Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Muscle Shoals is the largest city in Colbert County, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of Muscle Shoals was 13,146; the estimated population in 2015 was 13,706. Both the city and the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Area are called "the Shoals". Northwest Alabama Regional Airport serves the Shoals region, located in the northwest section of the state. Since the 1960s, the city has been known for music – developing the "Muscle Shoals Sound", as local recording studios produced hit records that shaped the history of popular music. Due to its strategic location along the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals played a key role in historic land disputes between Native Americans and Anglo-American settlers in the late 18th century and early 19th century. Muscle Shoals was the site of an attempted community development project by Henry Ford in 1922; the original streets of Muscle Shoals were named after streets in Detroit, Michigan due to Henry Ford's influence in the area. Just like Detroit, Woodward Avenue is the name of the main road through the city.
Henry Ford's inability to acquire land from the Tennessee Valley Authority foiled his desire to create a 75-mile industrial megalopolis from Decatur to the tri-state border of Pickwick Lake. The Ford Motor Company operated a plant in the Listerhill community, three miles east of Muscle Shoals, for many years before closing in 1982. There are several explanations on. One is that the city gets its name from a former natural feature of the Tennessee River, namely Muscle Shoals, a shallow zone where mussels were gathered; when the area was first settled, the distinct spelling "mussel" to refer to a shellfish had not yet been adopted. The city is one of four municipalities known as the Quad Cities, the others being Florence and Tuscumbia, all in Alabama. Muscle Shoals was a part of the Cherokee hunting grounds dating to at least the early eighteenth century, if not earlier. After the American Revolution, Cherokee attitudes toward the new U. S. republic were divided. An anti-American faction, dubbed the Chickamauga, separated from more conciliatory Cherokees, moved into present-day south-central and southeastern Tennessee, most of them settling along the Chickamauga River.
They claimed Muscle Shoals as part of their domain, when Anglo-Americans attempted to settle the region in the 1780s and 1790s, the Chickamaugas bitterly resisted them. Upper Creeks, residing in what is now north and central Alabama resented any European or Euro-American presence in the region. A major incident occurred in 1790, when U. S. President George Washington sent an expedition under Major John Doughty in an attempt to establish a fort and trading post at Muscle Shoals; this expedition was nearly annihilated by a Chickamauga and Creek party sent to destroy it, the project was abandoned by Doughty and the administration. Anglo-American settlers in Tennessee continued to agitate for control of the region; the site was desirable, as it controlled access to fine cotton-producing land to its south. In 1797, John Sevier, the first governor of Tennessee, complained to Andrew Jackson that "The prevention of a settlement at or near the Muscle Shoals is a manifest injury done the whole western country."
At Sevier's behest, Jackson attempted to persuade Congress and President John Adams to fund a new expedition to take control of the site, but to no avail. U. S. officials took control of the region in the wake of the U. S. invasion of Creek country during the War of 1812. Jackson and General John Coffee obtained cession of the land from both the Cherokee and Creek by treaty, without permission from the federal government. Secretary of War William H. Crawford refused to recognize the cession, reconfirmed Cherokee ownership, leading to personal enmity between him and Jackson, causing a political struggle over the lands which Jackson and his backers won; when Jackson, as President, implemented the policy of Indian Removal, Muscle Shoals was used as a site from which to exile Upper Creeks to Oklahoma Indian Territory. During World War I President Wilson authorized a dam just downstream of Muscle Shoals to help power nitrate plants for munitions; the first plant started producing nitrates two weeks after the armistice, but the dam was not completed until 1924.
Meanwhile, in 1922 Henry Ford tried to buy the unfinished dam. Congress rejected Ford's offer as too low; the project languished until the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration created the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933. Muscle Shoals hosted the recording of many hit songs from the 1960s to today at two studios: FAME Studios, founded by Rick Hall, where Arthur Alexander, Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and numerous others recorded. All four of the Quad Cities have contributed to the "Muscle Shoals Sound". In addition to being home to country music band Shenandoah, a number of artists have visited Muscle Shoals to write and record. Both FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio are still in operation in the city. While famous for classic recordings from Rod Stewart, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, recent hit songs such as "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood and "I Loved Her First" by Heartland continue the city's musical legacy.
George Michael recorded an early, unreleased version of "Careless Whisper" with Jerry Wexler in Muscle Shoals in 1983
The Goode–Hall House commonly known as Saunders Hall, is a historic plantation house in the Tennessee River Valley near Town Creek, Alabama. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 1, 1974, due to its architectural significance; the house was built in 1824 by Turner Saunders, a Methodist minister and planter from Brunswick County, Virginia. After living in the house for a little more than a decade, Saunders sold it in 1844 to Freeman Goode; the house was acquired by the Hall family and in the 1940s, it passed into the care of the Mauldin family when they purchased the 1,000-acre farm property that the house sits on. It remains in the Mauldin family today, although they have never resided there because of its remote nature; the house is built in a provincial interpretation of a Palladian three-part plan influenced by the Jeffersonian architecture of Saunders' native Virginia. The cramped proximity of the three front triangular pediments betray the vernacular nature of the composition, although the remainder is well-proportioned.
The entire house is constructed in brick above a raised basement. The two-story main block features a Tuscan portico with an arched lunette in the pediment, this feature was a common Jeffersonian architectural device; the main block is flanked to either side by one-story wings with front and side gables, their front pediments have lunettes. The front walls of the wings feature brick pilasters with simple capitals; the front door is noteworthy in that it features two engaged Tuscan columns supporting a molded cornice. The Goode–Hall House was not the only large plantation house built in the area by the Saunders family. Turner Saunder's son, built a large Italianate house at Rocky Hill Castle. National Register of Historic Places listings in Lawrence County, Alabama
Courtland is a town in Lawrence County, United States, is included in the Decatur Metropolitan Area, as well as the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. The population was 609 at the 2010 census, down from 769 in 2000. A small creek named; the creek was named for a Cherokee chief who lived in the area upon arrival of the first European settlers. The current town is located on the site of the Native American village. Courtland began as a small settlement known as Ebenezer in the early 1800s. In 1818, a group known as the Courtland Land Company bought the land on which the town is now situated and subdivided it into lots; the town was incorporated on December 1819, by the Alabama territorial legislature. The town was named for having a federal land office in the early 19th century, its early settlers were wealthy planters from Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. The early roads Gaines Trace and Byler Road connected to other places. One of the South's earliest railroads, the Tuscumbia and Decatur Railroad, was organized at Courtland in 1831, chartered the following year.
The railroad's organizers utilized the 50-mile railroad to bypass the dangerous shoals along the Tennessee River to the north. The railroad was absorbed by the Memphis and Charleston Railroad in the 1850s, became part of the Southern Railway. In 1835, Courtland physician Jack Shackelford organized a volunteer military unit to fight in the Texas Revolution. Known as the "Red Rovers" for the color of their uniforms, the company was captured by Mexican forces at Coleto in March 1836, most of its men were among those killed in what became known as the Goliad massacre. Shackelford was among the few survivors. In 1944 and 1945, during World War II, Courtland was home to the Courtland Army Airfield, it was given to the city of Courtland to use as an airport. Today, it is Courtland Airport. In the early 1990s, over 100 buildings in Courtland were listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Courtland Historic District. Most of the buildings in the district date from the 1830s through the 1930s, architectural styles include Federal, Victorian, Colonial Revival, Neoclassical.
The Town Square was part of the town's original 1818-1819 plan. Many of the commercial buildings facing the square along College Street and Tennessee Street, were built in the 1890s and early 1900s; the train depot on the south side of the square, now a community center, was built in the late 1880s. The Old Sherrod Hotel, located at the northwest corner of Tennessee Street and Alabama Street, was built around 1930, provided housing for early Tennessee Valley Authority employees; the John McMahon House, a Federal-style home built around 1830, is listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places. Rocky Hill Castle was an architecturally renowned plantation on the outskirts of Courtland, though it was demolished in 1961. Courtland is located at 34°40′6″N 87°18′39″W; the town is concentrated in area along Big Nance Creek, a tributary of the Tennessee River, west of Decatur and southeast of Muscle Shoals. The town's municipal boundaries extend northeastward to U. S. Route 72; the town of North Courtland borders Courtland to the north.
According to the U. S. Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.3 square miles, of which 2.3 square miles is land and 0.43% is water. From 1880 until 1910, Courtland was the largest town in Lawrence County, losing the distinction in 1920 to the county seat of Moulton, which has held it to date; as of the census of 2000, there were 769 people, 316 households, 210 families residing in the town. The population density was 331.2 people per square mile. There were 363 housing units at an average density of 156.4 per square mile. The racial makeup of the town was 54.23% White, 40.44% Black or African American, 2.08% Native American, 0.26% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 2.86% from two or more races. 0.91% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. There were 316 households out of which 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.0% were married couples living together, 20.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 33.5% were non-families. 30.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.2% had someone living alone, 65 years of age or older.
The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.06. In the town, the population was spread out with 27.8% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 26.9% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 85.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.3 males. The median income for a household in the town was $27,500, the median income for a family was $36,000. Males had a median income of $31,250 versus $17,188 for females; the per capita income for the town was $14,456. About 18.1% of families and 20.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.7% of those under age 18 and 32.9% of those age 65 or over. Sam Agee, American football player Thomas Jefferson Foster, two-term member of the Confederate Congress Jack Shackelford, one of the few survivors of the Goliad massacre Media related to Courtland, Alabama at Wikimedia Commons
Decatur is a city in Morgan and Limestone counties in the State of Alabama. The city, nicknamed "The River City", is located in Northern Alabama on the banks of Wheeler Lake, along the Tennessee River, it is the largest county seat of Morgan County. The population in 2010 was 55,683. Decatur is the core city of the two-county large Decatur, Alabama metropolitan area which had an estimated population of 153,374 in 2013. Combined with the Huntsville Metropolitan Area, the two create the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area, of which Decatur is the second-largest city. Like many southern cities in the early 19th century, Decatur's early success was based upon its location along a river. Railroad routes and boating traffic pushed the city to the front of North Alabama's economic atmosphere; the city grew into a large economic center within the Tennessee Valley and was a hub for travelers and cargo between Nashville and Mobile, as well as Chattanooga and New Orleans. Throughout the 20th century, the city experienced steady growth, but was eclipsed as the regional economic center by the fast-growing Huntsville during the space race.
The city now finds its economy based on manufacturing, cargo transit and high-tech companies such as Vulcan Materials, Toray, United Launch Alliance. The area was known as "Rhodes Ferry Landing", named for Dr. Henry W. Rhodes, an early landowner who operated a ferry that crossed the Tennessee River in the 1810s at the present-day location of Rhodes Ferry Park; the city was incorporated as Decatur in 1821. It was named in honor of Stephen Decatur. In the early 1830s, Decatur was the eastern terminus of the Tuscumbia and Decatur Railroad, the first railway built west of the Appalachian Mountains. In 1850 the Tuscumbia and Decatur Railroad was incorporated into the Memphis & Charleston Railroad; because of its location on the Tennessee River at the strategically important crossing of two major railroads, Decatur was the site of several encounters during the American Civil War. When the Union army occupied the city early in the war, the commanding general ordered all but four buildings in the town destroyed.
Bricks from some of the churches in town were used to build stoves and chimneys for the buildings that housed soldiers. The four buildings that remained are the Old State Bank, the Dancy-Polk House, the Todd House, the Burleson-Hinds-McEntire House. After the Union victory in the Battle of Atlanta, a Confederate army under the command of Gen. John Bell Hood sparred with a vastly outmanned garrison during the 1864 Battle of Decatur, when Decatur was referred to as A Tough Nut To Crack. While the city was under Confederate control, plans for the Battle of Shiloh were mapped out within the Burleson-Hinds-McEntire House; these activities make the house one of the most historic buildings in Decatur. New Decatur, Alabama was a city that rose out of the ashes of former Decatur west of the railroad tracks. New Decatur was founded in 1887 and incorporated in 1889. However, residents of the older Decatur resented the new town and occupied by people who moved down from northern states. Animosity built until New Decatur renamed their town Albany, after Albany, N.
Y. in September 1916. The impetus to meld the two towns came from the need for a bridge, instead of a ferry, across the Tennessee River; the Decatur Kiwanis Club was formed with an equal number of members from each town to organize efforts to get the state to build the bridge. In 1925, the two cities merged to form one City of Decatur. There is a noticeable difference between the two sides of town; the cities developed differently at different times, still to this day have somewhat different cultures. Eastern portions of Decatur tend to act more suburban and traditional, while western portions tend to look more metropolitan and contemporary; the Old State Bank, on the edge of downtown, is the oldest bank building in the State of Alabama, being 173 years old. The first wave pool in the United States was built in Decatur and is still in operation at the Point Mallard Aquatic Center; the city has the largest Victorian era home district in the state of Alabama. Decatur is home to Alabama's oldest opera house, the Cotaco Opera House, which still stands on Johnston Street.
In the past, its industries included repair shops of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, car works, engine works, bottling plants, manufacturers of lumber and blinds, tannic acid, cigars, cottonseed oil, various other products. The Tennessee River has traditionally been the northern border of the city and Morgan County, but a small portion of the city extends across the river into Limestone County between U. S. 31 and I-65. Major bodies of water in the city include Wheeler Lake, Flint Creek, Lake Morgan, Chula Vista Lake, all estuaries of the Tennessee River; the city does extend to the other side of Flint Creek and the Refuge in the Indian Hills and Burningtree subdivision areas. There is an inlet that extends one mile into the city limits from Wheeler Lake called Dry Branch; the northern portion of Decatur sits on top of a short hill. This hill allows the "Steamboat Bill" Memorial Bridge to leave the mainland at grade without any major sloping required to cross the river while not interfering with Decatur's heavy barge traffic.
This hill extends from the banks of the river about 1.5 miles south to the 14th St./Magnolia St. intersection with 6th Avenue. South past the 14th St. and 6th Ave. intersection, land remai
The Tennessee River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River. It is 652 miles long and is located in the southeastern United States in the Tennessee Valley; the river was once popularly known as the Cherokee River, among other names, as many of the Cherokee had their territory along its banks in eastern Tennessee and northern Alabama. Its current name is derived from the Cherokee village Tanasi; the Tennessee River is formed at the confluence of the Holston and French Broad rivers in present-day Knoxville, Tennessee. From Knoxville, it flows southwest through East Tennessee into Chattanooga before crossing into Alabama, it travels through the Huntsville and Decatur area before reaching the Muscle Shoals area, forms a small part of the state's border with Mississippi, before returning to Tennessee. Its route northwesterly through Tennessee defines the boundary between two of Tennessee's Grand Divisions: Middle and West Tennessee; the Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway, a U. S. Army Corps of Engineers project providing navigation on the Tombigbee River and a link to the Port of Mobile, enters the Tennessee River near the Tennessee-Alabama-Mississippi boundary.
This waterway reduces the navigation distance from Tennessee, north Alabama, northern Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico by hundreds of miles. The final part of the Tennessee's run is north through western Kentucky, where it separates the Jackson Purchase from the rest of the state, it flows into the Ohio River at Kentucky. The river has been dammed numerous times during the 20th century since the 1930s by Tennessee Valley Authority projects; the construction of TVA's Kentucky Dam on the Tennessee River and the Corps of Engineers' Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River led to the development of associated lakes, the creation of what is called Land Between the Lakes. A navigation canal located at Grand Rivers, links Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley; the canal allows for a shorter trip for river traffic going from the Tennessee to most of the Ohio River, for traffic going down the Cumberland River toward the Mississippi. The river appears on French maps from the late 17th century with the names "Caquinampo" or "Kasqui."
Maps from the early 18th century call it "Cussate," "Hogohegee," "Callamaco," and "Acanseapi." A 1755 British map showed the Tennessee River as the "River of the Cherakees." By the late 18th century, it had come to be called "Tennessee," a name derived from the Cherokee village named Tanasi. The Tennessee River begins at mile post 652, where the French Broad River meets the Holston River, but there were several different definitions of its starting point. In the late 18th century, the mouth of the Little Tennessee River was considered to be the beginning of the Tennessee River. Through much of the 19th century, the Tennessee River was considered to start at the mouth of Clinch River. An 1889 declaration by the Tennessee General Assembly designated Kingsport as the start of the Tennessee, but the following year a federal law was enacted that fixed the start of the river at its current location. At various points since the early 19th century, Georgia has disputed its northern border with Tennessee.
In 1796, when Tennessee was admitted to the Union, the border was defined by United States Congress as located on the 35th parallel, thereby ensuring that at least a portion of the river would be located within Georgia. As a result of an erroneously conducted survey in 1818, the actual border line was set on the ground one mile south, thus placing the disputed portion of the river in Tennessee. Georgia made several unsuccessful attempts to correct what Georgia felt was an erroneous survey line "in the 1890s, 1905, 1915, 1922, 1941, 1947 and 1971 to'resolve' the dispute", according to C. Crews Townsend, Joseph McCoin, Robert F. Parsley, Alison Martin and Zachary H. Greene, writing for the Tennessee Bar Journal, a publication of the Tennessee Bar Association, appearing on May 12, 2008. In 2008, as a result of a serious drought and resulting water shortage, the Georgia General Assembly passed a resolution directing the governor to pursue its claim in the United States Supreme Court. According to a story aired on WTVC-TV in Chattanooga on March 14, 2008, a local attorney familiar with case law on border disputes, says the U.
S. Supreme Court will maintain the original borders between states and avoid stepping into border disputes, preferring the parties work out their differences; the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported on 25 March 2013 that Georgia senators approved House Resolution 4 stating that if Tennessee declines to settle with them, the dispute will be handed over to the attorney general, who will take Tennessee before the Supreme Court to settle the issue once and for all. The Atlantic Wire, in commenting on Georgia's actions stated: The Great Georgia-Tennessee Border War of 2013 Is Upon Us Historians, take note: On this day, not a day in 1732, a boundary dispute between two Southern states took a turn for the wet. In a two-page resolution passed overwhelmingly by the state senate, Georgia declared that it, not its neighbor to the north, controls part of the Tennessee River at Nickajack. Georgia doesn't want Nickajack, it wants that water.. The Tennessee River is an important part of the Great Loop, the recreational circumnavigation of Eastern North America by water.
The Tennessee River has been a major highway for riverboats through the south and today they are still found along the river in abundance. Major ports include Guntersville, Chattanooga and Yellow Creek, Muscle Shoals. Navigation has contributed greatly
U.S. Route 72
U. S. Route 72 is an east–west United States highway that travels for 337 miles from southwestern Tennessee, North Mississippi, North Alabama, southeastern Tennessee; the highway's western terminus is in Memphis and its eastern terminus is in Chattanooga. It is the only U. S. Highway to begin and end in the same state, yet pass through other states in between. Prior to the U. S. Highway system signage being posted in 1926, the entire route was part of the Lee Highway; the highway passes through Tennessee and Mississippi. Most of the original eastern and western portions of the route through follows the path of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, a railroad that predated the American Civil War and now operated by Norfolk Southern Railway as their Memphis-Chattanooga, Tennessee mainline. US 72 ALT follows the Charleston route through North Alabama. US 72 begins at Bellevue Boulevard in Memphis. From Memphis, the route follows Union Poplar Avenue into Collierville. Just south of Collierville, US 72 junctions State Route 385, a freeway which links Collierville with I-240.
The route enters Mississippi 3 miles southeast of SR 385. This segment of the highway is concurrently designated Tennessee State Route 86. US 72 enters Mississippi in western Marshall County; the route follows rolling hills across the extreme northern part of the state, passing through Walnut and Corinth as it heads east. Near Burnsville, US 72 crosses the Divide Cut of the Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway. Farther east, the route enters the Tennessee Valley and heads through Iuka before crossing into Alabama. Most of US 72 in Mississippi has been upgraded to four-lane highway; the Mississippi section of US 72 is defined in Mississippi Code § 65-3-3. US-72 enters Alabama just west of Cherokee; the route parallels the Tennessee River east to Muscle Shoals, where US-72 Alternate splits from US-72. The mainline turns north, passing through Muscle Shoals and crossing the Tennessee River, entering Florence on the opposite bank. From Florence to Huntsville, the route heads through areas dominated by farmland.
Between the two locales, however, US-72 enters Athens. After passing through Athens and an overpass with Interstate 65, US-72 approaches Huntsville from the west. Part of this section has the local name University Drive. At an interchange with Memorial Parkway, the route turns northward joining the routes of US-231 and US-431, until it breaks off from the Parkway and heads eastward again. Northeast of downtown Huntsville, US-72 interchanges with I-565. I-565/US-72 Alternate, part of Corridor V of the Appalachian Development Highway System, terminates at the interchange while US-72 takes over the freeway alignment, joining Corridor V. I-565 is mentioned as the eastbound route and AL-20 is mentioned as the westbound route. Signs for I-565 east at this interchange were changed to remove any mention of AL-20 east. Most of the US-72 portion of Corridor V is a four-lane divided expressway with at-grade intersections. Past Huntsville, US-72 follows several mountain valleys to Scottsboro. From Scottsboro, the route follows a northeasterly routing similar to that of the Tennessee River as it enters Tennessee for the second time.
All of US-72 within Alabama is four lanes in width. Additionally, much of US-72 has been upgraded through northeast Alabama, with interchanges at the major state highways. Just west of Moores Mill Road in Huntsville, US-72 becomes limited access over Chapman Mountain. Throughout Alabama, US-72 is paired with unsigned AL-2; the stretch of U. S. 72 paralleling I-59 to the far northwest in between Scottsboro and South Pittsburg contains multiple freeway-style Interchanges. US 72 enters Tennessee for the second time just south of South Pittsburg. At South Pittsburg, Corridor V ends at an interchange with Interstate 24. US 64, concurrent with I-24 west of the exit, departs the expressway and forms an overlap with US 72 through Kimball to Jasper, where US 41 joins the concurrency. Just east of Jasper, the highways cross the Tennessee River on Nickajack Lake; the route follows a cut in the Cumberland Plateau made by the Tennessee River to the western outskirts of Chattanooga, where it interchanges with I-24 once more.
Just east of the interchange, US 11 joins the overlap. Together, US 11, US 41, US 64, US 72 follow the bluffs on Lookout Mountain above the Tennessee River to Chattanooga, where the routes follow Broad Street north into downtown. At the corner of Main Street and Broad Street, US 72 comes to an end. US 72 went through downtown South Pittsburg on Cedar Avenue. US 72 followed US 45 to Selmer and followed a route west to Memphis. In 1931, US 64 replaced US 72 between Selmer. In 1935, US 72 was routed to Memphis through Mississippi from Corinth removing the extension on US 45 to Selmer; as late as the early 1970s, US 72 followed State Route 57 from Collierville to its western terminus at East Parkway N.. During the mid-1980s until the early 2000s, U. S. 72's westbound route in midtown Memphis was changed to switch from Poplar Avenue to a westbound off-ramp connection with Union Avenue, instead of following Poplar west to East Parkway North. Some signs still remain from this route change. In Tishomingo County, US 72 originally
Alabama is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, Mississippi to the west. Alabama is the 30th largest by area and the 24th-most populous of the U. S. states. With a total of 1,500 miles of inland waterways, Alabama has among the most of any state. Alabama is nicknamed the Yellowhammer State, after the state bird. Alabama is known as the "Heart of Dixie" and the "Cotton State"; the state tree is the longleaf pine, the state flower is the camellia. Alabama's capital is Montgomery; the largest city by population is Birmingham. The oldest city is Mobile, founded by French colonists in 1702 as the capital of French Louisiana. From the American Civil War until World War II, like many states in the southern U. S. suffered economic hardship, in part because of its continued dependence on agriculture. Similar to other former slave states, Alabamian legislators employed Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise and otherwise discriminate against African Americans from the end of the Reconstruction Era up until at least the 1970s.
Despite the growth of major industries and urban centers, white rural interests dominated the state legislature from 1901 to the 1960s. During this time, urban interests and African Americans were markedly under-represented. Following World War II, Alabama grew as the state's economy changed from one based on agriculture to one with diversified interests; the state's economy in the 21st century is based on management, finance, aerospace, mineral extraction, education and technology. The European-American naming of the Alabama River and state was derived from the Alabama people, a Muskogean-speaking tribe whose members lived just below the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers on the upper reaches of the river. In the Alabama language, the word for a person of Alabama lineage is Albaamo; the suggestion that "Alabama" was borrowed from the Choctaw language is unlikely. The word's spelling varies among historical sources; the first usage appears in three accounts of the Hernando de Soto expedition of 1540: Garcilaso de la Vega used Alibamo, while the Knight of Elvas and Rodrigo Ranjel wrote Alibamu and Limamu in transliterations of the term.
As early as 1702, the French called the tribe the Alibamon, with French maps identifying the river as Rivière des Alibamons. Other spellings of the name have included Alibamu, Albama, Alibama, Alabamu, Allibamou. Sources disagree on the word's meaning; some scholars suggest the word comes from amo. The meaning may have been "clearers of the thicket" or "herb gatherers", referring to clearing land for cultivation or collecting medicinal plants; the state has numerous place names of Native American origin. However, there are no correspondingly similar words in the Alabama language. An 1842 article in the Jacksonville Republican proposed it meant "Here We Rest." This notion was popularized in the 1850s through the writings of Alexander Beaufort Meek. Experts in the Muskogean languages have not found any evidence to support such a translation. Indigenous peoples of varying cultures lived in the area for thousands of years before the advent of European colonization. Trade with the northeastern tribes by the Ohio River began during the Burial Mound Period and continued until European contact.
The agrarian Mississippian culture covered most of the state from 1000 to 1600 AD, with one of its major centers built at what is now the Moundville Archaeological Site in Moundville, Alabama. This is the second-largest complex of the classic Middle Mississippian era, after Cahokia in present-day Illinois, the center of the culture. Analysis of artifacts from archaeological excavations at Moundville were the basis of scholars' formulating the characteristics of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. Contrary to popular belief, the SECC appears to have no direct links to Mesoamerican culture, but developed independently; the Ceremonial Complex represents a major component of the religion of the Mississippian peoples. Among the historical tribes of Native American people living in present-day Alabama at the time of European contact were the Cherokee, an Iroquoian language people. While part of the same large language family, the Muskogee tribes developed distinct cultures and languages. With exploration in the 16th century, the Spanish were the first Europeans to reach Alabama.
The expedition of Hernando de Soto passed through Mabila and other parts of the state in 1540. More than 160 years the French founded the region's first European settlement at Old Mobile in 1702; the city was moved to the current site of Mobile in 1711. This area was claimed by the French from 1702 to 1763 as part of La Louisiane. After the French lost to the British in the Seven Years' War, it became part of British West Florida from 1763 to 1783. After the United States victory in the American Revolutionary War, the territory was divided between the United States and Spain; the latter retained control of this western territory from 1783 until the surrender of the Spanish garrison at Mobile to U. S. forces on April 13, 1813. Thomas Bassett, a loyalist to the British monarchy during the Revolutionary era, was one of the earliest white settlers in the state