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Alabama (Hayward)

Gazetteer/Almanac

John Hayward, Gazetteer of the United States of America… (Philadelphia: James L. Gihon, 1854), 25-26.

ALABAMA ranks as the twenty-second state of the American Union. It was originally settled by French and Spanish immigrants. In conjunction with Mississippi, it was set off from Georgia, in 1800, as a separate territory; which again was divided in 1817, the western portion forming the State of Mississippi, and the eastern the Territory of Alabama — now the state of that name, having been so constituted by act of Congress in March, 1819.

Limits and Extent. — It is bounded by Tennessee on the north, Georgia on the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico on the south, and Mississippi on the west. It extends from 30° 10' to 35° north latitude, and from 85° to 88° 307 west longitude; comprising an area of nearly 51,000 square miles.

Surface and Soil. — The face of the country exhibits much variety. In the northern quarter, where the Alleghany Mountains terminate, it is elevated and somewhat broken, but gradually improves in appearance and fertility as it descends towards the opposite boundary, where it settles into wide-spreading prairies and gently-swelling plains, profusely covered with grass and beautiful herbage. For all purposes of agriculture, the chief pursuit of the inhabitants, the soil is, in general, finely adapted. There are many large tracts, especially on the margins of rivers, which are remarkably productive. The most prominent among the "kindly fruits of the earth" are cotton, corn, wheat, and rice. Tobacco and sugar are also cultivated to some extent. The cotton crop, for several years past, is estimated to have been equal to a sixth part of the aggregate annual harvest of that commodity within the United States. Minerals, particularly iron and coal, are found in various parts of the state; the latter article exists in abundance on the borders of the Cahawba and Black Warrior Rivers.

Climate. — Alabama presents considerable diversity of climate, healthful or otherwise, according to locality. The hilly region, in the central and northern parts, affords a salubrious atmosphere, mildly tempered in winter, and gratefully pleasant in summer; but the low and marshy districts at the south, the bottom lands along the rivers, and the country, lying in the neighborhood of the Muscle Shoals, are usually considered unhealthy.

Rivers. — Nearly every part of the state is amply watered by large streams admitting of extensive steamboat navigation. The most considerable and important of these rivers are the Tennessee, Chattahoochee, Alabama, and Tombigbee.

Civil Government. — The legislative power is vested in a Senate and House of Representatives; the former composed of thirty-three members, elected for four years, — one half retiring every two years, — and the latter consisting of one hundred members, elected biennially. The sessions of the legislature are held once in two years, at the present seat of government, the city of Montgomery. The people elect not only the executive and legislative authorities, but the judges of Circuit and Probate Courts. Judges of the Supreme Court and chancellors are chosen for terms of six years by the General Assembly, in joint ballot.

Judiciary. —The Supreme Court holds its sessions at the capital, semiannually, in June and January: it is composed of a chief and two associate justices. The Court of Chancery, comprising three chancellors, holds an annual session in each of the thirty-seven districts into which the state is subdivided. The Circuit Courts, of which there are nine judges, hold two sessions per annum, in each of the nine circuits.

Education. — See Literary Institutions.

Internal Improvements. — The state enjoys numerous facilities for intercommunication, and a due measure of public interest is directed to the development of these natural advantages. Many miles of railroads, and several important canals, have already been constructed, and others are also in contemplation.
Manufactures. — But little attention has been given to the business of converting the principal staple of the state into fabrics for exportation. Nearly all the cotton produced is sent as raw material to markets beyond the state, and but a small portion of the population is engaged in the manufacture of other articles of domestic growth.

Public Debt, &c. — For information relative to the debts, expenditures, financial resources, &c., of the state, see Statistical Tables.
Indians. — There are within the limits of Alabama several formidable tribes, or parts of tribes, some of whom, the Cherokees particularly, have attained a respectable state of civilization. These reside in the north-east corner of the state. The Choctaws and Chickasaws occupy portions of the western part, and the Creeks dwell on the eastern border. During the war of 1812, the white settlements were much annoyed by the Indians, who were finally subdued by General Jackson.

Population. — One of the chief impulses which led to the almost unexampled increase of population in Alabama, within the last forty years, was the annexation, in 1812, of a part of Florida. This measure gave access to an important coast frontier on the Gulf of Mexico, and induced an immediate flow of emigration in that direction.

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