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The Creek Indian War (1813-14)

In the early sixteenth century, explorers visited the Territory which is now the Southeast United States.   They found that the Creek, Cherokee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw Indians already lived there.   When the white settlers began to move in at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Creeks became increasingly hostile.   They did not want to give up their lands or adopt the ways of the white settlers.

As more and more white settlers populated the land, the Creeks began to divide into two groups.   One group held on to the traditional indian views, while the other had adopted the ways of the white settlers.   Tecumseh, the great Shawnee Indian leader, came south from the Great Lakes to attempt to unite all indians against the white Americans just before the beginning of the War of 1812.   Tecumseh's visit caused the Creek indians to divide into two groups called the Upper Creeks and the Lower Creeks. The Upper Creeks wanted to resist the white settlers' attempts to gain more indian land.   The Lower Creeks were more accustomed to the whites and were a more peaceful group. This division of the Creeks led to the Creek War of 1813-14.

Read more about the Creek Indian War (Alabama Department of Archives & History)


After the defeat of the Creek indians, much of Alabama was opened up to white settlement.   Thousands from Tennessee, Georgia, North and South Carolina came in search of fertile land to grow cotton.   When Mississippi became a state, Congress created the Alabama Territory in 1817.   St. Stephens became the capital of the Alabama Territory and approved a legislature of Alabama delegates already elected to the old Mississippi territorial legislature.   William Wyatt Bibb was named as the Territorial Governor, ans was also elected as the first governor when Alabama became a state on December 14, 1819. Governor Bibb helped establish the government, pass laws, and administer justice.

Civil War

Slavery is likely the most controversial and widely discussed topics in American history.   It was the main issue that caused the nation to enter into Civil War over a century ago.   Although its effects are still felt in Black and White America today, it is difficult to understand what slavery must have meant to white and black people over a hundred years ago.

When Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States in 1860, Alabama seceded from the United States along with other Southern states.   Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was inaugurated President of the newly formed Confederate States of America.   Montgomery was the original capital of the Confederacy for three months and then the capital was moved to Richmond, Virginia.   Although many Alabamians did not want the Confederate capital moved, the move saved Montgomery and central Alabama from becoming prime war targets.   Other than the Battle of Mobile Bay, few major battles took place in Alabama.   Instead, military activity was limited to Union raids into Alabama to control the Tennessee River, cut railroad lines, destroy ironworks, and blockade the port of Mobile.   With shortage of food at home and supplies cut off, prices soared.   Toward the end of the war, Alabama was left with almost no one to defend it except for boys, old men, and the home guard.   The exact number of white Alabamians who fought for the Confederacy is not known, but estimates go as high as 100,000.   Around 2,700 white Alabamians and 10,000 black Alabamians enlisted in the Union army.   These Union soldiers came mostly from northern areas of the state.


After four years of Civil War, Alabama was left socially and economically devastated.    As many as 70,000 men were killed or disabled in the war.   Both Industry and agriculture also suffered due to invasions by Union troops and foraging armies on both sides. The northern counties of Alabama were hit especially hard.   The cotton economy was all but destroyed as the slaves which enabled its wealth were freed at the end of the war.

The Economy's recovery was made more difficult by social tensions between those who had supported secession and those who had not, and between white Alabamians and newly emancipated African Americans.   Adding to these issues, the state's recovery was hindered further as state and national politicians struggled over the power to direct the process of Reconstruction.   During this reconstruction period, three constitutions were written for Alabama.   The first attempted virtually to reestablish the pre-war status quo (1865).   The second would reshape political power to include black freedmen (1868).   The third restored control to conservative Democrats (1875).   The process was virtually enveloped in violence and election fraud.

Civil Rights Movement

In the 1950's and 1960's, Alabama was home to many of the major events of the modern Civil Rights Movement in America.   The movement included concerted efforts to guarantee equal rights to African Americans in areas such as public and private transportation, schools, voting, economic opportunities, and housing.   Two prominent individuals in the struggle for civil rights emerged from Alabama.   The first, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a spokesman for African Americans seeking equality. The second was Governor George C. Wallace, who symbolized white resistance to racial integration.   Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Selma all figured prominently in the contest between the two views these leaders represented.

To learn more about Alabama history, click here to view the Alabama Department of Archives and History web site

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