaloosa, and in 1846-7 to Montgomery, its present location); the governor was to hold office for two years; and the legislature was forbidden to pass laws for the emancipation of slaves without consent of the owners, to prohibit immigrants from bringing slaves with them, or to deprive slaves of trial by jury for offenses above the grade of petit larceny; but power was given to prohibit the importation of slaves as merchandise.


—Prior to the rebellion the political history of the state was uneventful. Its electoral vote was always cast for the democratic candidates, and all its governors were democrats. During the years 1838-46 a whig opposition was formed, and in 1856 the american, or know nothing, party nominated candidates for state offices. In all other state elections the struggle was rather personal than political, the opposing candidates being of the same party. The state government took part with Georgia against the federal government in the Cherokee case until the removal of the Indians beyond the Mississippi in 1836-7. The only other local political feeling was caused by an unsuccessful effort, 1838-45, to repudiate the debt assumed by the state through its guarantee of various state banks.


—Feb. 24, 1860, the legislature by resolution instructed the governor to call a state convention "in the event of the election of a black republican to the presidency." The convention met Jan. 7, 1861, at Montgomery, and, Jan. 11, passed the following ordinance of secession: "1. That the state of Alabama now withdraws, and is hereby withdrawn, from the union known as 'The United States of America,' and henceforth ceases to be one of said United States, and is, and of right ought to be, a sovereign and independent state. 2. That all the powers over the territory of said state, and of the people thereof, heretofore delegated to the government of the United States of America, be and they are hereby withdrawn from said government, and are hereby resumed and vested in the people of Alabama."


—Feb. 4, the provisional congress of the confederate states met in Montgomery, Alabama being represented and so remaining until the close of the rebellion.


—The ordinance of secession was bitterly opposed in northern Alabama, and its passage was at once followed by arrangements, as in West Virginia, for the formation of a new state with its capital at Huntsville. The name was to have been The state of Nickajack, from a former Indian town: but an irruption of confederate troops soon stamped out the inchoate state.


—At the close of the rebellion, Lewis E. Parsons, the provisional governor, (see RECONSTRUCTION), called a state convention for Sept. 12, 1865, which adopted a new constitution prohibiting slavery, and by ordinance declared null and void the ordinance of secession and all other unconstitutional ordinances of the convention of 1861. A governor and legislature were chosen, and in December, 1865, the state government was in operation again until superseded by the act of March 2, 1867. The state then passed under military rule. Nov. 5, 1867, a state convention framed a new constitution. In its first article universal suffrage was established, slavery was abolished, and the state renounced all claim to any right of secession and acknowledged paramount allegiance to be due to the United States This constitution was ratified in February, 1868, as congress afterward decided, and the state was re-admitted to the union by ratifying the 14th amendment, July 11, 1868, as announced by the president's proclamation of July 20. A new constitution was ratified by popular vote, Nov. 16, 1875. It attempted no change in the points above referred to, except in the use of the new phrase that "the people of this state accept as final the established fact that from the federal union there can be no secession of any State," but it took away the permission given in the previous constitution to sue the State in its own courts—The name of Alabama is taken from that of its principal river, popularly supposed to mean Here we rest; and these words are placed as a motto upon the coat of arms of the State. But the name really has no known meaning, and was first given to the river by the French, in the form "Alibamon," from the name of a Muscogee tribe living on its banks.


—GOVERNORS: Wm. W. Bibb (term 1819-21, died in July, 1820), Israel Pickens (1821-25), John Murphy 1825-9), Gabriel Moore (1829-31), John Gayle (1831-3), Clement C. Clay (1835-7), Arthur P. Bagby (1837-41), Benj Fitzpatrick (1841-5), Joshua L. Martin (1845-7), Reuben Chapman (1847-9), Henry W. Collier (1849-53), Andrew B Moore (1857-61). John G Shorter (1861-3), Thos H. Watts (1863-5), Lewis E. Parsons (provisional), Robt. M. Patton (1865-7), Wager Swayne (military governor under Maj. Gen. Pope, March, 1867—July, 1868), W. H. Smith (July, 1868—November, 1870), R. B. Lindsay (1870-2), D. V Lewis (1872-4), Geo. S. Houston (1874-8), R W Cobb (1878-82)—(See CONSTITUTIONS, STATE, UNITED STATES.) See Pickett's History of Alabama; Brewer's History of Alabama; Poore's Federal and State Constitutions; Davenport's American Gazetteer; Murray's United States; Tanner's Canals and Railroads of the United States; Appleton's Annual Cyclopœdia. 1861-70. For the acts of March 3, 1817, and March 2, 1819, and the resolution of Dec. 14, 1819, see 3 Stat. at Large, 371, 489, 608.


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