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no. 6 


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3 1833 02342 409 3 


NO. 6 





Professor of History, University of Chattanooga 








Chapter . Page 

Letter of Transmittal - ' 5 

Preface ,- - 7-8 

I. The Mississippi Territory , 9-19 

II. The New Country - 20-23 

III. The Immigrants - 24-32 

IV. The Division of the Territory : _ - 33-40 

V. Alabama Becomes a State , ........ 41-49 

VI. The Public Lands ..'. .'. ,...- 50-56 

VII. Agriculture 57-72 

VIII. Rivers and Roads - 73-85 

IX. The Commercial Situation - 86-92 

X. The Bank Question _ 93-101 

XL Politics and the Election of 1824 102-109 

XII. Politics and Federal Relations, 1824-1828 110-121 

XIII. Religion, Education, and the Press 122-130 

XIV. Social Conditions and Slavery 131-138 

XV. Conclusion .......139-146 

Bibliography _ _ 147-159 

Maps and Illustrations _ - — 161-192 




Note: Maps, charts, and illustrations, grouped together at the back 
of this book, are listed below under the chapters which have reference 
to them. 

Plate Page 

Chapter I. 

1. Indian Cessions in Mississippi Territory _ 161 

Chapter II. 

2. Geological Map of Alabama „ 162 

Chapter III. 

3. Road Map, 1818 _...._ „ 163 

4. Origin of Population- _ _ 164 

Chapter V. 

5. Vote for Governor. 1819 _ 165 

"6. Vote to Disapprove Censuring of Jackson, 1819 _ 166 

7. Melish Map of Alabama. 1820 _ 167 

8. Vote to Reduce Judicial Tenure _ 168 

9. Vote Concerning Establishment of Branch Banks 169 

Chapter VI. 

10. Indian Cessions in Alabama 170 

11. Value of Lands Sold in Alabama _... 171 

Chapter VII. 

12. Average Yearly Price of Middling Upland Cotton _.. 172 

13. Average Valuation of Slaves in Mobile „ „ 173 

14. Cotton Crop of South Alabama...! _.,. _ 174 

15. Slave Population, 1818 _ _. 175 

16. Slave Population, 1824 176 

17. Slave Population, 1830 _...„ 177 

Chapter VIII. 

18. River Map „ _ __ 178 

Chapter IX. 

19. Imports and Exports at Mobile _ 179 

Chapter XI. 

20. Presidential Election of 1824 180 

21. Senate Vote on Motion Proposing Jackson for Presidency 181 

22. House Vote on Motion Pronosing Jackson for Presidency 182 

23. Election of U. S. Senator, 1822. (King and Crawford) 183 

24. Election of U. S. Senator, 1822. (Kelly and McKinley) 184 

25. Election of U. S. Senator. 1824 185 

Chapter XIT. 

26. Vote on Bill to Extend Jurisdiction of Sn-ite Over Creeks _ 186 

27. House Vote in Election of U. S. Senator. 1826 187 

28. State House. Tuscaloosa 188 

29. Vote on Bill Fixing State Canital at Tuscaloosa _ 189 

30. Vote on Lewis Report Proposine Jackson for Presidency.. 190 

Chapter XIII. 

31. University of the State of Alabama 191 

Chapter XIV. 

32. Vote on Bill to Prohibit Import of Slaves to State 192 

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To His Excellency, 

Governor Thomas E. Kilby, 
Montgomery, Ala. 

I have the honor to transmit, herewith, recommending that 
it be published as bulletin No. 6 of the Historical and Patriot- 
ic Series of the State Department of Archives and History, a 
manuscript entitled "The Formative Period in Alabama, 1815- 
1828." The author, Dr. Thomas Perkins Abernethy, is a na- 
tive Alabamian, at present, Professor of History at the Uni- 
versity of Chattanooga. It was upon this thesis that he re- 
ceived his Ph. D. degree from Harvard University. 

In his preface, Dr. Abernethy has set forth the sources from 
which he derived the information presented in his thesis. It 
will be seen that exhaustive research has been made. 

Copies of this bulletin will be placed, with the compliments 
of this Department, in all public libraries in Alabama and in 
the college and high school libraries of the State. As long as 
the issue lasts, it will be subject to call by any student in the 
State with the hope that a perusal of these pages will inspire 
in the heart of the reader a love and veneration for our past 
and a renewed dedication of loyal service to our future. 

Very respectfully, 




Dr. A. C. Cole begins his study of The Whig Party in the 
South with the year 1830, but necessarily, the basis for the 
confusing political alignments of the Southern Whigs lay 
largely in the years that had gone before the actual formation 
of the party. Alabama received her first great influx of pop- 
ulation and underwent the formative period of her develop- 
ment during the apparently quiet administration of Monroe, 
when party lines were not recognized as existing. The new 
conditions of the frontier are sure to change old habits and 
old views, but the absolute lack of avowed partisan division 
during the period when Alabama was receiving her first 
wave of population gives us an especially good chance to study 
a society where men's political views are almost certain to be 
based directly on economic interest or individual conviction. 
With this in mind, it has been with the double purpose of ob- 
taining an understanding of the conditions under which the 
cotton kingdom was planted on the Gulf Coast, and of trying 
to discover the process by which fixed party principles were 
crystallized out of the solution of social and economic elements 
which existed in Alabama during the period of settlement 
which followed the War of 1812, that the present work was 

A substantial body of material, principally in the Library 
of Congress, the Public Library of New York City, the Ala- 
bama Department of Archives and History, the Mississippi 
Department of Archives and History, and the Young Men's 
Christian Association Library of Mobile, has been searched, 
but there are important gaps in the body of information col- 
lected. This is especially the case in connection with the sub- 
jects of agriculture and slave-management, but, as the dis- 
covery of local peculiarities was the principal object of the 
study, it has seemed best not to fill in these blanks from gen- 
eral accounts. Only such information as deals particularly 
with Alabama has been used. 

In connection with questions of politics, there also 
has been difficulty. In a period of settlement and of polit- 
ical uncertainty, there are few established lines of policy to 
guide the student on his way. But. on the other hand, there 


is added interest in discovering from among the various prob- 
lems which confront the community, the ones which develop 
sufficient significance to shape the course of events and to be- 
come solidified into partisan principles. Thus the study of 
the formative period has afforded an opportunity to find the 
principal questions upon which the people were divided, and 
hence to gain some understanding of the basis of later align- 
ments. But, even so, many points upon which we would like 
to have information are left in comparative and tantalizing ob- 
scurity. The principal cause for this, as it appears to the writ- 
er, is that the questions which agitated the men of these early 
years were largely local matters, and the political leaders had 
not yet gained sufficient importance outside their own State 
to enable them to make a lasting impression. One of the poli- 
ticians who grew up with Alabama was William R. King, but, 
though he later came to be Vice-President of the United 
States, we have few records to reveal his mind during the in- 
teresting time when his career was taking shape. And so it 
is for most of the others. 

This work, submitted as a doctoral dissertation to the Fac- 
ulty of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Harvard 
University, was prepared under the stimulating direction of 
Professor Frederick Jackson Turner. The materials collect- 
ed by the late Dr. Thomas M. Owen, of the Alabama State 
Department of Archives and History, made the research pos- 
sible. Each of these men has been of inestimable aid and en- 
couragement in my work. 

I am indebted also to Dr. Dunbar Rowland, of the Missis- 
sippi State Department of Archives and History, and to Mr. 
J. C. Fitzpatrick, of the Manuscript Division of the Library of 
Congress, for aid in the collection of materials. Professor 
L. C. Gray, of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, office of 
Farm Management, kindly read the chapter dealing with agri- 
culture; and Dr. Roland M. Harper, of the Alabama Geologi- 
cal Survey, gave me valuable aid in connection with geograph- 
ical questions, but of course the writer is responsible for the 
treatment of these subjects given herein. 


Chapter I. 


When England received West Florida from Spain at the 
close of the Seven Years' War, its northern boundary was the 
thirty-first parallel ; but England later, for administrative 
purposes, changed the line so that it ran from the Chatta- 
hoochee due westward along the parallel of thirty-two de- 
grees, twenty-eight minutes to the point where the Yazoo 
flows into the Mississippi. When Spain recovered the Flori- 
das at the close of the American Revolution, she insisted on 
the northern boundary as fixed by England, but the United 
States protested, and finally won the point when the treaty 
of 1795 fixed the thirty-first parallel as the international 

The disputed territory which extended from the Mississippi 
to the Chattahoochee was finally evacuated by Spain in 1797, 
and the next year, the United States, with the acquiescence of 
Georgia, which also laid claim to the land, established a terri- 
torial form of government for the district. 1 This was the 
original Mississippi Territory. In 1800 an elective assembly 
was authorized, 2 and in 1802 Georgia relinquished her claim. 3 
After two more years, the boundary was extended northward 
to the Tennessee line, 4 and thus the Territory came to include 
all that land which is embraced by the present states of Ala- 
bama and Mississippi, except such as lies below the thirty-first 
degree of latitude. 

Within this extensive area there were but two white settle- 
ments: one upon the lower Mississippi, and the other upon 
the lower Tombigbee River. Those who lived upon the Tom- 
bigbee had filtered through the Indian country from the time 
of the Revolution onward; some were Tory refugees, some 
were patriots who had left their old homes to seek new ones, 
and some were traders with the Indians. The blood of these 
men was various : English and Scottish traders mingled with 

i Statutes at Large, II, 229-235. 

2 Ibid., II, 455-456. 

3 American State Papers. Lands, V, 384-385. 

4 Statutes at Large, II, 445-446. 


Yankee frontiersmen, and many of them had taken native 
wives. The half-breeds were often men of wealth, and no dis- 
tinction of race seems to have been made in the rugged life of 
the frontier." 1 

St. Stephens, a struggling village of log cabins, was the 
principal settlement in the Tombigbee region, and here the 
Government established a post for trading with the Choctaw 
Indians, and, as soon as Georgia gave up her claim to the soil, 
a land office. The act arranging for the disposal of the pub- 
lic domain was passed in 1803. ,; It provided for the valid- 
ation of claims under the British and Spanish grants ; quieted 
claims under the act of Georgia establishing Bourbon County 
in 1785;" granted tracts of 640 acres to actual settlers at the 
time of the Spanish evacuation in 1797 ; and gave preemption 
rights to settlers occupying land at the time the act was pass- 
ed. Settling on public lands was forbidden, but squatters 
continued to come in and an act of 1837 extended preemption 
rights to those who had already come in, but once more pro- 
hibited entries upon government lands for the future. Lands 
not otherwise appropriated were to be surveyed and put on 
sale at public auction according to the provisions which had 
already been adopted for the Northwest Territory. Accord- 
ingly in 1807 the first sales took place at St. Stephens/ 

In 1806' the Government acquired from the Indians a small 
triangle of land lying between the Tennessee border and the 
great bend in the Tennessee River. In 1809 this tract, the 
original Madison County, was offered for sale and readily 
taken up by cotton planters from Georgia. Here Huntsville 
was built about a great spring, and soon came to be the com- 
mercial center of the new region. 11 

Cotton was raised in the Alabama-Tombigbee region as 
early as 1772;"' the manufacture of cotton cloth was begun by 
the Cherokees in 1796-97 ; u and Colonel Benjamin Hawkins, 
who was for many years agent for the Creeks, states in his 
Sketch of the Creek Country for 1798 and 1799 that a Scottish 
trader, who had made his home among the Indians and had 
taken a native woman for his wife, first raised a quantity of 

5 Pickett, History of Alabama, Chap. XXXI. 

6 Statutes at Larcre, II, 229-2:55. 

" E.C. But-nett in American Historical Review, XV, 66-111, 297-353. 

s American State Papers, Misc., II. 417. 

9 Betts, History of Hc.ntsvilte, 23-24. 

io Pickett, His'tor-i uf Alabama, 326. 

n Morse, Report <.)> Indian Affairs, 167. 


^reen seed cotton for the market, but, finding it more profit- 
able to manufacture his own staple, employed eleven hands, 
besides his own family, in the industry. 1 - In 1802 the first 
cotton gins were introduced into the Alabama country, two 
of the three of them being set up among the Indians. 1 :: By 1808 
, the staple had come to be the leading agricultural product of 
the region. 14 

From the very first its culture among the whites seems to 
have been associated with negro labor, for in 1810 slaves 
made up nearly forty per cent, of the population upon the low- 
er Tombigbee; and ten years later, after the cotton regime 
was well begun, the proportion of slaves in this early-settled 
region remained abnormally high. The men who entered 
Madison County in 1809 were largely Georgia planters of con- 
siderable means. They came especially for the purpose of rais- 
ing cotton, and their slaves were numerous. Their entrance 
into Mississippi Territory at this time indicates that the cot- 
ton regime might have begun earlier than it did had not the 
War of 1812 intervened to delay it. 

But the culture of cotton was still in its infancy in 1812. 
Scrawny hogs, whose ancestors are supposed to have been left 
by DeSoto, and whose descendants are said to be the modern 
razor-back, roamed the woods : and in the cane-break region 
near the Gulf, large herds of cattle, sometimes numbering 
many hundreds, found their own forage summer and winter 

Aside from the fur trade with the natives and the growing 
cotton industry, there seems to have been little commerce caj- 
ried on during these years in the Alabama country, and the 
reason is not far to seek. Mobile, the only accessible outlet, 
was in the hands of the Spanish, and the duties which they 
charged were almost prohibitive. In order to avoid the pay- 
ment of them, Gaines, the agent at St. Stephens for the Choc- 
taws, brought his supplies down the Tennessee River to Col- 
bert's Ferry, above Muscle Shoals, carried them over a port- 
age, which came to be known as Gaines' Trace, to the head of 
navigation on the Tombigbee at Cotton Gin Port ; and thence 
floated them down to St. Stephens. ir * This was the route by 
which a number of the early Tombigbee settlers reached their 

12 Hawkins, Sketch of the Creek Country, 44, 55. 

13 Pickett, History of Alabama, 469-470. 

1 4 Jack^Sect ionalism and Party Politics in Alabama, 7. 

15 Pickett, History of Alabama, 506. 


destination, 1 " and it long remained an important route of trav- 
el for the pioneer. 

Until 1806, rivers and Indian trails were the only means of 
communication in the Alabama region, but in that year Con- 
gress provided for the construction of the first two roads. 17 
One was to connect Nashville, Tennessee, with Natchez upon 
the Mississippi, crossing the Tennessee River at Muscle 
Shoals. It was known as the "Natchez Trace" and came to 
be a highway of no little importance in the western country. 
The other was to follow the route from Athens, Georgia, to 
New Orleans, passing through the settlement on the Tom- 
bigbee. It came to be known as the "Federal Road" and 
along it thousands of settlers later found their way to Ala- 

Such were the slender bands of communication which tied 
the frontier settlements of eastern Mississippi Territory to 
the world from which they were separated by hundreds of 
miles of Indian wilderness. Between the Tombigbee clear- 
ings and the settled part of Georgia lay the confederacy of 
the Creeks extending its boundaries northward well toward 
the Tennessee line. Adjoining the Creeks on the north lay 
the territory of the Cherokees, extending eastward into Geor- 
gia and northward into Tennessee. Between the Tombigbee 
and the settlements upon the lower Mississippi lay the lands 
of the Choctaws, and northward of them the country of the 
Chickasaws took in the northwestern corner of the future 
Alabama and extended across western Tennessee. 

These Indian tribes of the South were further advanced 
toward civilization than were most of their North American 
kinsmen, and, though the westward migration of the whites 
was still in its infancy, they saw clearly the problem which 
confronted them. They had two alternatives compatible with 
peace, — to perfect themselves in the arts of civilization, so as to 
compete with the new-comers, or to be driven off the land 
which had been theirs from generation to generation. There 
was but one other possibility, — to fight. 

Already game had become too scarce to be relied upon as 
the only source of food supply, 1 ^ and all the Southern Indians 
engaged in a crude method of agriculture. They dwelt in 
villages with fields adjacent, and maize, beans, and melons 

i' - > Ibid., 466-469. 

17 Statutes at Large. li. 397. 

is Indian Office files P. J. Meigs to Geo. Graham, May 6, 1817. 


were the principal crops which they cultivated. Their meth- 
ods of culture were primitive and they rarely produced more 
than sufficed for their own needs. 13 

The more the natives resorted to agriculture, the less ground 
they needed for the purpose of hunting. This consideration 
may partly account for xhe interest which the Government of 
the United States took in the civilization of the Red Man, but 
such interest was good policy on general principles, for a civ- 
ilized Indian afforded a less pressing problem than did one 
in his native simplicity, 

During Washington's administration the system of appoint- 
ing an agent to each of the different tribes was adopted. The 
agent acted as intermediary between the Government and the 
Indians ; attempted to protect them from corruption by super- 
vising their relations with the whites; and tried to promote 
their civilization by instructing them in agriculture and crafts- 
manship. The Indians were not allowed to buy whisky from 
the whites and the whites were not allowed to live among them 
except by permission frcm the agents. Such permits were 
granted to blacksmiths, carpenters, wheelwrights, and other 
craftsmen who were needed, but natives were instructed in 
the crafts and sometimes were able to supply a large part of 
the demand for skilled workmen. 20 

The Indians were encouraged by the agents to keep domes- 
ticated animals and a few of them came to own large herds. 
They were also instructed in the use of the plow and furn- 
ished with seed for planting. The culture of cotton was in- 
troduced among them, and they were taught the use of the 
spinning wheel and the loom. Indeed, some of the native 
craftsmen learned to make the wheels and looms and turned 
them out in large numbers. 

Of all the Indians, the Cherokees most readily took to the- 
ways of civilization. Realizing the uselessness of resistance, 
they wished to adjust themselves to the inevitable, and through- 
education and industry to fit themselves for citizenship. They 
took up agriculture so seriously that some of them quit their 
villages for the purpose of living upon their farms. They 
kept large numbers of domesticated animals, and learned to 
spin and weave. They built roads and erected saw mills and 

i ;i Good accounts are <riven in Hawkins. Sketch of the Creek Country; 
and Morse, Report on Indian Affairs, 167 et seq. 

-° Indian Orifice files, R J. Meies to Sect'y of War, Nov. 4, 1S16; 
Silas Dinsmore to Jno. McKee, Oct. 28, 1815. 




*P# ii*^ ft] | 


cotton gins. Sequoya, a native Cherokee, invented an alpha- 
bet for the use of his people and they set about diligently to 
learn to read and write. They even drew up a constitution 
and instituted a representative government.- 1 A census of 
1825 shows them, with a population of fifteen thousand, to 
have possessed thirteen hundred slaves, twenty-two thousand 
cattle, over seven hundred looms, more than two thousand 
spinning wheels, nearly three thousand plows, ten saw mills, 
thirty-one grist mills, eight cotton gins, eighteen ferries, and 
eighteen schools. 22 

The Chickasaws and Choctaws, though somewhat less ad- 
vanced than the Cherokees, followed their policy of absorbing 
what civilization they could, and of remaining friendly with 
the whites. The Creeks, on the contrary, were warlike and 
not inclined to adapt themselves to the new situation. The 
strength of their confederacy and the fact that their lands 
bordered upon Spanish Florida may help to explain their rel- 
atively independent attitude. 

Just before the War of 1812 broke out, and Tecumseh un- 
dertook to unite all the western Indians against the United 
States, he visited the Creeks at one of their great councils, 
and the younger warriors were incited to hostility against the 
whites. Though the older chiefs remained peaceful, the war 
or red stick party was powerful and presently took matters in- 
to its own hands.- 3 

Florida was still legally in the possession of Spain, but the 
Napoleonic wars had so shaken the position of the ancient 
kingdom that her government had fallen prey to French and 
British armies. The future possession and control of the 
province became doubtful and Madison, fearful for our south- 
ern frontier, issued a proclamation in 1810 calling for the oc- 
cupation of West Florida. It was at that time, however, tak- 
en over only as far as Pearl River. Three years later Mobile 
was occupied, but Pensacola remained in Spanish hands. 
Thither a band of the hostile Creeks repaired in 1813 for the 
purpose of securing munitions of war. The settlers upon the 
Tombigbee, learning of the expedition, mustered their mili- 
tary strength and marched to meet the Indians as they return- 
ed. Jn the battle of Burnt Corn which followed, the whites 

- 1 Nineteenth Annual Report, Bureau of American Ethnology, Part I, 

22 Southern Advocate, April 21, 1S2G. 

*« McMaster, Htstor ■ of the United States, III, 535-6. 


drove the Indians from the field, but while the victors collect- 
ed the booty, the Indians rallied, set upon them, and routed 
their little band. 24 

The isolated Tombigbee settlers recognized this skirmish as 
the prelude to a bloody Indian war. Seeing no prospect of 
adequate military assistance, they hurriedly gathered at con- 
venient houses, surrounded them with stockades, and anxious- 
ly awaited the movements of the savage warriors. Several 
hundred men and women were gathered at the home of a half- 
breed named Mims. A stockade was constructed and the 
place came to be known as Fort Mims, but of military dis- 
cipline there was little or none. Warned of the presence of In- 
dians, they took no heed, and when the savages attacked, were 
utterly unprepared. The defense was desperate but hopeless ; 
and when the day was over, there remained but the smolder- 
ing ruins and the bodies of the dead. Of all that had been 
gathered in the fort, only a handful escaped. 

Appeals for aid were quickly sent to Georgia, Louisiana, 
•and Tennessee; and Andrew Jackson, Major-General of the 
Tennessee militia, collected a force for an expedition. March- 
ing through Huntsville, and crossing the Tennessee River 
where he established Fort Deposit, he entered the country of 
the Creeks and established Fort Strother upon the upper 
waters of the Coosa. Often forced to the last extremity by 
the difficulty of getting supplies and by the restiveness of mi- 
litia enlisted for short terms of service, Jackson nevertheless 
cut a road through the wilderness, fought several minor en- 
gagements with the savages, and finally reached their prin- 
cipal stronghold at Horseshoe Bend, in the Tallapoosa River. 
Here the Indians had erected a breastwork across the neck of 
the peninsula formed by the bend of the river. Jackson at- 
tacked this work in front* while his lieutenant, General Coffee, 
approached the bend from the other side of the stream. Here 
the Indians had collected a large number of canoes in which 
to make their escape if it should become necessary ; but taking 
these, Coffee crossed the river and attacked the defenders 
from the rear. Thus trapped, the stubborn resistance of the 
natives was ineffectual. Some escaped across the river, 
others were drowned while attempting to get away; and 
several hundred were left dead upon the field. 2 "' 

a* Henry Adams, History of U. S., VII, 228-229; Pickett, History of 
Aloha ma, 523-524. 

2>McMaster, History of the United States, IX, 162-170. Bassett, J. 
S., Andrew Jackson, I, 91-92, 116-117. 


The battle of Horseshoe Bend broke the power of the hos- 
tile Creeks. Many were dead, and others fled across the 
Spanish line into Florida. In 1814 the chiefs who remained 
met Jackson at the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa, 
where Fort Jackson was erected, and were forced to surrender 
a. broad strip of their land running along the Florida border, 
and all that which lay west of the Coosa River. Thus prac- 
tically the entire Alabama-Tombigbee basin was cleared of 
the Indian title and secured for settlement by the whites. 
Mississippi Territory was indebted to Jackson not only for 
safety, but also for room in which to grow. 

That the Southwest was to become a cotton kingdom was 
foreshadowed by the early history of Madison County. When 
the old tobacco-growing districts of the Southern seaboard 
began to overflow into the piedmont region, a number of Vir- 
ginia immigrants established the town of Petersburg where 
the Broad River flows into the Savannah, in Elbert County, 
Georgia. Here tobacco warehouses were erected and a brisk 
business ensued. But it did not last long. When the in- 
vention of the cotton gin made short staple cotton available for 
commercial purposes, this crop supplanted tobacco as the prin- 
cipal product of the piedmont region in Georgia and South 
Carolina. Tobacco warehouses were no longer necessary and 
Petersburg was abandoned.-' 1 Its inhabitants were the chief 
founders of the town of Huntsville.- 7 In the small triangle 
which was the Madison County of that day, nearly a hundred 
and fifty thousand acres of land were sold between 1809 and 

During this period the sales of land in the Tombigbee set- 
tlement were relatively small excepting that, in the single year 
1812, sixty-four thousand acres were disposed of at St. Steph- 

The war naturally halted the progress of the westward 
movement, but with the coming of peace, the migration was 
resumed with greatly renewed vigor. The Indians were no 
longer to be feared, a vast expanse of new territory had been 
cleared of the native title, cotton was in great demand, and a 
spirit of adventure and speculation took hold upon the coun- 
try. In 1816 more than a hundred seventy thousand acres 
were sold at St. Stephens. 8S 

- c > C. C. Jones, Jr.. Dead Tovns of Georgia, 234-23S. 

2" Betts. History of Huntsville, 22-24. 

2S American State Papers, Misc., II, 417. 


The territory secured from the Creeks had to be surveyed 
before it could be placed upon the market, and surveys took 
time. But the westward rush of land-hungry men did not 
wait upon the Government. Settlers pushed into the country 
in great numbers. They were usually poor men who had sold 
all they possessed to secure the necessary means of transport- 
ation, and at the end of the journey they sometimes found 
themselves stranded without food to last until the first crop 
could be made.-'' There were also land speculators who were 
engaged in seeking out choice tracts for purchase when the 
Government sales should begin; there were merchants who 
had brought wagon loads of goods, which they displayed in 
hastily-erected huts to the settlers; and there were fugi- 
tives from justice seeking refuge in a country where the hand 
of the law was weak. 

Crimes were, of course, committed in such a community as 
this ; 30 and to make the situation worse, those Creeks who had 
remained friendly to the United States during the war felt, 
with reason, that they had been unjustly treated' when their 
lands were taken away; and they threatened to give trouble. 31 
Since no civil jurisdiction was established in the region, Gov- 
ernor Holmes, of Mississippi Territory, issued a proclamation 
on June 29, 1815, incorporating the whole of the Creek cession 
as Monroe County. :! - 

This action was not in accord with the ideas of the Govern- 
ment, for an act of 1807 had forbidden intrusion upon the 
public lands. In accordance with this act, President Madison 
issued a proclamation in December, 1815, ordering the remov- 
al of squatters and authorizing the use of military force to ac- 
complish that purpose.' 53 Some ejections were made, but Con- 
gress heard the plea of the squatters and, by an act of April 
26, 1816, those who had come in before Feburary of that year 
were to be allowed to remain until the land upon which they 
were settled should be sold. 34 

29 Indian Office files, R. J. Meigs, to Andrew Jackson, Jan. 17. 1816; 
Jackson Papers, E. P. Gaines to Andrew Jackson, March 6, 1817. 

3« Toulmin-Holmes correspondence, Gen. E. P. Gaines to Judjre Har- 
ry Toulmin, June 1, 1S15; Judire Toulmin to Gov. Holmes, June 5, 1815. 

St Washington Republican, Oct. 21, 1815. 

32 Gov. Holmes, Executive Journal. 1814-1817; Proclamation of June 
29, 1815. 

38 Washington Republican, Jan. 10, 1816; Jackson Papers, W m. H. 
Crawford to Andrew Jackson, Jan. 27, 1816. 

*» Ibid., June 12, 1816. 


The Creek cession overlapped, on the north and west, lands 
claimed by the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Cherokee Indians. 
The Government commissioned Andrew Jackson to treat with 
these tribes for their claims to the disputed areas, and treaties 
providing for the relinquishment of all three tracts were 
drawn up in 1816. This cleared up the Indian title to the 
greater part of that territory which was soon to become the 
State of Alabama. The Creeks still held the entire tract lying 
east of the Coosa River ; the Cherokees held the northeastern 
corner above this; tho Chickasaws held a small tract in the 
northwestern corner ; and the Choctaws retained a little land 
west of the Tombigbee. 33 

On May 9, 1817, Governor Holmes issued a proclamation cre- 
ating three new counties which included the new cessions and 
a part of the Creek cession. Elk County was to comprise the 
land lying north of the Tennessee River and west of Madi- 
son County; Blount County was to be made up of that lying 
south of the Tennessee and north of the watershed between 
that river and the Alabama-Tombigbee basin; and Shelby 
County was to comprise the country lying south of Blount 
County bounded on the west by the Tombigbee, on the south 
by Clarke County, and on the east by the watershed between 
the Tombigbee and -Alabama Rivers. 3 " But the act dividing 
the Territory had already passed in Congress, and these three 
counties never had a concrete existence. An Elk County is 
sometimes enumerated in the early gazetteers, and a Blount 
and a Shelby County were established in Alabama Territory in 
1818, but they have no continuity with those established by 
Governor Holmes. 

3:5 See Eighteenth Annual Report, Bureau of Ethnology, Plate I. 
36 Gov. David Holmes, Executive Journal, 1814-1817, Proclamation 
of May 9, 1917. 

Chapter II. 


The new country which was soon to become Alabama is di- 
vided, from an agricultural point of view, into three principal 
regions : the Tennessee Valley, the Alabama-Tombigbee bas- 
in, and the central hilly region which separates these two. 
Fed by streams which drain the country as far north as the 
Tennessee Valley, the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers traverse 
the central and southwestern portions of the area, and empty 
their united waters into Mobile Bay. In the early days of 
Alabama, these streams furnished the only, good commercial 
highway into the State. They bound her southern section into 
one cotton-growing community, and their fertile bottom lands 
furnished most desirable fields for the planter of the staple. 

The central hilly region is drained by southward-flowing 
streams which are not navigable ; and the inaccessibility of the 
region, together with the rugged nature of the land, prevented 
it from attaining agricultural importance. Yet the isolated 
valleys were often fertile, and a scattered population main- 
tained frontier conditions here for a long time. 

Making a large bend across the northern end of Alabama, 
the Tennessee River flows through a wide and fertile valley. 
During the early days the produce of this region had to be 
floated down the long and tortuous courses of the Tennessee 
and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans, but the soil was fertile 
and attracted, from the very first, planters in large numbers. 

Looked at more in detail, the surface of Alabama is divided 
into several areas differing in formation and fertility of soil. 2 
Entering the northeastern corner of the State with the Ten- 
nessee River and running down toward the center, is the 
southern extremity of the Cumberland Plateau. Here the 
ridges run in long sweeps and give a really mountainous as- 
pect to the region. Lookout Mountain is the most pronounced 

1 The description sjiven here is based almost entirely upon that by 
Roland M. Harper in A Preliminary Soil Census of Alabama and in his 
Economic Botatni of Altbama, though the writer has relied to seme ex- 
tent upon his personal knowledge of the country. 

- In addition to the map '.riven here, see that by Eugene A. Smith. U. 
S. Census, 1830, VI. 9; and that in the Atlas of American Agriculture,. 
cotton section, 8. 


of the highlands. South of the Tennessee Valley the ridges 
give way to the broken hills of the north-central portion of 
the State. 

Skirting the plateau to the eastward and running parallel 
with it, lies the Coosa Valley, which represents the southern 
extremity of the great valley extending from Virginia. There 
are stretches of good land here, but the early communities 
were isolated and it did not become a region of extensive ag- 

Toward the eastward, the Coosa Valley is bordered by the 
southern foothills of the Blue Ridge, and, forming a triangle 
between the Ridge and the Georgia line, lies the piedmont sec- 
tion which corresponds to that skirting the mountains in Geor- 
gia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. As in the piedmont regions 
of the older states, the stiff, red lands here arc of unequal 
quality but capable of improvement and of fair average fertil- 
ity. Until 1836 the Creek Indians retained possession of the 
country east of the Coosa River ; consequently this section was 
not settled as early as most of the other parts of the State. 

Beginning at the eastern border just below the piedmont 
section and sweeping across to the northwest corner of Ala- 
bama in a broadening curve, the short leaf pine belt borders 
the older country of igneous rock, and marks the beginning 
of the coastal plain. Here the soil is composed largely of 
sand and gravel. It is below the average in fertility, rolling 
piney woods being characteristic of the region. 

Next toward the south is the Black Belt, or prairie region, 
which begins within the State and follows the curve of the 
short leaf pine region. It presents a gently rolling terraine, 
much more level than any of the surrounding country, and al- 
so somewhat more depressed. These peculiarities are due, 
perhaps, like the quality of the soil, to the soft limestone which 
underlies it. The soil is a sticky, calcareous clay, and a part 
of it was originally unforested. Holding surface moisture 
in the winter, it forms a tenacious mud which renders roads 
all but impassable, and in the summer it bakes to a hard crust. 
A description of this region given by one of the early settlers 
in 1821 affords a graphic idea of the appearance of the coun- 
try : 

"Wherever these prairies exist, the lime is this soft con- 
sistence, when it approaches near the surface, the soil ap- 
pears whitish, and is clothed with a short growth of grass 

:t See H. F. Cl'eliarid ..i Geographical Review, X, 375-3S7. 


and herbage ; where it lies deeper the grass is denser and tall- 
er, and upon the borders, between the wood land and prairies, 
the growth of weeds and grass is very luxuriant. But upon 
the prairies themselves, there is not sufficient depth of earth 
for the growth of trees. Such is the checkered and diversified 
appearance of this part of the country where those prairies 
exist. Fancy yourself for a moment in such a situation ; be- 
fore you a wide and extended meadow, to the right and left 
intervening strips of oaks and pines; proceeding onwards, 
the prospect seems terminated by the surrounding woods; 
anon, you catch a glimpse of the opening vista ; and now again 
the prospect expands into the wide spread horizon of an ex- 
tensive prairie. These prairies are generally rolling; which 
is a great advantage, as otherwise they retain water, to the 
great injury of the crops; and as it respects the quality of the 
soil, it is generally admitted that it is the best the country 

affords The only objection to these prairies is, the 

scarcity of good water " 4 

The relative scarcity of running water, together with other 
disadvantages, affords special problems to the farmer, and 
the towns which grew up in connection with the cotton indus- 
try here — Montgomery, Selma, and others — are located on the 
edge of the prairie rather than within it. Though the plant- 
ers at first sought the river bottoms and avoided the prairie, 
the latter came after 1830 to be looked upon as the best cot- 
ton land in the State. As late as 1880 it formed the principal 
cotton producing area of Alabama. 

Montgomery County has always been a cotton-planting cen- 
ter, and its early history is illustrative of such settlements. Al- 
most the entire area of the County consists of fine prairie 
lands which extend in long, unbroken stretches of fertile fields. 
But the Alabama River, which forms its northern boundary, 
is bordered by bottom land which is not of the prairie type. 
A map of the County, made up from the land records and 
showing the dates at which the tracts were purchased from 
the Government, brings out the fact that the great majority 
of the settlements before 1821 were made in the river bottom 
area. By 1828 encroachments were being made upon the prai- 
rie, but the greater part of it was still unsettled. On the oth- 
er hand, in Clarke County, at the confluence of the Alabama 
and Tombigbee Rivers, there were extensive settlements be- 

4 Letter from Dr. J. W. Heustis, of Cahawba, April 1, 1821, Cahawba 
Press, June 2, 1821. 


fore 1821, though very few between that year and 1828. In 
Dallas and Perry Counties where there is both river and praf- 
rie land, the river bottoms and the red lands bordering the 
prairies were taken up, but few settlements were made in the 
prairies before the end of 1828." 

The Black Belt is bordered on the south by the Chunnen- 
nuggee Ridge. This runs across the State in a narrow strip, 
but toward the eastern border where the Black Belt dwindles 
away, the Ridge broadens and replaces it. A limestone for- 
mation underlies this section, but it is different from that of 
the prairie region in being of normal hardness. This accounts 
for the fact that the Ridge country rises distinctly above the 
prairie, and that its surface is of a relatively rugged charac- 
ter. The soil is predominantly a sandy loam and is, like that 
of the Black Belt, above the average in fertility. Looked at 
from the standpoint of cotton culture, the two regions might 
be grouped together. 

Below the Chunnennuggee Ridge and extending to the 
southern border of the state, lie the Southern Red Hill 6 and 
Southern Pine Hill regions. Between these lie two small cal- 
careous areas, but there are no marked transitions in the sur- 
face here. The appearance of the country and the nature of 
the soil are fairly uniform, so that from an agricultural stand- 
point, these areas might be considered together. 

In the region of the Red Hills the surface is broken and ris- 
es almost to mountainous ruggedness in places. One of the 
two railroad tunnels in the whole coastal plain lies in this sec- 
tion. Pine predominates over other forest trees, and the soil 
is reddish sandy clay. Its fertility is only average, but fer- 
tilizers can be used to advantage. 

Proceeding toward the coast, the hills become less pro- 
nounced and the long leaf pine predominates over all other 
trees. The character of the soil does not change materially; 
it is relatively infertile, but subject to improvement by arti- 
ficial fertilization. 

It is worthy of note that in the Gulf coastal plain there is 
nothing corresponding to the pine barrens of the South At- 
lantic States. The reddish sandy clay prevails all the 
way to the coast, and the surface presents a rolling, and often 
a rugged, appearance. 

5 Based upon maps made from the tract books in the office of the 
Secretary of State, Montgomery, Alabama. 

« See R. M. Harper in South Atlantic Quarterly, XIX, 201. 

Chapter III 


During the latter half of the seventeenth century, England 
was developing the spinning and weaving machinery which 
played such a large part in bringing about the Industrial Rev- 
olution. The increased demand for raw cotton which resulted 
from this development was answered in 1793 by Whitney's in- 
vention of the cotton gin. Until this time, it was necessary 
to separate the lint from the seed by hand or by means of a 
pair of simple rollers. The black seeded sea-island, or long 
staple, cotton was the only variety amenable to such process- 
es, for its long fibre did not cling closely to the seed and could 
be removed easily. The short staple of the" green seeded va- 
riety clung so closely to the seed that it could not be removed 
profitably by these simple processes in use. 

Long staple cotton could be raised only in the tidewater re- 
gions, and the coast and sea-island? of Georgia and South Car- 
olina produced practically all the American output. The short 
staple cotton, on the other hand, could be raised in the uplands, 
and when the invention of the cotton gin rendered the culture 
of this variety profitable, the Georgia and South Carolina 
piedmont supplanted the tidewater as the principal cotton- 
producing area. 1 

This region had been settled by men largely from Virginia 
and Pennsylvania. The culture of tobacco was the main in- 
dustry for some years, but when upland cotton was introduced 
it quickly came to predominate. Towns founded for the ware- 
housing and inspection of tobacco were abandoned because 
their facilities were no longer necessary.- Such a one was Pe- 
tersburg, at the confluence of the Broad with the Savannah 
River, the removal of whose inhabitants to Madison County 
was mentioned in the first chapter. 

That the spread of the culture of cotton into the Southwest 
was inevitable, is indicated by its early introduction into Miss- 
issippi Territory. This natural movement was interrupted by 
the War of 1812. but its pent-up force was precipitated by the 

1 Atlas of American Agriculture, cotton section, 16. 18. 

- Phillips, Transportation in the Eastern Cotton Belt, 46-56. 


conditions which followed the end of the struggle. In Eng- 
land, cut off from her source of supply during the War, the 
price of the staple rose to an abnormal level ; while in America, 
deprived of her usual market, the price fell off sharply. When 
peace was made and normal trade relations were resumed with 
the lifting of the blockade of our coast, England again obtain- 
ed her supply of American cotton and the price in this country 
rose immediately. The average price for 1815 was almost 
thirty cents a pound. 3 

To this situation was added the inducement of new lands 
cleared of the Indian title during the War, and the innate rest- 
lessness of the population. Sales of newly surveyed land were 
opened at St. Stephens during the latter part of 1815, and the 
following year over a hundred thousand acres were disposed 
of by the Government. 4 No sales were made in the new Creek 
cession until 1817, but in that year three-quarters of a million 
dollars' worth of these lands were sold. 5 

The old Georgia-South Carolina piedmont 'region had two 
distinct disadvantages from the point of view of the cotton 
planter. Its soil was not considered so fertile as that of the 
Alabama river-bottoms and prairies ; and it lacked transporta- 
tion facilities, being cut off from the tidewater by the broad 
pine-barrens, and being without navigable rivers. Thus, be- 
fore the culture of upland cotton had reached anything like a 
mature development here, it began to be transferred to the new 
Southwest. Population began to flow from the older states 
into the pioneer country until the drain was keenly felt in the 
deserted communities. 

Though the statement cannot be backed by statistics, it 
seems that the majority of the planters who moved westward 
with their slaves came from the piedmont rather than from 
the tidewater regions of the South Atlantic states. G The tide- 
water had its staple crops of tobacco, rice, and sea-island cot- 
ton, which were not disturbed by the new developments. The 
planters here were usually well established, their investment 
was heavy, and their land had a certain monoply value. Their 
slaves could still be employed more or less profitably, and their 
social position tended to hold them where they were. The 

z Atlas of American Agriculture, cotton section, 18. 
4 American State Papers. Misc., II, 417. 
s Ibid., Lands, V, 384-385. 

6 This statement is stvor.gly supported by the cases where the writer 
has been able to ascertain the origin of the immigrants. 


piedmont region had never had a staple until upland cotton 
was introduced, and the west offered it. a choicer field. 

Few people of extensive wealth moved into the Alabama re- 
gion during the period of early settlement. Only the man 
who needed to better Ins fortune had an inducement to make 
the necessary sacrifice. Those who nad slaves usually owned 
but a small number, ard many who later became planters had 
no slaves at all to begin with. In other words, the small farm- 
er of the piedmont region became the pioneer planter of the 

When a man prepared to transplant his establishment, he 
usually sold the land he held and retained the proceeds for the 
purchase of his new domain. His household goods and farm 
implements were packed on wagons and started out on the 
rough road toward the new home. The slaves drove the herds 
of cattle and hogs, while the planter's family brought up the 
rear in a carriage. 7 It was a tedious journey, the roads being 
merely clearings through the forest, and without bridges. The 
smaller streams were forded and crude ferries were establish- 
ed at the larger ones. Yet there were compensations ; hunting 
along the way afforded diversions for the men, and the camp- 
fire about which the wayfarers gathered at night shed a ro- 
mantic glow upon the faces of those who were traveling into 
a strange land. 

Having reached the place where he was to make his home, 
the planter constructed a log cabin after the usual manner. 
Two rooms were built opposite each other and joined by a pas- 
sage-way. Chimneys built of stones or clay-daubed sticks 
were put up at opposite ends of the structure and great open 
hearths served for both heating and cooking. A "lean-to" 
might be attached behind one or both of the rooms, and an at- 
tic might be constructed above. Before the introduction of 
saw mills, the floors were made of puncheons, or Jogs snlit in 
halves, with the flat side upward. The chinks between the 
logs were filled with clay; the doors and shutters were of crude 
boards, and the shingles were hand-split. In such a dwelling, 
the planter who brought his household furnishings could es- 
tablish a kind of rude comfort, which sufficed even the wealth- 
iest immigrants during the first few years of their sojourn. 
The first and only governor of Alabama Territory lived in 

" Hodgson, Letters from North America, I, 138. 


such a log cabin during the years of his administration and 
until his premature death. s 

But all the newcomers were not even thus fortunately sit- 
uated. No very extensive tracts of the new land were offered 
for sale before 1818. and men who had homes to sell in the old 
states would naturally wish to purchase a location in the new 
country before removing. Yet, from 1815 onward, men poured 
into the ceded lands and ''squatted" upon them in spite of the 
law and the Government.'-' It was the policy of the United 
States to prevent intrusion until surveys could be made and 
the lands offered for sale at auction. Attempts were made to 
remove the squatters; the troops were called in and ordered 
to burn the cabins of those who refused to leave, but it was all 
of no avail. 10 

Men of this class, being improvident by nature, did not come 
to seek wealth, but merely to gain a subsistence, or to enjoy 
the freedom of the woods. They built their simple cabins and 
planted their crops of corn between trees which they killed by 
circling. Their greatest immediate problem was to live until 
the first crop was made, and here there was much difficulty. 11 

The influx of immigrants was so great in 1816 and 1817 
that the Indians and scattered pioneers were not able to furn- 
ish enough corn to meet the needs of the new-comers. In 1816 
corn brought four dollars a bushel along the highway from 
Huntsville to Tuscaloosa, 12 and so scarce did this article be- 
come among the local Indians that the Government had to come 
to their rescue in 1817 in order to relieve actual distress. 13 

It is worth our while to know whence the various immi- 
grants. came into the Alabama country; by what routes they 
reached their destination ; and in what part of the territory 
they settled. Although statistics cannot be produced, a fairly 
reliable idea may be had from various accounts which, in the 
main, agree. 

S Pickett Papers. Sketch of Wm. Bibb, by John D. Bibb. 

o Indian Office files. R. J. Meijrs to Louis Winston, June 12, 1815. 

i'> Jackson Papers, Instructions from Wm. H. Crawford, Jan. 2<, 1816; 
Indian Office files. A. Jackson to Wm. H. Crawford, July 4, 1816; Ibid., 
R. J. Meigs to Louis Winston, June 12, 1815. 

u An interesting; letter from Clabon Harris to General Jackson, bort 
Claiborne, Jan. 12, 1816. gives an account of the conditions of some of 
the squatters. This is in the Jackson Papers. 

12 Meek MS., Early Settlement of Alabama. ? 

l* Indian Office files. Chevokee Chiefs to R. J. Meigs, March 20, 1817; 
Ibid., Samuel Riley to R. J. Meip>; Jackson Papers, L. P. dames to A. 
Jackson, March 6, 1817. 



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The two roads through Misissippi Territory for which Con- 
gress made appropriations in 1806 were continuations of es- 
tablished routes of travel.' 4 That from Nashville to Natchez 
crossed the Tennessee River at Muscle Shoals and was known 
as the "Natchez Trace." It was a continuation of the "Ken- 
tucky Trace" which passed from Nashville through Lexington, 
to Maysville, and thence by the Old National Road through Co- 
lumbus, Zanesville, and Wheeling, then on to Pittsburgh. Fol- 
lowing the general course of the Mississippi, the Natchez Trace 
was the principal highway for the region which it traversed. 
As a matter of fact, however, it was hardly more than a bridle 
path through the woods and did not deserve to be called a road. 

The highway along the route from Athens to New Orleans 
"which followed the direction of the Alabama River and passed 
through the Tombigbee settlements, came to be known as the 
"Federal Road." 15 Beyond Athens, the route passed north- 
eastward through Greenville, Salisbury, Charlotte, and Fred- 
ericksburg, then on to Washington, Baltimore, and Philadel- 
phia. Thus it traversed the piedmont region of the South At- 
lantic states and connected the Southwest with the commercial 
centers of the East. 

Diverging from this route just beyond the Georgia line, an- 
other highway passed eastward of it and connected the South- 
ern capitals which stood at the fall line of the rivers flowing 
into the Atlantic. Extending through Milledgeville, Augusta, 
Columbia, Raleigh, and Richmond, this again united with the 
piedmont route just before reaching Washington. 

But there was still another means of access to the Alabama 
country which was of great importance. Diverging from the 
Pittsburgh-Philadelphia highway, this road passed southwest- 
ward through the Valley of Virginia, then followed the course 
of the Holston river to Knoxville. From Knoxville the orig- 
inal highway passed westward to Nashville, but with the 
formation of Madison County, a spur was extended southward 
to Huntsville, and this soon came to be an important route of 

1 4 The map given here is based upon that prepared by John Melish 
for 1818, but it has been compared with all those in the Library of Con- 
gress for the period covered. Information as to principal routes of. 
communication is based also upon the accounts of travel available to 
the writer. 

15 It seems that this road was not actually opened until 1811. See 
Phillips, Ti-avsportation in the Eastern Cotton Belt, 69; and Ball, Clarke 
C&unty, 134. 


Now, a man coming' into Alabama from the piedmont region 
of Georgia would have the choice of two routes. He could go 
by the Federal Road into the Alabama-Tombigbee basin or he 
could take a road which passed from Augusta to Athens, cross- 
ed the Tennessee River where Chattanooga now stands, and led 
on to Nashville. 1,; The highway crossed the road from Knox- 
ville to Huntsville and gave access to the fertile Tennessee Val- 
ley region. The Georgia men who helped to settle Madison 
County in 1S09 took this route, 17 but the later emigration of 
Georgia planters was mostly into the southern part of Ala- 
bama, and they passed along the Federal Road. 

The first lands of the Creek cession which were put on sale 
were disposed of at Milledgeville, Georgia, and they lay along 
the upper course of the Alabama River in the neighborhood of 
the later Montgomery County. 15 It is easy to understand, 
therefore, how it was that the Georgia planters established a 
predominance in this region from the first. With this as a 
nucleus, the immigrants from Georgia seem to have followed 
the route of the Federal Road and they came to form perhaps 
the strongest element in the population of all the southeastern 
counties of Alabama. 10 

Men from the piedmont region of South Carolina also had 
two routes open to them. They could take the. fall-line road 
through Columbia or the piedmont road through Greenville 
and reach the Alabama basin by the Federal Road. But if 
they wished to reach the Tennessee Valley, they could pass 
northward from Greenville, through Saluda Gap in the Blue 
Ridge where it borders North and South Carolina, then to the 
site of Asheville, and along the course of the French Broad to 
Knoxville, and thence to Huntsville. 2 " Immigrants came by 
both of these routes, and, appearing to have avoided the settle- 
ments of those who preceded them in the Tennessee Valley and 
in the Alabama River basin, the majority of them passed on 
from both directions into the central hilly region or the basin 
of the Black Warrior and upper Tombigbee Rivers. 

ifl Phillips, Transportation in the Eastern Cotton Belt,, 68-69. 

i" Betts, History of Huntsville, 21, 

is Land Office, Record of Proclamations, May 24, 1807. 

19 The account given here of the distribution of population in Ala- 
bama agrees, in general, with the available statements concerning dif- 
ferent localities; and with the general statements to be found in Garrett's 
Reminiscences, 35; and in the Meek MS. on the Early Settlement of Ala- 
bama. See also Hamilton, Colonial Mobile, 456-457; and Smith, Pick- 
ens Count]!, 37-39. 

-" Phillips, Transportation in the Eastern Cotton Belt, 63. 


Men coming from North Carolina could have taken the route 
along the French Broad to Knoxville, and thence to Huntsville,* 
but since this road traversed only the mountainous western le- 
gion of the State, it is probable that most of the immigrants 
from North Carolina found the highway from Raleigh through 
Columbus and Augusta to the Federal Road more convenient. 
These men, like those from South Carolina, found the central 
region of Alabama most attractive. 

The Virginians who came from the Valley followed their 
highway through Cumberland Gap and down the Holston to 
Knoxville, thence gaining access to the Tennessee Valley. 
Some of these passed on down to the Black Warrior and Tom- 
bigbee Valleys. For Virginians from the piedmont region, it 
was more convenient to take one of the eastern roads leading 
to southern Alabama, whence they could make their way into 
the Tombigbee-Warrior region if they so desired. 

Of course the Tennessee Valley was most easily accessible to 
the men just over the line, and consequently Tennesseeans had 
a predominance in this section. Some bought lands in the 
Valley, while others passed beyond into the hilly region and be- 
came squatters upon the National domain, for the lands in the 
valley were put upon the market principally in 1818, but those 
south of it were not sold for several years afterward. Here 
back-woods communities were established in the isolated val- 
leys, and frontier conditions of life prevailed for a long time. 

The principal route of travel connecting the Tennessee Val- 
ley with the Alabama-Tombigbee region was a road passing 
southwestward from Huntsville through Jones Valley to the 
town of Tuscaloosa, which grew up at the head of boat naviga- 
tion upon the Black Warrior. It was along this route that the 
principal settlements were made in the central hilly region. 
At first the Tennesseeans predominated here, but South Caro- 
linians soon came in so numerously as to outnumber the Ten- 
nesseeans in some localities. The struggle for suprem- 
acy between these elements in Blount and Jefferson Counties 
provoked open hostilities before it was settled. Finally, the 
Tennesseeans came to predominate in Blount, while the South 
Carolinians had the majority in Jefferson County.-' 1 

As in this case, most communities had their local color, and 
the state whence one came was always a matter of signifi- 

21 Meek MS. Early S< Hlement of Alabama; Powell, History of Blount 
County, 37. 


cance. In the Tombigbee-Warrior region, North Carolinians, 
South Carolinians, and Virginians mingled in varying propor- 
tions, but together formed a predominating population-ele- 
ment which had its own characteristics. As late as 1856, 
Greene County, at the conjunction of the Black Warrior with 
the Tombigbee, had a population of 438 native South Carolin- 
ians, 357 Alabamians, 348 North Carolinians, 92 Georgians, 
45 Tennesseeans, 24 Kentuckians, 12 men from Connecticut, 
37 from Ireland, and 10 from Germany.-- 

The presence of a small number of foreigners is character- 
istic of the early period, and so is the presence of New Eng- 
enders. The cosmopolitan population was confined to the 
trading towns where the merchants were largely Yankees. 23 
This was especially true of Mobile, where the transient popula- 
tion was turbulent and varied. A community of Germans was 
established at Dutch Bend on the Alabama River;- 4 and De- 
mopolis, on the Tombigbee, was -founded by a band of Napol- 
eonic refugees. However, such segregated community-build- 
ing was not characteristic. 

Finally, in spite of the mixture which was produced by the 
flow of immigration into Alabama, three areas can be distin- 
guished which show peculiarities due partly to the predomi- 
nant element in the population. In the Tennessee Valley the 
preponderance of Tennesseeans gave a strongly democratic 
flavor to political ideas; in the Tombigbee-Warrior region, the 
Carolina-Virginia predominance seems to be indicated by a 
flavor of conservatism in things political ; while the influence 
of Georgia politics is clearly discernible in Montgomery Coun- 
ty. However, there are other factors which played a more im- 
portant part in shaping opinions and politics than did the orig- 
in of the population, the effect of which, indeed, is often en- 
tirely obliterated. 

22 Snedecor, Directory of Greene County, 1856. 

23 Alabama Republican, Aup;. 15. 1823, Extract of a letter to the Ed- 
itor of the Newburyport (Mass.) Herald, dated Claiborne (A), March, 
1823; Jackson Papers, Col. Will Kins to A. Jackson, Nov. 23, 1821. 

24 Blue MS., I, Autauga County, 4. 


Chapter IV. 


The question of the division of the Territory came up as ear- 
ly as 1803, for in that year the Tcmbigbee settlers sent a pe- 
tition to Congress praying that they might bo separated from 
the community upon the Mississippi.' The petition was renew- 
ed in 1809, the petitioners stating that they had a government 
in name only, that they were entirely neglected by the authori- 
ties of the Territory.- This attitude was perfectly natural, for 
the Tombigbee settlement was widely separated from that 
about Natchez, and, being in a minority in the legislature, it 
was unable to make its needs felt at so great a distance. 

In 1809 Madison County was opened up in the Tennessee 
Valley; and in 1810 West Florida was annexed to the United 
States. This country was claimed as a part of the Louisiana 
purchase, but the title was most flimsy. It seemed, however, 
that war with England was approaching, and since French and 
English armies were fighting over the throne of Spain, West 
Florida in Spanish hands was a menace to our southern coast. 
England might use the Gulf ports as a base through which to 
treat with hostile Indians, and thereby the situation of our 
frontier settlements in this region was rendered critical in 
case of hostilities. A declaration of independence by a band of 
men, largely Americans, who had migrated into West Florida, 
gave Madison the excuse which he eagerly accepted as a way 
out of the difficult situation. A proclamation declared the 
Spanish province annexed to the United States, and General 
Claiborne occupied the country as far east as the Pearl River. :: 

The newly-acquired region was joined to the Territory of 
Orleans for administrative purposes. In 1811, this territory 
became the State of Louisiana, and more than four hundred 
West Floridians petitioned Congress that their district might 
be annexed to Mississippi Territory.' Until this time the 
Mississippi delegate had been working in Congress for admis- 
sion to the Union without division, but here the intersectional 

i Annals of Congress, 8 Cong:., 1 Sess., 624. 

-' Ibid., II Conjr.. Ft. 1, 695. 

3 McMaster, History of the United States, III, 371, et seq. 

■* American State Papers, Miscellaneous, II, 155. 


rivalry in Congress came into piay. The House, where. the 
North was in the majority, showed itself, even at this early 
date, willing to provide for the admission of the undivided 
Territory. But in the Senate the South, having lost its hold 
•upon the House, was trying- to maintain an equality. This 
could be accomplished only by the admission of a slave state 
every time a free state was admitted, and from this point of 
view, it was desirable to carve as many states as possible from 
southern territory. Consequently, the Senate insisted that 
Mississippi Territory be divided. 

The combination of this situation with tne West Florida 
annexation suggested a new idea to Poindexter, the Terri- 
torial delegate; and he brought forward a proposition for di- 
'vision by a line running due east from the mouth of the Ya- 
zoo. The southern portion, with West Florida annexed, was 
to be admitted to the Union at once, while the northern portion 
was to be given a territorial government. 5 

This move called down a storm upon the author's head. 
The Madison County inhabitants would, it is true, have been 
glad enough to see the plan carried through, leaving them 
with a territorial government to administer alone. But to 
be tied permanently to the Mississippi River region with its 
^separate interests was the last thing desired by the Tombig- 
bee settlers. Opposition was quickly expressed in this quar- 
ter, and it was seconded by many in the Natchez region who 
felt that the frontier settlements were yet too young to sup- 
port the burden of state government. 7 

There were other reasons, too, why many opposed the in- 
stitution of state government at this time. In 1795 the leg- 
islature of Georgia had made large grants of land in the 
Mississippi country to certain speculating companies which 
came to be known as the "Yazoo" land companies. Exten- 
sive graft in connection with the deal having been exposed, 
the r.ext session of the legislature repealed the grants and de- 
prived the companies of their charters. This was supposed 
to have ended the matter, but in 1809 the Federal Supreme 
Court, in the case of Fletcher vs. Peck, declared that the re- 
peal of the grants was a breach of contract, and therefore for- 

•"• American State Papers, Misc., II. 103-164. 

« Mississippi Transcripts. J. W. Walker to Geo. P'crndexter, Dec. 23, 

"Claiborne. Mississippi, oov; Transcripts. Cowles Stead to Geo. Poin- 
dexter, Dec. 2.',, 1812. 



bidden by the Constitution. The claimants under the com-* 
panies at once appealed to Congress for relief, but John Ran- 
dolph, of Roanoke, made the case his pet antipathy and pre- 
vented anything being done until 1814. 

When, in 1802. Georgia ceded to the United States her 
claim to the Mississippi region, it was provided in the agree- 
ment that all completed British and Spanish grants should 
hold good. Actual settlers were to be provided for, and all 
claims arising under the act of Georgia which established 
Bourbon County in the ceded region were to be validated. In 
addition to this, five million acres of land were set aside for 
the satisfaction of any other claimants under acts of Georgia, 
to be appropriated as Congress might see fit. The Yazoo 
claimants were the chief possible beneficiaries under this pro- 
vision, but it was long before the matter was put at rest." 

In 1811 many titles to land in Mississippi Territory were 
threatened by the Yazoo claimants, and many others were 
threatened by a conflict between British and Spanish grants. 
A number of actual settlers held tracts under Spanish grants 
which had been superseded by grants under the British ad- 
ministration. These British claims had never been estab- 
lished, but the matter was subject to judicial determination, 
and it caused uneasiness to many who lived upon the land. 

Because of this uncertainty of land tenure, courts of Fed- 
eral jurisdiction were not established in Mississippi Terri- 
tory, and though the delegate in Congress pressed for a com- 
promise of the British claims, nothing was accomplished up 
to the time when Mississippi was admitted to the Union. It 
was the dread of Federal courts, therefore, and of British and 
Yazoo claimants which caused many men to oppose admis- 
sion to statehood in 1812.-' 

But in spite of all these objections, an act providing for the 
admission of the undivided Territory was passed by the 
House and sent up to the Senate in this year. The Senate 
committee to which the bill was referred advised division 
along the line of the Tombigbee River, and proposed that the 
question lie over until the next session. 1 " 

Georgia, in granting her claim to the United States, had 
provided that the whole territory be admitted into the Union 

s Treat. The Satiovul Land System, 355-364. 

'•' Washington Repitblica Sept. S>. 1^15, March 13, and April 17. 1816, 
April 9, 1817. 

i" American State Papers, Misc., II, 182. 


as a single state as sooii as its population should amount to 
-sixty thousand whites. In view of the action of the Senate. 
Poindexter now brought in a resolution that Congress secure 
Georgia's permission to a division of the Territory. 11 The res- 
olution passed both Houses, and within the year Georgia's ac- 
quiescence was reported to the Senate. But the War of 1812 
coming on at, this time, its depression was added to the argu- 
ments of those who wished to postpone the question of state- 
hood. Thus, from 1812 to 1815 the matter was not agitated 
to any great extents 

When the question of admission was again brought before 
Congress in 1815, two things had happened to change the sit- 
uation. In 1812 so much of West Florida as lay between the 
. Pearl and Perdido Rivers was added to the Territory, and in 
1814 Congress settled the Yazoo Claims by appropriating 
five million dollars in scrip to be distributed to the claimants 
under the several companies and redeemed in payment on the 
first lands to be sold in Mississippi Territory. 

Though the British claims still threatened many of the set- 
tlers, the prospects of peace and immigration now caused 
the Territorial delegate, Dr. Lattimore, who had opposed ad- 
mission when first elected in 1813, to come out in favor of the 
admission without division. 1J Petitions to that effect were 
.sent up by the legislature, and in 1816 the House passed a bill 
framed in accordance with that policy. But the attitude of 
the Senate had not changed. The commitee to which the bill 
was referred again proposed division by a north and south 
line, and the question of admission was again postponed. 1; < 

Lattimore now saw the uselessness of working along the 
•old line, and expressed himself as willing to accept division if 
Congress insisted upon it." But, in the meantime, the sit- 
uation had changed at home. The extensive Creek cession of 
1814 and the smaller cessions from the Cherokees, Chicka- 
saws. and Choctaws in 1816 had opened up a great stretch of 
country comprising most of the eastern part of the Territory. 
The settlers upon the Tombigbee now expected to see their 
river basin become, in a short while, more populous than the 
region bordering the Mississippi. They accordingly antici- 

« Annals of Congress, 12 Con-., 1 Sess.» II, 1480. 
i- Washington Republican, April 5 and April 26, 1815. 
* 3 Annals of Congress, 14 Cong., 1 Sess., 352; Washing ton R<rpithIieom^ 
April 16. 1817. 

H Washington Republican, May 22 and May 29. 1816. 


pated control of the legislature and the removal of the capi- 
tal to St. Stephens. 

Such a prospect was by no means pleasing to the men 
who lived between Pearl River and the Mississippi. So great- 
ly did they dread the threatened preponderance of the east- 
ern section of the Territory that they gave up their old enthu- 
siasm for a single state and supported Lattimore on the ques- 
tion of division. This, they now believed, was the only way 
to keep their capital near the banks of the Mississippi. 

On the other hand, the Tombigbee settlers now appeared 
much alarmed at the prospect of division. Meetings were held 
in several places, and the counties were urged to send dele- 
gates to assemble in convention at Ford's on Pearl River. 
Here a gathering of delegates took place in October, but Madi- 
son and the counties west of the Pearl were not represented. 
Resolutions opposing division were drawn up and Judge Har- 
ry Toulmin was sent to Washington to present the memorial 
of the convention, and to work for its cause when the matter 
should be brought up again. 1 "- 

When Congress assembled in December, the House commit- 
tee to which the Mississippi question was referred expressed 
itself as being in favor of a division of the Territory, with im- 
mediate admission of the western portion and a territorial 
government for the eastern half. The agitated question was 
as to the demarcation. Lattimore proposed a line running due 
north from the Gulf to the northwest corner of Washington 
County, then following the Choctaw boundary to the Tombig- 
bee. Toulmin wished a line that would give Wayne, Greene, 
and Jackson Counties to the eastern government, and some at- 
tempt was made to fix upon the Pascagoula as the boundary. 
The counties in dispute were much nearer the Tombigbee 
than they were to the Mississippi, and it was argued that it 
would be an unnnecessary inconvenience to their inhabitants 
to have to look to a capital upon the great River, when St. 
Stephens was so much closer. 1 " In the end, Lattimore was 
more successful than Toulmin and, though giving some ground. 
he came near to having his way. The line was fixed so as to 
run due north from the Gulf to the northwest corner of Wash- 
ington County, thence directly to the point where Bear Creek 

15 Washington Republican, Nov. 13, 1816; Jackson Papers, James Ti- 
tus to Andrew Jackson, Dec. 5, 1816. 

16 Darby, Immigrant's Guide, 107-113; Washington Republican, Jan. 
22, Feb. 26, March 5, 1817. 


flows into the Tennessee, then along the course of the river tp 
the Tennessee line. 

It will be noticed that the present boundary does not run 
due north from the Gulf, but slightly northwest instead. 
This is because it was found that the line, as originally es- 
tablished, encroached slightly upon Wayne, Greene, and Jack- 
son Counties. In order to remedy this, the Alabama enabling 
act of 1819 changed it so as to make it run southeastward 
from the northwest corner of Washington County and to 
strike the Gulf at a point ten miles east of the mouth of the 
Pascagoula. 17 

The act establishing Alabama Territory was approved 
March 3, 1817. lv ' All laws applying to the old Mississippi Ter- 
ritory were to remain in force until they might be changed. 
Officials holding places under the old government for eastern 
districts were to retain their positions until they should be re- 
placed, and William Wyatt Bibb, of Georgia, was appointed 

Bibb had just previously resigned his seat in the United 
States Senate because his vote for a bill increasing the sal- 
aries of Senators aroused a storm of indignation at home. His 
colleague. Charles Tait, was under the same condemnation, 
but, urged by John W. Walker, of Huntsville, he remained un- 
til the end of his term and saw Alabama safely admitted to the 
Union. Then, retiring from public life in Georgia, he purchas- 
ed a plantation upon the Alabama and moved into the new 
state. 11 * It was Senator Tait, who, in 1802. had notified the Sen- 
ate of Georgia's consent to a division of Mississippi Territory 
and who piloted through that body the final bill which provid- 
ed for division in 1817. Both Tait and Bibb were staunch 
friends of William H. Crawford, of Georgia, Secretary of the 
Treasury, and it was likely through his influence that the lat- 
ter was appointed Governor of Alabama Territory. 

Such members as had represented eastern districts in the 
legislature of Mississippi Territory were empowered to meet 
at St. Stephens to set the new government in motion. There 
on January 19, 1818, the first session was held. 

St. Stephens stood at the head of schooner navigation on 
the Tombigbee. In 1811 it consisted of three houses; four 

i" Statutes at Large, TIT. 490. 
i- Ibid., Ill, :;71-:>72. 

i-' Tompkins. Charles Tait, 12-ltj; Tait Papers. J. W. Walker to C. Tait, 
Jan. 18, 1817. 


years later it boasted of nine; and in 1816 the number had 
grown to forty.-'" In two rooms in Douglas Hotel, hired 
for the purpose, the legislature met.- 1 The House con- 
sisted of about thirteen members who elected Gabriel 
Moore their speaker. The Council had but one member, 
James Titus, who had been president of the old Council. Not 
to be abashed by the situation, he convened with all due cer- 
emony, dispatched business, and adjourned from day to day.'--' 

In his message, the Governor recommended the promotion 
of education and internal improvements, but added that the 
latter object could hardly be accomplished without the aid of 
the Federal Government. Accordingly, a memorial asking 
for assistance in this matter was drawn up by the legislature 
and sent to Washington. The legislation accomplished at this 
session included the establishment of new counties; the in- 
corporation of a steamboat company, an academy, and a bank 
at St. Stephens ; and the repeal of the law fixing a maximum 
rate of interest which could be charged on loans. Thereaf- 
ter, any percentage agreed upon between the contracting par- 
ties and stated in writing would be legal. Six men were nom- 
inated from whom the President was to select three for the 
Executive Council, and a commission was appointed to report 
to the next session of the legislature on a favorable site for 
the permanent seat of the Territorial Government.-- 

It was during the territorial period of Alabama that the 
Seminole War broke out upon the Florida frontier. Several 
white settlers were killed by the restive Indians and militia 
was rushed to the seat of disturbance. Though troops were sta- 
tioned at several points in Alabama, and a certain amount of 
fighting took place within her borders, the struggle went on 
primarily in Florida. The storm stirred up by Jackson's un- 
authorized attack upon Pensacola and by the hanging of Ar- 
buthnot and Ambrister belong to National rather than to State 

Alabama was not greatly affected by these events and the 
tide of immigration moved on undisturbed. Among those 
who came in about this time was a party of Frenchmen, sup- 
porters of Napoleon, fleeing from the Bourbons who had been 

•-" Jackson Papers, A. P. Hayne to Andrew Jackson, Nov. 27, 1816. 
21 Meek MS.. The Alabama Territory. 

--'Pickett, History of Alabama, 615; Monette, History of Mississippi 
Valley, 446-447. 

-3 Pickett, History >; Alabama, 615-617 


returned to power. They had moved to America in a body 
and formed an association with headquarters at Philadelphia. 
Inquiring for land where the vine and the olive might be 
grown, their attention had been directed to Alabama. At 
their request, Congress agreed to sell two townships of land 
at the confluence of the Black Warrior and the Tombigbee. 
Here a town was laid out and a settlement established. A 
number of Napoleon's famous generals, including Grouchy, 
Desnoettes, Clausel, and l'Allemand. were concerned in the 
enterprise. Log cabins and agriculture were less familiar to 
them than the sword, and the vine and olive did not flourish 
upon the Tombigbee. Though the town of Demopolis owes 
its beginning to these refugees, most of them finally gave up 
the attempted settlement. Some returned to their native land 
w r hen conditions made that possible, others took up their abode 
among the native population.- 4 

24 J. S. Reeves, The Napoleonic Exiles in Johns Hopkins University 
Studies, XXIII, 525-656. 

Chapter V. 


So rapid had been the growth of population in Alabama 
during 1817 and 1818 that, when the second session of the 
legislature met at St. Stephens in November of the latter year, 
transition to statehood was expected within a short while. 
Preparations for this event consequently absorbed the atten- 
tion of the assembly. 

A petition to Congress praying that the Territory might 
be admitted to the Union as a state was drawn up by the legis- 
lature and sent by John W. Walker, the speaker of the House, 
to his friend, Senator Tait, of Georgia,' who presented it to 
the Senate. But the matter was not allowed to rest here. A 
census of the Territory had been taken, and the legislature 
proceeded to apportion the representatives for the constitu- 
tional convention. On this question considerable difficulty 
arose. Madison was the most populous county in the Terri- 
tory and the members from the southern counties attempted 
to reduce the representation of the Tennessee Valley region 
by providing that no county could have more than a given 
number of seats in the convention. This was strongly oppos- 
ed by members from the northern counties and they finally 
carried their point, securing a proportional representation. 
But in order to accomplish this it became necessary for them 
to accept a rider to the apportionment bill providing for the 
location of the seat of government in the southern part of the 
Territory. - 

As was stated in the last chapter, the first session of the 
Territorial legislature appointed a committee which was to 
report on a suitable site for the seat of government. At the 
second session. Governor Bibb, who was on the committee 
and seems to have taken the entire responsibility of the 
choice upon himself, reported in favor of locating the capital 
at the junction of the Cahawba and Alabama Rivers.'- This 

i Tait Papers, J. W. Walker to C. Tait. Nov. 11, 1818. 

3 Tait Papers, J. W. Walker to C. Tait, Nov. 9, 1818, and Nov. lo, 

"■Tait Papers, W. W. Bibb to C. Tait, Sept. 19, i81h. 


was the location forced upon the northern members by means 
of the rider. 

The place selected, while convenient for all those who lived 
on the rivers of southern Alabama, was quite out of communi- 
cation with the Tennessee Valley, and naturally was opposed 
by the men from that section. In giving their consent to the 
bill which established this location, the representatives from 
the northern counties were making a substantial concession, 
but, by way of compensation, they secured a provision that 
Huntsville should be the temporary seat of government until 
a town could be laid out and buildings erected at Cahawba. 

Walker kept Tait posted on all these proceedings. He sent 
him a copy of the apportionment bill, stating that the Senate 
was expected to distribute the seats in the constitutional con- 
vention accordingly, and that Huntsville should be the place 
of meeting. 4 John Crowell had been sent to Washington 
as Territorial delegate, but his finger is to be seen in none of 
these transactions. Indeed, Walker wrote to Tait that he did 
not hold a very high opinion of the delegate,' and there is ev- 
idence to show that Crowell. in so far as he was able to bring 
any weight to bear, opposed the plans of Walker and Tait. 
However, the Senator from Georgia succeeded in getting his 
enabling act through as desired, and it was signed on March 
2, 1819. ' The convention was to meet in Huntsville on the 
first Monday in July, Madison County securing eight dele- 
gates against four for the next largest county. Provision 
was made for granting to the new State the sixteenth section 
of land in each township for the use of schools ; all salt springs 
within her borders ; three per cent, of the proceeds of all sales 
of public lands within the State to be applied in the construc- 
tion of roads; two townships for the use of a seminary of 
learning; and 1620 acres at the junction of the Cahawba and 
Alabama Rivers where the seat of government was to be 
laid out. 

Among the men elected to the convention were some who 
had had experience in the public affairs of the states from 

J Tait Papers. J. W. Walker to C. Tait, Nov. (?). 1818. 

•-> Ibid., J. W. Walker to C. Tait. Feb. 8, 1819. 

s Huntsville Republican, Feb. 6, 1819. The editor states that Mr. 
Crowell said that he remonstrated before a Congressional Committee 
in regard to the admission of Alabama, and that this remonstrance was 
likely ajrainst the rule of representation for the Constitutional Conven- 
tion as adopted bv the Alabama Legislature. 

" Statutes at Large; III, 489-492. 


which they came. Three former Congressmen and two su- 
preme court judges from North Carolina sat in the body along 
with a number of others who had seen less conspicuous public- 
service. s Nor was it considered incongruous that Sam Dale, 
the most notable pioneer and Indian fighter of the Alabama 
country, should sit among them. On the whole, the members 
seem to have been selected quietly and with the intention of 
securing the best available men. From among their number 
six governors, six state supreme court judges, and six United 
States Senators were later selected. 1 ' 

The convention assembled at Huntsville on July 5, 1819, 
and John W. Walker was elected to preside. A committee of 
fifteen was instructed to draw up and submit a frame of gov- 
ernment ; no journal was kept of the proceedings of this com- 
mittee. The instrument of government which was prepared 
was accepted by the convention with practically no amend- 
ments, so that we know very little concerning the process by 
which the constitution was framed. 1 " It was modeled large- 
ly after that of Mississippi and the striking feature is that it 
made the legislature superior to the other branches of gov- 
ernment. The Governor's vote could be over-ridden by a ma- 
jority of those elected to each House of the legislature, and all 
State judges were elected by a joint vote of that body. These 
judges held office during good behaviour, but could be remov- 
ed on an address to the Governor adopted by a two-thirds 
vote of the legislature. The heads of the executive depart- 
ments, — the Secretary of State, the Treasurer and Comptrol- 
ler, the Attorney General, — were elected by a joint vote of the 
general assembly, it being the duty of the first of these to keep 
a record of the acts of the Governor and to lay the same be- 
fore the assembly. 

The social and political temper of the convention may be 
judged from the constitutional provisions in regard to suf- 
frage and representation. All white, adult males who were 
citizens of the United States and who had resided for a year 
in the State were given the right to vote. Representation, 
both in the Senate and in the House, was to be apportioned 
according to the white population, nor was there any proper- 
ty qualification for representatives. Slaves were to be grant- 

» Tompkins. Charles Tait, 12-16; Tait Papers, J. W. Walker to C. Tait, 
Jan. 18, 1S1T. 

'■'Thomas. Birth ot t'- Constitution of Alabama, 4-5. 
lfl Journal of the Constitutional Convention of IS 19. 


ed trial by jury in cases more serious than petty larceny, and 
in case of personal injury to a slave, the offending paiiy 
should be punished just as though the person injured had been 
a white man. The legislature was given no power to emanci- 
pate slaves without the consent of their owners; but owners 
might secure the emancipation of their slaves, and the legis- 
lature might prohibit the bringing of slaves into the State as 

The constitution provided that a State bank might be es- 
tablished with as many branches as the legislature might di- 
rect, but no branch was to be established nor bank charter re- 
newed except by a two-thirds vote of each House, nor could 
more than one branch be established or bank charter renew- 
ed at any one session of the general assembly. It was also 
provided that the banks already existing might become 
branches of the State bank by agreement between them and 
the assembly, in which case, however, they were bound by the 
same rules as applied to other branches. And in all such 
banks and branches, it was necessary that two-fifths of the 
stock and a proportional representation in the directory be 
reserved to the State. 11 

It was provided that the first session of the general as- 
sembly should meet at Huntsville, and after that it was to 
meet at Cahawba until 1825. The first session which should 
meet in that year would have power, without the consent of 
the Governor, to designate a permanent seat of government, 
but if this were not done, the seat was to remain permanently 
at Cahawba. 

The general assembly might, by a two-thirds vote of each 
House, propose amendments to the constitution. These had 
to be published three months before the next general election 
of representatives; and if a majority of votes were cast in 
favor, the next session of the assembly might incorporate 
them into the constitution by a two-thirds vote of each House. 
Thus the initiative as well as the final action in changing the 
constitution was in the hands of the legislature. 

This instrument of government was, judged by the stand- 
ards of the time, liberal. In the older states, restricted suf- 
frage, discrimination between religious denominations, un- 
equal representation, and imprisonment for debt, were still 
common. In Alabama, imprisonment for debt was to be for- 

11 Constitution of Alal ama, 1819. 


bidden, slaves were to be treated as liberally as circumstances 
seemed to warrant, nor was any interest or section to be given 
special weight in the councils of the State. It is significant 
that the slave holder was given no advantage over the non- 
slave holder in the matter of suffrage and representation. 

All this looks like pioneer democracy as it came to be under- 
stood under Andrew Jackson. But there was a difference. 
Manhood suffrage meant a government by the people, but 
once they had voted, their power passed to a remarkable de- 
gree into the hands of their representatives. The legislature 
controlled the executive and the judiciary and dominated in 
the matter of constitutional amendment. Pure Jacksonian 
democracy would not have consented to a bench elected by the 
legislature and holding office during good behaviour. Though 
the government was framed along liberal lines, the conserva- 
tive element was strongly marked. Instead of reserving as 
much power as possible to the hands of the people, it was 
placed in the hands of those whom the people should choose 
to represent them. 

The convention made provision for the election of repre- 
sentatives and officials under the new government, and the 
constitution went into effect without submission to the peo- 
ple. 1 - It served Alabama until the War of Secession with but 
three amendments. 

In the selection of officials, the contest for the governor- 
ship and for the Federal judgeship are of especial interest in 
that they foreshadow political alignments that were of more 
than temporary importance. Bibb, the Territorial governor, 
was at first the only candidate for the governorship. Later 
Marmaduke Williams, of Tuscaloosa, came out against him. 
Bibb lived in the southern section of Alabama and his choice 
of Cahawba as the seat of government had provoked strong 
opposition in the northern section. 13 Of course, there was no 
chance of locating the capital in the Tennessee Valley, but 
Tuscaloosa was accessible to that section by way of the Jones 
Valley Route. This town, though within a few miles of the 
Mississippi line, was also fairly easy of access from the south- 
ern part of Alabama, because of its situation on navigable 
water and on the thoroughfare between the two sections of 
the State. The Tennessee Valley region united with the 
Black Warrior and upper Tombigbee regions in support of 

11: Constitution of 1819, Schedule, section 7. 

13 Tait Papers, W. W. Bibb to C. Tait, Sept. 19, 1818. 


this place as the logical seat of government, and Williams 
was fitted to express this sentiment. Bibb was the stronger 
candidate, however, and his influence with the National gov- 
ernment would likely prove of much use to the new State. He 
was supported by conservative men and carried two counties 
in the Tennessee Valley, but, aside from this, the line which 
separates the waters of the Black Warrior and Tombigbee 
from the waters of the Alabama was the line which separated 
the supporters of Bibb from those of Williams. 14 The elec- 
tion was won by Bibb. 

The first general assembly of the State met at Huntsville 
in October, and one of its most important duties was to elect 
the two United States Senators. There was an understanding 
that one was to come from the south and one from the north, 
each section being ready to vote for the candidate put forward 
by the other. The choice of the Tennessee Valley easily fell 
upon John W. Walker, nor did it take the Alabama and Tom- 
bigbee section long to decide on WiHiam R. King.' r> This 
gentleman had represented North Carolina in Congress dur- 
ing those exciting days when the second war with England 
was decided upon, and he had been of the "war hawks." He 
had later served as secretary of legation to William Pinckney 
at Naples and St. Petersburg, and a long political career now 
awaited him in Alabama. 1,; 

Because of the agreement between the two sections, the 
choice of the Senators passed off quietly enough in the legis- 
lature, but there was commotion below the surface. Tait, 
after his valuable services to Alabama in the United States 
Senate, had returned to private life and taken up his residence 
in the southern part of the new State. It was not natural that 
he should be passed over in the matter of political preferment, 
and he had at least one friend who did not intend that he 
should be overlooked. That friend was William H. Crawford. 
Secretary of the Treasury. Crawford and Tait had become 
fast friends while teaching together in Augusta, and they lat- 
er came to be political allies. 

The Secretary was anxious for Tait to be sent to the Sen- 
ate from Alabama, 17 and Tait would not have objected. But 
Walker and his friends in the north could not further this am- 

n House Journal, 1819, 37. 

i- Tait Papers, J. W. Walker to C. Tait, Aug. 7, 1819. 

i« Pickett, Histoi i >f Alabaina, tUl-^47. 

»7 Tait Papers, W. El. Crawford to C. Tait, Nov. 7, 1819. 


bition, for the south was choosing its own candidate, and it 
chose King. Tait indicated that his second choice would be for 
the Federal judgeship in Alabama, ls but there was another 
candidate for this place also. Toulmin had been Federal 
judge for Alabama Territory and it was natural that he 
should expect to retain his place when Alabama became a 
state. William Crawford, of Alabama, had applied to Gov- 
ernor Bibb for the appointment, and Bibb had recommended 
him to the Secretary of the Treasury ; but when the Alabama 
Crawford heard that Tait wanted the position, he withdrew 
his request. 10 Bibb then recommended Tait to the Secre- 
tary, 20 and by this time Walker was in Washington and able 
to help his friend. He went to the President with the 
matter, and the appointment was easily put through, Monroe 
answering a letter from Toulmin to the effect that he could 
do nothing for him.- 1 

Crawford was in control of the patronage of Alabama and 
put his friends into office wherever he could. He even of- 
fered a land office receivership to King in order to get him 
out of the way of Tail's senatorial ambitions. This situation 
naturally aroused the antagonism of those who sought office 
in vain, and tended to unite all elements against the men from 
Georgia who were strongest numerically in the neighborhood 
of Montgomery County, but who constituted a powerful 
minority in Huntsville and other towns. Denunciation of the 
"Georgia faction" became common, and the Georgia men, see- 
ing the danger in this, did what they could to allay it, even 
securing the appointment of some outsiders to office,- 2 But 
here was a political situation which cast a long shadow down 
the early history of Alabama. 

During the first session of the general assembly, there oc- 
curred another event which will serve to complete the politi- 
cal picture of Alabama in 1819. General Jackson came to 
Huntsville with his horses to take part in some racing. Such 
an occasion could not be passed over in silence and the legis- 
lature took the opportunity to celebrate. - ;; A resolution ad- 
mitting the General within the bar of both Houses was passed, 

i* Walker Papers, H. Toulmin to J. W. Walker, Feb. 21. 1819. 
v.» Walker Papers, C. Tait to J. W. Walker, Nov. 19, 1S19. 
20 Tait Papers. W. H. Crawford to C. Tait, Nov. 29, 1S19. 
-i Ibid., J. W. Walker to C. Tait. Dec. 20, 1819. 

22 Walker Papers. C. T:;it to J. W. Walker. Oct. 9. 181!/; Tait Papers, 
W. H. Crawford to C. Tait. Nov. 7. 1819, and Nov. 29, 1819. 

23 Pickett, History of Alabama, 6G1-C.I52. 


and another approving his course in the Seminole War was 
introduced. This latter resolution read as follows: "Andjbe 
it further resolved that this General Assembly do highly dis- 
approve of the late attempt made by some members of the 
Congress of the United States at the last session to censure 
the military course of this inestimable officer from motives 
(as we believe) other than patriotic." It was carried in the 
House by a majority of twenty-seven to twenty-one; five 
counties, two in the north and three in the south, going 
against it, ten well scattered counties voting in favor of it and 
six splitting their vote equally. 24 

This, on the surface, does not appear to be a very decisive 
affair. But James G. Birney, who lived in Huntsville in the 
days before he became a leader of abolitionists and who was 
now a member of the assembly, signed his political death war- 
rant in Alabama by opposing Jackson on this occasion.-"' The 
same is true of most of the others who took a similar course. 
Jacksonism had not been an issue when the assembly was 
elected and many got seats whose opinions would have de- 
barred them at a later time. 

But such men as Birney had strong company. Governor 
Bibb wrote to Tait concerning Jackson's attack on Pensacola 
in the Seminole War as follows : 

"Government has done right respecting the occupation of 
Florida, except in apologies for Genl. Jackson. In that they 
have erred (according to my judgment) most egregiously. 
They will gain nothing by it with his friends, and lose much 
with the thinking part of the nation. Not a moment should 
have been lost in arresting the Genl. and thereby showing a 
just regard to the preservation of our constitution. No man 
should be permitted in a free country to usurp the whole pow- 
ers of the whole government and to thwart with contempt all 
authority except that of his own will." 2 * 5 

Walker showed a different spirit. He wrote to Tait : 

"I fear we think too much alike about some things touch- 
ing the Seminole War. I would to God they were undone. 
He is a great man with great defects. One cannot help lov- 
ing or blaming him. But I follow your exemplary course — 

'-* House Journal, 1819, 45. 

25 Birnev's Birney, 40. 

2«Tait Papers. W. W. Bibb to C. Tait, Sept. L9, 1818. 

-" Ibid., J.'W. Walker to C. Tait, Jan. 11), 1S19. 


and perhaps go further : when I cannot praise I try to be si- 
lent."- 7 

As for the opinion of the more eminent friends of these 
Alabama leaders, Crawford expressed his very clearly in a let- 
ter to Governor Holmes, of the Mississippi Territory, in 1818. 
He said : "Persons so regardless of our laws as those engaged 
in the expedition against Pensacola deserve their severest 
penalties, and you may rely upon my exertions to bring them 
to punishment."-' 1 " 

Calhoun, Crawford's colleague in the Cabinet as Secretary 
of War, wrote to Tait palliating the conduct of Jackson and 
upholding the course of the Administration. -'■' 

But there was evidently trouble ahead in Alabama for those 
who did not uphold "The General." 

28 Mississippi Transcripts, W. H. Crawford to Gov. Holmes, April 22. 


^••» Tait Papers, J. C. Calhoun to C. Tait, Sept. 5, 1818. 

Chapter VI. 


As previously stated, when the War of 1812 and the blockade 
of our coast cut off cotton from its British market, the price 
fell to a low figure in America, while it rose in England. With 
the return of peace, this condition was reversed. English mills 
bought heavily to make up for lost time, and the price went up 
with a bound, averaging nearly thirty cents a pound for 1816. 
This situation would hardly have been expected to last, and the 
next year the market fell off to an average of about twenty- 
seven cents. At these figures the production of the staple was 
distinctly profitable, and planters began to move out in large 
numbers to the new lands in Alabama. But 1818 proved to 
be an exceptional year. Instead of continuing to fall off, the 
price of cotton now rose to the unprecedented average of 
about thirty-four cents a pound. 1 A rush to the western 
lands resulted and prices ranging from fifty to a hundred 
dollars an acre were paid for farms, lying in a virgin wilder- 

The monetary situation of the country was such as to favor 
the spirit of speculation that set in. There had been a gen- 
eral suspension of specie payments during the War and the 
currency of the country had fallen into great disorder. Many 
of the bank notes that circulated were of uncertain value and 
much inconvenience was caused by -their use. Largely in 
order to remedy this state of affairs, the second Bank of the 
United States was chartered in 1816. It was to go into op- 
eration earlj r in 1817, and a resolution was passed that the 
Government would receive only specie-paying paper after 
February 20th. In order to effect resumption, the banks of 
issue had to cut down their circulation, but the object was ac- 
complished, and by February specie payment had been re- 
stored. - 

The reduction in the number of notes in circulation which 
accompanied the resumption of specie payments would nat- 
urally have tended to retard speculation ; but the temptation 

1 Atlas of American Agriculture, cotton section, 20. 
'-* Dewey, Financial History of the United States, 151. 


of the western cotton lands was too great to be denied, and 
means were found to overcome the difficulty. In the first 
place, the management of the new bank of the United States 
was reckless, and its notes were turned loose largely in the 
South" to be invested by the speculators. But more impor- 
tant than this, about seventy local banks were founded in Ten- 
nessee and Kentucky in 1818. * These institutions had troubl- 
ed careers, but their notes remained good long enough to 
make the first payment on Government lands. 

Yet another resource was open to many of those who wish- 
ed to purchase land in Alabama. The five million dollars in 
scrip which had been issued to the Yazoo claimants was re- 
deemable only in payments for lands in the Georgia cession ;•"■ 
and since no new Indian concessions had been obtained within 
Mississippi, the first chance afforded the Yazoo men for re- 
deeming their scrip was at the Alabama sales of 1817 and 
1818. The greater part of it was turned in at this time to make 
the first payments on purchases, and it added much to the 
frenzy of speculation. 

Land sales during this period were made under the act of 
1800, as extended and amended in 1803 and 1804. '• It was 
provided that the public domain should be surveyed by mark- 
ing it off irto townships six miles square, and the townships 
subdivided into thirty-six square miles or sectiors. A qtiarter- 
section, or one hundred and sixty acres, was the smallest tract 
which could be sold. 

Having been surveyed, the land was advertised for sale at 
public auctions which were held at the offices established in 
the various land districts. Tracts were sold to the highest 
bidder, and those remaining unsold might be entered private- 
ly at the minimum price of two dollars an acre. In either 
case, one-fourth of the purchase money had to be paid at the 
time of the sale, and the remaining three-fourths in annual 
installments of one-fourth each. 

The surveys in the Creek cession were begun in 1816. : and 
speculators at once began making investigations. A. P. 
Hayne made a tour of the lands to be put upon the market 
and wrote to Andrew Jackson giving a favorable account of 

■i Ibid.. 153. 

4 Annals ot' Congress. 16 Con'. 1 ;., 2 Sess., 233. 

"•Statutes at Large, III, 116-117. 

'••Treat. The National Land System, 111-112, 120-121. 

~ Jackson Papers. Thos. Freeman to Andrew Jackson, April 12, 181*5. 


the rich river and prairie tracts. s Jackson wrote to a friend 
in Washington to inquire as to the price of the Yazoo scrip 
and found that it had risen from forty to sixty-eight dollars/' 
Companies were formed for participation at the auctions, 
and Hayne wrote that "speculation in land is superior to Law 
or Physic." 1 " 

The first sale took place at Milledgeville, Georgia, in Au- 
gust, 1817, and comprised a tract lying along the headwaters 
of the Alabama River in the neighborhood of the present city 
of Montgomery. 11 Only the best river bottom tracts were dis- 
posed of at this time, and these were taken up by speculators 
from various places. The men who had moved into the re- 
gion were generally too poor to make their way to the place 
of sale, and they had little hope of being able to compete with 
the wealthier purchasers. 1 - Sales during this year amounted 
to nearly $800,000, and the new tracts in the same region 
which were offered in 1818 brought the sales of that year up 
to nearly a million dollars. 1 :! Almost nothing but river bot- 
tom lands were sold at Milledgevile during these two years, 14 
and there were few actual settlers among the purchasers. 

The most coveted bit of land that was disposed of at this 
time lay within a wide bend of the Alabama River and upon 
a bluff which formed the opposite bank. The soil in the bend 
was of the best quality, and the bluff afforded an excellent 
site for a town. Members of the Bibb family were anxious to 
purchase here, and so was A. P. Hayne, who wrote to Jackson 
concerning the matter. 1 r - A land company, of which William 
Wyatt Bibb was a member, secured the tracts, and the town 
of Montgomery was founded upon the bluff in 1819. 1,; 

Though these sales were the most extensive that had taken 
place up to that time, they were small in comparison with 
those which were held in Huntsville in 1818. All the lands 
lying west of Madison County, on both sides of the Tennessee 
River, were offered for sale in that year, 17 and the amount 

8 Ibid., A. P. Hayne to Andrew Jackson. Nov. 27, 1816. 
n Ibid., D. Parker to Andrew Jackson. Jan. 6, 1817. 

10 Jackson Papers. A. P. Hayne to Andrew Jackson. Nov. 27, 1816. 

11 L. O. Record of Proclamations. May 24, 1817. 

iz Jackson Papers, A. P. Hayne to Andrew Jackson, Autr. 5, 1817. 
13 American State Papers, Lands, V, 384-385. 

n Tract Book of Montgomery County, Office of the Secretary of 
State, Montgomery, Aia. 

15 Jackson Papers. A. P. Hayne to Andrew Jackson, Aug. 5, 1817. 

16 Meek MS., Early Settlement of Alabama, 1815-1819. 

i" L. O., Record of Proclamations, Nov. 1, 1817 and March 31, 1818. 


sold reached a value of seven million dollars. Out of the sum 
of about one and a half million which was paid down upon' 
the purchases, over a million was in Yazoo scrip, or "Missis- 
sippi stock," as it was called. 

A speculating company, composed of men from Virginia, 
Georgia, Kentucky, and Madison County was formed. Prom- 
inent Tennesseeans bid against this combine and prices were 
run up to figures ranging between fifty and a hundred dollars 
an acre. Average cotton land sold at prices between twenty 
and thirty dollars. 1 " 

The excitement caused by the sales was nation-wide. Men 
came from every part of the country to participate in them. 
A company was formed in Charleston, South Carolina, for the 
purpose of buying acreage in Alabama, and Stephen Elliott 
was sent out to make the purchases.-" Much swindling went on 
during the sales. A company of speculators would combine, 
and, by a show of force, intimidate their competitors and bid 
off large tracts of desirable land at low prices. They would 
then sell out at a considerable gain to those who had not been 
able to compete with them. It is stated on good authority 
that one such association of swindlers cleared $1,980 each on 
a transaction of this kind. 1 ' 1 The situation became so notori- 
ous that the Government authorized its agents to bid against 
the combinations when they thought it advisable. 22 

No such extent of fine lands was ever again offered for 
sale in Alabama during a single year, but in 1819 large areas 
along the Alabama River below Montgomery County were 
put upon the market. The land office for this district had 
now been moved from Milledgeville to Cahawba, and the 
sales here amounted to nearly three million dollars during 
the year. 

By the time the credit system of sales was abolished in 1820, 
Alabama had, in all, amassed a land debt of eleven million 
dollars, or more than half the total for the entire Country. 2- * 
And in the meantime the price of cotton had gone down to 
eighteen cents ; the country was in the throes of commercial 
depression ; and the prospect of paying for the lands which 

1* American State Papers. Lands. V, 3§4-385. 

1; » Jackson Papers, Jno. Coffee to Andrew Jackson, Feb. 12, 1 81S. 

2" Record of Deeds. Dallas Countv. D, 305. 

21 Nites' Register, XVI. 192; St. Stephens Halcyon, Oct. 11, 1819; 
Alabama Rcjrublican, May 1. 1818. 

22 American State Papers, Lands. V, 378-380, 513. 

23 Ibid., G45. 


had been bought at abnormal prices became almost hopeless. 

Such a state of affairs prompted Congress to discontinue 
the policy of credit sales. In 1820 it was provided that half 
quarter-sections might be sold, that the minimum price should 
be $1.25 an acre, and that all payments should be in cash. The 
system of public auctions followed by private entry was con- 
tinued.- 4 

But something had to be done for those who had already 
fallen into debt beyond hope of recovery, and this problem 
was attacked in 1821. It was provided that land which had 
been purchased but not completely paid for might be relin- 
quished and the sum paid on it applied on the balance due for 
lands which were retained. In addition to this, the balance 
due on lands retained was to be reduced by thirty-seven and 
a half per cent, and an extension of credit to be granted.-"' 
Large numbers took advantage of this act, and within a year 
the land debt of Alabama was reduced by half. Those who did 
not take advantage of it were later given a further chance to 
do so, and by 1825 the debt had been decreased to about three 
and a half million dollars.-''' 

Yet the consequences of the speculation of 1818 and 1819 
were not so easily overcome. The men who relinquished their 
land under the act of 1821 did not consider that they were giv- 
ing up their right to it. They continued to live upon and cul- 
tivate it. and expected to be able to buy it back some day un- 
der favorable arrangements which they looked to Congress to 
make. Thus the community was injured by the presence of 
a large number of farmers who were mere tenants by com- 
mon consent. The unsettled condition of such men was dis- 
turbing to the whole system of rural economy. By 1828 
about three and a quarter million out of the twenty-four mil- 
lion acres of public lands in Alabama were sold, and nearly half 
as much had been relinquished.- 7 The extent of the evil can be 

In the natural course of events, the relinquished lands would 
be put on the market again at auction sale, and here the re- 
linquisher would have to compete with all comers for fields 
that he had owned and cleared and still cultivated. The spir- 
it of the community was in sympathy with the relinquisher. 

= -* Statutes at Large, III, 566. 
sr. Ibid.. Ill, 612-614. 

-'■•American Stat- Papers, IV, 795. 

2" American Stat.- I . ujrs, Lands, V, 513, S00. 


It would hardly have been considered honorable to bid against 
him for lands which were looked on as his by natural right. 
However, there were many sharpers who made it a business 
to prey upon those who had made improvements upon lands 
to which they did not have title. It was their practice to go 
to the interested party and threaten to bid against him unless 
he should make terms. An agreement was generally reached, 
and the settler had to pay the sharper about as much as he 
paid the Government for his lands. - s 

The same situation was faced by others than the relin- 
quishers. The more desirable areas in the State, accessible 
to river communication, were the first to be surveyed and 
sold. Later on, the more inaccessible areas were put on the 
market. Where men of small means had come into Alabama 
and settled upon desirable lands in the river regions, they 
were frequently unable to hold them when they were put up 
for sale at auction. It became necessary for these people to 
move out into the back country and start all over again, but 
the auctioneer in time came to them in their newer homes. 
Here, however, the situation was different. The speculative 
period was over after 1819 and lands would no longer bring 
abnormally high prices. The back country tracts, being rel- 
atively inaccessible, would not command prices much 
above the statutory minimum, even though they were fertile, 
nor would a man's neighbor bid against him for lands which 
he had improved. Consequently, the settler in the hill dis- 
tricts would normally have been able to buy his improved 
land at a price close to $1.25 an acre had not the sharper at- 
tacked him in the same manner in which he attacked the re- 
linquisher.-'-' Land offices were established in Tuscaloosa and 
Conecuh Counties in 1820, and men who had not yet been call- 
ed upon to prove their titles began to fear that they would lose 
their homes in the competition of the sales. There is on rec- 
ord the case of a preacher in Conecuh County who was forced 
by swindlers to pay $37.50 an acre for the privilege of buying 
his lands without competition, but the fraud became known 
to the Government, the sale was canceled, and the preacher 
was able to buy in his land at the minimum price. 8 " Public 
auctions were more than once suspended because of the op- 
eration of swindlers. 

2S Southern Advocate, May 19. 1S2G. 

■-•» Smith, Pickens County, 42-44; Cahawba Press, Oct. 29, 1821. 

30 Riley, Conecuh County, 96. 


In order to obviate such difficulties, it was strongly advo- 
cated in Alabama that the unsold lands be divided into classes 
and that each class be given a price according to its grade. 
Actual settlers were to be allowed to enter their lands at the 
fixed prices and thus be assured in the tenure of their fields 
and their homes. This was especially urged in regard to the 
relinquished lands, and Alabama's representatives in Wash- 
ington worked for the adoption of the plan by Congress, but 
nothing came of their efforts.' 51 There was adopted, instead, 
an act which permitted those who had relinquished or forfeit- 
ed lands to repurchase them at a reduction of thirty-seven and 
a half per cent, on the original price.-- This did not meet the 
situation, and the auction continued to stare the settlers in 
the face. 

•"i Alabama Legislature, House Journal, 1825, 96-97; American State 
Papers, Lands, IV, 529; Ibid., V, o80-382; Southern Advocate, April 28. 
June 23, Sept. 29, Oct. 6. 1826. 

S3 Statutes at Lar<?e, IV, 158-159. 

Chapter VII. 


By 1820 Alabama had attracted a population of over 125,- 
000, black and white, and of these the slaves made up thirty- 
one per cent. This was about the same proportion which had 
existed between the races in 1816 when Alabama was still a 
part of Mississippi Territory and contained but two widely- 
separated settlements. By 1830 the population had swelled 
beyond 300.000 and the per cent, of slaves had gradually risen 
from thirty-one to thirty-eight. 1 So that during this period 
of rapid immigration and the planting of the cotton kingdom 
in the lower South, there were about two white men coming in 
for every slave that entered. If the whites averaged five to 
the family and the slaves ten to the master, but one family in 
four could have been of the slave-holding class. 

Whereas, during this early period, the population was in- 
clined to spread over the face of the country, there was a 
striking segregation of the slave population into certain dis- 
tricts. In 1830 there was but one county in the State (Madi- 
son) with over 16,000 population, and but seven of the most 
barren had less than 4,000. The counties which attracted the 
heaviest population were those of the Tennessee Valley and 
those of the region of clay ridges which skirts the hilly district 
of the northeastern part of the State. 

On the other hand, the slave population was very largely 
confined to the counties of the Tennessee Valley and to those 
lying along the navigable portions of the Alabama and Tom- 
bigbee Rivers. The river bottom lands were the most highly 
prized by the cotton planters because of their great fertility, 
but these were of limited extent, and recourse had to be had 
to the ridge lands lying along the courses of the rivers. It is 
notable that the prairie region, or Black Belt, which came lat- 
er to be so highly esteemed for cotton culture, was avoided by 

1 In addition to the U. S. Census of 1820 and 1830, we have that tak- 
en by the Mississippi Territory in 181<>(Am. State Papers, Misc., 11,408) ; 
the census of Alabama Territory taken in 1818 (Walker Papers); and 
those taken by the State of Alabama in 1824 (Huntsville Democrat, 
Nov. 22, 1824), and 1S27 (Huntsville Democrat, Dec. 14, 1827). 


the planters before 1830 because they had not learned haw to 
master the difficulties of the sticky soil. 2 In selecting his site, 
the planter had to consider communications as well as fertili- 
ty of soil ; and continuity of fields also counted for something. 
All these factors combined to make the river valleys the 
slave sections of the State before 1830. 

How soon cotton culture came to be an established industry 
in Alabama cannot be stated with accuracy. The staple is said 
to have been produced to some extent as early as 1772, 3 and by 
1807 it had come largely to supplant indigo in the agriculture 
of the Tombigbee region. 4 It is fairly clear that the Georgians 
who came to Madison County in 1809 came for the purpose of 
planting cotton, and it is stated that the crop of that country 
in 1816 amounted to ten thousand bales/' Certainly by the time 
of the great immigration in 1817 and 1818 the, economic pros- 
pects of Alabama must have been clear to practically all who 
entered. Yet, Darby, in his Emigrant's Guide of 1818, states 
that extensive vineyards would be planted upon the dry slopes 
of the Alabama if ever anywhere in the United States, and 
that the olive would find a congenial soil upon the banks of the 
Alabama, Cahawba, Coosa, and Tallapoosa Rivers.' 1 That this 
view was seriously entertained at that time is proven by the 
attempt of the ill-fated colony of Napoleonic refugees to bring 
forth the grapes and olives of southern France on the banks 
of the Tombigbee in 1817. ' It was probably their failure 
which precluded further earnest attempts along that line, 
but when cotton prospects were gloomy, there were not want- 
ing those who would urge experiments with other crops. 
Grapes, sugar cane, and small grain were all suggested at dif- 
ferent times.- and limited experiments were made with each. 
But Alabama was to have but two predominant systems of ag- 
riculture: that of the planter who raised cotton, with corn as 
his subsidiary crop; and that of the small farmer who raised 
corn with cotton subsidiary. 

2 This view is based partly on charts made from the tract books of 
Clarke, Montgomery, Dallas, and Perry Counties. 

3 Pickett. History of Alabama, 325. 

■* Ibid., 503. . 

•"« Wyman. Qeographical Sketch of Alabama in Alabama Historical 
Society. Transactions, III, 126. 

'•Darby, Emigrant's Guide, 33. 

7 See Pickett's History of Alabama, Chap. XLV. 

« Southern Advocate, July 1. 1825; Alabama Journal, Sept. 15. 1826; 
Mobile Reffister, Dec. 1. L82T. Jan. S, 1828, April 15, 1828, May 17, 1828. 
Oct 8 182S; Southern Agriculturist (from the Alabama Journal), I, 379. 


When the planter with money to invest and slaves to work^ 
decided to come out to Alabama, he often made a tour of in- 
vestigation, or at least wrote to friends in the new country 
asking for advice as to conditions. He could not afford to 
take unnecessary chances. He needed to know where good 
lands were located and what were the chances of buying at 
a fair price. The first Madison County lands to be disposed 
of were offered for sale at the Nashville land office, and the 
first lands sold along the upper Alabama were auctioned at 
Milledgeville, Georgia. Land offices were later established 
at Huntsville and Cahawba, in addition to the one which had 
been put in operation at St. Stephens at an early date, so that 
all but the very first sales in these districts were made within 
the State. Yet, it is unreasonable to suppose that many men 
with a planter's capital at stake would have sold out their old 
homes and moved westward without first having purchased 
their land. 

Having arrived upon his new estate, it did not take the 
planter long to establish himself. With plenty of labor, the 
ground was soon cleared, or the first crop might be planted 
after the trees had merely been deadened by girdling. A house 
for the master's family was built of logs, and the routine of 
plantation life was resumed as well as the crude conditions 
permitted. 1 ' 

The log house, so typical of a frontier community, was not 
an ephemeral thing. It remained the standard of domestic 
architecture in the more isolated sections and was sometimes 
adhered to from inertia or sentimental reasons by men who 
could easily have afforded more modern quarters. It was 
not long, however, before the average planter replaced his 
log structure with one of boards. The typical Southern/'man- 
sion house," with its generous veranda and stately white col- 
umns, arose throughout the cotton region. Hodgson, on enter- 
ing the Montgomery district in 1820. was impressed by the fine 
appearance of the plantations, 1 " and Saxe- Weimar, traversing 
the same ground six years later, not only speaks in general 
terms, but comments upon the handsome dwellings. 11 

In general appearance, the homes of the Southwestern 
planters resembled those of the Virginia colonists. They 

"'See Phillips. Xegro Slavery, Chap. X. for an account of the west- 
ward movement of the cotton planter. 

10 Hodgson, Letters from North America, I, oB. 

ii Saxe-Weimav. I, 80-31. 


were white, two-storied buildings of classical proportions, 
with broad verandas and gigantic columns. But a different 
spirit showed itself in plan and execution. Instead of a well- 
knit structure with architectural finish, there was a rambling 
house with a suggestion of unnecessary space. The differ- 
ence, it would seem, was due primarily to the shaping influ- 
ence of the log cabin. The simple cabin, consisting of two 
rooms joined by a wide passage-way, having only a floor be- 
low and a roof above, accustomed the pioneer to architecture 
embodying generous open-air passages. The planter started 
his new career in such a house, but sometimes amplified it in- 
to a dwelling of from four to eight rooms, keeping to the same 
materials and method of construction throughout. Finally, 
when he came to put up his frame house, he followed the old 
lines of internal arrangement. Crossing the veranda with its 
tall columns, one entered a spacious hallway which served 
no particular purpose, but merely carried out the idea of the 
open passage between the rooms of the log cabin. The spa- 
cious rooms which flanked the hall on either side were almost 
invariably square and regular in design, just as they must 
have been had they been built of logs. And the plan upstairs 
was the same as below. v - 

But the plantation was much more than a house and lands ; 
being, if it chose to be, largely independent of the outside world 
for its daily supplies, it was a community in itself. Grouped 
about the "mansion" were the barns, the smoke-house where 
pork was cured, the cotton gin and press, and the quarters for 
the slaves. Places were frequently advertised for sale in the 
early newspapers, and from these advertisements we get an 
interesting description of the equipment of a plantation in 
houses, barns, cattle, mules, swine, and slaves. 13. 

12 This is the writer's interpretation of the facts, but the general idea 
is completely borne out by the following passage from Stuart's Three 
Years in North Amtricn, 11, 160: "The planters' houses in the southern 
states are very different in their mode of (.(instruction from those in the 
north. The common form of the planters' houses, and indeed of all hous- 
es that you meet with on the roadside in this country, is two square pens, 
with an open space between ♦ihem, connected by a roof above and a floor 
below, so as to form a parallelogram of nearly triple the length of its 
depth. In the open space the family take their meals during the fine 
weather. The kitchen and the places for slaves are all separate build- 
ings, as are the stable, cow-houses, etc. About ten buildings of this de- 
scription make up the establishment of an ordinary planter, with half a 
dozen slaves.'* 

V. Alabama Rrpublicav, Nov. 1-1. 1823; Cuhawba Press, Dec. 20. 1823, 
Jan 7, 1826; St. Stephens Halcyon, May 1. 1S20. 


Slaves were rated, according to their fitness, full, three- 
quarters, half, and quarter hands, and given tasks according- 
ly. Adding these fractions, a planter determined how many 
"full hands," or equivalents, made up his working force. A 
census of Madison County for 1819 gives nearly twelve acres 
of cleared land for every full hand, 1 ' and other evidences make 
it clear that each hand rated at full work was expected to cul- 
tivate five or six acres of cotton and an equal area in corn. 1 " 

There were several reasons for devoting the land in nearly 
equal parts to cotton and corn. A gang of hands could plant 
more cotton than they could possibly pick, so that a part of 
their time had to be devoted to some other crop, and corn had 
a peculiar place in the economy of the plantation. The week- 
ly allowance of bread-stuff to the slave was a peck of meal, 
and this, together with his allowance of pork — the supply of 
which article was also dependent on the corn crop — made up 
the regular fare of the working force. The slaves usually 
had garden plots of their own, and could sometimes add fish 
or game to their diet by hunting or fishing in spare time. The 
watermelon and the 'possum were favorites then as now, but 
corn and pork was the regular fare during the twelve months 
of the year. 10 

Clothing was issued twice yearly, in the spring and in the 
fall. Suits of "osnaburg." or coarse cotton clothing, were 
provided for the summer, and "plains," or coarse woolen stuff 
for the winter. Hats, shoes, and blankets completed the list 
of articles which had to be furnished by the master. Medical 
attention was provided for the sick and nurseries for the chil- 
dren of mothers who went to the field. Altogether, the main- 
tenance of a slave for a year, including his food allowance, 
his clothing, blankets, and medical attention, cost between 
twenty and twenty-five dollars. 17 

Judicious farming required that the master produce all his 
own corn and pork, but, especially when the price of cotton 
was high, he was likely to increase his crop of the staple and 
buy corn in the market. 1 s This kind of speculative planting 

t* Alabama Republican, Auff. 25, 1S20. 

'•'' Wyman, Geographical Sketch of Alabama in Alabama Historical 
Society* Transactions, III, 126; American Farmer. III. 299; Jackson Pa- 
pers, A. P. Hpyne to Andrew Jackson, Aug. 6, 1820. 

IS Phillips, Secjro Shivcrii, Chan. XV. 

i" Aynerican Farmer, IV, :'.08- ( J. See also Phillips, S r egro Slavet-y, 
Chap. XV. 

18 Walker Pape--<. C. Tait to J. W, Walker, Nov. 19. 1819. 


was not only bad from an economic point of view, but tended" 
to over-work the slaves during the picking season. For the 
small farmer, excessive cotton planting meant that his family 
was put on short rations. 1. But .such practices as this seem 
to have been common during the early, speculative period of 
the industry in the State. Though periods of low prices op- 
erated to check this over-planting of cotton, it is certainly true 
that during che early 'twenties, a large quantity of corn and 
pork was imported from other states by the planters, and 
many complaints were made about it by the agricultural crit- 

There seems to have been little difference between the 
methods employed in the culture of cotton and of corn, but 
naturally that of cotton received more attention. The 
agricultural year began about the middle of February, when 
the first plowing could be done. All the old cotton and corn 
stalks were gathered and burned, and the ground was bedded 
up by running one furrow and then lapping several others 
upon it. This process was called "listing." 

During March the cotton was planted by running a drill 
down the center of the beds and sowing the cotton rather 
thickly in the drill. The seeds were covered by attaching a 
board with a concave surface to a plow and drawing it 
along the crest of the bed. When the young cotton was well 
above the ground, the stand was thinned with the hoe, leaving 
but two stalks in a place. Later, another thinning reduced 
the stand to a single stalk in a place. The distance between 
the beds and between the stalks in the bed varied according 
to the fertility of the soil or the caprice of the planter. Three 
and a half feet between beds and eight inches between stalks 
was given as a fair average for the Tennessee Valley.- 

Frequent cultivation was necessary in order to keep down 
the grass and weeds, and this was done partly by the plow 
and partly by the hoe. That crops were usually kept in very 
good condition is indicated by the favorable comments of trav- 
elers into the cotton region. The bolls began to open the lat- 
ter part of August, but they fruited gradually, and had to 
be picked often in order to prevent damage to the fibre. This 

,;> Hodgson, Letters from North America. I, 206-207. 

-° American Former, VIII, 222-223, quoting: a letter from John Pope, 
of Florence. Alabama, dated Sept. 29, 1826; Southern Agriculturist, II,. 
255; Hammond, Cotton Industry, 76-77; Fessenden, Complete Farmer^ 


was the busiest time of the year and all available help, was 
called in. The picking went on steadily through the fall 
months and well into the winter. Sometimes a part of the 
crop was still in the field and had to be destroyed when the 
time for spring plowing arrived.-' 1 

Ginning was also a slow process compared with modern 
methods. Every planter of any importance had his own gin- 
house where his staple was prepared for the market. If 
properly prepared, the cotton had to be carefully picked over 
by hand for the removal of trash and yellow flakes before it 
went to the gin; and after coming from the machine, it al- 
ways had in it particles of seed and other foreign matter 
which had to be removed by another picking over, or moting. 
The ginned cotton was taken to the press where it was squeez- 
ed into bales of about 350 pounds. The gin and the press 
were both run by horse power, and several hands were kept 
busy at the work. 22 

During the decade, however, two important advances were 
made in the processes of preparing cotton. In 1822 Carver's 
improved gin was introduced in Mississippi and its advantages 
were noised abroad in the agricultural, papers. It was claim- 
ed that the new machine did not tear the fibre while removing 
it from the seed, and that the quality of the staple was there- 
by much improved. James Jackson and General Coffee intro- 
duced the new gin into the Tennessee Valley, and the cotton 
which they turned out with it was said to be of unusual qual- 
ity. 23 In 1824 the first supply of these machines was receiv- 
ed at Mobile.- 4 

At about the same time there was contrived and introduced 
in Mississippi an apparatus for moting the cotton as it came 
from the gin. In Whitney's gin the cotton fibre was removed 
from the seed by means of revolving saw-teeth, and re- 
volving brushes removed the fibre from the saws. The 
arms of the revolving brushes were now supplied with fans 
which blew the issuing cotton through a horizontal wooden 

-i Royall, Litter* from Alabama, 62. 

22 An excellent description of the method of preparing cotton for mar- 
ket was furnished the NakbPiile AgncidtuHat by Alexander McDonald, 
of Eufaula. Alabama, in 1845. It is reprinted in Sen. Doc, 1 Sess., 29 
Cong., Vol. VI. N'o. : 07. Though this is later than the period under dis- 
cussion, it <;ives a clear idea of the p: - iblcm.s and methods of ginning 
and parkins: cotton on a plantation. 

23 Alabama Reimbliean, Feb. 15. L822, Mar. 22, 1822. 
24 Mobile Register, March 26, 1^24. 


flue with a latticed bottom. As the lint passed through the 
flue, the particles of foreign matter dropped through the 
grating into a trough below. Thus a large part of the labor 
of moting was dispensed with.- 5 

The ginning and packing of cotton was a matter of great 
importance, for the market value of the staple depended 
largely upon its freedom from flaws and foreign matter. 
Many complaints were made as to the carelessness with which 
the Alabama planters handled their product. It was stated 
that, while the staple of the Alabama cotton was as good as 
that of any upland variety, it brought a lower price than that 
of either Georgia or Louisiana because of the indifferent way 
in which it was ginned and handled.-" The truth of this 
statement is, however, hard to judge. Louisiana and Mississ- 
ippi cotton consistently brought a higher price than that of 
Alabama. That of south Alabama and Georgia stood on a 
fairly equal footing, while that of Tennessee and north Ala- 
bama usually brought the lowest price. The adaptability of 
climate and soil to the cotton crop in these several localities 
was undoubtedly the prime factor in these distinctions, but 
it is quite likely that there was also a difference in agricul- 
tural methods. As far as Alabama is concerned, the people 
who moved into the southern part of the state came chiefly 
from sections in Georgia and South Carolina where the 
planting of cotton was already familiar and well-established. 
Those who moved into the Tennessee Valley came in greater 
numbers from Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina, 
where cotton had never been of importance. 

Alabama writers, and especially those in the Tennessee 
Valley, often complained that the various methods in use in- 
dicated that no scientific basis of field-management had been 
arrived at. The greatest bone of contention was as to the 
distance that should be allowed between the beds and the 
stalks in the beds. There was also much variety as to the use 
of fertilizer. Stable manure was, of course, used, and cot- 
ton seed was employed by many. The latter was sometimes 
mixed with leaf mold or other material and allowed to stand 
in great piles until spring, when the mixture was strewn in 
drills. Yet there can be but little doubt that the worth of cot- 

2K Cfthnicba Press. Jan. 21. 1822; American Farvxer, IV. 380-382. 
'•:'•• Alabama Republican, Sept. 7, 1821. Nov. 23, 1821, Sept. 27, 1822; 
Cohairba Press, Dec. 13, 1821, Jan. 28, 1822. 


ton seed as fertilizer was generally overlooked and the valuable 
material thrown away.-' 7 

The greatest advance that was made during the decade in 
the raising of cotton was the introduction of the "Mexican" 
variety of seed. This produced larger pods which opened 
wider than the old variety and allowed the fibre to hang from 
the bolls, making the picking an easier process than it had 
previously been. Industrious hands were now able to pick 
two hundred pounds a day, whereas one hundred had formerly 
been a good average.-* 

The planting of a localized staple such as cotton was a more 
speculative industry than was the raising of the more wide- 
spread crops. Since the South furnished the world with most 
of its cotton, a bountiful crop in that section, not being offset 
to any great extent by differing conditions in other places, 
would depress the price to the full extent of the local over- 
production. Likewise, a short crop in the South meant a 
shortage of cotton for the world, and a high price which 
would spend its whole buoyant force upon the industry of a 
few states. And the planters were the most helpless of peo- 
ple in the matter of adjusting themselves to the varying econ- 
omic conditions. Once a man had established himself as a 
slave holder in the lower South, he found it hard to vary his 
agricultural system. -'■' He could not diminish his crop much 
below the normal, for his slaves were efficient only when 
worked according to the usual routine ; nor were there any fa- 
cilities for marketing other crops. 

It was the high price of cotton during the years following 
the close of the second war with England which gave Ala- 
bama her first great influx of population. During 1818 land 
sales in Alabama reached their zenith. So keen was the 
competition at the Government auctions for good cotton acre- 
age, that especially desirable tracts were sold off at prices 
which caused comment throughout the country. But cotton 
fell from thirty-four to twenty-four cents the next year; to 
seventeen cents in 1820; to fourteen in 1821; and in 1823 it 

27 Saxe-Weimar, I. 33; Southern Advocate, July 21. 1826; Southern 
Agriculturist, II, 254-562; Royal], Letters from Alabama (quoting let- 
ter from Col. Pope), 162. 

2S American Farmer, IT. 116 (July 7. 1S29): Southern Advocate. Sept. 
8, 1826. Sept. 29, 1826; H intarillc Democrat, Sent. 8. 1826. 

-"Southern Advocate, >'ov. IT, 1^26. 


reached bottom at about eleven cents a pound. 1 " During 
these years of falling prices, the value of slaves declined 
steadily, 31 though there was more land cultivated in the Ten- 
nessee Valley in 1821 than during any previous season.-- By 
1823, however, discouragement had set in, and the low price 
resulted in the planting of a smaller cotton crop. 3;i Retrench- 
ment was, however, a hard matter for the planter. He could uo 
little more in that direction than raise all his own supplies of 
corn and pork, and the amount of cotton shipped from Mobile 
remained practically stationary during 1822, 1823, and 1824. 34 

In 1825 there came a jump in the price as a result of spec- 
ulation in the British market. Corn was actually plowed up 
in Alabama for the sake of planting more cotton ; 35 the vol- 
ume of the crop rose ; and the value of slaves was stimulated. 
But the optimism w r as short-lived. The price of the staple 
receded to a lower level than it had reached before, and for 
several years thereafter cotton sold in New York for about 
ten cents a pound. The depression in Alabama was marked. 

Complaints of the unprofitableness of cotton went up on all 
sides, and the need for diversification was urged. The prev- 
alent unscientific methods of planting were condemned and 
a widespread agitation for agricultural societies set in. 3 ' 1 The 
Governor's message of 1826 urged diversification and sug- 
gested a standing committee to consider the agricultural 
problems of the State. 37 So great had been the over-planting 
of cotton in 1825 that the Alabama Journal, on Sept. 6, 1826, 
proposed a special meeting of the general assembly to afford 
relief in view of the impending scarcity of provisions. Yet 
there was only a temporary decrease in the amount of cot- 
ton that went out from Mobile. 

30 For yearly average of prices for middling upland cotton in New- 
York and Liverpool, see J. L. Watkins. Production and Price of Cotton, 
U. S. Department of Agriculture, Statistics, Miscellaneous Bulletins, 
1895, No. 9, p. 8-9. 

31 For chart of slave prices, see U. B. Phillips, Xegro Slavery, 370. 

32 Alabama Republican, Nov. 2, 1821. 

33 Mobile Arf/us, Oct. 31, 1823; Huntsville Democrat, Oct. 28, 1823; 
Alabama Republican, Oct. 24, 1823. 

34 Hazard, U. S. Commercial and Statistical Register, III, 272. 
3o Tuscumbian, June 27, 1825. 

SC Alabama Journal, Sept. 29, 1820 ; Southern Advocate, Sept. 15, 
182G. Dec. 1, 1827; Huntsville Democrat, March 9, 1827. 
8" Senate Journal. 1*26, 9. 


The average production of cotton for a slave was, during' 
these years, about a thousand pounds, ginned.** This, at ten 
cents a pound, would be worth one hundred dollars, and since 
the maintenance of a slave cost approximately twenty-five dol- 
lars a year in money and provisions, there remained about 
seventy-five dollars to provide for u.p-keep. interest, and prof- 
its. The indications are that ten cents was the lowest 
price at which cotion could be raised at this time without a 
loss; but it seems that the production ol a slave was later in- 
creased so that a lower price became possible. 

As to the management of slaves in Alabama during the early 
period, no information has been obtained. In describing a 
Georgia plantation in 1828, Basil Hall gives an account of the 
"tasking" system;-' and E. C. Holland, in a treatise written 
on the subject in 1822, says that this was the universal practice 
at the time. 40 Fields were slaked off into quarter-acre, half- 
acre, or three-quarter-acre "tasks" in proportions to the la- 
boriousness of the work and the strength of the hand. By 
diligence, the worker could finish his task early in the after- 
noon and have the rest of the day to himself. In this way, 
compulsion was reduced to the minimum, and the slaves given 
a stimulus to work. Another account shows that this system 
was in use in South Carolina, and there are scattered refer- 
ences to it in agricultural discussions. Whether it was really 
universal cannot be stated except upon the authority of Hol- 
land's assertion. For Alabama there is no information one way 
or the other. 

The small farmer was not dependent upon the price of cot- 
ton. He had come into the new country in search of econom- 
ic freedom rather than of fortune. He sought subsistence for 
his family rather than cotton lands and access to market. He 
did not compete for the most fertile and accessible locations 
because he lacked the capital, and because it was not to his in- 
terest to do so. A secluded nook would serve him as well or 
better, for he loved the freedom of the forest, his rifle, and his 

38 Statistics for Madison County for 1819 give 825 pounds as the av- 
erage for a full hand. See Alabama Republican, Aug. 25, 1820. James 
G. Birney is said to have produced 1850 pounds to the hand in 1820, 
Jackson Papers, James Jackson to Andrew Jackson, May 28. 1821. But 
a thousand pounds to the hand is mentioned in most estimates as the 

«'■> Basil Hall. Travels in Worth America. IT. 229-231. 

4 " Edwin C. Holland. .4 Refutation of the Calumnies Circulated: 
against the Southern and Western States Respecting Slavery, 48-53. 


axe. He built his house of logs, cleared his corn patches, and 
raised his hogs. There was a fine range for cattle in the 
woods, and large herds found their own subsistence for the 
greater part of the year. 41 

Many, perhaps most, of the small farmers had come west 
with practically no property, and their farming equipment 
was at first of the crudest kind. Wheat was a familiar crop 
to many of them, and it wr.s tried in Alabama, but lack of flour 
mills made the grinding of it a difficult problem. Corn prov- 
ed to be more practicable, and grist mills were built on the 
streams during the first stages of settlement. Cotton, too, 
soon came to be popular with the small farmer. Though a 
man could not raise the supplies for his own family and plant 
a large cotton crop at the same time, he could raise a small 
amount of the staple and. sell it for enough to supply his fi- 
nancial needs. Thus, largely because of the ease of market- 
ing it, cotton came to be the "money crop" among the farm- 

ers. 4 - 

Taking a general view of the State, the several regions 
within Alabama differed materially in their economic compo- 
sition. The Tennessee Valley, to begin, offers the most com- 
plete picture of agricultural, and hence social and political, 
diversity. The Georgians who established Madison County in 
1809 invested extensively in land, and, being on the ground 
during the phenomenal years of 1817 and 1818, their fortunes 
soared. By 1826 some of them owned gangs of negroes num- 
bering into the hundreds. 1 - Also among the Virginians, 
North Carolinians, and Georgians who purchased lands in the 
Valley in 1818 were men of extensive wealth. The specula- 
tive conditions under which the valley region west of Madison 
County was opened up served to debar men of moderate 
means from securing desirable tracts. But all the northern 
counties contained lands lying outside the valley region, and 
consequently there remained many less desirable tracts which 
could be taken up by private entry after the auction sales 
were over. Tennesseeans of moderate means came down in 
large numbers and settled in the same counties with the 
wealthy planters. ^ 

u Hodgson, Letters from North America, I, 124; Riley, Conecuh Coun- 
ty, 52; Southern Advocate, Sept. 7. 1827. 

V'Teenle and Snlith (Publishers), Jejjerayn County, 59; Riley, Con- 
ecuh County, 22-25, 92-1 11; Smith. Picken* County, 40-48; Yerby. 

1 ^ Based' on statements published in Southern Advocate, Dee. 1, 1826. 


This diversity of origin and station between close neighbors 
developed a certain antagonism which was aggravated by the 
commercial situation. The cotton of the Valley had to be 
lightered over Muscle Shoals and then floated all the way down 
to New Orleans before it could be marketed. To have a crop 
ginned and baled, and shipped in this way to merchants in 
New Orleans; then to cash the draft which was received in 
return and secure the proceeds, required months of delay and 
entailed reliance upon forwarding agents, brokers, and banks, 
which the small producer was not able to face on his own ac- 
count. In order to avoid all this, he sometimes sold his cotton 
in the seed to local merchants who provided him with his sup- 
plies. Sometimes he prepared his crop for shipment and 
turned it over to a merchant who advanced him a certain per 
cent, of its value and paid the balance when the remittance 
came up from New Orleans. 44 In either case, he was likely to 
lose at every turn in the transaction, and this condition of 
commercial dependence tended to leave him resentful toward 
those with whom he was forced to do business. The political 
result of this situation made the Tennessee Valley a hotbed 
of partisan contention. 

This section seems to have gone in more for quantity than 
quality, 4 " and its cotton brought the lowest prices on the mar- 
ket. When a crop was disposed of to a country merchant, 
the staple was usually taken at a uniform price. 4,; The fact 
that a large part of the output was sold in this way may ac- 
count for the relatively careless handling of the product in 
the Tennessee Valley. Picking and preparing the staple for 
market required great care, and negligence in these process- 
es resulted in a trashy fibre that greatly reduced the value 
of the article. Over-planting of cotton caused congestion 
during the picking season and naturally led to careless hand- 

Over-planting also made it necessary to purchase a large 
part of the corn and pork supply for the negroes, and the im- 
portation of these articles into the Tennessee Valley was large. 
The trade was encouraged by the ease with which such pro- 
ducts could be brought down the River from East Tennessee. 

•»' See Chapter IX. 

-*■" Documentary History of Ineh'strial Society, from the Georgia Cour- 
ier, Oct. 11, 1827', 283-298. 

-*« Mobile Register, Jan. ti, 1823. 


Occupying the north-central portion of the State and ex- 
tending from the Tennessee Valley to the navigable waters of 
the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers, lay the hilly region. 
Here the isolated valleys were settled by men of pioneer in- 
stincts who began to come in as early as 1815. Small clear- 
ings were made and log cabins rose here and there. The 
woods furnished abundant game and an excellent range for 
cattle, while corn and hogs were relied upon as the principal 
food supplies. In other words, this region reproduced the 
characteristics which have always typified the advancing 
frontier of our Country. 

Since a large majority cf the inhabitants of Alabama were 
of the farmer rather than of the planter class, and since the 
planters needed supplies of corn and pork which the farmers 
principally raised, it seems, at first glance, strange that the 
hilly region did not send large quantities of these products in- 
to the river valley regions. This would have been an easily 
accessible market for the farmers, and the planters would 
have had a convenient source of supply, but no such trade ev- 
er reached significant proportions! The explanation is that 
the farmer planted his surplus in cotton rather than in corn. 
Cotton was easier to handle, and the financial return was evi- 
dently more satisfactory in spite of the fact that the small pro- 
ducer could not own his gin nor market his crop except by 
disposing of it to a local merchant. For the greater part of the 
central hilly region, Tuscaloosa, at the head of navigation on 
the Black Warrior, was the most convenient market after the 
steamboat came into general use. The road which connected 
Tuscaloosa with Huntsville passed through Jones Valley, in 
which Birmingham now stands; and along this route most of 
the cotton was carried to market and the supplies of coffee, 
sugar, and flour brought back to the farm.' 7 

Though the sticky soil of the prairie region, or Black Belt, 
was avoided by the planter until about 1830, there were fer- 
tile tracts of land upon the northern border of the prairie 
which proved attractive to the first planters who immigrated 
to Alabama. These areas, together with the bottom lands 
along the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers, constituted the cot- 
ton section of the southern part of the State. 

Excepting in the prairie region, the stretches of good land 
were not so extensive as in the Tennessee Valley, and the 

■*" Alabama Republican, March 1, 1822; Huntsville Democrat, Jan. 19, 
% 1827. 


planter lived in ('loser relation to the man who farmed with- 
out slaves ; and since he was a fellow agriculturist rather 
than a capitalist in the eyes of his less wealthy neighbors, 
the sharp political dissensions which agitated the Tennessee 
Valley lost their sting in the south. 

Perhaps the best expanse of land in all this region lay in 
the vicinity of Montgomery County, and here there grew up 
what was probably an ideal planting community. The inhab- 
itants are pictured as peace-loving, industrious, and economi- 
cally independent. Instead of dealing with the local merch- 
ants, they carried their cotton to Mobile and brought their sup- 
plies back up the River. 4- 

Though the indications are that the agricultural system 
practiced in this region was more conservative than that of 
the Tennessee Valley, and that there was less over-planting 
of cotton, yet large quantities of pork and corn were import- 
ed along with flour and whisky. Though some of this came 
down through the country from Tennessee, the bulk of it came 
from Mobile, to which point it had been shipped from the 
Ohio and Cumberland River region by way of New Orleans. 
It was said in 1824 that from twenty to thirty thousand bar- 
rels of such supplies passed through Mobile annually. 40 

The piney region of sandy clay which covers the southeast- 
ern corner of Alabama was considered relatively infertile, 
and here men without slaves or property set up a frontier 
community at the time when the rest of the State was being 
settled. Lands in the back-woods sections did not begin to 
be sold until about 1824, so that the immigrants could "squat" 
for years upon Government property and then buy in their 
farms at the minimum price after the speculative period was 
well over. Coming principally from Georgia, South Caro- 
lina, and Tennessee, the inhabitants of this region had the 
same general characteristics as those of the hilly region. The 
pasturage here made it possible for cattle to sustain them- 
selves during the entire year, and numerous herds were kept 
by many of the settlers." 

Thus the agricultural life of Alabama may be divided into 
two predominant phases: that in which the planter, with a 
highly capitalized establishment, raised cotton with slave la- 

■*& Robertson, Montgomery County, 11-13, 15-16, 36-38, 125, 139-140. 

w Mobile Register, March 2, 1824. 

so Riley, Conecuh County, 19, 28-32. 43-54, 53-65. 


bor for the sake of profit ; and that in which the farmer, with 
very little capital, sought an independent existence for his 
family. To the planter, rich lands and convenient water 
transportation were essential, while the price of cotton was of 
prime importance. To the farmer, transportation facilities 
were of little importance, and a large part of the State offered 
him isolated bits of good land which would have been of no val- 
ue to the planter. The geographical segregation of these two 
classes of people was not complete, but there was little active 
competition between them. The best cotton lands were sold 
durmg the speculative period when the man without capital 
had little chance of successful competition; the backlands 
were sold during a later period when the actual settler could 
buy them in at the minimum price with money which he had 
made upon the ground. Though there was a tendency for 
the planter to displace the farmer who had settled in his im- 
mediate neighborhood, nevertheless, the lines which separated 
the planting districts from the farming districts were laid 
down when the Government first opened the lands to the 

Chapter VIII. 


There is no way of realizing more keenly the difference be- 
tween past and present than to look upon the untroubled wa- 
ters of a navigable river and recall that it once shaped the his- 
tory of a section. Though the turbid stream of the Alabama 
low but rarely floats a vessel, it is fitting that it gave its 
name to the State that it traverses. It was their separate wa- 
terway which gave the settlers along the Tombigbee interests 
which were distinct from those of the settlers upon the lower 
Mississippi. It was down the stream that the early planters in- 
tended to float their cotton to market, and so they chose their 
homes near the rivers. 

Mobile was a struggling community of three hundred in- 
habitants, mostly Creoles, when it was taken over by the 
Americans in 1813. A few years later, when population be- 
gan to spread along its tributary rivers, it began to grow and 
in 1819 numbered eight hundred inhabitants. In 1823 this 
number had increased to nearly three thousand. 1 Most of 
the higher class of Creoles had left when Spanish rule ended, 
and the new population was made up of Americans of every 
type. Merchants came largely from the North, adventurers 
gathered from every quarter, and the mixture, according to 
some visitors at least, was not attractive. - 

In place of the one wharf of Creole days, there were a doz- 
en by 1823. Markets were built and brick structures be- 
gan to replace wooden buildings. Because of obstruction in 
the harbor, ships of the larger class entered with difficulty. 
This fact made it necessary for the town to confine 
its shipping largely to the coastwise traffic. Fruits from 
Cuba were to-be found in the markets and a regular trade 
with New York was established at an early date, but a large 
part of the cotton which was destined for Europe had to be 
sent to New Orleans for shipment.'' 

i Niles' Register, XXII, 96; Mobile Register, Feb. 7, 1822. 

- Hoilg-son, Letters fr&m North America, I, 152. 

3 Saxe- Weimar, 7 '•> els Through North America, I. :'»9-4l; Hamilton 
Colonial Mobile, 47.1; Mobile Argus, Oct. 28, L823; Mobile Advertiser, 
Feb. 26, 1824. 


The cotton region along the rivers gave birth to several 
towns between 1815 and 1818. St. Stephens already stood 
at the head of schooner navigation on the Tombigbee. It had 
been a flourishing little community when Mobile was still in 
the hands of Spain. But now the trade passed it by and went 
down to the larger town on the Bay. It still held a local 
trade, however, and some of its glory lingered. With its 
bank, its academy, its press, its land office, and its steamboat 
company, it maintained its place for awhile: but its well- 
built houses were destined to sink into ruins which have 
now all but disappeared from view. 4 

Far above St. Stephens, Tuscaloosa was located at the head 
of boat navigation on the Black Warrior, and from here such 
overland trade as there was between the two sections of the 
State passed through Jones Valley to the Valley of the Ten- 
nessee. 5 

On the Alabama River, Claiborne grew up at the head of 
schooner navigation and came to be the center of a cotton- 
planting community. The capital of the State was establish- 
ed at Cahawba, where the river of that name flows into the 
Alabama; and Selma was founded a few miles above. On a 
bluff not far from the head of navigation, two towns were 
established by land speculators in 1817 and 1818. One of 
these was founded by Andrew Dexter, from Massachusetts, 
and was christened New Philadelphia; the other was founded 
by the Bibb Company and named East Alabama. In 1819 
the two settlements were combined and incorporated as the 
town of Montgomery. 1- ' 

From these places, the cotton passed down the rivers to 
Mobile. Flat bottomed boats — crudely constructed affairs 
with pitched seams — could carry from fifty to a hundred 
bales and were broken up at the end of the journey. 7 Keel 
boats, though not used so frequently as flat-bottomed boats 
on the Alabama and Tombigbee, were employed where the re- 
quirements were more severe. They were frequently about 
fifty feet in length and were more durable and sea-worthy 
than the flat-bottomed type. But the greater expense of 
construction discouraged their use except where a return trip 
was to be made. 

•* St. Stephens Halcyon, March 30. 1S22. 

R Alabama Republican, May 4, 1821; Hamilton. Colonial Mobile, 463. 

'"• Woodward, Reminiscences, 130; Blue. Montr/ornery, 6-8. 

« Saxe-Weimar, Travels Through North America, I, 35. 


Nor were return trips very frequent. A boat which would 
float down from Montgomery to Mobile in about two weeks 
required a month or six weeks to be poled or warped back up 
the river; and the freight rate prevailing at that time was 
five dollars a barrels Merchants generally preferred to 
bring their wares over the Federal Road from Georgia,'-' or 
down from the upper country. Whisky, pork, and flour were 
the most generally desired commodities in the cotton section. 
These articles could be obtained in east Tennessee and in 
west Virginia, and they could be brought thence by the fol- 
lowing method : A keel boat was loaded near the place of 
production and floated down the Holston to the Tennessee 
River. By ascending a small tributary of the Tennessee, the 
Hiwassee, the boat could be navigated to within twelve miles 
of the headwaters of the Coosa. There was a portage across 
this stretch of land. Boat houses were constructed at either 
end of it, and arrangements were made for hauling the boats 
in wagons from one stream to the other. This route was 
traversed at a very early period in Alabama history. Ten- 
nessee produce reached Montgomery by this course, and about 
twelve thousand gallons of whisky were said to have been car- 
ried across the portage in 1821. 1( M 

Transportation conditions in the Tennessee Valley were 
rendered peculiar by the presence of the obstruction in the 
channel of the River at Muscle Shoals. During the dry summer 
months the Shoals could not be passed, but the River rose in 
the fall, and by February, boats could go over the rapids. The 
water began to go down again in the spring, so that but two or 
three months elapsed during which shipments could be made 
from above. 11 Warehouses were built at landing places on 
the River and here cotton was accumulated by merchants and 
shippers. As soon as the water rose, the bales were loaded 
on keel boats which were dispatched in fleets under the 
charge of experienced pilots who saw them safely past the 
Shoals. The pilots would then return, and the boats would 

s Levasseur, Lafayette en Amerique, II, 345; Niles' Register, XXI, 215; 
Jackson Papers, E. P. Gaines to Andrew Jackson. March 15, 1816. See 
Phillips, Transportation in the Eastern Cotton Belt, 71, for a description 
of the flat-bottomed and nole boats. 

n Hall Papers. Hines Holt to B. Hall. July 4, 1820. Sept. 20. 1820, Nov. 
14, 1820. 

W Niles' Register, XX, 63, House Ex. Docs. No. 15, 20, Conp., 2 Sess.. 
"Vol. 1. 

ii Alabama Republican, Feb. 8, 1822. 


proceed to New Orleans under the direction of forwarding 
agents. The freight rate for cotton shipped in this manner was 
from four to five dollars a bale. 1 - 

But difficult as it was to get cotton to market, it was still 
more dificult to bring back the supplies which were needed. 
There were several possible routes and all of them seem to 
have been used at times. Until 1816 the usual method was to 
ship goods from New York and Philadelphia to Charleston or 
Savannah ; transport them to Augusta, and thence carry them 
by the "Georgia Road" through the Cherokee country to 
Ross's landing, opposite the spot where Chattanooga now 
stands on the Tennessee. From here they were floated down 
to Ditto's landing near Huntsville, or to other points along 
the River. In 1816 a merchant named Crump was the first 
to bring goods from Mobile to Huntsville by poling them up 
the River in a boat to Tuscaloosa, and hauling them in wagons 
from that place. The road was found to be fairly good, and 
the overland trip required but eight days. 13 Supplies might 
also be brought through the Valley of Virginia by way of 
Knoxville; but the favorite route during the 'twenties seems 
to have been that down the Ohio to the Cumberland, up the 
Cumberland to Nashville, and across country from that place. 
Flour, pork, and whisky could be brought from Kentucky and 
the Northwest in this way, as could manufactures which went 
overland from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and then down the 
Ohio. 11 

fVYith the advent of the steamboat, conditions were radically 
changed. Goods could now be carried up stream as easily as 
they could be brought down, and the overland trade rapidly 
fell off. Central and southern Alabama became depend- 
ent upon Mobile for supplies and North Alabama be- 
gan to obtain most of hers from New Orleans. The planter 
thus came in time to buy his goods in the same market in 
which he sold his cotton. 

The first appearance of the steamboat on the rivers of Ala- 
bama cannot be fixed with absolute precision, but it seems 
clear that steam navigation on the Tombigbee was establish- 
ed in 1819. Morse's Universal Gcographij of that year states 

i-Betts, History of Huntsville, 61-62; Alabama Republican, Jan. 18, 

13 Washington Republican, Jan. 1, 1S1T; Warden, Account of the Unit- 
ed States. Ill, 39; Indian Office files, S. D. Hutchings to R. J. Meigs, 
Dec. 3, 1816. 

i-i Alabama Republican, Jan. 18, 1822. 


that steamers were then plying between Mobile and St. Steph- 
ens; 1 "' and Hamilton asserts in his Colonial Mobile that the 
first trip up to Demopolis was made in 1819 by either the 
"Tensa" or the "Mobile. 1 ' 1 There is a record of the launch- 
ing of the "Tensa" on the Bay during this year, and the citi- 
zens of Mobile were a little later congratulated in the local 
press on another attempt to navigate the River. 17 During 
the same season the steamboat "Mobile," which had been 
brought from Boston, was advertised to ascend to Tusca- 
loosa. 18 

It was not long before the "Harriett" and the "Cotton 
Plant" were brought to Mobile for service in the river trade, 
and in 1820 the "Tombeckbee" was launched at St. Stephens. 
This last boat was of seventy tons burden, had an eighty-five 
foot deck and drew but fifteen inches of water when unload- 
ed. 1 '-' The others were of about the same size, — in other words 
but little larger than the average keel boat then in use. But 
these four little craft were pioneers; they established steam 
communication on the waters of the Alabama. In 1821 the 
"Harriett" ascended the Alabama to Montgomery; in 1824 
the "Cotton Plant" made her way up the Tombigbee to the 
head of Navigation at Cotton Gin Port, Mississippi ;-" and in 
1828 the first trip was made up the Chattahoochee to the falls 
at Columbus, Georgia.- 1 

It was during the fall and winter months only that the 
stage of the water was high enough to permit of navigation 
of these rivers. Dread of yellow fever all but cleared Mobile 
of population during the summer; but in November the mer- 
chants began to return and collect their wares. The cotton 
trade commenced in this month and continued briskly until the 
following May or June, then it fell off suddenly and remained 
at a stand until the waters rose in the fall.*-' 2 

1; "> Morse, Universal Geography, I, 558. 

18 Hamilton, Colonial Mobile, 447-448, 471-472. 

i" Mobile Gazette, Aug. i, 181!'. copied in the Alabama Republican 
Aug. 21, 1819. • 

is Alabama Republican. April 3, 181.9. 

»»St. Stephens Halcyon, May 15, 1820. 

20 Hamilton, Colonial Mobile, 172: Walker Pacers, J. S. Walker to J. 
W. Walker. Nov. 23. 1821. In 1822, the Elizabeth, the Harriett, the 
Cotton Plant, and the Tensa were navigating the Alabama, while the 
Torn.beekbte was plymg the Tcmbi^bee River; Mobile Register, June 10, 

-i Cahawbo Press. Anr. 24. 1824. 

-•a Statistics on the r rie for the sws: na 1826-1827 and 1827-1828 col- 
lected from the Mobil' /.' jistcr. 


The number of boats en the rivers increased from year to 
year. In 1823 chore were eleven,- 1 - and by 1826 the number 
had risen to eighteen. -* All or these were vessels of light 
draft, the lightest being used in the Tuscaloosa trade. Cot- 
ton was piled high on the decks and passengers confined close- 
ly to the cabins, which were not commodious. Before reach- 
ing a town, a gun was fired from the deck in order to warn 
the inhabitants of the approach of the vessel. The banks 
of the rivers were generally steep and high, and cotton was 
loaded by sliding it down an inclined piane. The boats fre- 
quently lay to in order ro take on wood, and they always stop- 
ped over night because of the many dangers which were to be 
encountered in the tortuous streams. Striking on a snag and 
sinking was no infrequent occurrence.-"' Twice within the 
same season the "Cotton Plant" succumbed to that fate, but 
each time she was raised and sent on her way. 

In the Tennessee Valley the transportation problem was pe- 
culiar. Huntsville, the largest town in the region, was built 
around a great spring distant some ten miles from the River, 
and at a considerable distance above the Shoals. Florence and 
Tuscumbia grew up where the Natchez Trace crossed the 
Shoals. They had some forwarding business in connection 
with the shipping down the Tennessee, but there was little re- 
turn trade in the early years. 

The first steamboat to reach Florence, as far as records 
show, came in 1821. 20 From that time forward development 
was rapid. It was only the next year that a small vessel, the 
"Rocket," was commissioned to run regularly between Flor- 
ence and the mouth of the River, depositing its cargo at 
Trinity to be forwarded up the Ohio or down the Mississippi 
in larger vessels.- 7 Regular lines were later established to 
connect Tuscumbia with New Orleans and the towns along 
the Ohio.- s 

Commercial conditions in the Tennessee Valley were chang- 
ed by these improvements in communication. The shippers 
above the Shoals continued to send their cotton down in keel 
boats, but after the passage over the rapids, they were often 

23 Mobile Argiis, Oct. 28, 1823. 

-'« Mobile Register, Dec. 19, 182G. 

■-■"' Saxe-Weimar, Travels through North America, I. 32-38. 

-•• Alabama Republican, March 16. 1821. 

-■ Ibid.. Jan. 18, 1822, March 15, 1822. 

-"'Ibid., May IT, 1822; Tuscitmbian, Aug:. 22. 1825, May S, 182G. 


towed to New Orleans by the steamers, or their cargoes were 
transferred to the larger vessels. Freight rates to New Or- 
leans fell from more than a dollar a hundred-weight to eighty 
cents in 1822 and to fifty cents in 1828. J,J 

Keel boats still came to Florence from the upper waters of 
the Ohio, and merchants in the vicinity of Huntsville still 
brought goods down from Nashville; but the steamboats 
which came up to Florence brought large quantities of pro- 
duce from New Orleans, and this came to be the main source 
of supply for the entire Valley region. 

One further advance in transportation facilities was made 
when, in 1828, the little steamer "Atlas" ascended the Shoals 
and began to ply the Tennessee and Holston Rivers between 
the rapids and the town of Knoxville, Tennessee. ::o 

The introduction of steam navigation made more evident 
than ever the desirability of overcoming the obstruction at 
Muscle Shoals by means of a canal. The question was taken 
up by the legislature in 1823 and continued to be discussed 
during following years. Two successive companies were in- 
corporated by the State for the construction of the desired 
canal, but the proposition did not prove sufficiently attract- 
ive to private investors and nothing was accomplished along 
these lines of endeavor. 31 

Hope was aroused in 1824 by an act of Congress which ap- 
propriated money for the survey of an extensive system of in- 
ternal improvements. Calhoun, then Secretary of War, was 
called upon to submit a report on the subject, and the Muscle 
Shoals canal was among the works which he classed as of na- 
tional importance.-- A Government survey was made and a 
report submitted, :;:; but Congress was not acknowledged to 
have the right to appropriate funds for the construction of 
such works, and it seemed that the matter would drop here. 
Yet there was no objection to the donation of land to states 
for the purpose of internal improvements, and in 1828 Con- 
gress granted 400,000 acres of relinquished lands in the Hunts- 
ville district, proceeds from the sale of which were to be ap- 

-'■' Alaba ma Republican, Jan. 18, 1S22; Southern Advocate, March 14, 

30 Southern Advocate, Feb. 15 and March 14, 1828. 

31 Alabama, Acts, 1823, G6-69; Ibid., 1828, 79-86; Southern Advocate, 
March 2, 1827. 

32 American State Pawr?, Military, II, G9S-701. 

:{ 3 American State Papors, Military, IV. 13; Huntsville Democrat, Ju- 
ly 11, 1828. 


plied to the construction of a steamboat canal around the 
shoals. :it 

While the people of the northern section of the State were 
interesting themselves in this project, those of south Alabama 
were working for a canal to connect the waters of the Tennes- 
see with the Alabama River. Such a canal would en- 
able the inhabitants of east Tennessee and west Virginia to 
ship their produce to Mobile, which was a much closer market 
than New Orleans. But the main consideration was that the 
people of south Alabama would be able to purchase their flour, 
whisky, and pork directly from east Tennessee instead of 
having to bring it around by New Orleans and Mobile. 

This plan did not look unreasonable, for the route of the 
canal was to be the portage between the Hiwassee and the 
Coosa, and this covered a distance of only twelve miles, with 
but a moderate elevation to be overcome. The legislature, in 
order to enlist the support of both sections of the State, made 
a practice of dealing with both canal projects at the same 
time. A company was incorporated and empowered to co-op- 
erate with any company which Tennessee should establish for 
the construction of the Coosa-Hiwassee canal, the reason for 
this being that the site of the proposed work lay within the 
lands of the Cherokee Indians above the Tennessee line. 35 

Calhoun, in his report of 1824, considered the Coosa-Hiwas- 
see canal, but classed it as of less national importance than 
that around Muscle Shoals. Though a Government survey 
was made and a report presented, '■"'• the scheme for connecting 
the waters of the Alabama and Tennessee did not recover from 
this set-back, and the Muscle Shoals project forged ahead 
while the other died a lingering death. 

While Alabama was divided into two commercial sections 
by her rivers, the roads which connected her with the rest of 
the country did not tend to draw these two sections together. 
There were two main routes of travel connecting Washington 
with New Orleans: the one which passed through Richmond, 
Raleigh. Columbia, Milledgeville, and Montgomery to Mobile; 
and the one which passed into the Valley of Virginia at Rock- 
fish Gap. threaded the Valley and then followed the course of 
the Holston to Knoxville. From Knoxville, it passed to 
Huntsville, then on to Tuscumbia at Muscle Shoals, and fol- 

34 Statutes at L; r*. v, IV. 290. 
-•'•Alabama. Act-. lS2:i, 62-66. 
" (: House Executive Documents, No. 15, 20 Gong., 2 Sess., Vol. I. 


lowed the Natchez Trace to New Orleans. In addition to 
these, there was one other import;: rU route of travel between 
the East and the Southwest. This was a continuation of the 
National Highway from Cumberland on the Potomac to 
Wheeling. Passing from Zanesville, Ohio, to Maysville, Ken- 
tucky, it ran on through Lexington and Nashville, joining the 
Natchez Trace at Muscle Shoals. 

Most of the travelers journeying from the East to New Or- 
leans took the route through the Southern capitals. Some of 
them, instead of going all the way to Mobile before embark- 
ing, took boat at Montgomery and made the circuitous voyage 
down the river rather than endure longer the hardships of 
the road. Hodgson, who passed this way in 1820, took the 
land route to Mobile, :;T but Lafayette took the water course 
when he came in 1825, :;s and so did the Duke of Saxe-Weimar 
who followed in 1828.™ 

A journey over the roads of that day was a real undertak- 
ing. The traveler had to content himself with log cabin ac- 
commodations as he passed through the forests, and the inns 
of the towns were not attractive. It was a frequent 
occurrence for vehicles to be upset at some danger to life and 
limb, and consequently most of the traveling was done on 
horseback. The building of a road consisted merely in cut- 
ting a passage through the woods, the stumps being left sev- 
eral inches above the ground. Bogs were traversed by cause- 
ways made of small logs placed close together across 
the road with dirt thrown on top. Bridges were not 
ordinarily built across the fordable streams, but ferries were 
established at the crossings of the rivers. 

Instead of going through the Southern capitals, the mail 
from Washington to New Orleans went through the Valley 
of Virginia and by Huntsville until 1827. From Huntsville it 
was carried to Tuscumbia and thence followed the Natchez 
Traced" As far as Huntsville, there was something that could 
be called a road, but the Natchez Trace was reported to be 
nothing more than a broad grass path. 11 The route was cir- 
cuitous, and in 1816 Congress made an appropriation to en- 
able Andrew Jackson to cut a more direct road from Tennes- 

'■'•' Hoderson, Letter* from North America, I. 39 et seq. 
:{lii Levasseur, Lafayette en Ahierique, II. 345. 
-'•'Saxe-Weimar. Travels Through North America, I. 32-38. 

■"' House Reports. N'o. 48, 20 (/one;., 1 Sess., I. ITT,. 
11 Hodgson, Letter* frayn Xe>rth America, I, 273. 


see to New Orleans.'- The troop. 1 ? were employed on this 
work, which was begun in 18 J 7 and completed in 1820. ft 
diverged from the old Trace road at Muscle Shoals, and, pass- 
ing Columbus, Mississippi, on the Tombigbee River, took a 
straight course to Madisonville, opposite New Orleans on Lake 
Ponchartrain. 43 

This Military Road, as it was called, was forty feet wide, 
had bridges over the smaller streams, and well constructed 
causeways over the marshy places. But no provisions were 
made for keeping it in repair, and since the Trace road passed 
through the towns on the Mississippi while the Military Road 
lay through a region large ] y uninhabited, the latter was allow- 
ed to fall into disuse. By 1824 the bridges had mostly been 
washed away and a growth of young trees was flourishing in 
the road itself. Though it was intended that the mail should 
have passed this way to New Orleans, it became necessary 
to cross over below Columbus and continue to take it along 
the old Trace route. 44 

Though the road to Huntsville was at first a mere branch 
of the main thoroughfare between Knoxville and Nashville, 
it afforded a more direct route to New Orleans and this fact 
was recognized by sending the mail this way after 1822. In 
1820 Huntsville was made the terminus of the first stage line 
in Alabama. This connected with the main line between 
Knoxville and Nashville, and at first the service was only once 
a week. 4 " 1 This was increased in 1823 to two trips each way 
every week. 4 ' 1 In 1825 an increase to three trips a week was 
made, and the line was extended to Tuscumbia. 47 Stages also 
connected Tuscumbia with Kentucky and Ohio by the route 
through Zanesville, Lexington, and Nashville. 4S But below 
Tuscumbia, the river did not permit of continuous navigation 
and the Natchez Trace did not permit of stages. Consequent- 

4 2 Statutes at Large, III, 315; American State Papers, Military, IV, 

43 American State Papers, Miscellaneous, II, 537; Alabama Republi- 
can, Dec. 17, x819, and June 9, 1S20; Jackson Papers, Wm, H. Crawford 
to Andrew Jackson, March 8, 1816, W. Young to Jackson, March 14, 

** American State Papers, P. O. Dept., 119-120; Tuscumbian, Nov. 12, 

■*"» Alabama Rcjmblican, May 6, 1K20. 

*« Ibid., Aug. 16 and Sept. 13, 1822. 

*~ Tuscumbian, April 11, 1S25. 

<* American State Papers, P. 0. Dept., 241; Southern Advocate, Sept. 
A, 1827. 


ly, from Tuscumbia to New Orleans the mails were still car- 
ried on horseback. 

The route through the Southern capitals, instead of parallel- 
ing the streams as did the one through Huntsville, crossed 
them and hence was more subject to interruption from swol- 
len waters. Though it lay through more populous com- 
munities than did the western route, the through mail be- 
tween Washington and New Orleans was not carried along it 
until the latter part of 1827. !: ' This accounts for the later 
development of stage facilities on the road between Milledge- 
ville, Montgomery, and Mobile. The first stage route from 
Montgomery eastward was established in 1821. At first only 
one trip a week was made, but this was increased in 1823 to 
two trips weekly. Not until 1826 was there a regular line 
established between Montgomery and Milledgeville giving 
three trips weekly.-"" It was during the next year that the 
through mail to New Orleans began to come this way. It was 
carried from Montgomery to Mobile in two-horse wagons, 
from Mobile to Pascagoula by sulkey. and from Pascagoula to 
New Orleans by steam packet."' 1 

This is as far as the development of transportation through 
Alabama went during the period under review, but a great 
deal of futile discussion was aroused by the Congressional 
act of 1824 which provided for the survey of a system of in- 
ternal improvements. Calhoun, in his report on the subject, 
stated that a highway from Washington to New Orleans would 
be best calculated to further the interests of that section and 
of the country lying south of the Capitol City ; and the survey 
of three separate routes was planned. The first of these was 
to intersect the eastward-flowing rivers at their fall lines: 
the second was to lie between this and the Appalachian Moun- 
tains; and the third was to pass down the valley beyond the 
mountains."- The surveys were accordingly made. The routes 
recommended in the first two cases were already followed by 
lines of travel. The first one lay through the Southern capi- 
tals, passing on to Mobile. The second diverged from this in 
northern Virginia and passed through the piedmont towns of 
Petersburg, Salisbury, Greenville, and Athens, rejoining the 

*n House Reports. No. 4S, 20 Cone:., 1 Sess.. 176. 

•"•" Blue. History of Montgomery, 11-12; Alabama Journal, June 23 and 

'-.i Mobile Register, Nov. 24, 1827; House Reports, No. 63, 20 Cong., 2. 

'^American State Papers, Military, III, 137-138. 


other route near where it entered Alabama. But the third 
route differed from that already established. After passing 
through the valley of Virginia to Knoxville, instead of pro- 
ceeding to Huntsville, it followed the valley of the Tennessee 
to where Chattanooga now stands, then, paralleling Lookout. 
Mountain, passed into the valley of the Cahawba. From 
Centreville, at the falls of the Cahawba, it turned westward 
and passed out of the State by way of Demopolis.""' 

This route followed the course of the rivers and valleys, and, 
theoretically, was perhaps the best. But it had the disad- 
vantage of Jackson's Military Road in that it did not follow 
an established route of travel. The Huntsville people pro- 
claimed loudly that the route through their town should be 
surveyed, and they had their way. 54 The mail then took this 
course to New Orleans, and the Postmaster General favored 
the route. After the survey was made, no further action was 
ever taken. The Old South stood opposed to the policy of in- 
ternal improvements, and, shortly, with Jackson's aid, it was 
able to restrain the desires of those who would have the gen- 
eral Government construct a system of communication for the 

Commercially distant as were the two sections of Alabama, 
there was necessarily some communication between them. The 
first route traveled from north to south seems to have been 
the portage between the Muscle Shoals and the head of navi- 
gation on the Tombigbee at Cotton Gin Port. Pioneers floating 
down the Tennessee took this trail in order to reach the settle- 
ments in the neighborhood of St. Stephens.""' Jackson, in 
the Creek War, cut a road from Huntsville southward through 
the country east of the Coosa River and on to the place where 
Fort Jackson was established at the confluence of the Coosa 
with the Tallapoosa."'" By this route travelers were enabled 
to reach the Federal Road in the neighborhood of Montgom- 

Yet there was but one passage between north and south 
Alabama which came to be traveled with frequency, and that 

">■•* House Executive Documents, No. 156, 19 Cone:., 1 Sess., IX; House 
Reports, No. 4S, 20 Cone., 1 Sess.. I; American State Papers, Military, 
III, 109; Huntsville Dome rot, Sept. 7, 1S27. 

54 House Executive Documents. No. 125. 20 Cong,, 1 Sess., Ill; South- 
ern Adroc-te; Jan. 13, 1826, letter from Gabriel Moore. 

r.r. pickett, Historv of Alabama. 466-479. 

•"'• Streit, MamkfH Cr.unty, VIII. 


was the one which led from Himisviiie through Jones Valley 
to Tuscaloosa at the head of navigation on the Black Warri- 
or. 57 The road through the Valley was good, and much pro- 
duce came down from Tennessee and reached central and 
southern Alabama by this way, 58 

5T Warden, United States, III, 39. 

5$ Alabama Republican, March J. 1822. 

Chapter IX. 


The lack of a well developed financial system in the United 
States rendered commercial transactions much more compli- 
cated in the 'twenties than similar business would be today. 
Instead of a currency resting upon the credit of the Govern- 
ment and of uniform value, there were only bank notes, the 
value of which depended upon the credit of the issuing banks. 

The first Bank of the United States had done much to stabi- 
lize the condition of the currency, but this institution had gone 
out of operation in 1811 and the end of the War of 1812 found 
the country flooded with paper money which was no longer 
redeemed in specie by the banks which issued it. It was during 
this period that settlers began to find their way into the Ala- 
bama country in increasing numbers, and practically the 
only money which permeated this frontier consisted of the 
depreciated notes of the banks of Georgia. 1 

It has been explained- how the state banks were forced to 
resume specie payments when the second Bank of the United 
States went into operation in 1817, and how the immigrants to 
Alabama were supplied with funds by the numerous new banks 
which sprang up in Tennessee and Kentucky in 1818. But 
the financial stress of 1819 caused these institutions to close 
their doors and leave their notes to circulate at a depreciated 
value in the western country. 

In 1816 the legislature of Mississippi Territory had charter- 
ed the Merchants' and Planters' Bank of Huntsville, and in 
1818 the Tombeckbee Bank of St. Stephens and the Bank of 
Mobile were chartered by the Alabama Territory. The two 
last-named of these institutions were not seriously affected 
by the events in Tennessee, for there were few commercial 
ties between south Alabama and that State ; but the interests 
of the Huntsville region were closely bound up with those of 
the region to the northward, and the Huntsville bank was 
necessarily influenced by the affairs of the banks of Tennes- 

I Riley, Conecuh County, 22-25. 
-• Chapter VI. 


The West was a debtor section ; it owed for lands, for slaves, 
for goods. The East was creditor and had to be paid. But 
when the banks of Tennessee suspended specie payments, 
their notes were no longer available for remittance to the 
East. One way around the difficulty lay in purchasing 
Huntsville notes with the Tennessee notes, and drawing spe- 
cie on the former. This was done, and so great was the drain 
on the specie reserve of the Huntsville bank that it felt itself 
forced to suspend payments in 1820. 3 Its notes continued to be 
used, but they fell below par and usually circulated on an 
equality with notes from Tennessee. Specie and the notes of 
specie-paying banks, being at a premium, ceased to pass from 
hand to hand, and north Alabama was left with a depreciated 
currency. 4 

The value of a bank note depended not only upon the solvency 
of the issuing institution, but upon the chance of presenting 
it for payment in specie. Thus the value of a note in a locality 
at some distance from the place of issue would depend upon 
the commercial relations between the two places. If the mer- 
chants who held the notes had no remittances to make to the 
place where they could be redeemed, they would have to bear 
the expense of sending them for redemption and bringing back 
the specie. The value of the notes would be diminished by 
the amount of this expense. If, for instance, it cost five per 
cent, to collect in this way, notes would be worth only ninety- 
five per cent, of their face value. But if the merchants had 
remittances to make, notes would be more convenient for that 
purpose than specie and they would command their full value. 
In fact, if the remittance to be made outran the supply of 
notes, the value of these might rise above their face value Dy 
the amount that it would cost to ship specie in their stead. 
For instance, if it cost three dollars to send a hundred in spe- 
cie, a hundred dollar note would be worth a hundred and three 
dollars to a merchant who had remittances to make. 

This situation is brought out by the condition of affairs in 
Alabama. The Georgia and South Carolina notes, which 
formed the bulk of currency in the southern part of the State 
were worth about four per cent, less than specie in the Ten- 
nessee Valley because there was very little business between 

3 American State Papers, Finance, III, 7Go-7G6. 

* Alabama Republican, Sept, 22. 1X20, advertisement of P. Yeatman 
& Co.; Ibid., Oct. 6, 1820; also statistics a llected on bank note exchange 
from newspapers. 


that section and the country directly to the south or east of it. 
The notes of New Orleans banks were usually on a par with 
these because the cotton sent down to the City was more than 
sufficient to cover all remittances for goods. But, on the oth- 
er hand, the notes on Virginia banks and on the banks of Bal- 
timore, Philadelphia, and New York were always nearly 
equal to specie because the Tennessee Valley imported 
its manufactured goods through the Eastern cities 
and obtained its agricultural produce from the Ohio 
River region and from Tennessee. Eastern notes could be 
used to pay the East directly, or they could be employed with 
equal facility to pay the West, for the latter section was in 
debt to the former and anxious to have funds for remittance. 5 

So difficult was communication between the two sections of 
the State that the trade of the southern section was entirely 
distinct from that of the northern. Not only did the towns 
along the rivers send their cotton down to Mobile, but the cen- 
tral hilly region also forwarded its crop by way of Tuscaloosa 
and Montgomery. Some of the staple was shipped directly 
from Mobile to European ports, but the greater part of it went 
to Eastern cities, principally New York/' An amount almost 
as great, consisting largely of the best grades, which could 
be passed off as the Louisiana product, was sent to New Or- 
leans to pay for the corn, pork, flour, and whisky which came 
down from the Ohio River region and which were purchased by 
the merchants of Mobile to be sent up the Alabama and Tom- 
bigbee Rivers to the interior of the State. 7 

In the trade between Mobile and the Eastern cities, there 
was a balance in favor of Mobile, more cotton being shipped 
than was necessary to pay for the imports which were receiv- 
ed in return. As a result, there was a balance due the South- 
ern merchants which had to be paid in cash. But in the trade 
with New Orleans the cotton shipped was not sufficient to 
pay for the produce that was imported, and the Mobile mer- 
chants had to use their cash to pay the difference.^ In other* 
words, the money which the planters of southern Alabama re- 
ceived for their cotton was spent largely in payment for corn, 

5 Statistics on bank note exchange in Huntsville and Tuscumbia, col- 
lected from newspapers. 

•'• Mobile Register, Oct. 5. 1S24. Exports for the year 1824 included 
14.900 baler of cotton to New York. 13,094 to New Orleans, and 8,778 to 

r Mobile Register, Nov. 7. 1822; Feb. 17. L824. 

^ Biddle Papers, John Hunter to Nicholas Diddle, Jan. 6, 1827. 


pork, flour, and whisky which were brought down the Ohio 
and Cumberland Rivers to New Orleans, and shipped thence to 

The larger planters usually went down to Mobile once a 
year to transact their business with the merchants of the port ; 
but the smaller producers had to do their business with coun- 
try merchants who bought their goods in Mobile and trans- 
ported them to the interior. These merchants did a local 
"factorage" business, which consisted in "advancing" supplies 
to farmers and taking their cotton in payment when the crop 
was made, a balance being struck once a year. The trans- 
actions between the larger planters and the merchants in the 
principal towns were perhaps frequently on this same basis. !> 
This was the method whereby the cotton producer secured 
capital to finance his operations throughout the year. This cap- 
ital was obtained from the local merchants in the first in- 
stance, but these dealers were financed by the Eastern mer- 
chants for whom they purchased the staple; and in this way 
the East furnished capital for the production of cotton. 

During the early 'twenties, when the country was just be- 
ing opened up, money was scarce in southern Alabama and 
many complaints were heard upon the subject ; 10 yet the 
notes of the local banks, as well as those of South Carolina 
and Georgia, furnished a sound, though limited, currency. 11 
So complete was the commercial separation between the two 
sections of the State, that each kept to its own medium of ex- 
change with practically no interference from the other. Aft- 

f > See The Cotton Factorage System of th.c Southern States, by Alfred 
H. Stone, American Historical Review, XX, 557-565. This system came 
to be the usual practice, but whether it was completely developed during 
the 'twenties cannot be stated definitely. Merchants frequently adver- 
tised that they would advance on cotton turned over to them for ship- 
ment, but a committee of the legislature estimated in 1826 that two-thirds 
of the cotton shipped to Mobile was sold by the negotiation of bills of 
exchange, and the banks of that town did a large business in such paper. 
The fact that the planters received payments in these bills indicates that 
the local merchants were hardly more than purchasing agents for their 
Eastern correspondents. 

Another indication of sales on a cash basis is the prevalence of auc- 
tions in Mobile at this time. It was customary to beat a drum as an 
announcement of the sale, and the noise made in this way came to be 
such a nuisance that complaint was made in the newspapers. But coun- 
try merchants doubtless made advances to the small producers in their 
neighborhood from the very first. See Alabama, House Journal, 1826. 
80; Southern Advocate, May 12. 1826; Mobile Register, April 21, 1823, 
and Jan. 17, 1824. 

i" Alabama, Senate Journal, 1819, 188-190. 

n American State Papers, Finance., IV, 745. 


er business conditions became more settled, the notes of South 
Carolina and Georgia banks ceased to pass at their face value 
because of the lack of trade between Mobile and those states. 
A currency sufficient for practical purposes was furnished 
by local banks, the Bank of the United States, and the New 
Orleans banks. 1 - 

The specie foundation upon which all these notes rested was 
very slight, judged by modern standards of safety. Both 
gold and silver were legal tender, according to law, but ac- 
cording to the market prices of the metals, a gold dollar was 
worth more than was one of silver. The result of this situation 
was that silver passed from hand to hand, while gold was 
withdrawn from circulation and a premium had to be paid to 
obtain it. 

But even silver was scarce. There had been a profit made 
out of sending silver dollars to Latin-American countries and 
exchanging them on equal terms for the Spanish dollars, or 
pieces of eight reals, which were a little heavier. These for- 
eign coins were brought back and melted down because the 
silver in them was worth a little more than a dollar according 
to our monetary standard. Hence there was left for circula- 
tion in this country only the Spanish dollars which were too 
light to afford a profit in the bullion market, and a certain 
amount of fractional Spanish coin. 

This situation had caused Jefferson to suspend the coinage 
of silver dollars in 1806 and none had been produced since. 1 '- 
Spanish, Mexican, and other foreign coins made up our supply 
of specie, and it afforded a very light reserve against the 
notes which were issued by the banks, nor were there nearly 
enough of the smaller coins to serve the ordinary purposes of 
trade. A remedy was sought in the issue of "change tickets," 
which were merely bits of paper purporting to be worth 
twenty-five, fifty or seventy-five cents. They were signed 
by the issuer and were supposed to be redeemable for specie, 
but, since there was a demand for them, they were expected 
to remain afloat. This was a very profitable form of printing 
and it was indulged in by business houses and municipal au- 
thorities. 14 The irregularity in the issuance of such tickets 
made this practice a great nuisance to the community. For- 
geries were easy, and the country was flooded with the paper 

12 Mobile Register, Oct. 29, 1823, and Aug. 30, 1828. 
18 White, Moi c i ■< nd Banking, 33-34. 
i-» Alabama Republican, Nov. 10, 1820. 


of various uncertain houses. These considerations finally in- 
duced the State to take the matter up ; the issuance of change 
tickets by private firms was forbidden and the government 
undertook to furnish the people with a lawful supply. 1 ' 

Such was the condition of the currency in Alabama ; but the 
man who had cotton to sell was affected not only by local con- 
ditions, but by national and international trade relations as 
well. The crop of Alabama was sold largely through Mobile 
and New Orleans merchants, who in turn disposed of the bulk 
of it, directly or indirectly, in the British market. The Amer- 
ican merchant collected his account by drawing a bill of ex- 
change on the British purchaser and disposing of this to some 
other American merchant who was in need of funds to remit 
to England. 

During the period following the War of 1812, America was 
importing more than she was exporting and the bills of ex- 
change drawn by exporters were not sufficient to meet the 
demand of the importers who needed funds for remittance. 
Th result was that some of the importers had to send gold to 
pay their debt and this operation cost about ten per cent. It 
normally cost only about five per cent, to ship gold to England, 
but that country was on a gold basis and nothing but silver 
was circulating in this country. Consequently, the man who 
had a remittance to make in specie had to take silver at the 
current rate and purchase gold with it at about five per cent, 
advance. This premium on gold, added to the expense of 
shipment, accounts for the ten per cent.' which it cost to send 
specie to London. Now the man who could buy a bill of ex- 
change on London to cover his debt was willing to pay — and 
the competition for such bills forced him to pay — a premium 
of about ten per cent, over its face value. 11 ' 

The Mobile merchants usually transacted their foreign bus- 
iness through New York firms, and received the proceeds of 
their foreign exchange in drafts on New York. Since, after 
the first few years of expansion, the cotton crop of south Ala- 
bama brought in more of these than could be used for remit- 
tances to New York, the balance had to be sent for collection 
in specie, and it cost about three per cent, to bring the specie 
from New York to Mobile. Hence New York paper passed 
at about three per cent, below its face value in the Alabama 
port, and the local merchant, not caring to stand the loss of 

i"'Ibid., May 18, 1821. June 29, 1821; Cahawba Press, June 8, 1822. 
i ,; Statistics on London exchange, collected from newspapers; Ala- 
bama Republican, Feb. 12, 1822, extract from the Xatiotutl Gazette. 


the three per cent., made a practice of remitting to the plant- 
er in New York funds, leaving- the latter to pay the cost of 
converting them into current money. 17 Yet, as a total result, 
there was a gain of about seven per cent, to the cotton pro- 
ducer because of the condition of trade-balance between the 
cotton region and the East on the one hand, and between this 
Country and England on the other. 

It must not be understood from this discussion, however, 
that there was a trade balance in favor of Alabama as against 
the rest of the world and that specie was pouring in. While 
money was coming in from New York, it was all going out in 
other directions, and the State was accumulating no capital in 
cash. Like all newly opened country, Alabama was in debt. 18 
The settlers owed for their lands and slaves, and for consum- 
able goods. What they made from their crops, they invested 
in their establishments and there was no capital for commerci- 
al enterprises. This was doubtless due largely to the fact 
that cotton planting was the only occupation which w T as sure 
to give social prestige. Merchandising was carried on to a 
large extent by men from the North, and it was not regarded 
with great esteem by the agricultural community. The mer- 
chant was likely to be looked upon by the planter as a grasping 
inferior, while the poor man was apt to consider him an eco- 
nomic enemy. 

Speculation, land grabbing, and graft of all kinds were the 
necessary accompaniments of a rush into new country 
where all were scrambling for a place and where the strong 
could use his strength to greatest advantage against the weak. 
The man without capital was largely at the mercy of him who 
had it. as is well illustrated by the situation in regard to the 
sale of the public lands. 

The planter who bought his land and settled down to the 
business of raising cotton was not looked on with disfavor by 
any part of. the people, for his profits did not come from his 
neighbors. But the man who used his capital in a commercial 
w r ay made his profits largely out of the community, and he 
often made too much. Thus the poorer men frequently looked 
with suspicion upon those who did business with them, which 
fact manifests itself forcibly in connection with the banking 

IT Alabama. Honse Journal, 1826, 80; American State Papers, Finance, 
III, Tt>2; statistics on domestic exchange, collected from newspapers. 
t* Alabama, Senate Journal, 1821, 21, Message of Governor Pickens. 

Chapter X. 


The money which cotton brought into Alabama during the 
'twenties went out largely through the land offices and for 
slaves, and the State was left without commercial capital. 
Funds were needed to finance the cotton crop ; to promote ag- 
ricultural expansion ; and, especially, to furnish the basis for a 
sufficient circulating medium. The first of these needs was 
met by the New York cotton dealers, for they financed mer- 
chants in the South who bought the staple on their account; 
agricultural expansion was provided for by the planter's rein- 
vestment of his profits ; but there seemed to be no means of 
securing a sufficient circulating medium except- by local 
banks, and this expedient was resorted to. 

The difficult problem was to obtain sufficient capital for 
investment in banking enterprises. As such institutions are 
conducted today, with solid value behind their paper dollars, 
they do not add greatly to the capital of the community, being 
merely organizations for its efficient use. If this had been 
the case in 1820, they would not have met the requirements of 
the Southwest. A multiplication of capital was expected of 
them — the creation of money where none existed before. Yet 
promising as were the prospects of these money-making ma- 
chines, men would have invested their funds in lands rather 
than Ln banks had they not expected to borrow more than they 
put in — so great was the lure of cotton in the eyes of the 
planting community. This situation must be understood be- 
fore the bank question can be made clear. 

The charter of the Merchants' and Planters' Bank of Hunts- 
ville was granted by the legislature of Mississippi Territory 
in 1816, while the Mobile and St. Stephens banks were grant- 
ed theirs by the legislature of Alabama Territory in 1818. yet 
the provisions of all three documents were very similar. The 
capital of each institution was limited to half a million dol- 
lars, a minority of which was reserved to the territorial gov- 
ernment in each cat;e; no interest over six per cent, might be 
charged; and the i>sne of notes was not to exceed three times 


the amount of capital actually paid in. 1 This last provision 
indicates that the authorities were more solicitous for a cur- 
rency than they were for financial safety. They evidently 
expected the banks to be money-manufacturing institutions, 
and their hopes were not disappointed. 

In September, 1818, the Tombeckbee Bank, of St. Stephens, 
went into operation with only $7,700 of its stock subscribed 
for. Israel Pickens, a lawyer of St. Stephens, and register 
of the land office there, was elected president; and George S. 
Gaines, for a long time factor for the Choctaw Indians, was 
chosen secretary.- In January, 1820, Pickens wrote to the 
Secretary of the Treasury that the Mobile Bank had but a 
nominal existence. He stated that that institution, which had 
been chartered in 1818, had had $70,000 subscribed to its cap- 
ital, and that one-eighth of this, or about $8,000 had been 
paid in specie. An agent was sent North with a part of this 
sum to secure the materials for putting the bank in opera- 
tion, but while he was gone, the bank's balance was lost by 
robbery. Now the agents of the Mobile institution were sup- 
posed to be drawing upon the Tombeckbee Bank for specie 
with which to put their corporation on its feet. 3 

Meantime, the Huntsville bank, being an older institution, 
was doing business in a larger way. In August, 1819, it had 
a capital of $164,000 and had discounted to the extent of 
$408,000.' The Secretary of the Treasury wrote to Leroy 
Pope, president of this bank,"- as well as to the president of 
the Tombeckbee Bank,' ; and expostulated on the reckless way 
in which their affairs were being conducted ; but no practical 
reform was effected. Demand for accommodation was great, 
capital was limited, and the temptation to profit was too 
strong to be withstood. 

The first evident result of this situation was the suspen- 
sion of specie payments by the Huntsville bank in 1820. It 
has already been explained how the suspension of payments 
by the Tennessee banks in 1819 was followed by a drain of 
specie from the Huntsville bank, which was too heavy for an 
institution whose circulation far exceeded its specie reserve. 7 

1 Toulmin, Alabama Code of 1823. 

2 American State Papers, Finance, III, 767-7(38. 
•"• American State Papers, Finance, IV, 740. 

« Ibid., Ill, 778-782. 

■> Ibid., Finannce, HI. 7C4. 

'■Ibid., Finance, ill, 108. 

7 Ibid., Finance. Ill, 7;>o-7t!G. 


It was believed, however, that the bank was sound, and its 
notes continued to circulate on a par with those of the Teiv 
nessee banks, and the two together made up the currency of 
northern Alabama. 

On account of the lack of commercial relations between the 
two sections of the State, this financial trouble did not com- 
municate itself to the south, where the two local banks con- 
tinued to pay specie and where the bulk of the circulation con- 
sisted of notes of the solvent banks of Georgia. The equilib- 
rium of Alabama would hardly have been disturbed had not 
the situation developed a political as well as a commercial 
phase. As long as the Huntsville bank paid specie on its 
notes, they were, of course received by the State in payment 
of taxes. But when the bank suspended payments, the legis- 
lature refused to debar its notes from acceptance. s The re- 
sult of this was that all who could procure the depreciated 
notes turned them in to the Treasury instead of sound funds, 
and the entire community suffered by the situation. In ad- 
dition to this, the legislature, during the same session, emit- 
ted an issue of treasury notes which were made payable in 
Huntsville currency. The natural result was that they at once 
fell to a par with the Huntsville notes, and the State lost the 

Though the legislature could hardly have misunderstood the 
inevitable result of the course which it took in this matter, 
the Governor defended its action by arguing that the people 
of northern Alabama could not secure other funds than the 
notes of the Huntsville bank, and that it would be unjust to re- 
fuse to let them pay their taxes with this money.'-' This gover- 
nor was not the William Wyatt Bibb who had presided over the 
Territory of Alabama and had been elected to the chief of- 
fice under the new State government. He had died in 1820 
from the effects of a fall from his horse, and was succeeded 
by his brother. Thomas Bibb, president of the State Senate. 10 
It is interesting to note in this connection that Thomas Bibb 
was a director of the Huntsville bank in 1823. n 

This confusion in financial affairs brought out more strong- 
ly than ever the desire for a State bank. The three private 
banks in operation had been chartered under territorial gov- 

8 Cahawba Press, Oct. 15, 1S21. 
r ' Alabama, Senate J uirnal, 1821, 8-9. 
i° Pickett. History oi Alabenna, 666-668. 
11 Huntsville Demnr.rct, Dec. 16, 182.". 


ernment and there was no intention of chartering any new 
ones under the State. The constitution provided for a bank 
of the Commonwealth, and efforts were soon on foot to found 
such an institution. 

The first step in this direction was taken by the legislature 
in 1820. Provision was made for a State bank with a capital 
of two million dollars. Half of the stock was to be reserved 
to the State and the government was to choose the president 
and six of the twelve directors, thus controlling the institu- 
tion. 1 - Books were opened for public subscription, but no 
capital was found for investment in such a bank, and the 
scheme fell through. 1 '- 

But the idea was not abandoned. In 1821 Israel Pickens 
succeeded Thomas Bibb as Governor. Pickens came to Ala- 
bama from North Carolina in 1817. having served his native 
State in Congress since 1811. 'It has been mentioned that he 
took up his residence at St. Stephens and became president of 
the Tombeckbee Bank. Before Bibb retired from office, com- 
missioners had been appointed by the legislature to negotiate 
with the private banks and to discover on what terms they 
would be willing to become branches of a State bank. 14 The 
constitution had provided that such an arrangement might be 
made, and, since other capital did not seem to be obtainable, 
the idea of founding a State institution through the instru- 
mentality of those already existing appealed to many. A bill 
for carrying this plan into effect was passed by the legislature, 
but was vetoed by Governor Pickens at the inception of his 
term of office. 1 " If allowed to become law, this measure would 
have committed the credit of the State into the hands of a 
few bankers without any careful scrutiny of their affairs. 
Considering the way in which the private banks of Alabama 
had been conducted, such a move would have been dangerous, 
to say the least. There were many who praised Pickens for 
stepping in to prevent it and there were many who blamed 
him for his action. 

The political division in Alabama had previously been due 
to the rivalry between the north and the south of the State, 
or to the antagonism which grew up against those Georgia 
men who, through the friendship of William H. Crawford, en- 

12 Toulmin. Alabama Code of 1823. 
>» Alabama Republican, June 29, 1821. 
i * Alabama, Senate Journal, 1V21. 8-9. 
'•"Alabama, House Journal, 1821. 227. 


joyed a practical monopoly of the Federal patronage. Now the 
bank question was injected into the midst of the situation. 

Though Pickens was not a Georgia man, his being made 
register of the land office at St. Stephens would indicate that 
he was not at odds with them. It is significant that in 1819 
he wrote a letter endorsing Dr. Henry Chambers, who was 
running against Col. John Crowell for the seat in the Lower 
House of Congress. 10 Dr. Chambers was from the Tennes- 
see Valley and represented the Georgia faction, while Crow- 
ell was from the southern part of the State and not a Georgia 
man. In 1821 it was Chambers who opposed Pickens for the 
governorship, but he was a weak candidate and carried only 
a few of the counties in his own section. 17 

No political issues seem to have been brought forward in 
this campaign. The question of the currency and the State 
bank was before the people and had been discussed at random, 
but no definite line of action had been proposed. Pickens' 
attitude on the subject does not appear to have been canvassed, 
but he no sooner took his stand than a general agitation be- 

The Huntsville bank had profited, or was thought to have 
profited, at the expense of the people of the State, and the 
capital of this institution was largely in the hands of men 
from Georgia. The feeling against the bank was added to the 
feeling against the Crawford faction, and those who shared 
these sentiments rose up to proclaim Pickens the man who had 
saved his State from the hands of the spoilers. 18 

The veto of the charter was followed by an attack on the 
Huntsville bank. Its notes were debarred from acceptance 
in payment of debts to the State, 10 and this, together with the 
failure of the prospect that the institution would become a 
branch of the State bank, led to a rapid decline in their value. 
In all this, the newspapers of the State, which were edited 
largely by Adams men, supported the act of the Governor, the 
Alabama Republican, of Huntsville, being a notable exception. 

But when it came to the constructive side of Pickens' pro- 
gram, there was a greater difference of opinion. Private 
capital had failed to come to the support of the State man- 
aged bank in 1820, and the existing banks were not to be trust- 

16 Cahaicba Press, July 30, 1821. 
i" Alabama House Journal, 1822, 25. 

is Cahawba Press, Feb. 4. 1822, April 27, 1S22, May 25, 1S22; St. Ste- 
phens Halcyon, Feb. 9. 1822. 

l» Huntsville Democrat, July 20, 1824. 


ed with the destinies of a public institution. There was but one 
other possible chance, and the Governor set his face in that di- 
rection: the State was to furnish its own capital and direct 
its own bank for the benefit of the people. For procuring the 
necessary funds, the State had but one recourse: the lands 
which had been granted to it by the National Government. It 
was proposed that the proceeds from the sale of these lands be 
invested in the bank and that six per cent, interest be paid on 
the funds and devoted to the purpose for which the original 
grants had been made. The management of the institution 
was to be in the i hands of a president and board of directors 
chosen by the legislature. 20 

The bearing of such a proposition in a State where the ma- 
jorify of the people were hard-pressed for money can easily 
be understood. Those who had some capital and a fairly in- 
telligent interest in economic affairs would oppose it. Those 
who had no capital, wanted cheap money, and knew little of 
business methods, would favor it with all the ardor of frontier 
democracy. In other words, here was the material for a po- 
litical cleavage along economical lines, but the Governor who 
gave the popular party its rallying-ground was not a Jackson 

Discussion of the question went on with unabated earnest- 
ness, but without practical results, during the whole of Pick- 
ens' first term in office. The Alabama Republican, of Hunts- 
ville, showed an unmistakable leaning toward the private 
banks, while the Mobile papers contended for a commercial 
rather than a democratic institution. It was argued with 
reason that unless the bank was located at the center of trade, 
its notes would not circulate at par at any distance from the 
place where they were issued and could be redeemed. 21 It was 
also questioned whether a bank would be efficiently adminis- 
tered under the auspices of the legislature. But the striking 
feature in the discussion was the appearance of a new paper 
in Huntsville called the Democrat, and edited by a man from 
Kentucky. In the fall of 1823 this publication suddenly came 
forward and announced itself the champion of "the peo- 
ple." 22 The people had been without a leader, it said, and had 
suffered many things at the hands of the aristocrats. The 

20 Alabama, Senate Journal, 1821, 27-34; House Journal, 1822, 9 et seq. 

21 Alabama Republican, Aue. 24, 1821; Mobile Are/us, Nov. 6, 1823; 
Mobile Advertiser, Dec. 15, 1823. 

22 Alabama Republican, Oct. 17, 1823. 


president of the Huntsville bank was accused of several kinds 
of rascality, and the administration of the corporation was 
condemned as a robbery of the poor. It was alleged that cot- 
ton had been shipped to New York, sold there for sound mon- 
ey and the proceeds brought back to Huntsville and exchanged 
by the bank for its own notes, which it took at a discount. 23 
This process was known as "shaving," and the term "shavers" 
was applied in opprobrium to those connected with the bank. 
Color is lent to charges of this kind by the fact that 
Pope, the president of the bank, who was also pension agent, 
paid pensioners in the depreciated notes of his institution, and 
was for this dismissed from his office by the Treasury De- 
partment. 24 

Pickens was again candidate for the governorship in 1823. 
The bank question was made a leading issue of the campaign, 25 
and his second election was followed shortly by the incorpor- 
ation of the Bank of the State of Alabama. The capital was 
to be derived from the sale of lands donated to the State for 
the founding of a university, from the 1640 acres donated for 
a seat of government, from the three per cent, which was giv- 
en out of the sales of Federal lands for the purpose of con- 
structing roads within the State, and from several minor 
sources. The amount of university money which could be in- 
vested in this manner was limited to $100,000, and $100,000 
additional was to be borrowed on the credit of the State. It 
was provided that six per cent, was to be paid on all funds, 
and the interest on the university fund, the "three per cent." 
fund, and other special funds, was to be devoted to the object 
for which the original donations had been made. The bank 
was to be founded at the seat of government, the president 
and directors were to be chosen by the legislature, and all dis- 
counts were to be apportioned among the several counties in 
proportion to their representation in the legislature. 20 In 
the Senate, the vote on this measure was thirteen to six, those 
who were in the negative coming from the more commercial 
communities. 27 

23 Huntsville Democrat, Oct. 14, 1823; Alabama Republican, Dec. 12, 

24 Huntsville Democrat, March 30, 1824; Franklin Enquirer, Apr. 7, 

25 Alabama Republican, June 13, 1823; Mobile Argus, July 22, 1823. 
2«: Act. of Dec. 20. 1823. 

-" Alabama, Senate Journal, 1823, 65. 


In July, 1824, the bank was organized with a capital slightly 
in excess of $200,000. half ot which was derived from the* re- 
sources of the State, and the other half of which was borrow- 
ed. 28 Its discounts soon exceeded its capital, and its notes be- 
,gan to constitute an appreciable part of the local circulation. 

This addition to the amount of available money came at an 
opportune time, for several of the older issues of notes were 
shortly withdrawn from general use. The war against the 
Huntsville bank was carried on until 1825, when, on account 
of its failure to redeem a pledge to resume specie payments, 
its charter was annulled, 2 '- and though all its notes were not 
withdrawn, they ceased to form any appreciable part of the 
circulating medium of the Tennessee Valley. 

The Tennessee notes, which made up the greater part of the 
currency of this section, circulated in abundance as 
long as they were not redeemable, for Eastern merchants who 
collected debts in Tennessee funds found it profitable to pur- 
chase cotton with them rather than to take them into a part 
of the country where they were at a great discount. 30 But in 
1826, the Tennessee banks resumed specie payments and their 
notes ceased to circulate extensively in Alabama. 31 Thus the 
Huntsville region was left almost destitute of a currency, and 
"change tickets" appeared in great numbers in spite of the 
fact that their issuance was illegal. 32 A planter who sold his 
cotton in New Orleans and received a draft on New York in 
payment could realize cash on his paper by exchanging it in 
Nashville for "post notes" issued by the firm of Yeatman and 
Woods. These notes were made payable in Philadelphia sev- 
eral months after date, which arrangement put them at a dis- 
count and kept them in circulation, so that they came to make 
up a large part of the currency in northern Alabama. 33 

In the meantime, the southern part of the State was having 
its troubles. In 1826 the United States Bank established a 
branch at Mobile in spite of the protests of those who believed 
that it would be a menace to the Bank of Alabama. 34 The 

2$ Alabama, Senate Journal, 1824, 7. 

2» Alabama, Senate Journal, 1825; 10; Alabama Republican, Feb. 18, 

so Huntsville Democrat, April 27, 1S24. 

Si Southern Advocate, Sept. 8, 1826. Sept. 15, 1826. 

32 Huntsville Democrat, March 9, 1827. 

33 Southern Advocate, Jan. 5, 1827. 

••:* Mobile Register, Nov. 18, 1826; Alabama Journal, May 6, 1826; Ala- 
bama, Senate Journal, 1826, 9. 


branch bank refused to receive the notes of the local banks, 
but made an exception in the case of the Mobile bank provid- 
ed that it would redeem its obligations at frequent intervals. 
In turn, the Mobile bank, in order to protect itself, refused to 
receive the notes of the St. Stephens bank and of the State 
bank unless they would -redeem them at frequent intervals in 
Mobile. This was necessary because there was a flow of cur- 
rency from the interior toward Mobile, but no counter-flow 
to balance the situation. The State bank made terms, but the 
St. Stephens bank refused to do so and seems to have damaged 
its credit by the stand which it took. At any rate, it closed 
its doors in 1827 and its notes ceased to pass as currency. 35 

By 1828 the capital of the State bank had increased to 
$409,000, and arrangements were made for borrowing an- 
other $100, 000. 30 In addition to this, permission had been 
obtained from Congress for selling the sixteenth section in 
each township which had been donated for the establishment 
of public schools, and provision was made by the legislature 
for investing the proceeds in the bank. 37 The discounts of 
the institution were now more than $600,000 ; its notes in cir- 
culation amounted to $395,000; and its cash funds to $294,- 
000. 3S Here was an establishment of portentous possibilities. 

35 Alabama, Senate Journal, 1827, 184-185; Huntsville Democrat, April 
13, 1827; Mobile Register, June 25, 1828. 

36 Act. of Jan. 12, 1828. 

37 American State Papers, Lands, VI, 891; Sotithern Advocate, Feb. 1. 

3S Alabama, Senate Journal, 1828, 18. 

Chapter XI 


Something has been said of the influence of Georgia on the 
early politics of Alabama. It remains to trace the conse- 
quences of the situation. The fraudulent Yazoo land specu- 
lation had split the former state into two factions ; those who 
attacked and annulled the sales were led by General James 
Jackson, while the defenders adhered to General Elijah Clarke. 
In time the leadership of the Jackson party passed into the 
hands of William H. Crawford, while the opposition was main- 
tained by John Clarke, son of the General. 1 

Between these factions there were no standing political dif- 
ferences, but the rivalry between the leaders on each side was 
backed by certain economic and sectional differences be- 
tween their respective followings. There had been two cen- 
ters of settlement in Georgia : one along the tide-water region 
where sea-island cotton formed the basis for a planting 
aristocracy; and the other in the piedmont region where the 
Savannah River cut through the red hills and afforded trans- 
portation facilities for planters of upland cotton. The older 
settlements were those of the tide-water region, but after the 
Revolution, while upland cotton was coming into its own, num- 
erous emigrants had come from Virginia and North Carolina 
and established themselves in the piedmont section. Elbert 
County came to be a center of Virginia influence, while Wilkes 
County, just to the northward, came to be a center of North 
Carolina influence. A marked rivalry grew up between the 
two groups of settlers, both of which tended toward exclusive- 

James Jackson, and later, Troup, stood for the tide-water 
aristocracy, while Clarke represented the plain men of the 
frontier sections of the State. Crawford was a Virginian of 
the piedmont section, and his co-operation with Jackson 
brought about an alliance of the two groups which they repre- 
sented. The North Carolinians were thus thrown into the 
arms of the Clarke party. 

1 On the subiect of rVie Georgia parties, see U. B. Phillips, Georgia and 
State Rights, Chap. IY; 


The majority of the leading men of the State were of the 
Crawford faction and for a long time they succeeded in main-, 
taining political control. When the new lands in Alabama 
were opened up, however, the exodus of cotton planters was a 
severe blow to the party. A substantial number of wealthy 
Georgians, including Leroy Pope and his son-in-law, John W. 
Walker, had gone from Elbert County and established Hunts- 
ville in 1809 and 1810. But it was in 1817 and 1818 that a great 
body of them bought land at the Government sales at Milledge- 
ville and moved out into the basin of the Alabama River to be- 
come the back-bone of the planter class in that section. 

It was during this time that Georgia's two Senators, Charles 
Tait and William W. Bibb, voted for a bill to increase the sal- 
aries of the members of their body, and thereby brought down 
a storm upon their heads which resulted in their withdrawal 
from Congress, and which was instrumental in causing them to 
remove to Alabama. Bibb at once became Governor of the new 
Territory; but Tait remained in the Senate until the end of 
his term, and then, statehood having been obtained for Ala- 
bama, reaped his reward for senatorial service by being made 
a district judge of the new commonwealth. These men were 
accompanied to Alabama by other strong supporters of Craw- 
ford, among whom was Boiling Hall, who had sat in the House 
of Representatives for his native state, and who now T took up 
his residence in Autauga County across the river from Mont- 

Governor Bibb was popular in Alabama, and Walker seems 
to have won his way to the Senate through sheer worth. Tait 
also had senatorial aspirations, but yielded to William R. King 
when jealousy of the Georgia group made it clear that it was 
dangerous to push too far. William H. Crawford was not so 
cautious, however, in dispensing the Federal patronage for the 
State. He controlled practically all appointments and his 
friends were invariably put into office except when it became 
expedient to shelve an opponent. Bait was held out to King 
in the hope of diverting him from his race for the Senate, but 
he refused to be diverted. 2 William Crawford, who succeed- 
ed Pickens as president of the Tombeckbee Bank, was district 
attorney and, at the same time, receiver for the St. Stephens 
land office. If the receiver had been irregular in his ac- 

2 Tait Paper?, Wm. H. Craw-ford to C. Tait, Nov. 7, 1819. 


counts, the attorney would hardly have been eager to prose- 
cute the case! 3 

Such a condition as this necessarily aroused the anger of 
those who did not have a finger in the pie, and complaints of 
partisanship and inefficiency went up on all sides. It was not 
a struggle which would greatly concern the mass of the people, 
who were absorbed in other things, but it concerned the poli- 
ticians and they, in turn, had some power to arouse the people. 

This power seems to have been more limited than would be 
imagined. There were no parties, nor even any standing is- 
sues. The people, busy with their clearings and their crops, 
appear to have elected their more ambitious neighbors to go up 
to the legislature and relieve them of anxiety about all politi- 
cal questions excepting only such as concerned immediate 
economic interests. No serious attempt was made to arouse 
them until Pickens seized upon the bank question and made an 
issue of it. 

The relation existing between the champion of the State 
Bank and the Crawford men is not easy to trace. It is stated 
that Pickens, then a Congressman from North Carolina, sup- 
ported Crawford when he stood for the Presidency against 
Monroe in 1816. But when Crawford refused him the ap- 
pointment as register of the land office at Cahawba, which 
place had been promised him by Dallas, Pickens turned 
against the Georgia men and threatened to become the head 
of an opposition. 4 It was probably Tait who secured for him 
the appointment as register of the land office at St. Stephens, 5 
and this seems to have prevented hostilities until the guber- 
natorial campaign of 1821, when Pickens denied all connection 
with the Crawford party. 

It has been mentioned that Crawford stood for the aristo- 
cratic group in Georgia and that the majority of his followers 
who came to Alabama were planters of some means. The 
connection of a few of them with the unfortunate Huntsville 
bank made it possible for their enemies to call them "oppres- 
sors of the poor," and the fight for the State Bank was made 
a fight against the Georgia faction. The challenge was ac- 

3 Mobile Argus, March 3, 1823, letter copied from the Franklin Ga- 

■* Hall Papers, Jack F. Ross to Boiling: Hall, Aug. 2n, 1821; Tait Pa- 
pers, William H. Crawford to C. Tait. Nov. 27, 1819. 

5 Tait Papers, Wm. H. Crawford to C. Tait, Nov. 29, 1819 

c Bibb Papers, C. Tait to W. W. Bibb, Nov. 28, 1820. 


cepted, and the Crawford men led the defense of the private 
banks, while their opponents combined against them to es- 
tablish the "people's bank."' 7 

It is an interesting alignment of factions that was brought 
about by this situation. Farmers on a small scale had come 
into Alabama primarily from Tennessee, Georgia, and South 
Carolina ; but whatever their origin, they were preponderant- 
ly Jackson men. Among the planters there was no such unan- 
imity. Those from Georgia were most numerous along the 
upper Alabama River, and they were the principal supporters 
of Crawford. Those from the Carclinas and Virginia pre- 
dominated in the Tombigbee basin as far up as Tuscaloosa, 
and Adams was strongest in this section. In the Tennessee 
Valley, the Georgia planters mingled with the planters from 
Virginia and the Carolinas and produced a variety of political 
sentiments, the Georgia influence being strong in Madison 
County but dwindling away toward the west. On the bank 
question, the Adams planters were allied with the Jackson 
farmers to defeat the Crawford men. 8 

The election of Pickens was the beginning of hard times for 
the Georgia faction. They had at first made Alabama their 
own, and the new State was glad to have their powerful in- 
fluence in Washington. Their monopoly of the Federal pat- 
ronage raised up enemies among the politicians from other 
states. In the untimely death of Governor Bibb, they lost a 
strong leader. This misfortune was followed in 1823 by the 
death of Senator John W. Walker. These two men had won 
much respect in the community, and there were no others of 
equal caliber to take their places. In the contest to fill the va- 
cant seat in the Senate, the Crawford men supported John 
McKinley, while their opponents, the "friends of the people," 
backed William Kelly. The latter won the contest by a narrow 
majority, and when the unexpired term was completed, he 
stood for re-election, being opposed this time by Dr. Henry 
Chambers. Chambers won the race and thereby restored the 
balance, for William R. King, who, like Pickens, was from 
North Carolina and no friend of the Georgia faction, retained 

"Alabama Republican, March 25, 1824; Huntsville Democrat, Nov. 11, 
1823, July 20, 1824. 

s The origin of the population in different sections of the State has 
been discussed in Chapter III. The statement of the political tendencies 
of the various sections is based upon the attitude of the press and the 
presidential vote of 1824. 


his seat continuously in the Senate, for twenty-five years after 
Alabama became a State. 

But the Crawford men, while able to maintain a condition 
of political balance in the legislature, were not nearly so 
strong when elections went straight to the people. None of 
the early Congressmen were of their number, nor were they 
able to elect a governor after IS 19. It is indeed surprising 
to consider how small was the group of men who all but dom- 
inated the legislature of the State. The planters were but 
few compared to the total number of settlers, nor did the 
Georgians constitute a majority of the planters, yet they made 
up the predominant class in an important section of the State 
and found their way into politics in relatively large numbers. 
This was possible because of their prominence as office-hold- 
ers ; because there were no organized parties ; and because 
there was no standing antagonism between the planter and the 
farmer. There were politicians who wanted to teach the peo- 
ple to know their rights, and in the matter of the Bank, they 
succeeded in their aim. But ordinarily the people did not feel 
a great need of instruction. In the absence of parties, poli- 
tics were largely personal. Only men of some station thought 
of running for office, and the lesser sort selected their favor- 
ite and voted for him without asking many questions as to his 
creed. While a study of the popular elections shows very 
clearly that the people knew what they wanted when a matter 
of political interest was put squarely before them, a compari- 
son of the votes of the legislature indicates that popular con- 
trol was, under ordinary circumstances, very slight. 

Until the campaign of 1824 approached, local matters tend- 
ed to push national issues into the background, and the reason 
was that there was a nearly unanimous agreement upon all 
Federal questions excepting as to who should be President af- 
ter Monroe. Clay had a few strong friends in Alabama, but 
his advocacy of the tariff rendered him unpopular; and Craw- 
ford had no followers excepting the Georgia planters. The 
plain people were devotedly attached to Andrew Jackson, 
while Adams had strong support among the Carolina and Vir- 
ginia planters. New Englanders were generally disliked in 
this section of the country and the popularity of Adams indi- 

"Crhaicb- Pr»s&, Dec. 14. 1S22: HtnitsviUe Democrat. July 20, 1S24, 
Dec. 14. 1S24. Dec. 21, 1824: Atebnmo Republican Doe. IT, 1824; Tait 
P-^-rs* Wm. H. Crr.-.vford to C. Tait, Feb. 1(5. 1823; Hall Papers. Au^. 21, 


cates that the conservative element entertained a strong prej- 
udice against the aggressive democracy of the Jackson men. 
The support which Adams gave to the cause of internal im- 
provements was an asset in a state where improvements were 
badly needed, and his friends claimed that he was safer on the 
question of the tariff than any of the other candidates. 10 

The tariff question was the disturbing one. Alabama was 
a unit in condemning the system of protection, and the sup- 
porters of Jackson found their greatest difficulty here. The 
hero of New Orleans voted for the increased duties that were 
established in 1824, and this fact was used against him by his 
enemies, nor could they have found a better weapon. It be- 
came necessary for the Jackson men to bestir themselves in 
the matter. A direct question on the subject was propounded 
to the General and his answer was published in the Mobile 
Advertiser. Here he stated clearly that he favored protection 
for those industries which were of military importance, such 
as the manufacture of iron and cheap woolen goods, but that 
he was otherwise for a revenue tariff only. 11 No clear case 
could be made for Adams, however, and the cause of Jackson 
was not seriously hurt by the issue. 

A strong section of the local press favored Adams, and it 
was conceded that he would carry the southern part of the 
State, while Jackson was expected to carry the northern. 12 An 
attempt was made to have the presidential electors chosen by 
district with the hope that two of the five could be carried for 
the New England candidate, 13 but the plan was defeated and 
in 1823 the legislature declared Jackson to be the choice of the 
State. 14 So great was the popularity of the General that even 
his enemies had to speak respectfully of him. Those mem- 
bers of the legislature who voted against the nomination took 
the trouble to explain that they did so, not because of hostili- 
ty, but because they did not consider the question a proper one 

io Alabama Republican, May 21, 1824, Oct. 8, 1824; Cahaicba Press, 
July 10, 1824; Huntsville Democrat, June 24. 1824. 

ii Tuscaloosa Mh-ror, May 29, 1824. Jackson did not refer simply to 
munitions of war, but meant to include all articles necessary to put the 
country in a condition of economic independence, considering: this neces- 
sary to mi'itary safety. See letters to John Coffee, dated May 7, and 
June 18, 1S24, in the Coffee correspondence. 

12 Huntsville Democrat, Aug. 24, 1824; Alabayna Republican, August 
8, Oct. 1, 1824. ,. . 

13 Alabama, Senate Journal, 182", 12; Alabama Republican, Sept. 2b, 


14 Alabama, Senate Journal, 1823, 82; House Journal, 1823, 77. 


for legislative action. 15 Governor Pickens explained on the 
same grounds his failure to sign the nominating resolution. 10 
Indeed, the loss of popularity which one suffered by opposing 
Jackson brought many men to a new way of thinking. Dr. 
Henry Chambers was backed by the Georgia group when he 
ran for the governorship in 1821 and 1823, 17 but he became a 
supporter of Jackson and was made presidential elector on the 
popular ticket in 1824. Nicholas Davis, who for five years 
was president of the State Senate, was an opponent of the 
State Bank and no friend of Jackson's, 1 8 but he so far gave 
way as to vote for the nomination by the legislature in 1823. 

There was no regularly established political machinery in 
1824, but co-operation was necessary in order to win a spirit- 
ed contest, and this was accomplished in an informal but ef- 
fective way. Public meetings of the friends of the several 
candidates were announced in the newspapers and held in the 
leading towns. These gatherings proposed electoral tickets 
and chose committees of correspondence. One of them, which 
was held at the court-house in Perry County on May 8, 1824, 
proposed that representatives be chosen by friends of Jackson 
in the various parts of the State and sent to a convention 
which should meet at Cahawba during the following session 
of the Supreme Court, 1 ' 1 The friends of Adams and Craw- 
ford followed this example, and accordingly there were three 
conventions held in due time at the seat of government. These 
were informally constituted bodies, consisting partly of rep- 
resentatives from various public meetings and partly of men 
who came without any public authorization. The Jackson 
delegation appears to have been the most representative. It 
considered the electoral ticket which had been promulgated 
by the local press; made some changes in it; and appointed a 
correspondence committee for each judicial circuit, authoriz- 
ing them to notify the nominated electors and to replace any 
who might decline to serve.'- The other conventions followed 
much the same lines of procedure, and placed before the vot- 
ers the electoral tickets which had already been generally 
agreed upon through the press.- 1 

15 Alabama, House Journal, 1823, 120-125. 
MNiles' Register, XXV, 323-324, 362. 
17 Greensboro Halcyon, Nov. 1, 1823. 
i s Pickett, Histon/ of Alabama, 653-654. 
MCakawba Pre**, May 8, 1824. 

20 Cakatvba Pres>-, June 18, 1824. 

21 Cahawba Press, .June 28, 1824, July 7, 1824. 


When the returns from the election came in, it was found 
that Jackson had a majority in every county in the State ex- 
cept three, — Greene, Butler, and Montgomery.-- This 
unexpected strength of the General emphasizes the very im- 
portant point that it was not the editor, nor the politician, nor 
the planter who furnished the main support of Jackson, but 
the plain farmer who could vote more potently than he could 
talk. It became clear that the small farmer had the balance 
of power even in the counties where slaves were most numer- 
ous. He spoke his mind very clearly and carried his point 
when his mind was made up, but he did not differ from the 
planter on principle and never tried for separate control. 

Some interesting information is obtainable from a study of 
the election of 1824. Over seventy-five per cent, of the vote 
went to Jackson in all the counties of the Tennessee Valley and 
the hilly region lying below it. The predominance of Tennes- 
seeans in the Valley and of small farmers in the hilly region 
accounts for this situation. The counties of the extreme south- 
east were also overwhelmingly for Jackson, and these, like the 
hill counties, had a minimum slave population. But in the 
basins of the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers, the General fail- 
ed of a majority in three counties and carried but two with a 
vote as high as seventy-five per cent. Here the Tennesseeans 
were relatively few in numbers and the planters made up a 
greater proportion of the population. Crawford received an ap- 
preciable vote in only two counties, while Adams attracted the 
greater part of the opposition. 

It is a significant fact that the Alabama-Tombigbee River 
basin, which later became the stronghold of Whigism, was car- 
ried for Jackson in 1824, yet with a smaller margin than he 
obtained in the other sections of the State. There was the 
nucleus here among the planters for a strong fight when cir- 
cumstances should give them an argument which could attract 

-'- The returns are to be found in the Huntsville Democrat for Nov. 22, 
1824, and in the Cahivba Press of the same date. 

Chapter XII. 



After the election of 1824, there was a distinct change in 
the political situation in Alabama. No sooner was Jackson 
defeated than his friends announced their determination to 
"fight the battle o'er again," 1 and their opponents recognized 
the futility of a further struggle against the General. The 
administration was able to hold a few scattered supporters, 
but even the Southern Advocate, of Huntsville, which had been 
an ardent friend of Adams before the election, now went 
over to the cause of Jackson, though this change was clearly 
one of letter rather than of spirit. Among the Crawford men 
the defection was even more general. Their hero was no long- 
er in the race, and it was left for them to make the best terms 
they could for themselves. The new editor of the Huntsville 
Democrat, the acknowledged champion of "The People" in the 
State, admitted that he had supported Crawford in 1824, 2 but 
former allegiance was not held against any man in those days 
unless there was some special reason for doing so. When 
resolutions proposing Jackson for the presidency were passed 
by the legislature in 1827, their mover was no other than 
Dixon H. Lewis, nephew of Boiling Hall, and closely connect- 
ed with all the supporters of Crawford who had led the Geor- 
gia faction in Alabama. Adams had to be beaten and only 
Jackson could beat him. 

Yet beneath this general accord regarding Jackson, there 
were political divisions on local questions which were more sig- 
nificant of the true state of the public mind. In 1825 the 
term of Israel Pickens expired and John Murphy was elected 
to the governorship without opposition. Murphy, like Pickens, 
was from North Carolina, and a supporter of the State Bank. 
His unopposed election indicates the completeness of the tri- 
umph of the popular cause and is a tribute to the political sa- 
gacity of the retiring Governor. 

The first important question to come up was the location of 
the capitol. The constitution had provided that, during the 

1 Tusci'.mbian, March 7, 1825, from the Nashville Gazette. 
- Huntsville Democrat, Nov. 7, 1826. 


session of 1825, the legislature might remove the seat of gov- 
ernment from Cahawba, but if no removal were made at that' 
time, the original seat would be permanent. The subject was 
taken up with alacrity and several new locations were propos- 
ed. The fight developed mainly between Cahawba and Tus- 
caloosa, the former being favored by the southern and south- 
eastern, the lattter by the northern and northwestern portions 
of the State. Cahawba was accessible to all the Alabama Riv- 
er region, while Tuscaloosa had the advantage of accessibility 
from the Tenessee Valley as well as water communication 
with the Tombigbee region. In the final struggle, the Ten- 
nessee, Tombigee, and Warrior valleys were able to outvote 
the Alabama River region, and the capitol went to Tuscaloosa. 3 
Cahawba had proved to be an unhealthy location, but it was 
urged against Tuscaloosa that it was too near the Mississippi 
line, and there was little prospect that the capital could remain 
there after the Indian lands east of the Coosa River should be 
opened up. 

Such a question was not good for party purposes, but an- 
other came up at this time which was ridden for all it was 
worth by the seekers for office. 

In 1818 the legislature of Alabama Territory had passed an 
act which abolished all limitations on the amount of interest 
which might be charged on loans. John W. Walker then 
wrote to Tait saying that he was largely responsible for the 
measure, and asking his friend what he thought of it. 4 It 
looks like a work of ignorance or, more probably, of self-ag- 
grandizement on the part of the law-makers, and it aroused 
such strong opposition at the time that it was repealed the next 
year without struggle. But, in the meantime, numerous con- 
tracts had been made under its provisions and the interest 
called for ranged from 60 to 240 per cent, a year. Many of 
these contracts provided that a certain sum was to be paid on 
a certain date, put that if the debt were not discharged as pre- 
scribed, it was to bear interest of from five to twenty per cent, 
a month until paid. A number of such contracts were carried 
out, but finally legal opposition was made and in 1824 it was 
decided by the Supreme Court of Alabama that the interest in 
contracts of this kind Was in the nature of a penalty and hence 
illegal. This protected those who had not already paid, but 

3 Alabama, House Journal, 1825, 75; Senate Journal. 1825, 47. 
* Tait Papers, J. W. V alker to C. Tait, Sept. 22, 1818. 


those who had paid were in another situation. They applied 
for relief, but the court decided in 1827 that a statute of limi- 
tations barred the recovery of money which had already been 
paid out under such contracts. 5 

This has the appearance of a purely legal matter, and so it 
should have been, but it was turned into a political question 
chiefly through the instrumentality of William Kelly who, 
having failed of re-election to the Senate in 1824, had returned 
to the legislature and was counsel for a number of those who 
were seeking to recover money paid out under the "big-inter- 
est" contracts and who lost their cases by the decision of 1827. 
Whereas the judges had been very popular because of their 
decision of 1824, a cry was now raised against them. They 
were accused of being enemies of the people and in league 
with the money-lenders. The old cry against the "Royal Par- 
ty" of Huntsville was revived and there was said to be a "Rad- 
ical Party" in the south which was the counterpart of the 
northern royalists. This party was not supposed to be made 
up of any section of the public, but of a small group of men 
in the legislature, — the old guard of the Crawford faction — 
who were working for their own interest. The Huntsville 
Democrat presented its view of the situation as follows: 

"In no county in the State, has the spirit of local partyism 

raged with equal violence as in Madison County But 

this local feeling has pervaded the whole state, in some coun- 
ties quite covertly ; while in others, it has burned with the ut- 
most intensity. Some twelve or fifteen years ago, the Indian 
title to a large portion of Alabama was extinguished and 
straighway the tide of emigration set strongly towards this 
fertile territory. Persons flocked to it from all quarters ; few 
of them wealthy — most from the expectation of bettering their 
fortunes. It was not to be presumed that a mass thrown thus 
loosely together could have pursued any systematic plan of in- 
ternal policy, or have been actuated by anything like an iden- 
tity of interests. It was consequently easy for an inconsid- 
erable minority acting in concert, and with a determinate and 
well understood purpose to give tone to public sentiment, to 
carry their measures, and possess themselves of all valuable 
offices. Now, such a minority did exist in this state. They 
were chiefly composed of Georgians, who, from previous ac- 

5 Somerville. Trial of the Judges, 62-73; Brickel's Digest, Vol. II, Pt. 1, 
pages 4-5; Southern Advocate, Feb. 9, 1S27, March 9, 1827; Huntsville 
Democrat, Jan. 19, 1827. 


quaintance, attachment to the civil institutions of Georgia, 
and a more than common portion of wealth, seemed to be con- 
nected together by a tie, the strength ct which they all recog- 
nized by the support which they mutually extended to each 
other These circumstances inspired greater confi- 
dence, and led to such developments of their views, as to cre- 
ate a distrust of that purity of character for which they had 
heretofore obtained credit. They evinced a determination to 
monopolize all power, and to fill every office with their own 
creatures. Many of these were so glaringly deficient in the 
requisite qualifications, that the people began to discover the 
"family" arrangements which were making to impose rulers 
over them. The yeomanry of this country, devotedly attach- 
ed to Democratic principles, could but illy brook this assump- 
tion of superiority It is to Israel Pickens that the 

people are chiefly indebted for their dethronement ; it was he 
who first broke the charm and showed that the Georgians with 
all their management and manoeuvering were not invincible. 

Madison County was their great headquarters ; here it was 
that the plan of operations was generally framed; and from 
thence communicated to their partisans throughout the State." 

The article goes on to say that these men had control of the 
Huntsville bank, and that they were responsible for the pas- 
sage of the act abolishing interest limitations in 1818.° 

In 1826 Henry Chambers died and the vacancy thus left in 
the Senate was filled by the appointment of Israel Pickens. 
But ill health forced Pickens to resign during the same year, 
and the election of a successor soon occupied the attention of 
the legislature. The opposing candidates were John McKin- 
ley, a wealthy lawyer of Florence, and Clement C. Clay, a 
prominent attorney of Huntsville. Though Clay was a mem- 
ber of the Territorial Council and is said to have voted for the 
fateful interest bill of 1818, and though he was at one time a 
stock-holder in the Merchants' and Planters' Bank of Hunts- 
ville, he did not become identified with the capitalist group at 
Huntsville and seems to have kept himself square with the 
people. In 1820 he became Chief Justice of the Supreme 
Court of Alabama, but resigned that position in 1823 to re- 
sume his legal practice. 7 This was his first appearance be- 
fore the public since that time, and there seems to have been 
no reason why he should not have received the support of the 

8 Huntsville Democrat, Feb. 9, 1827. 


popular party, but the Huntsville Democrat opposed him for 
reasons which are not evident and gave its support to McKin- 
ley, whom the same paper had opposed and labeled an aristo- 
crat when he stood against Kelley for the Senate in 1822.^ 

That all this talk about party, though based upon certain 
concrete facts, was largely worked up for campaign purposes, 
is indicated by an apparently candid statement made by Mc- 
Kinley shortly before the election of ] 826. It runs as follows : 

"I know nothing of the Royal party or its policy, further 
than I have seen the subject discussed in the newspapers, and 
as far as comprehended by that discussion, I have no personal 
or political interest in it. I had been a citizen of this state 
about a year before I ever heard of the existence of a party in 
it. I was then informed by a friend, if I supported a particu- 
lar individual for Governor, I would be considered as belong- 
ing to the Georgia party. What was meant by this party, I 
did not know, nor could my friend inform me as he was equal- 
ly a stranger to its meaning or object. In 1821, I heard 
for the first time of the Royal party, and was equally at a loss 
to know what was the meaning of the name or the object of 
that party. In the fail of that year, I removed to this place 
where I heard but little more of parties until the fall of 1822, 
when I became a candidate for the same office for which I am 
now a candidate. When at the seat of government pending 
the election between Judge Kelly and myself, the charge of 
belonging to the Georgia party, Huntsville, and Royal party, 
was brought to bear upon my election. I had no mode of de- 
fending myself against the charge, but simply denying that I 
belonged to any party, which was the fact. In that contest 
I was beaten by a single vote, to which I submitted, I hope, 
with becoming propriety. I continued to reside in this place 
until February, 1825, without hearing my name connected 
with party, and having kept myself aloof from all party con- 
tests, had hoped to escape such an unfounded, and as I con- 
ceived, ungenerous imputation. But shortly after my return 
to Huntsville in the early part of 1825 this charge was revived 
against me, although I was a candidate for no office, nor took 
any active part in the local or general politics of the country. 
In the year 1823 a newspaper discussion took place in the 

• For a sketch of Clay's career, see Pickett, History of AUtbtma, 648- 
8 Southern Advocate, Jan. 12, 1827; Huntsville Democrat, Dec. 29, 182b 


Democrat and Advocate upon the subject of party, when it 
assumed a more tangible shape. The principal cause of com 4 
plaint, as well as I now recollect, against what was termed the 
Royal party, was the statute of February, 1818, the combin- 
ation of certain men to procure its passage, and the aid af- 
forded by the Huntsville bank to those men, to obtain funds to 
lend at exorbitant interest." 1 ' 

This election, in which no question of policy was involved, 
and in which the two candidates seem to have been so nearly 
equal in regard to fitness for popular leadership, yet which was 
waged with so much bitterness of partisan feeling, marks the 
point at which the popular party, having gained an undis- 
puted ascendancy, was becoming a prey to factious contests 
among its leaders. The struggle, though close, resulted in fa- 
vor of McKinley. 10 

But Kelly and the Democrat did not mean to be without an 
issue of some sort. The fight against the Supreme Court 
judges was pressed. Kelly brought charges before the legis- 
lature against three of them on the plea that their decision of 
1827 had gone counter to the precedent established by the cas- 
es of 1824 and that this was an improper application of law on 
their part. The complaint was not sustained, however, and 
the judges were exonerated by an overwhelming vote. 11 But 
the matter was not allowed to drop here. A constitutional 
amendment reducing judicial tenure from the period of good 
behaviour to a term of six years was passed by the legislature 
in 1827 ; approved the next year by popular vote, 12 and incor- 
porated as the first amendment to the State constitution in 

But while the disintegration of the Crawford faction after 
1824 had deprived local politics of a real issue, national ques- 
tions were coming more to the front. On some of these, such 
as the tariff, internal improvements, and slavery, the popular 
mind was well made up. On others, such as Indian policy and 
state rights, there was much more divergence of opinion. No 
one in the State had formulated any policies in regard to these 
questions, nor were there any political divisions along these 
lines. The legislature had to act from time to time on ques- 
tions connected with such subjects, but the votes showed no 

» Huntsville Democrat, Oct. 27, 1826. 

io Alabama, Senate Journal. 1826. 20-21. 

n Alabama, Senate Journal, 1826, 193. 

12 Alabama, Senate Journal, 1828, 76; Mobile Register, Nov. 21, 1828. 


definite alignments and seem to have been dictated by person- 
al convictions or temporary considerations. 

As to the tariff, there was a general and strong conviction 
that it was wrong to tax the agriculture of one section of the 
country for the benefit of the manufactures of another. Yet 
there was a minority, led by the Southern Advocate and the 
supporters of Adams, which advocated a "competitive" tariff 
and insisted that the South must develop manufactures. 

The interest of Alabama in the Muscle Shoals and the Coosa- 
Hiwassee canal projects, and the proposed road from Wash- 
ington to New Orleans, brought about a general demand for 
internal improvements constructed with Federal aid. 13 This 
threw the State astride on the question of state rights, for it 
was difficult to support improvements and denounce the tar- 
iff at the same time ; and Randolph and Macon were never tired 
of warning that to give the Government the right to con- 
struct public works within the states would give it the right 
also to free the slaves. 

This situation necessitated a certain amount of hedging 
when it became necessary to formulate general political doc- 
trines, or to make out a case for favorite presidential aspir- 
ants. Before the election of 1828, Jackson was questioned as 
to his views and replied that they were the same as they had 
been in 1824 when he supported the tariff and internal im- 
provement measures. 14 The friends of Adams stated that no 
distinction between the two men could be made on these 
grounds, and the contention, at this time, was at least reason- 
able. The preference for Jackson was personal, sectional, and 

But while the position of Alabama was not strictly logical 
according to the political schools of the time, it was practical 
and well-defined. Very little sympathy was extended to 
Troup while he was making his fight against the Administra- 
tion on the question of the removal of the Creek Indians; and 
Georgia was roundly denounced for presuming that one state 
could upset the operations of the National Government. 15 The 
prevalent opinion was that both Troup and Adams had behav- 

13 The Southern Advocate for Sept. 19, 1828, published toasts drunk 
at a dinner given the Congressional delegation of Alabama. Here the 
tariff was condemned and internal improvements supported. 

i-* Southern Advocate, April 25, 1828. Jackson's letter is dated Feb- 
ruary 28, 1828. 

is Southern Adv cite, Oct. 14. 1S25, March 16, 1827; Huntsville Dem- 
ocrat, Sept. 16, 1825, July 29, 1825; Tuscumbian, Nov. 7, 1S25. 


ed rashly; that the Government was under obligations to re- 
move the Indians from the State ; and that Adams had blunder- 1 
ed when he threatened to use Federal troops to enforce his 
policy, just as Troup had erred in his attitude of uncompro- 
mising defiance. The original treaty with the Indians, which 
was later annulled and became the bone of contention, had se- 
cured a small tract of the Creek lands which lay within the 
limits of Alabama. Governor Murphy raised the question 
whether a third party could be deprived of rights under a con- 
tract even though it were not enforced as to the contracting 
parties. 10 The question was taken up in the legislature and a 
bill passed extending the jurisdiction of the State over the 
lands concerned. 17 But this was looked upon as merely the 
testing of a legal proposition, and the matter was carried no 

A more severe strain upon the loyalty of the State came 
when the "tariff of abominations" was passed in 1828. There 
was universal dissatisfaction and even disgust with the policy 
pursued. It was felt that the interests of the cotton states 
were being sacrificed to the ambition of the manufacturing 
district and, whether it was wise, whether it was constitution- 
al as the Constitution had originally been intended, there is no 
question but that the planters were right as to the practical 
bearing of the situation. Protests went up on all sides; the 
development of home manufactures was urged; and the boy- 
cotting of imports from the manufacturing states was advocat- 
ed. It was even urged that it would be possible to lay duties 
upon such imports, but it was always made clear that all re- 
sistance was to be peaceable. When forcible resistance was 
suggested or threatened in resolutions which were brought up 
before the legislature, the portentous clauses were stricken out 
by decisive votes; 18 and Senator Willam R. King, while con- 
demning the tariff in an address at Selma, made the following 
statement : 

"With a view, Gentlemen, to effect political objects, a sys- 
tematic effort has been made to impress the belief upon the 
people of our country, that the high minded and patriotic in- 

ie Alabama, Senate Journal, 1826, 11. 

i" Alabama, Sessional Acts. 1821, 32. 

*8 Alabama, Senate Journal. 1826, 101-102; Ibid., 1828. 207. In the 
latter instance there were srricken from a resolution condemning the tar- 
iff the following words: "and that open and unqualified resistance should 
only be the dernier reasort" 


habitants of the South and South West — the advocates and 
supporters of a most distinguished and meritorious citizen — 
are engaged in planning the dissolution of our union; the de- 
struction of this federative Government — the legacy of our 
patriotic and sainted Fathers." 19 

On this occasion the following toasts were drunk: "The 
Union of the States — Palsied be the arm that shall be raised to 
sever it," and, "The Tariff — Unconstitutional in principle, un- 
just and unequal in its operation — We will not oppose it with 
violence and passion, but by relying on our own resources."- 
The editor of the Mobile Register, referring to an address of 
the citizens of Colleton district, South Carolina, wrote: "We 
will frankly declare, it was not from the State of South Caro- 
lina that we ever expected a proposition the bare contempla- 
tion of which must cause the heart of a patriot to sink within 
him." 21 

But there was another movement on foot which led in a dif- 
ferent direction and which was big with meaning for the fu- 
ture. This movement, though not original in conception, was 
a new influence in Alabama and it was important at that time 
only because its leader, who knew what he believed and where 
he was going, was able to fit his purpose to the material in 
hand and secure the temporary support of men who did not 
understand whither he was leading them. This new influence 
is interesting not only because of its significance for the fu- 
ture, but for its connection with the past. 

Dixon H. Lewis was born, according to Yancey's sketch of 
him, 22 in Hancock County, Virginia, in 1802. His father was 
among those Virginians who moved to Georgia in the days 
when upland cotton was coming to supplant tobacco as the 
main agricultural staple of the South. From Georgia he mov- 
ed to Autauga County, Alabama, in 1820. 

Young Lewis studied law at Cahawba in the office of Henry 
Hitchcock, a New England man who had come out to Alabama 
as secretary to the Territorial governor, and who was now At- 
torney General of the State. The political influence in the life 
of Lewis was exerted largely by his uncle, Boiling Hall, the 
Georgia Congressman who had come to Alabama with Tait, 

is Huntsville Democrat, Nov. 7, 1828. 

20 Southern Advocate, Nov. 7, 1828. 

21 Mobile Register, July 12, 1828. 

22 Obituary of Dixon Hall Lewis, MS. Yancey Papers. See also Dixon 
H. Lewis, by T. M. Williams, in .Alabama Polytechnic Institute Histori- 
cal Studies, 1912. 


Walker, and the other supporters of Crawford. Hall was not 
only a friend of Crawford, but of Nathaniel Macon, John Tay- 
lor, and others who had long stood for strict construction of 
the Constitution. 

The views of Lewis were essentially the views of these 
men, whom Alabama had heard from afar and ignored. But 
in 1826 the gigantic young lawyer won a spirited election in 
Montgomery County and went up to the legislature to make his 
debut in politics. He had not been there more than twenty- 
four hours when he drew up a set of resolutions condemning 
the exercise of implied, constructive, and unconstitutional 
powers on the part of the Federal Government, and had it pre- 
sented before the Senate by his friend, Matt Clay. These 
resolutions were passed with but one dissenting vote after 
there had been stricken from them the following clause : 

"Resolved, That we believe the time has again arrived when 
it is necessary for the States to assert their constitutional 
rights, and with becoming firmness to resist the increasing 
progress of federal power." 23 

In pursuance of his views, Lewis took up the Indian ques- 
tion and in 1828 presented a report in the House of Repre- 
sentatives in which it was argued that the State had jurisdic- 
tion over the natives within her borders and that the United 
States had no right to interfere between them. 24 Along with 
the report he presented a bill proposing to extend the juris- 
diction of the State over the Creeks, and though almost every 
member of the House at first disapproved the idea, the 
measure was finally passed, receiving the bulk of its support 
from the counties bordering the Creek reservation. 2 "' 

But it was not only on National questions that Lewis had 
convictions. He had inherited from Boiling Hall and the 
Crawford men a sincere dislike for the State Bank and, though 
at this time the foundations of that institution were unassail- 
able, he began to attack it at vulnerable points. There had 
been a noisy contest in the legislature over the question as to 
whether that body was permitted to inspect the private ac- 
counts of the bank. The cashier refused to show the private 
books to the visiting committee and the opponents of the in- 
stitution at once raised their voices in protest. They appar- 
ently failed in their attempt to cast discredit upon the manage- 

23 Alabama, Senate Jouvns I, 1826, 101-102. 
2-J Alabama. House Journal. 1828, 220. 223. 
25 Ibid., 263. 


merit. The procedure of Lewis was less spectacular, but more 
to the point.-' 1 The legislature was in the habit of levying tax- 
es in excess of disbursements and using the balance for bank- 
ing purposes. It was this practice which Lewis now attacked 
and succeeded in stopping. 27 

The attitude of the new leader on the question of the State 
Bank brings out his connection with the earlier opponents of 
the popular party, but the manner in which political ground 
had shifted is shown by the fact that, when resolutions pro- 
posing Jackson for the Presidency were to be brought before 
the legislature in 1827, it was Lewis who was chosen to pre- 
sent them. 

After condemning the existing Administration because it 
had departed from the principle of strict construction ; because 
it had accepted internal improvements as a fixed policy — and 
one destructive of State sovereignty; because of its attitude 
on the Panama mission ; and because it had adopted the policy 
of encouraging one industry at the expense of another by pro- 
hibitory duties ; the resolutions go on to say : 

"Another prominent act of Mr. Adams requires particular 
notice, viz : his threat to employ military force against one of 
the sovereign members of the confederacy. So great a want 
of temper, such an entire misconception of the character of the 
American people, and so extraordinary a claim to power is be- 
lieved to be unparalleled in the history of any preceding ad- 
ministration. More forbearance might have been expected 
from a prince of unlimited powers to one of the most rebel- 
lious provinces of his dominions. Before any negotiation of 
a friendly character was attempted, or even a measure of com- 
promise proposed, the State of Georgia was threatened with 
the military force of the Union for the purpose of forcing her 
into an unconstitutional abandonment of substantial rights of 
sovereignty, secured to her by the solemn stipulation of treaty 
— This State cannot but share some portion of the responsi- 
bility thrown upon Georgia in this matter, inasmuch as an en- 
actment of the last legislature, and a resolution of the same 
body recognized the principles for which Georgia was then 
contending. As Alabamians, therefore, the committee feel 
bound to protest against this violent measure of the President 
of the United States To counteract so powerful an 

2* Cahcuba Press, March 18, 1826. 

-"Yancey, Obituary Notice of Lewis, 15; See House Journal, 1826, 
223-224, for report on finances. 


influence, a systematic effort is required of the people, and a 
concentration of their entire strength on some distinguished 
individual." 25 

General Jackson was named as that individual and the res- 
olutions passed by a vote of fifty-four to eight, but they do not 
represent the kind of Jackson ism which was characteristic of 
the earlier supporters of the General. The young lawyer from 
Montgomery had a remarkable faculty for bringing the legis- 
lature to his way of thinking when he did not have strong con- 
victions to overcome, and here was a fine denunciation of 
Adams. It was gladly accepted because it served the purpose 
in hand, and no one thought it worth-while to criticise its 
purely negative support of Jackson and its very positive sup- 
port of state rights, to which the majority of the people did 
not subscribe. 

Though Adams electors were nominated, the General car- 
ried the State almost without opposition 29 and soon entered 
upon the administration that was to see the birth of questions 
which would divide his followers. In Alabama, under the 
leadership of Lewis, the planters were to add a plea for the 
safety of the slave states to their old distrust of mass-govern- 
ment, and divide the Commonwealth into two distinct, well- 
defined, and fairly-balanced parties. 

28 Alabama, House Journal, 1827, 182 et seq. 

29 The Huntsville Democrat for Dec. 5, 1828, gives the vote as follows: 
Jackson, 13,384; Adams, 1,629. 

Chapter XIII. 


The press came into Alabama with the settlers and exer- 
cised a strong influence during the formative period of the 
State. The little four-page sheets which came out once or 
twice a week were largely taken up with advertisements and 
notices. A crude system of classifying advertisements enabl- 
ed the reader to select readily those in which he was interest- 
ed. This was accomplished by inserting a small cut indica- 
tive of the subject-matter; a picture of a tree, for instance, 
would indicate that the advertiser had land for sale; a cut of 
a house would show that buildings were for rent or sale ; while 
a negro with a bundle swung over his shoulder at the end of a 
stick would proclaim the escape of a slave. 

That portion of the paper, usually amounting to less than 
two of the four pages, which was devoted to the 
news was principally taken up with extracts from the leading 
papers of the older states. The most of these articles related 
to political affairs, but foreign news, though much belated, re- 
ceived relatively more attention than it does now. A florid 
style was typical of the press of that day, and words were 
used with especial freedom when a political subject claimed 
the attention of the editor or contributor. In fact, it seems 
to have been the universal practice to treat a political oppon- 
ent as a moral or mental delinquent. 

The editors of the Alabama papers confined their remarks 
to one or two columns, where they expressed their opinions 
upon National politics, or subjects of local interest. Person- 
al affairs were never paraded in print, nor was mention ever 
made of social activities. This was due, not only to ideas of 
decorum which differ from ours, but also to the conception 
that the press was strictly a public institution. Letters from 
subscribers on political matters were frequently published, 
and these formed an important element in every discussion. 

The first newspaper founded in Alabama was the Madison 
Gazette, established at Huntsville in 1812 -, 1 in 1816 its name 

i Smith and DeLand (Pub.), Northern Alabama, 251. 


was changed to the Alabama Republican; 2 and in 1825 this 
was consolidated with the Alabamian to become the Southern 
Advocate.* John Boardman, a Massachusetts man who allied 
himself with the "Aristocratic Party" of Huntsville, was editor 
first of the Republican and later of the Advocate. He sup- 
ported Adams for the Presidency in 1824 and, though going 
over to Jackson in 1828, he always opposed the State Bank and 
its adherents. 

In 1823 an opposition paper called the Democrat was found- 
ed at Huntsville. 4 Its editor, Mr. William B. Long, of Ken- 
tucky, was a supporter of Clay. Claiming to be a leader of 
"the people" as opposed to "the aristocracy" and the Alabama 
Republican, he hotly took issue with Boardman on the ques- 
tion of the State Bank ; and presently came over to the support 
of Jackson for the Presidency. Crawford men, the Mer- 
chants' and Planters' Bank of Huntsville, and "aristocrats" 
in general were the particular antipathies of the Democrat; at 
the same time it was lenient toward those who combined the 
support of the State Bank with that of Adams. So bitter was 
its attitude toward its opponents that the successor of Long, a 
Mr. Andrew Wills, who had come from Virginia to Huntsville 
as a school teacher, was shot down on the street by a political 

The storm center of Alabama was in the Tennessee Valley, 
and the Democrat and the Republican expressed the extreme 
views of the two factions. In the remainder of the State 
there was less agitation, the interior towns usually having but 
one paper which, while expressing its own views, took a mild 
attitude so as to retain the good-will of all moderate men. 
• In Mobile, commercial affairs were given the precedence 
over politics. The first paper published here,— the Mobile 
Gazette, — was established in 1816 by a Mr. Cotton.- In 1821, 
Mr. John Battelle, having established the Montgomery Repub- 
lican in the same year, formed a partnership with Mr. J. W. 
Townsend and founded the Mobile Commercial Register/' John 
Battelle was a native of Boston and a member of the Alabama 
Company which helped to found the town of Montgomery. The 
Register supported Crawford for the Presidency, and in 1822 

2 Betts, History of Huntsville, 80. 

3 Southern Advocate, May 6, 1823. 

* Alabama Republican, Oct. 10. 1S23. 

5 Meek, Romantic Passages, 103-104. 

6 Blue, History of Montgomery, 12. 


it bought out the Gazette/ a, move which its enemies attribut- 
ed to political motives. Its principal interest was in com- 
mercial affairs, and it opposed the establishment of a State 
Bank upon the plan advocated by Pickens. In 1822, the Mo- 
bile Argus was founded by Charles A. Henry,* but the follow- 
ing year the firm of Nicholas and Henry succeeded to the 
ownership and charged the name to the Mercantile Advertis- 
er. 9 This paper supported Adams for the Presidency, but, 
like practically all the others of that faith, it claimed "to do 
justice to all." 

The Montgomery Repiib'doan, founded by Battelle in 1821, 
changed its name in 1825 and became the Montgomery Journ- 
al. 10 It supported Adams from the first. The Cahazuba 
Press, founded in 1819 at the State Capital by William B. Al- 
len, 11 a native of Boston, joined the support of Adams with 
that of Pickens and the State Bank. In 1824, Allen sold his 
paper to a Mr. Lumpkin, but when the purchaser proceeded 
to support Crawford, the friends of the State Bank, both Jack- 
son and Adams men, combined to set Allen up in business 
again and to give a new lease of life to the Press. 12 The fact 
that Allen, in spite of the competition of Lumpkin and others, 
was elected State printer as long as the capital remained at Ca- 
hawba, shows that the support of Adams was not particularly 
prejudicial to the popularity of an editor so long as he was a 
friend of "the people's Bank." 13 

In 1819, there were six papers in Alabama: the Alabama 
Republican of Huntsville, the Halcyon (established at St. Ste- 
phens in 1814), the Mobile Gazette, the Cahaiuba Press, the 
Blakely Sun, and the Tuscaloosa Mirror. By 1823 the num- 
ber had risen to ten, 14 and the next year it amounted to fif- 
teen. 15 During 1825, there were sixteen or seventeen papers 
published in the State, 16 but the following year saw the num- 
ber reduced again to ten. 17 

'Mobile Register, Mav 9, 1822. 

8 St. Stephens Halcyon, Nov. 2. 1822; Cahawba Press, Nov. 22, 1822. 

» Cahaicba Press, Nov. 29, 1823. 

1° Blue, History of Montgomery, 12. 

ii Blue MS.. Dallas County, 16. 

12 Cahaivba Press. Sept. 25, 1824; Tuscaloosa Mirror, Sept. 11, 1824. 

13 Alabama, Senate Journal, 1823, 96-97; Ibid., 1824, 38-39; Ibid., 1825, 

a Cahaicba Press, June 21, 1823. 

13 Alabama Republican, June 11, 1824. 

is tuscumbian, April 18, 1825. 

17 Huntsville Democrat, Sept. 15, 1826. 


The great publishing activity of 1824 was undoubtedly a re- 
sult of the presidential campaign of that year, and it speaks 
much for the political influence of the press at that time. In 
1824 it was said that, of the fifteen papers in Alabama, seven, 
edited by Northern men, were for Adams ; but all of these ex- 
cept the Huntsville Republican, were published in the south- 
ern part of the State. 18 Two years later, when the number of 
papers had been reduced to ten and the support of Jackson 
had become almost universal among the people, three publica- 
tions were said to have remained steadfast in their support of 
Adams, three or four were said to have opposed him consist- 
ently, while the rest maintained an uncertain attitude. 19 The 
popularity of the New Englander in the Alabama press can 
be ascribed primarily to the northern origin of so many of the 
editors. The combination of the support of Pickens and the 
State Bank with that of Adams increased the popularity of 
publications which differed from the majority of their pat- 
rons on the subject of the Presidency. Nevertheless, there 
was a tendency among the newspaper men to modify their 
opinions gradually in order to accomodate themselves to the 
trend of public sentiment. 

The early settlers of Alabama were not indifferent to the 
problem of education, and the grant of the sixteenth section 
in each township for local schools afforded a solid foundation 
upon which to build, but the results were not as favorable as 
might have been expected. In good agricultural districts, 
the sixteenth section usually yielded sufficient income to sup- 
port, or partially support, several schools with fairly well-paid 
teachers. But in areas where the soil was poor, there was 
little income from the land, and the zeal of the population was 
usually not sufficient to make up the deficit. 20 Travelers 
noted the existence of creditable free schools as early as 
1820, 21 but these were not universal — perhaps not even usual. 

One of the main difficulties lay in the management of the 
school property. This was vested in a board of commission- 
ers appointed by the county authorities. 22 Supervision over 

is Ibid., Aug. 24, 1824. 

19 Ibid., Sept. 15, 182G. 

20 Blandin, Education of Women in the South, 59. 

21 Hodgson, Letters from North America, I, 144, 269. 
-- Acts of Dec. 18. I8ij, and Jan. 1, 1823. 


these commissions was vague or non-existent, and their con- 
duct of affairs was a frequent source of complaint. 23 

Even such support as the public schools possessed was men- 
aced when the lure of the State Bank induced the legislature 
to promote a scheme for selling the sixteenth sections and in- 
vesting the proceeds in the popular institution. In 1826, the 
Alabama delegation was instructed by the legislature to se- 
cure from Congress permission to sell these lands and devote 
the proceeds to the maintenance of the schools. 24 In 1827, 
Congress granted the request, providing that the sale should 
be made only with the consent of the township concerned. 25 
The next year the legislature made provisions for carrying out 
the plan. The proceeds of the lands were to be invested in 
the State Bank at six per cent, interest and the income devoted 
to the purpose for which the grant had been made. 26 Thus 
the Bank could look forward to a considerable extension of its 
resources, and the schools could contemplate an uncertain fu- 

In addition to the public schools, private schools were es- 
tablished from time to time in the larger towns, and by 1823 
as many as eight academies had been chartered. 27 Apparent- 
ly, the first of these to go into actual operation was the Green 
Academy, chartered by the legislature of Mississippi Territory 
in 1812. Though a grant of five hundred dollars was made 
to this institution in 1816, and funds provided later brought 
the total up to about two thousand dollars, nothing had been 
done toward putting the school in operation before 1820. 28 At 
about this time, however, the trustees bestirred themselves, 
raised funds by popular subscription, and had a creditable in- 
stitution in operation within a year or two. 29 

The first academy for girls was founded at Athens in 1822, 
and appears to have been a successful enterprise. 30 At about 
the same time, a private school for girls was opened in Hunts- 
ville by a Mr. and Mrs. DeVendel. 

23 Huntsviile Democrat, Feb. 9, May 18, and June 29, 1827. 

24 Alabama, House Journal. 1826, 244. 
2.-, Statutes at Larue, IV. 237. 

26 Act. of Jan. 15. 1828. 

2? Toulmin, Code of 1823. 

2s Alabama Republican, Nov. 10, 1820. 

2" Mention of the subscription papers is made in the Alabama Republi- 
can for Aug:. 3, 1821, and the address of the trustees is anions the Walk- 
er Papers. 

3" Incorporated Dec. 9, 1822; Southern Advocate, May 19, 1826. 


The subjects usually taught during this period included 
grammar, history, mathematics, and geography, while the, 
schools for girls included in their curriculum also music, 
needle-work, painting, and dancing. The academies took up 
instruction in Latin, some of the sciences, and rhetoric. 

The Federal Government had granted two townships to the 
State of Alabama for the purpose of founding a university, 
and in 1820 that institution was given a formal existence by 
the legislature, but nothirg more than a name was establish- 
ed at this time. 31 In 1321 a board of trustees was appointed 
and given power to dispose of the university lands, invest the 
proceeds and establish the institution as soon as a site should 
be designated by the legislature. 3 - The first meeting of the 
board was held during the next year and arrangements were 
made for disposing of the property. It was decided to adopt 
a credit system of sales, requiring one-fourth of the purchase 
money to be paid down, and the remainder in three install- 
ments. 33 During the first few years there was a good demand 
for the lands, and by 1828 the total sales amounted to $285,- 
000. 34 

But the State Bank interfered here also and the establish- 
ment of the University was delayed. The trustees could not 
move until the legislature had decided on the location, and 
Governor Pickens, being anxious to use the university funds 
as capital for the Bank, secured the postponement of the loca- 
tion until after his term of office had expired. 35 It was in- 
tended from the first that the greater part of the fund should 
be used as an endowment, and, considering the hopes that were 
entertained for the success of the Bank, there was nothing 
morally wrong in the Governor's plan for investment, but his 
attitude shows where his interest chiefly lay. About $89,000, 
or practically all the cash received in payment on the lands 
sold, was invested by the trustees of the university in the Bank 
before anything was done to give the institution of learning 
a practical existence. 36 

Governor Murphy, on coming into office, advised the legis- 
lature to locate the university, 37 and in 1827 Tuscaloosa was 

31 Act of Dec. 18, 1820. 

32 Act of Deo. 18. 1821. 

33 Alabama, Hou.-e Journal. 7-t ft sen,; Cnhavbn Press, June 29, 1822. 

34 Alabama, Senate Journal, 1S28, f>8. 

35 Franklin Enquirer, April 21, 1824; Alabama, Senate Journal, 1825, 

30 Alabama, Senate Journal, 1328, 98. 
27 Ibid., 1826, 6. 


selected as its site. 38 In 182S the trustees drew up a plan in- 
cluding the construction of the following- buildings : one cen- 
tral building to be used as a chapel, lecture hall, and library; 
one chemical laboratory and lecture hall; four professors' 
houses, each accomodating two professors; two or more ho- 
tels or boarding houses : and six dormitories. It was propos- 
ed that the central building, the laboratory, two of the profes- 
sors' houses, one hotel, and two dormitories be erected at once, 
and contracts were let accordingly. 39 A tract of fifty acres 
adjoining the university site was purchased so that clay for 
brick and timber for structural purposes could be obtained 
close at hand. 40 The corner-stone was laid during the same 
year, 41 and in 1831 the University of Alabama opened its 
doors, with Dr. Alva Woods, formerly at the head of Transyl- 
vania University, as its first president. 4 - 

In religious matters, tho Methodists and Baptists have al- 
ways held the center of the field in Alabama. The predomi- 
nance of these two denominations in the old Southwest is an 
interesting phenomenon, and the development in one State 
would probably be paralleled by the situation in most of the 

The period following the American Revolution was a fertile 
one for the sowing of religious seed. The events of the 
French Revolution had left the world more or less in doubt 
concerning its old creeds, and the French philosophers, follow- 
ed by Jefferson in this Country, gave skepticism a wide vogue. 
But the coming of the Wesleys and Whitfield had earlier 
brought a new faith, and at a time when America was begin- 
ning to spread westward. 

The organization of the Methodist society was peculiarly fit- 
ted to frontier conditions. With a central governing body 
made up of the bishops, a definite policy could be adopted and 
carried out in an effective manner. With its "free-for-all" 
ideas regarding the ministry, men could be drawn into the 
service of the church whose lack of education was atoned for 
by a zeal which strengthened them to endure the hardships of 
the forest and to work for the love of their creed with very lit- 
tle compensation in a material way. The institution of the 

3» Ibid., 1827, 109-110. ~" 

3" Alabama. Senate Journal, 1828, 13, 100, 207-208. 

-K' Ibid.. 1S28, 98. 

n Mobile Register. Nov. 4, 1S2S. 

*2 University of Alabama, Bulletin, November, 1906. 


circuit rider enabled one man to do the work of several, and 
was a most efficient means of meeting frontier conditions. 
Finally the development of the '"camp meeting" brought the 
scattered people together under conditions which made a 
strong emotional appeal to the pioneer, and enabled a few men 
to exert a powerful influence over many. 43 

In the combination of these means, the Methodists had an 
advantage over all other denominations in the thinly-settled 
frontier; but the Baptists, though lacking organization, had 
a zeal which largely overcame this difficulty. Their appeal, 
like that of the Methodists, was to the emotions of the plain 
man, and their ministry was also adapted to frontier con- 
ditions. They brought their gospel to the pioneer by much 
the same means as those employed by the followers of Wesley, 
and the local independence of their churches seems to have 
been so agreeable to the free spirit of the West that it enabled 
them to compete on equal terms with their religious rivals. 

In the early part of the Nineteenth Century, religion was 
neither accepted nor rejected with the indifference that is ac- 
corded it today. The average back-woodsman was not by na- 
ture inclined to be strictly religious, but he was inclined to be 
positive. When the question came to him he took his stand 
either for it or against it, and made a good supporter or an 
out-spoken antagonist. Neither was he inclined to be theoret- 
ical, and in the struggle between the Methodists and the Bap- 
tists, he seems to have been more interested in the spirit in 
which the rivals worked than in their rival creeds. 

But all this does not apply to the planters. It was said that 
the cultivated people never went to the camp meetings, 44 and 
it is certain that these were attended by a degree of emotion- 
alism which is often repulsive to the more refined. The 
strongholds of the Methodists and Baptists were in the rural 
districts, 4 "' and that the townspeople were more or less unfa- 
miliar with camp meeting procedure is indicated by a descrip- 
tion which the editor of the Huntsville Democrat, who was a 
defender of religion, thought it worth-while to print. 4 '"' A 

*3 In the Minutes of Conferences, Vol. I, may be found lists of all the 
Alabama Methodist congregations, giving the number of members for 
each year, beginning with 1820. 

*■* Royall, Letters from Alabama, 122. 

*5 Riley. Baptists in Alabama, 64; McDonnold, Cumberland Presbyteri- 
an History, 162-163. 

*6 Huntsville Democrat, Oct. 14, 1823; See also Southern Advocate, 
Sept. 9, 1825. and July 28, L826; Huntsville Democrat, Oct. 14, 1823, and 
Oct. 27, 1826. 


favorable spot in the woods was selected as the place of wor- 
ship, and a pulpit and altar erected in a crude way. Benches 
were arranged around this, and tents for the accomodation of 
tables and guests were pitched about the grounds. Two ser- 
mons were usually preached in the morning, and then a short 
recess was allowed for dinner. At this time, the worshippers 
would repair to the tents where abundant supplies of food 
were laid out for the benefit of all. People from the sur- 
rounding country came on horseback, in carriages, or afoot, as 
circumstances permitted, and brought their picnic lunches 
with them. The occasion was one of social as well as religious 
enjoyment ; and crowds of thousands were sometimes assembl- 
ed to hear favorite exhorters. After dinner, the services 
were resumed, and they were always concluded by an invita- 
tion to repentant sinners to come up to the altar. Large num- 
bers usually went forward, and as the minister prayed for 
them, the congregation went into a religious ecstacy of pray- 
ing, moaning, and shouting. But it must not be inferred that 
these were disorderly gatherings. There was a spirit of so- 
ciability and festivity on the part of the people and of gravity 
on the part of the leaders which gave them a dignity of their 

The planters usually had at least some latent religious belief. 
There were Episcopalians among them, but they were not of a 
missionary spirit and their numbers were too few to found 
many churches in the early days. 47 Presbyterians were present 
in larger numbers and a church of that faith was usually estab- 
lished in the leading towns. 48 Here they were active rivals of 
the Methodists and Baptists, who also established churches 
and held "protracted" meetings. 4J Bible societies were or- 
ganized in several places, 50 and Huntsville had an inter-de- 
nominational Sunday School. 51 In Mobile the Episcopalians 
formed the nucleus of an inter-denominational protestant 
church, which was the only rival of the older Catholic congre- 
gation of that place. 52 

47 Whitaker, Episcopal Church. 13. 

48 Wyman. Geographical Sketch of Alabama, in Transactions, Ala. His. 
Soc, 1898-1899. Ill, 118; Mobile Register, April 29, 1828, and Nov. 4. 
1828; Franklin Enquirer, March 20. 1824. 

« Huntsville Democrat, May 16, 1828. 

so Southern Advocate, Aug:. 12, 1825; Tuscumbian, Apr. 18. 1825. 

51 Huntsville Democrat, Sept. 5, 1828. 

52 Mobile Register, Jan. 1, 1828, and Feb. 28. 1828. 

Chapter XIV. 


In a newly-settled area to which people have flocked from 
many places and for many purposes, one would expect to find 
varied social conditions, and in Alabama they ran all the way 
from one extreme to the other. To begin at the bottom, the 
Indian border offered a favorite location for fugitives from 
justice, traffickers in whisky, and rascals of every description. 
The State had no jurisdiction within the reservations, and this 
fact was taken advantage of by all such persons. It worked 
a great hardship on the natives and gave rise to complaints 
which were fully justified, but very hard to meet. 1 It was 
often said that the contact of the red men with the whites was 
sadly detrimental to the former, and since their associations 
were usually with the worst of the whites, this is not hard to 

But the miscreants were not confined to the borders. New 
country is attractive to adventurers of every sort; the lonely 
roads through the forests afforded robbers a choice field of 
operations, while the towns were alluring to gamblers of va- 
rious breeds.- There is an account of a band of men inter- 
cepted on their way to Huntsville whose baggage was found to 
contain counterfeit notes and gambling devices of every de- 
scription. 3 Complaint was made that gamesters in that town 
often assumed an air of importance because they were noticed 
by men of standing, 4 and the young men seem generally to 
have fallen an easy prey to the wandering gamblers." 

The towns were infested also with a set of people who were 
not criminals, but who might be included under the term 
"rowdy." 6 While the young men of the towns appear to have 

i Southern Advocate, April 14. and Dec. 15, 1826; Alabama, Senate 
Journal, 1821, 11; Birney's Birney, 55; Levasseur, Lafayette en Arncri- 
que, II, 335-339. 

2 Alabama. Senate Journal, 1825; 12; Huntsville Democrat, Apr. 6, 
1827, and June 30, 1826; Hall Papers, Report of a committee of the leg- 
islature appointed to investigate causes of crime. 

3 Southern Advocate. July 22, 1825. 

4 Huntsville Democrat, June 16. 1826. 

5 Huntsville Democrat, June 16, 1826, and May 25, 1827; Saunders. 
Early Settlers hi Ala'n ■(, 45. 

6 Riley, Conecuh Con «'/. 93; Saunders, Early Settlers in Alabama, 45- 
46; Yerby, Greensboro, 8, 12; Tuscumbian, Oct. 22, 1824. 


been victims to dandyism, idleness, and gambling rather than 
to boorishness, 7 the rowdies were apparently visitors from 
the surrounding country who came in to make a holiday in a 
boisterous manner. It is stated that in Greensboro horse rac- 
ing through the main street became such a nuisance that the 
citizens were provoked to threaten to shoot any one who per- 
sisted in the practice, 8 

It was, however, at the cross-roads store, the militia mus- 
ter, and the barbecue that the rustics mostly congregated. 
Horse-play was the rule at such places, and assemblies 
usually ended in drunkenness and fighting. Yet these frays 
were not blood-thirsty affairs, but merely a hardy form of 
sport. Those who engaged in them were not brutal, but mere- 
ly vigorous pioneers who loved a struggle with nature or with 
man. 9 

The barbecue, like the camp-meeting, was an institution. 
Its use was largely political and its appeal seems to have been 
almost irresistible. Before an election, these gatherings were 
arranged and advertised by men whose interest was primarily 
financial. Shoat and whisky in abundance were always taken 
for granted, and the candidates were bound to appear to assert 
their claims and prove their democracy. 10 Sentiment against 
the barbecues began to be aroused about 1826 and the Hunts- 
ville papers instituted a campaign against them. The candi- 
dates seem to have been willing enough to drop the practice, 
and some of them began to refrain from attendance. 11 But 
whisky was always one of the strongest arguments in a politi- 
cal campaign. A Mobile paper published an ironical offer to 
furnish any man enough whisky to drown his reason on elec- 
tion day, which was a jibe at the custom of "treating" by the 
candidates. 1 - A Huntsville paper makes the statement that 
bottles of liquor were arranged in rows with labels on them 
which the casual observer would take for designations of 
brand, but which in reality designated the candidate who 
furnished the drink. 13 

~ Tuscumbian, Feb. 28, 1825. 

s Yerby, Greensboro, 14. 

s Riley, Makers and Romance of Alabama History, 584-588. 

10 Royall, Letters from North America, 120; Southern Advocate, July 
8, 1825, and June 1, 1827. 

11 Southern Advocate, Aug. 5, 1825, July 13, 1S27, April, IS. 1828, Apr. 
25, 182S, May 2, 1828, and June 6, 1S2^: Mobile Register, Julv 19, 1S2S. 

iZNiles Register, XXXVI, 165. 

13 Southern Advocate, Aug. 5, 1825. 


This is the darker side of a picture which was not all dark. > 
The habit of drinking was almost universal at the time, and 
the practice of "treating" was looked upon more as hospitali- 
ty than as bribery. To let this and the other conditions which 
have been described prejudice one's mind against the people of 
early Alabama would be to do an injustice to the great mass of 
them who farmed their patches of cotton and corn ; lived a 
hardy, rugged life close to nature ; were friendly toward their 
neighbors and hospitable toward strangers; made an honest 
living for themselves and their families ; attended to their own 
business most of the time and only stopped now and then to 
celebrate. 14 

The planters formed a class to themselves, yet it was neither 
a closed nor a homogeneous class. The smaller ones lived much 
as did the farmers, while those with extensive estates some- 
times attained an elegance which was impressive. The great 
majority of them, however, were merely in comfortable cir- 
cumstances and their pride was based, not upon wealth or dis- 
play, but upon the sense of independence and authority which 
their position in society gave them. 

Perhaps Montgomery County best represents the planter 
life of the early days. The soil here was more uniformly fer- 
tile than that of most other counties, and consequently it was 
more uniformly taken up by men of the planter type. Prosperi- 
ty and independence came to be the rule. Being in easy water 
communication with Mobile and doing business on a sufficient 
scale to warrant it, the planters had few dealings with local 
merchants, but traded directly with the port on the Gulf, gen- 
erally going down once a year to purchase supplies. The soci- 
ability of the people and the law-abiding nature of the com- 
munity are pictured as ideal, no jail having been maintained 
and only one duel having been fought during the early period. 15 

It is true that the combination of rural simplicity and native 
refinement on the plantation at its best furnished the basis 
for a picturesque and pleasant civilization, but the best is not 
often attained. In Madison County, for instance, there was a 
large planting community, but some of the planters were ex- 
cessively wealthy and used their wealth to secure commercial 
and political advantages. This aroused the antagonism of 

n Blue MS., St. Clair County, 10; Fayette County. 10; Pickens Coun- 
ty, 10. 

15 Robertson, Montgomery County, 11-13, 15-16, 3G-3S, 123, 139-140. 


men who were not financially independent, and there was a 
strong element of Tennessee farmers to wage the fight. In 
fact there was generally a tendency for the poor to be jealous 
of the rich, but there was no antagonism against the planters, 
as such 10 The plainer people had no political leaders of their 
own and appear to have been perfectly willing to support 
planters of means when they made it their business to court 
popular favor by advocating popular measures. 

The social atmosphere of Alabama, as established by the 
planters, varied from place to place. Where wealth was even- 
ly distributed and notable fortunes and town-life were large- 
ly lacking, there does not appear to have been that gaiety of 
social intercourse which is usually thought of in connection 
with the plantation. The people spent their time in an unas- 
suming and largely self-sufficient way. But neighborliness 
and hospitality were not wanting even under these circum- 
stances. 17 Gaiety was the rule, however, in the towns, which 
furnished the centers of recreation. 1 s Dramatic clubs were 
formed among the younger people, theatres were built in the 
larger communities, and dances and parties were of frequent 
occurrence. There was a greater freedom in Western society 
than in that of the East ; 1;) calling was more informally done, 
and women were somewhat less restricted by convention. An 
Eastern paper criticised the ladies of Huntsville for attending 
a Fourth of July celebration at the local inn, and a local editor 
defended them, saying that he saw nothing improper in their 
having done so. 2 " There was a general diffusion of informa- 
tion concerning matters of common knowledge, but though li- 
braries were established in Huntsville and Montgomery, little 
attention was, as a rule, paid to purely intellectual cultivation. 
Among the men, horse-racing was a favorite sport and courses 
were established in the vicinity of the more important towns. 
Some fanciers had fast horses of English breed and kept race- 

i« Huntsville Democrat, April 12, 1825, March 17, 1826, July 6, 1827, 
March 23, 1S27; Royall, Letters from Alabama, 95, 100. 

i" Saunders, Eariy Settlers in Alabama, 42; Meek, The Southwest, 32- 
33; Blue MS. Baldwin County, 10, Autauga County, II, 10, Lowndes 
County, 5, 10, Wilcox County, 10, Lawrence County, 10, Limestone 
County, 10. 

1S Yerby, Greensboro, 17-19; Royall, Letters from Xorth America, 48; 
Hodgson, Letters from S'orth America, I, 185; Huntsville Democrat, 
April 13, 1827. 

19 Royall, Letters From America, 46. 

20 Huntsville Democrat, Sept. 9, 1825. 


tracks of their own. Playing- for stakes was a common diver- 
sion, and drinking was as prevalent among the wealthy as it 
was among the poorer people. It is stated in the biography of 
James G. Birney that he, while living in Huntsville, followed 
the fashion in all these things,- 1 and the historian of the Bap- 
tist denomination in Alabama asserts that even ministers were 
often patrons of the bottle and carried potions of their favor- 
ite brands in their pockets when they went to meetings. 22 But 
gentlemen prided themselves on knowing when they had had 
enough, nor were such practices confined to Alabama at that 
time. As always, the ear-iest days were the roughest. A set- 
tler of this period who had not attended a trial in many years, 
was so much impressed by the improved order which he found 
in the court-room after his long absence, that he said he felt as 
though he were attending church services. 23 

The conditions under which slavery adjusted itself to a new 
frontier afford an interesting topic for study, but, since mat- 
ters of domestic economy were taken for granted, specific in- 
formation has been difficult to obtain. 

Basil Hall gives an excellent description of the plantation 
system as it existed on a sea-island estate of Georgia in 
1828. 24 The hands were rated in accordance with their physi- 
cal ability and given daily "tasks" in proportion to their 
strength. The fields were divided into quarter-acre tracts, 
and one, two, or three of these tracts, depending uoon the na- 
ture of the work to be done, constituted the task for the day. 
Diligence enabled the slave to finish his assignment early in 
the afternoon and he was allowed to spend the remainder of 
the day at leisure. In this way discipline was maintained and 
the necessity for compulsion reduced to a minimum. 

Hall states that this system was universally employed, say- 
ing that the existence of distinct classes in the South discour- 
aged all innovation. Other accounts show that the tasking 
system existed in South Carolina. Writers of the period stress 
the necessity for well-defined and clearly-understood regula- 
tions in the management of slaves, and the strict enforcement 
of discipline is insisted upon as a prime necessity. 25 The dis- 
gruntled slave had the recourse of running away, and in order 

21 Birney's Birney, 42, 47-48. 

22 Riley, Baptists in Alabama, 61. 

23 Saunders, Early Settlers in Alabama, 45. 

2» Basil Hall, Travels in North America, 230-239. 
23 Southern Agriculturist, II, 575-576. 


to prevent this and secure effective organization, regularity, 
kindness, and firmness were essential. 

When the system was transplanted to the new soil of Ala- 
bama, differences in spirit, if not in form, would necessarily 
arise; but the available information is too scant to allow a 
thorough study of the changes. The provisions for slavery 
which were incorporated in the constitution of 1819 were of a 
liberal spirit. The legislature might not forbid the importa- 
tion of slaves who were the bona fide property of their owners, 
but it was empowered to prohibit the introduction of negroes 
for sale. Slaves might be freed by their owners with the con- 
sent of the legislature, or the legislature might take the initi- 
ative in liberating negroes provided the consent of their own- 
ers had been obtained, or remuneration made. In addition, 
slaves were not to be deprived of trial by petit jury when ar- 
raigned for crimes more serious than petty larceny ; and in the 
case one were murdered or dismembered, the punishment for 
the crime was to be the same as though a white man had been 
the victim. The provisions show a desire to treat the unfor- 
tunate race with consideration, but the problem of managing 
slaves was a delicate one, and difficulties developed. The 
negroes were irresponsible and often faithless. When they 
were displeased, they frequently ran away and lodged in 
swamps to prey upon the surrounding country; when they 
were allowed to go at large on Sundays, they congregated in 
the towns and became a public nuisance; when they were al- 
lowed to hire out their own time, they often became idlers in 
the streets ; when they were allowed to sell the produce of their 
leisure hours, they often stole and sold the property of their 
masters. 26 In order to meet this situation, acts were passed 
forbidding slaves to sell any articles except such simple things 
as they could make with their own hands. 27 Passes were re- 
quired of negroes who wished to visit premises belonging to 
others than their masters, 28 and in order to prevent slaves 
from wandering around the country or holding unauthorized 
meetings where dangerous doctrines might be inculcated, a 
patrol system was kept up. Military districts were establish- 
ed, all able-bodied men were required to serve in the militia, 

2* Alabama Republican, Sept. 13, 1822; Ibid., Aug:. 29, 1823; Alabama 
Journal, Jan. 6. 182(5; Ibid., May 19, 1826; Ibid.. Sept. 15, 1826; Tuscum- 
bian, June 28, 1826; Southern Advocate, June 22, 1827. 

-" Act of January 2, 1S26. 

28 Act of March 6, 1805. 


and the captain of each company was required to detail pa- 
trols whose duty it was to enforce the law.-' J But the admin- 
istration of the system was frequently lax, and it, therefore, 
lacked effectiveness. 

Slavery was, at this period, looked upon by Southerners as 
a necessary evil, and the slave-trader was heartily detested by 
the planters in general. 3 " This spirit found its expression in 
Alabama through the act of the legislature in 1826 which for- 
bade the introduction of slaves for purposes of sale." 1 It is 
apparent, too, that this move was assisted by the depressed 
state of the cotton market which accompanied the panic of 
1825, and which caused many to feel that over-production of 
the staple would result from an increase in the number of la- 
borers. 3 - But in this matter, Alabama was merely following 
the lead of most of the other cotton-producing states. 

The question of slavery was open to debate in the South 
until the activity of the Abolitionists and the Nat Turner in- 
surrection in Virginia convinced the planters that agitation 
was dangerous to their system and their safety.' 53 James G. 
Birney, who was a resident of Huntsville during these years, 
was instrumental in the enactment of the lenient provisions 
in regard to slavery which have been mentioned, and his biog- 
rapher states that his ideas were not in advance of the senti- 
ment of the planters of that day. 34 Opinions deprecating the 
existence of slavery were printed by some of the editors who 
published papers in Alabama, 35 and in 1824 the Tuscaloosa 
Miwor advertised that subscriptions to Benjamin Lundy's pi- 
oneer abolitionist paper, the Genius of Universal Emancipa- 
tion, would be received at the office of the local publication. 36 
In discussing a memorial from the legislature of Ohio, which 
advocated general emancipation, the Governor of Alabama 
spoke mildly and said that an offer of remuneration by the 
Government might some day be opportune. 37 

29 Act of Dec. 18, 1812. 

30 Southern Advocate, Oct. 21, 1826; Ibid., June 23, 1826; Birney's 
Birney, 56; Alabama. Senate Journal, 1823, 15. 

3i Act of Jan. 13. 1827. 

32 Huntsville Democrat, Dec. 22, 1826. 

83 Birney's Birney, 72. 

34 Ibid., 72. 

35 Southern Advocate, Dec. 30, 1825. Speaking of the slave trade, the 
editor of this paper says: "On one vessel the slaves happily revolted 
and killed the crew." 

36 Tuscaloosa, Mirror, Ausr. 7, 1825. 

3" Alabama, Senate Journal, 1825, 13-14. 


The first step toward the defensive attitude was taken when 
the legislature attempted in 1827 to pass an act forbidding the 
teaching of slaves by free persons. Though receiving the sup- 
port of a good part of the southern portion of the State, the 
measure was defeated by the opposition which it encountered 
in the Tennessee Valley. 3,5 

This is the only_ instance where any degree of sectionalism 
is betrayed in the treatment of a question related to slavery 
in Alabama during the 'twenties. Even in the vote on the bill 
to prohibit the further introduction of slaves for sale, there 
is no alignment of slave-holding against non-slave-holding 
counties. The Tennessee Valley and the Alabama-Tombigbee 
Valleys were the principal cotton-producing areas, but this 
fact would never be discovered by a study of the votes. There 
were some planters who thought that enough slaves had al- 
ready been introduced, while there were farmers who expect- 
ed some day to purchase slaves and become planters them- 
selves. Such a situation emphasizes the point previously 
brought out that there was no class antagonism between the 
cotton planter and the small farmer. 

In the Tennessee Valley there were a few estates numbering 
several hundred slaves, but the majority of men who come out 
to Alabama were in moderate circumstances. It was not 
those who had made their fortunes, but those who sought to 
make them, who were willing to sever the old ties and move in- 
to the new country. Twenty or thirty negroes seem to have 
been a normal force for the average estate, but the majority 
of men who emigrated to Alabama had, it would seem, not so 
many as this. 

The early history of Alabama appears to have been deeply 
influenced by the relatively close contact between the planters 
and the farmers. The frontier conditions which threw men 
upon their own resources and promoted rapid changes in sta- 
tion ; the relatively narrow extent of the cotton-producing 
areas and the consequent proximity of planting and farming 
districts; the moderate estates of the planters and the lack of 
exclusive society outside the largest towns ; the relatively small 
number of planters as compared with the farmers, — all these 
conditions made Alabama a state where democracy was the 
rule in spite of slavery. 

as Alabama, House Journal, 1827, 209. 

Chapter XV. 


Having attempted to trace the economic and political de- 
velopment of Alabama during the formative period, it remains 
to point out those factors which appear to have had special 
significance. We begin with a country which contained but 
one white settlement isolated in the midst of Indian tribes. 
The native had long dreaded the continued intrusion of the 
white man, and the effects of the unwelcome contact were tell- 
ing upon him in several important ways. The sturdy self-re- 
liance which the wilderness had instilled in him was being un- 
dermined by a state of semi-dependence, while whisky and the 
sharpers who sold it to him were combining to degrade his 
natural honesty. But the white man was striking at the roots 
of his existence in another way. As his land was taken from 
him bit by bit, the problem of living by the chase became ever 
more difficult. It was already impossible to rely altogether 
upon game for subsistence, and all the southern Indians en- 
gaged in primitive agriculture, the agents sent among them 
by the Government doing all they could to promote the indus- 
try by the introduction of new crops and improved methods. 
But the Red Man looked ahead and adopted one or the other of 
two policies against the future. He either strove to adapt him- 
self to the conditions of civilization, or he assumed an atti- 
tude of hostile resistance to the invasion of the whites. 

The white men who pushed ahead of civilization into the 
Alabama region came partly as traders and partly as settlers. 
Some of the traders took up their abode among the Indians 
and chose native wives from among them. Those who came 
for agricultural purposes gathered upon the lower Tombigbee, 
where the land had been cleared of the Indian title. Some of 
them used large numbers of slaves in the culture of indigo and 
cotton, while others raised great herds of cattle which roamed 
throughout the year in the cane-brakes. English, Scottish, 
and American blood was mixed with that of the natives in this 
crude frontier society. 

When the War of 1812 was over; when the Creeks had been 
defeated by Jackson and new lands thrown open to settlement, 


squatters rushed in ahead of the Government sales. The best 
lands were first put on the marker, and by the time they were 
offered at public auction, the high price of cotton had cre- 
ated a feverish demand for these tracts. Currency disorders 
added to the excitement of speculation, and the result was that 
the actual settlers, who were men without means, could not 
compete for possession. It was in the years 1817, 1818, and 
1819, during which time the boom rose and fell, that the cot- 
ton kingdom was planted in Alabama. The planters from the 
very first took the river valleys for their own, but the prairie 
region, passing just south of Montgomery and Tuscaloosa and 
joining the upper Alabama basin with that of the Black War- 
rior, was not extensively settled until the period of the 'thir- 
ties. With this exception, the cotton producing areas were 
marked out during the period of first settlement. The men 
who were not wealthy enough to own slaves or to purchase 
the most desirable cotton lands took up their abode in the back 
country, which offered fertile though isolated fields ; and here 
they were usually able to purchase their farms at the minimum 
price of a dollar and a quarter an acre which prevailed after 
the speculative period was over. Thus there was not a great 
deal of active competition between the two agricultural class- 
es in the purchase of lands, and circumstances effected such a 
distribution of the territory between them that no general re- 
adjustment was afterward necessary. It is true that the per- 
centage of slaves in Alabama gradually increased, but the only 
counties in which the change was marked were those of the 
prairie region, which had not been extensively settled by men 
of the farming class. 

The outstanding economic factor during the period of set- 
tlement was the condition of indebtedness which applied to 
the community as a whole. Money was in great demand for 
investment in lands and slaves, and though the production of 
cotton brought in considerable funds, much was reinvested in 
agricultural equipment, while a large part went for supplies 
of flour, ccrn, and pork. So great was the interest in cotton 
planting that it was quite difficult to secure capital for other 
business. The result was that merchandising was left large- 
ly to men from the Northern States, while banking had to be 
carried on either by those who were able to secure special priv- 
ileges through their operations, or by the State. 

While the planter who operated on a large scale could deal 
directly with Mobile or New Orleans and thereby render him- 


self largely independent of country merchants and bankers, 
the small farmer, dependent upon a local market and a disord- 
ered currency, was at a disadvantage in financial transactions. 
The remoteness of the Tennessee Valley region from New Or- 
leans, and the questionable transactions of the Merchants' and 
Planters' Bank of Huntsville rendered this situation particu- 
larly acute, and promoted a class antagonism between the 
small farmers, predominantly of Tennessee origin, and the 
Georgia financiers and their associates. It was out of this 
antagonism that partisan differences first arose among the 
people in Alabama ; and, though spreading to the rest of the 
State, the storm-center was always in the north. 

Of course there had been political differences from the very 
first, but these agitated the office-seekers rather than the set- 
tlers. It is of much significance for later developments that 
William H. Crawford, then Secretary of the Treasury under 
Monroe, controlled the Federal patronage of Alabama during 
the first years of her existence. Tait, Walker, and the Bibbs 
were his principal adherents within the State. The jealousy 
created by this situation cemented the anti-Crawford leaders 
into a union against the Georgia men. It was probably be- 
cause North Carolina had sent a number of her prominent cit- 
izens to Alabama that she furnished the leading antagonists 
of the Crawford faction. 

Israel Pickens stands out as the first to see the possibilities 
of the situation and to bring forward an issue which would 
transform personal differences into real party issues. Pro- 
vision had been made in the constitution for the establishment 
of a State Bank and an attempt had been made to found such 
an institution by private subscription, but the necessary capi- 
tal was not forthcoming and the plan failed. When Pickens 
came into office, there was pending a scheme for entrusting 
the fate of the State corporation to the care of the existing 
private banks, but Pickens vetoed the bill and proposed a. 
bank the capital of which should consist entirely of the funds 
of the State. The people needed money, and this was to be a 
people's bank. Though it was not until the beginning of his 
second term of office that he was able to put the scheme 
through, the Bank, which was founded upon democratic rath- 
er than upon financial principles, finally went into operation 
in 1824, to the great delight of all those who had everything 
to gain and nothing to lose by the experiment. 


By this stroke, Pickens had united the anti-Crawford lead- 
ers with the men of the small-farmer class, as opposed to the, 
Crawford men from Georgia and the conservative class among 
the planters and merchants. 

In the face of such a combination, the Crawford men had no 
chance at all and, William Wyatt Bibb and John W. Walker 
having died, practically all the more desirable offices were 
wrested from them. The Georgia men had never been strong 
at general elections, but in the legislature their power had been 
great, and even now their partisans were able to make a strong 
fight in that body. 

This situation brings out an important point in Alabama 
politics. The constitution of 1819 is one of the few original 
frames of State government which lasted without substantial 
changes until the Civil War. This stability was due, in part 
at least, to the combination of conservatism with progressive- 
ness in the charter and this character was due to conditions 
surrounding its origin. In 1819, Alabama had a large number 
of poor settlers and a small number of wealthy planters 
and speculators. The former class had little interest in poli- 
tics, as such, while the latter had many reasons for such an 
interest. As a matter of course, the men who had the time, 
the ambition, the ability, and the means to engage in politics 
were chosen to the convention. Thus the unsuspecting set- 
tler sent to represent him a man whose point of view was en- 
tirely different from his own. Knowing that they could not 
afford to antagonize the poorer men who greatly outnumbered 
them, yet wishing to keep the management of the government 
in their own hands, the framers of the constitution drew up an 
instrument which was admirably suited to their purposes. 
While granting manhood suffrage and apportioning repre- 
sentation according to white population, it gave almost su- 
preme authority to the legislature, which, in the natural 
course of events, would be made up largely of men of some 

This arrangement would not have worked as intended had 
the poorer men ever united to support candidates from among 
themselves, but this they never did. They accepted their 
wealthier neighbors as leaders and secured legislation in their 
favor only when an ambitious politician, such as Pickens, 
sought popular favor through popular measures. 

The lack of consistency in the votes of the legislature pro- 
claims an absence of fixed partisan principles and a prepond- 


erance of personal vagaries, but when the people voted, they 
spoke clearly, and 'two convictions stand out to show the bent 
of their minds: there was a strong - antagonism between the 
north and south of the State, and there was a decided prefer- 
ence for Jackson on the part of the plain men. The conserva- 
tive class showed a strong- prejudice against Jackson, but in 
1824 they were outvoted in almost every county in Alabama. 

It is significant that both sections of the State were carried 
for Jackson in 1824. It is also significant that the strongest 
opposition to him was made in the southern cotton-producing 
area. The percentage of slaves, and hence the strength of 
the planting interest, was practically the same in the Ten- 
nessee Valley as in the Alabama-Tombigbee region. The 
stronger vote which Jackson received in the former section 
was due, it would seem, to the greater contrast which existed 
there between wealth and poverty, and to the class antagon- 
ism which the situation engendered. This was aggravated by 
the fact that, though Tennesseeans greatly predominated in 
the population of the Valley, the planters were largely from 
other states. 

Before the election of 1824, it was generally expected that 
Adams would carry the southern cotton section of Alabama. 
The press was strongly in his favor, and the Warrior-Tombig- 
bee section showed a consistent opposition to Jackson in the 
legislature. The General's unexpected strength in this region 
may reasonably be taken to indicate the predominance, even 
in the heart of the cotton belt, of the men whose votes spoke 
more powerfully than their arguments — the small farmers. 

As has been mentioned, the prairie country was the only ex- 
tensive region where a large proportion of the soil was suitable 
for cotton culture, and it was only here that the percentage of 
slaves increased markedly after the first period of settlement 
was over. Farmers mingled with the planters in all sections 
of the State, and it is doubtful whether the planters, as a class, 
could ever have carried more than a few counties of the Black 
Belt, if even they could have done so much. Their success de- 
pended upon their ability to draw support from among their 
neighbors, and the alliance of the anti-Crawford leaders with 
the farmers on the bank question shows that there was no 
aversion to such co-operation. 

In the matter of the Presidency, it seems that the farmers 
and the planters were very clearly divided on the question of 
Jacksonism, but in 1S28 the desire to defeat Adams was strong 


enough to unite both classes in support of the General. His 
old enemies went over with reservations, and their support 
was but temporary. 

Though the Crawford faction had been discredited, and the 
opposition to Jackson had completely lost its hold by 1828, a 
movement was already on foot which was fraught with signifi- 
cance for the future, and which was to put a new face upon 
the political situation. 

The belief in a strict construction of the Constitution is as 
old as the Government, but when Jefferson and his party ob- 
tained control, agitation of ihe point no longer seemed neces- 
sary. Posession of power, however, soon changed the point of 
view of the Republicans, and when the South and the West 
combined to bring on the War of 1812, the old views seemed 
to have lost much of their weight with Madison and the slave 
states. It was at this period of Republican supremacy that 
John Randolph came forward as the champion of state rights, 
declaring that his party had forsaken its original principles.' 
Henry Adams says that it was Randolph who forecast the pol- 
icy of Calhoun by uniting the slave interest with the advo- 
cacy of strict construction. 1 

It was not until the free states outstripped the slave states 
in growth and political power that the South as a whole came 
to realize that its only hope lay in decentralization. But Ran- 
dolph looked before him and shaped his policy to the future. 
There were others who shared his views, however. Among 
these Nathaniel Macon and John Taylor were prominent. The 
connection between these men and the Crawford party of 
Georgia was close, and in a letter to Boiling Hall, Macon urg- 
ed the point that to give Congress the right to make internal 
improvements would be to give it the right to free everv slave 
in the United States. - 

Under these circumstances, it was not strange that Dixon 
H. Lewis, the nephew of Boiling Hall, was the first advocate 
of state rights in Alabama, but the movement was not isolat- 
ed. The election of John Quincy Adams and the enactment 
of the tariff of 1824 gave the signal for the revival of anti- 
nationalistic propaganda in the South. South Carolina, under 
the influence of William Smith and Thomas Cooper, took the 

i Adams, John Randolph, 2SS-2S9. 

2 Hall Papers, Nathaniel Macon to Boiling Hall, Feb. 13, 1820, and Jan. 
•3 1R25 


lead in this movement, evhile in Congress, Giles and Randolph 
attacked the Administration from the strict constructionist 
point of view. But Calhoun did not come out as leader of the 
state rights movement until after 1828. '■'> 

Though the Alabama papers took sides with Giles and Ran- 
dolph or with Adams, according as they were Administration 
or anti-Administration publications, no state excepting Geor- 
gia seems to have influenced Alabama politics directly. Lead- 
ers from the Caroiinas and Virginia did not form individual 
groups, but worked in combinations, while those from Georgia 
formed a distinct faction and thus gave their State a political 
status in Alabama. Yet, afcer the fall of the Crawford fac- 
tion, there was not much sympathy between the two common- 
wealths. The quarrel between Governor Troup and Presi- 
dent Adams over the question of the removal of the Creek In- 
dians from Georgia excited little friendly interest, most of the 
local editors taking a critical attitude toward the fiery Gov- 
ernor. But in Montgomery County a meeting was held in 
November, 1826, and here Troup's policy was upheld by some 
of the leading men of the community. 4 It is natural that such 
a feeling should have been manifest in this locality, for it was 
here that the influence of planters from Georgia was strong- 
est. It is also natural that it should have been this County 
which sent Dixon Hall Lewis to the legislature. 

The political ideas of this young man had been shaped by 
his uncle, Boiling Hall, who was so closely connected with the 
Crawford faction. Lewis had worked for Crawford in the 
election of 1824, and now in 1826 he went to Cahawba as a 
representative in the legislature. His course in opposition to 
internal improvements and a liberal interpretation of the Con- 
stitution was a reflection of a general movement throughout 
the South. His attitude toward the Troup controversy, and his 
advocacy of a policy extending the jurisdiction of the State 
over the Creeks, show his sympathy with the position of the 
Georgia Governor; while his attack upon the State Bank ex- 
hibits his connection with the old Crawford faction. 

The majority of men in Alabama at this time were strongly 
opposed to the Crawford group, strongly in favor of the State 
Bank, and strongly Nationalistic in their feelings. Yet, by 
good political management, Lewis succeeded in gaining some 

3 Houston, A Study of Nullification i?i South Carolina, Chap. IX; 
Boucher, The Nullification Controversy in Smith Carolina, Chap. I. 
* Mobile Rcpixtrr. Nov. 28. 1826. 


ground for his ideas. The important point is, however, that 
this scion of the Crawford party was the first leader in Ala* 
bama to advocate state rights, and thus he revived a faction 
which seemed politically dead by making it the bulwark of the 
slave power through the policy of strict construction. 

The significance of this movement was not to become evi- 
dent until Jackson's attitude toward South Carolina in the nul- 
lification controversy raised up enemies from among his 
friends. Then Lewis and the men who believed as he did 
found their numbers greatly strengthened. Then the Whig- 
party grew up in the South and, advocating state rights, it 
became the mouth-piece of the slave-holders. Thus it was 
Lewis who formed the transition link between the Crawford 
faction of 1824 and the Whig party of 1840. 

While the slave-holding counties usually came to support 
the Whigs, those where the small farmer predominated usual- 
ly remained Democratic. Yet it must be remembered that the 
slave question never entered directly into partisan divisions. 
If the farmers had united against slavery, they could still have 
carried practically the entire State, as they did in 1824; for, 
even in the strongest slave-holding counties, the planters alone 
could rarely have commanded a majority of the votes. Their 
success depended upon their ability to carry their farming 
neighbors with them, which fact is attested by the great fluc- 
tuation in the Whig vote from one campaign to the next. 

Other factors, too, are necessary in order to understand the 
relations between the two parties. The solidly Democratic 
vote of northern Alabama, in spite of the large number of 
slaves in the Tennessee Valley, indicates that the rivalry be- 
tween the two sections of the State had much to do with polit- 
ical alignments. The sectional votes in other States show that 
local conditions influenced the result, and that slave-holding 
was not the only important determining factor. For in- 
stance, eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina had a 
much smaller percentage of slaves than did the Tennessee Val- 
ley of Alabama, yet the former sections showed a strong Whig 
tendency, while the latter was uniformly Democratic. 5 

The writer hopes to continue this study in order to 
trace the influence of early conditions upon later political 
tendencies and alignments. 

5 See maps at the end of The Whig Party in the South, by A. C. Cole 


I. Manuscript Letters and Papers. 

William W. Bibb MS. This collection of letters, in the pos- 
session of the Alabama Department of Archives and His- 
tory, is invaluable because of the light which it throws up- 
on the relations existing between the first political lead- 
ers of Alabama and their friends in Georgia and Wash- 

Biddle MS. This extensive collection of letters, in the Li- 
brary of Congress, contains instructions written by Nich- 
olas Biddle to the presidents of some of the Southern 
branches of the Bank of the United States. These af- 
ford some insight into the financial aspects of the cotton 

Blue MS. The Alabama Department of Archives and His- 
tory possesses this collection of papers brought together 
by Mr. M. P. Blue. It consists of information concern- 
ing the early history of the several counties of Alabama, 
various men having contributed from their personal 

Boiling Hall MS. This collection of letters supplements the 
Bibb papers and gives an inside view of political affairs. 
It is in the possession of the Alabama Department of Ar- 
chives and History. . 

Jackson MS. This voluminous collection of the letters of 
Andrew Jackson contains scattered information concern- 
ing Indian affairs, public lands, and politics in Alabama. 
It is in the Library of Congress. 

Jackson-Coffee MS. About two hundred letters written by 
Andrew Jackson to General John Coffee, of Florence, 
Alabama. They contain scattered information such as 
that in the above mentioned collection. Typewritten 
copies of the originals are in the Library of Congress. 

A. B. Meek MS. Papers brought together by Mr. Meek with 
the idea of publishing a history of Alabama. In Alabama 
Department of Archives and History. 

Mississippi Transcripts. Transcripts made by Dr. Thomas 
M. Owen from the original records of Mississippi Terri- 


tory, which material is preserved by the Mississippi De- 
partment of Archives and History. 

Pickett MS. Certain unpublished papers of A. J. Pickett, 
author of the History of Alabama. They are preserved 
by the Alabama Department of Archives and History. 

Charles Tait MS. These letters, copied from the originals, 
are in Alabama Department of Archives and History. 
They supplement the Bibb, Hall, and Walker papers, and 
are especially valuable because they contain letters from 
such men as William H. Crawford and John C. Calhoun, 
giving an insight into the political affiliations of the 
leaders in Alabama. 

J. W. Walker MS. Containing letters dealing with the most 
important events in the early history of Alabama. — Ala- 
bama Department of Archives and History. 

Yancey Papers. Collection in the Alabama Department of 
Archives and History; contains the manuscript of an obit- 
uary notice of Dixon Hall Lewis, which gives the best 
available account of the early life of that important man. 


The published documents of the Federal Government, es- 
pecially the American State Papers and the Statutes at Large, 
have been used extensively in this work. In addition, the rec- 
ords of the General Land Office and of the Indian Office 
have been searched. The local and special documents used are 
listed below : 

Alabama — Journal of the Constitutional Convention of 1819. 
Acts of the Legislature of Alabama Territory, 

Acts of the General Assembly of Alabama, 1819- 

Journal of the Council of Alabama Territory, 1818. 
Journal, of the Senate of Alabama, 1819-1828. 
Journal, of the House of Representatives of the 
State of Alabama, 1819-1828. 
Aiken, John G. — Digest of the Laws of the State of Alabama, 

Philadelphia, 1833. 
Brickel, R. C. — Digest of the Decisions of the Supreme Court 

of the State of Alabama, Montgomery, 1874. 
Hitchcock, Henry — The Alabama Justice of the Peace, Ca- 
hawba, 1822. 


Holmes, David — Executive Journal of Governor Holmes, of 
Mississippi Territory, 1814-1817, MS. 

Morse, Jedidiah — Report on Indian Affairs (1820) , New Hav- 
en, 1822. 

Owen, Thomas M. — Alabama Archives, Washington, Govern- 
ment Printing Office, 1905. 

Snedecor, V. Gayle — A Directory of Greene County for 1855- 
6, Mobile, 1856. 

Tharin, W. C. — A Directory for Marengo County for 1860-61, 
Mobile, 1861. 

Toulmin, Harry — A Digest of the Laws of the State of Ala- 
bama, Cahawba, 1823. 

United States, House Documents, 26. Cong., 1 Sess., Doc. 172, 
p. 1348. Table showing condition of Alabama banks, 

University of Alabama, Historical Catalogue, 1821-1870, Tus- 
caloosa, 1870. 


Breckenridge, Richard, Diary, 1816, in Alabama Historical 
Society, Transactions, III, 142-153. A good first-hand 
account of Alabama as seen by one who came out upon the 
first wave of settlement. 

Commons, J. R., Documentary History of American Indus- 
trial Society. Vols. I and II, by U. B. Phillips, deal with 
Southern agriculture, but Alabama receives little atten- 
tion. Cleveland, 1910. 

Cummins, E. H., A Summary Geography of Alabama, one of 
the United States, Philadelphia, 1819. Inaccurate, but in- 

Darby, William, A Geographical Description of the State of 
Louisiana, the Southern Part of the State of Mississippi 
and Territory of Alabama, with a Map, New York, 1817. 

Darby, William, Emigrant's Guide, New York, 1818. Con- 
tains interesting information for this early date. 

Fessenden, Thomas G., The Complete Farmer, Philadelphia, 

Gaines, George S., Letters Relating to Events in South Ala- 
bama, 1805-1814, Alabama Historical Society, Transac- 
tions, III. 184-192. 

Garrett, William. Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama 
for Thirty Years, Atlanta, 1872. Contains excellent first- 


hand information of men and events daring the period 
under consideration. 

Thwaites.. Reuben Gold, Early Western Travels. A large col- 
lection of accounts by travelers and explorers. The Ten- 
nessee River region is touched upon, but there is nothing 
for the southern pare of Alabama. 

Hall, Basil, 'Travels in North America in the Years 1H27 and 
182S, Philadelphia, 1829. Being a captain of the British 
Navy, Hall has a point of view different from that of any 
other traveler of that period, and his discussion of scenes 
in Alabama is instructive. 

Hawkins, Benjamin, A Sketch of the Creek Country, 1798- 
1799, in Collections of Georgia Historical Society, III, Pt. 
I. Published at Savannah, 1848. Hawkins was agent 
among the Creeks for many years, and this is the best 
available account of that Nation at the time when the 
pressure of the white immigration into the southwest was 
beginning to tell. 

Hodgson, A., Letters from. North America, London, 1824. 
These letters written in 1820 by a studious observer, form 
an important source of information. 

Holland, Edwin C, A Refutation of the Calumnies Circulated 
Against the Southern and Western States Respecting 
Slavery, Charleston, 1822. This account of slavery is 
based upon conditions in South Carolina, but it is the best 
available Southern treatise on the subject for the period 
under discussion in this paper. 

Levasseur, A., Lafayette en Amerique en 1824 et 1825, Brux- 
elles, 1829. The author was secretary to Lafayette dur- 
ing his tour of America. The account is more interest- 
ing than instructive. 

Lincecum, Gideon. Autobiography, in Mississippi Historical 
Society, Publications, VIII, 443. An interesting account 
of his journey by one of the early immigrants to Alabama. 

Macaulay, Zachary, Negro Slavery in the United States and 
West indies, London, 1823. This gives an English view 
of the subject, and is violently critical. 

Methodist Episcopal Church, Minutes of the Annual Confer- 
ences, 1773-1828, Vol. I, New York, 1840. Here can be 
obtained statistics of the various congregations through- 
out the Country. 

Morse, Jedidiah, Geography, Charleston, 1819. 


Owen, John, Journal, 1818, in Southern Historical Association 
Publications, I, 90-97. Another account written by an 
early immigrant of his journey to Alabama. 

Price, T. W., The Life of T. W. Price, Written by Himself, Sel- 
ma, 1877. There is little information of a public nature 
in this book. 

Raymond, James, Prize Essay on the Comparative Economy 
of Free and Slave Labor in Agriculture, published by the 
Frederick County Agricultural Society, Frederick, Md., 

1827. This view is too superficial to be of value to the 

Robertson, W. G., Recollections of the Early Settlers of Mont- 
gomery County, 1892. This is an interesting account 
of an interesting community, written by one who 
says that "the writer was personally acquainted with ev- 
ery one of them." 

Royall, Anne, Southern Tours, or Second Series of the Black 
Book, Washington, 1830. These letters, written on a sec- 
ond tour of Alabama, are interesting because they indi- 
cate the contrast produced by ten years of development in 
the new State. 

Royall, Anne, Letters from Alabama on Various Subjects, 
1817-1822, Washington, 1830. Written by an erratic 
woman, there is a good deal that is personal and a good 
deal that is pertinent in these letters. 

Saxe-Weimar, Duke Bernhard of, Travels Through North 
America During the Years 1825 and 1826, Philadelphia, 

1828. Traveling the same route between New York and 
New Orleans that was followed by most of the foreign 
tourists, and passing through Montgomery and Mobile, 
this author gives us still another point of view. 

Stuart, James, Three Years in North America, New York, 

1833. Another and later account by one who passed along 

the same route followed by Saxe-Weimar and others. 
Townes, S. A., The History of Marion, Marion, 1844. This is 

a good account of the establishing of a new community 

in Alabama. 
Terry, Jesse, A Portraiture of Domestic Slavery in the United 

States, Philadelphia, 1817. A good Northern view. 
Warden, D. B., A Statistical, Political, and Historical Account 

of the United States of North America, Edinburgh, 



Welsh, Mary, Reminiscences of Old St. Stephens, in Alabama 
Historical Society, Transactions, III, 208-226. This is a* 
retrospective account by one who had known the place 
long since. 

Woodward, Thomas S., Reminiscences of the Creek or Musco- 
gee Indians, Montgomery, 1859. There is much here that 
does not concern Indians, and, since the author knows the 
ground, the information is of value. 

Wyman, Justus, A Geographical Sketch of the Alabama Terri- 
tory, in Alabama Historical Society, Transactions, III, 
107-127. Only a part of the original account is publish- 
ed here, the unpublished manuscript being in the posses- 
sion of the Woburn, Massachusetts, Public Library. 


Excepting in the case of Pickett's work and the local his- 
tories, little reliance has been placed upon the secondary ma- 
terial dealing especially with Alabama. This is for the reas- 
on that most of it touches but scantily upon the early period 
discussed in this monograph. 

Ball, T. H., Clarke County and Its Surroundings, title page 
missing, 1882. This contains good information of local 
Betts, E. C, Early History of Huntsville, Alabama, Montgom- 
ery, 1909. This is one of the best of local histories, and, 
because of the importance of the community, is of es- 
pecial value. 
Birney, William, James G. Birney and his Times, New York, 
1890. Though only a small part of this book deals with 
the Alabama period of Birney's life, it contains some 
worth-while information. 
Blue, M. P., History of Montgomery, Montgomery, 1878. The 
author was a diligent collector of local information, and 
his account is of value. 
Blue, M. P., Churches of the City of Montgomery, Montgom- 
ery, 1878. This account goes back to beginnings. 
Brant and Fuller, Compilers, Memorial Record of Alabama, 
Madison, Wisconsin, 1893. Too biographical; good for 
reference only. 
Brewer, W., Alabama: Her History, Resources, War Record, 
and Public Men, 15^0-1872, Montgomery, 1872. This 
book does not give a good general account, but the discus- 


sion of the separate counties contains desirable informa- 

Brown, W. G., A History of Alabama, University Publishing 
Company, 1900. A textbook, based upon insufficient ma- 

Burnett, E. C, Bourbon County, in American Historical Re- 
view, XV, 66-111, 297-353. 

Claiborne, J. F. H., Mississippi as a Province, Territory, and 
State, Jackson, 1880. This contains valuable informa- 
tion on the question of the division of Mississippi Terri- 

Claiborne, J. F. H., Life and Times of General Sam Dale, 
New York, 1860. A good biography of an interesting 

Clarke, Willis G., History of Education in Alabama, Washing- 
ton, 1889. Contains but little relative to the formative 

Cobbs and Whittaker, Statistics of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church of Alabama, — Alabama Historical Society, Trans- 
actions, II, 83-89. 

Denson, John V., Slavery Laics in Alabama; in Alabama Poly- 
technic Institute Historical Studies, Auburn, 1908. 

Dewey, D. R., Financial History of the United States, New 
York, 1915. 

Donnell, E. J., Chronological and Statistical History of Cot- 
ton, 1879. Exhaustive statistics. 

DuBose, Joel C, Ed., Notable Men of Alabama, Southern His- 
torical Association, Atlanta, 1904. Little of general in- 

DuBose, Joel C, Sketches of Alabama History, Philadelphia, 
1901. This contains good information on special topics. 

Flint, Timothy, The History and Geography of the Mississippi 
Valley, Cincinnati, 1833. Little information for Ala- 

Hall, J. H. B., The History of the Cumberland Presbyterian 
Church in Alabama Prior to 1826; in Alabama Historical 
Society, Transactions, IV, 365-394. This gives some idea 
of religious conditions during the early period. 

Hamilton, P. J., Early Roads in Alabama; in Alabama Histor- 
ical Society, Transactions, II, 39-56. Information in- 

Hamilton. P. J., So tie Southern Yankees, American Historical 
Magazine, III, 303-312. Personal, but interesting. 


Hamilton, P. J., St. Stephens: Spanish Fort and American 
Town; in Alabama Historical Society, Transactions, ifl, 
227-234. Not satisfying. 

Hamilton, P. J., Colonial Mobile, 1519-1821, Houghton Mif- 
flin, 1910. A work signifying much research and con- 
taining much information. 

Hammond, M. B., The Cotton Industry, New York, 1897. Val- 

Hardy, John, Selma, her Institutions and her Men, Selma, 
1879. A good local history. 

Harper, Roland M., Economic Botany of Alabama, bulletin of 
the Geographical Survey, 1913. Valuable for topograph- 
ical information. 

Harper, Roland M., A Preliminary Soil Census of Alabama, and 
West Florida, Reprint from Soil Science, IV, No. 2., Aug. 

Harvey, Meriwether, Slavery in Auburn, Alabama; in Ala- 
bama Polytechnic Institute Historical Studies, Auburn, 
1907. A limited view. 

Haskins, Charles H., The Yazoo Land Companies, New York, 
1891. Important for an understanding of the situation 
in regard to the public lands. 

Hodgson, Joseph, The Cradle of the Confederacy, Mobile, 1876. 
An important work, but contains little information for 
the early period. 

Jack, Theodore H., Sectionalism and Party Politics in Alabama, 
1819-1842, Banta Pub. Company, Menasha, Wisconsin, 
1919. This is the only scientific political study for this 
period, but little space is devoted to developments previ- 
ous to Jackson's administration. 

Jones, Charles C, Antiquities of the Southern Indians, New 
York, 1873. 

Jones, Charles C, The Dead Towns of Georgia, Savannah, 

Leftwich, Geo. J., Cotton Gin Port and Gaines' Trace, in Mis- 
sissippi Historical Society, Publications, VII, 263. This 
article throws light upon one of the earliest transporta- 
tion developments in the Alabama-Mississippi region. 

Little, John Buckner, The History of Butler Count]/, Alabama, 
Cincinnati, 1885. Scant and unreliable for the early pe- 

Love, Wm. A., General Jackson's Military Road, in Mississip- 
pi Historical Society, Publications, XI, 403-417. 


McDonnold, B. W., History of the Cumberland Presbyterian 
Church Nashville, 1S88. 

Martin, W. E., Internal Improvements in Alabama, in Johns 
Hopkins University Studies. Series 20, No. 4, Baltimore, 
1902. This account is made up of undigested statistics. 

Meek, A. B., Romantic Passages in Southwestern History, Mo- 
bile, 1857. Thin contains a good treatment of certain 

Monette, John W., History of the Valley of the Mississippi, 
New York, 1846. 

Mooney, James ; Myths of the Cherokee, in the Nineteenth An- 
nual Report, Bureau of American Ethnology, Pt. 1 11- 

Owen, Thomas M., History of Alabama and Dictionary of 
Alabama Biography, IV Vols., Chicago, 1921. An ency- 
clopedic work containing exhaustive information, and in- 
valuable to the student of Alabama history. Published 
since the writing of this monograph. 

Phillips, U. B., American Negro Slavery, New York, 1918. A 
most helpful treatise, covering all phases of the subject 
from the agricultural point of view. 

Phillips, U. B., The Economics of the Plantation, in the South 
Atlantic Quarterly, II, 231. A suggestive study. 

Phillips, U. B. The Southern Black Belt, American Historical 
Review, XI, 798. This is an interesting study of the seg- 
regation of the slave interest. 

Phillips, U. B., The Slave Labor Problem in the Charleston 
Distnct, Boston, 1907. 

Phillips, U. B., The Plantation as a Civilizing Factor, Sewanee 
Review, XII, 257. An original view. 

Phillips, U. B., A History of Transportation in the Eastern 
Cotton Belt to i860, New York, 1908. Helpful and sug- 

Phillips, U. B., Georgia and State Rights, in American Histor- 
ical Association. Report, 1901, II, 15-224, Separate, 
Government Printing Office, 1902. Owing to the close 
relation between Georgia and Alabama politicians during 
the period covered by this study, this work has been of 
great value. 

Pickett, A. J., History of Alabama, Birmingham, 1900. Though 
somewhat involved in details, this book represents care- 
ful research by a man who also had wide personal knowl- 
edge in his field ; on many points, therefore, it is an orig- 


inal source. Though not without error, it is the only sol- 
id work covering Alabama history previous to the period 
of Statehood. 

Pitkin, Timothy, Statistical View of the Commerce of the 
United States, Hartford, 1816. 

Powell, George, History of Blount County, in Alabama Histor- 
ical Society, Transactions, 1855. This gives valuable in- 
formation for the period of early settlement. 

Reeves, Jesse S., The Napoleonic Exiles in America, in Johns 
Hopkins University Studies, XXIII, 525-656. 

Riley, B. F., History of Conecuh County, Alabama, Columbus, 
Georgia, 1887. Gives vivid pictures of the pioneer peri- 

Riley, B. F., History of the Baptists of Alabama, Birmingham, 

Riley, B. F., Makers ami Romance of Alabama History, Birm- 
ingham, 1914. This book is made up of chapters on vari- 
. ous unrelated topics, some of which are illuminating. Its 
biographical sketches are good for reference. 

Riley, F. L., Location and Boundaries of Mississippi, in Mis- 
sissippi Historical Society, Publications, III, 167-184. 

Saunders, J. E., Early Settlers of Alabama, New Orleans, 
1899. Contains good general information, and the bio- 
graphical portion is sometimes useful for reference. 

Shakelford, Josephus, History of the Muscle Shoals Baptist 
Association, 1820-1890, Trinity, Ala., 1891. The point of 
view is so local that the work is not of much service. 

Shea, J. G., History of the Catholic Church in the United 
States, Akron, Ohio, 1890. Contains a good account of 
the activities of the Catholic Church in Alabama during 
the period under review. 

Smith, Nelson F., History of Pickens County, Alabama, Car- 
rollton, Alabama. 1856. This is one of the best local histor- 
ies, giving a good idea of the early development of one of 
the counties in the back country. 

Smith and DeLand, Publishers. Northern Alabama, Birming- 
ham, 1888. Scattered information of general interest; 
but valuable principally for biographical reference. 

Somerville, H. M., Trial of the Alabama Supreme Court Judges 
in 1820, in report of the twenty-second annual meeting 
of the Alabama State Bar Association, Montgomery, 1899. 
A good brief a< count. 


The South in the BuUding of the Nation, Richmond, 1909. 
This is a co-operative work. The portions relating- to 
Alabama are too general to be of value for the period 
under discussion. 

Sparks, W. H., The Memories of Fifty Years, Macon, Ga., 
1872. Good material for Georgia and Mississippi, but 
little of value for Alabama* 

Stone, Alfred H., The Cotton Factorage System of the South- 
ern States, in American Historical Review, XX, 557-565. 
This is a scientific and suggestive article. 

Street, O. D., Marshall County One Hundred Years Ago, Gun- 
tersville, Ala., 1903. Contains some good information. 

Teeple and Smith, Publishers, Jefferson County and Birming- 
ham, Birmingham, 1887. Too biographical to be of real 

Thomas, William H., The Birth and Growth of the Constitu- 
tion of Alabama, an address delivered before the Alabama 
State Bar Association, Montgomery, 1890. Some good 
points are made in this paper. 

Tompkins, Alma Cole, Charles Tait, in Alabama Polytechnic 
Institute Historical Studies, Auburn, 1910. A good brief 

United States Department of Agriculture, Atlas of American 
Agriadture, Part V, Section A — Cotton, Washington, 
1918. Contains valuable statistics and historical infor- 

Wallace, J. H., The Alabama State Capital, Montgomery, 1911. 
Contains nothing of value for the early period. 

Watkins, J. L., Production and Price of Cotton for a Hundred 
Years, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Washington, 1895. 

Weeks, Stephen B., History of Public School Education in 
Alabama, Washington, Government Printing Office, 
1915. Though touching but lightly upon the early peri- 
od, this is a reliable work. 

West, Anson. A History of Methodism in Alabama, Nashville, 
1893. This is not a scholarly work. 

WTiitaker, Walter C, History of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church in Alabama, Birmingham, 1898. Contains lit- 
tle for the early period. 

Whitfield, Gaius. Jr.. The French Grant in Alabama, in Ala- 
bama Historical Society. Transactions, IV, 321-355. This 
is a fairly satisfactory account of the founding of De- 
mopolis by the Napoleonic refugees. 


Williams, Thomas M., Dixon H. Lewis, in Alabama Polytech- 
nic Institute Historical Studies, Auburn, 1912. Consider- 
ing the available material, a satisfactory work. 

Yerby, W. E. W., History of Greensboro, Alabama, Montgom- 
ery, 1908. This account contains some useful informa- 


Alabama Journal, Montgomery; in the Library of Congress, 
Dec. 9, 1825— July 7, 1826, Nov. 28, 1828; in Ala- 
bama Department of Archives, Sept. 8, 1826 — July 27, 

Alabama Republican, Huntsville; in the Library of Congress, 
Jan. 5, 1819 — April 22, 1825; in Alabama Department of 
Archives, Sept. 15, 1820— Sept. 13, 1822. 

Alabama Sentinel, Tuscaloosa; in the Library of Congress, 
Dec. 30, 1825. 

American Mirror, Tuscaloosa; in the Library of Congress, 
Jan. 3, 1824— Feb. 26, 1825. 

Cahawba Press and Alabama State Intelligencer, Cahawba; 
in the Library of Congress, Dec. 30, 1820 — July 22, 1826. 

Democrat, Huntsville; in Alabama Department of Archives, 
Oct. 14, 1823— Dec. 29, 1826. 

Franklin Enquirer, Tuscumbia; in Alabama Department of 
Archives, March 13, 1824— June 9, 1824. 

Halcyon, Greensboro; in the Library of Congress, April 24, 
1823— Dec. 30, 1823. 

Halcyon and Tombeckbee Public Advertiser, St. Stephens; in 
the Library of Congress, Jan. 9, 1819 — Dec. 20, 1819; 
Jan. 10, 1820— Nov. 27, 1820; Feb. 12, 1821— Dec. 22, 
1821; Jan. 5, 1822— Nov. 2, 1822. 

Mobile Argus; in the Library of Congress, Dec. 5, 1822 — Nov. 

6, 1823. 

Mobile Commercial Register; in Alabama Department of Ar- 
chives, Nov. 17, 1827— Dec. 5, 1828, and following; in 
Association Public Library, Mobile, Dec. 17, 1821 — Dec. 

7, 1824; Dec. 9. 1825— Dec. 9, 1826; June 4, 1828— May 
29, 1829, and following; in the Library of Congress, Feb. 
18, 1825— Dec. 21, 1826. 

Mobile Mercantile Advertiser, in the Library of Congress, 
May 10, 1825— Dec. 18, 1824. 


Southern Advocate, Huntsville; in the Library of Congress, 
May 6, 1825— Dec. 24, 1828 ; in Alabama Department of. 
Archives, May 6, 1825— April 27, 1827; May 18, 1827, 
and following. 

Tuscumbian, Tuscumbia; in Alabama Department of Ar- 
chives, Sept. 1, 1824— Jan. 17, 1827. 

Washington Republican, Washington, Mississippi Territory; 
in Mississippi Department of Archives, April 13, 1813 — 
Dec. 27, 1817. 

American Farmer, Baltimore, 1820-1828. 

Niles Weekly Register, Baltimore, Vols. 11-36. 

The Southern Agriculturist, Charleston, Vols. 1 and 2, 1828- 

Chap. I.— Plate 1. 

See Maps, Bureau of Ethnology, 18 Annual Report. 


Chap II— Plate 2. 

Geological Map of Alabama. From R. M. Harper, Preliminary Soil 
Census of Alabama, p. 93. 


Chap. III.— Plate 3. Road Map, 1818. 

Roads — Based on map of U. S. by John Melish, 1818. 


Chap. III. --Plate 4. Origin of Population (approximate) 

-Predonrino-rrt Elevncnt 
L ] . _ JTcuaessee 



Chap. V.— Plate 5. Vote for Governor, 1819. 

House Journal, 1819, 37. 

Chap. V. — Plate 6. To Disapprove- Act of Certain Members of Con- 
gress in Censuring General Jackson. House, 1819. 

House Journal, 1819. 45. 

Chap. V.— Plate 7. 

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John Melish map. 1820. 

Chap. V. — Plate 8. To Reduce Judicial Tenure to Six Years. 
Constitutional Convention, 1819. 

Journal of Constitutional Convention, 1819. 

Chap. V.— Plate 9. To Make Majority of Members Elected to Legisla- 
ture Sufficient to Establish Branch Bank or Renew Bank 
Charter. Constitutional Convention, 1819. 

Journal of Constitutional Convention, 1S19. 

5 * ' 

Chap. VI.— Plato 10. Indian Cessions. 


- I 

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Gottf Uttiuj Claim* 

Bureau of Ethnology, IS Annua! Report, Plate I. 

Chap. VI.— Plate 11. Value of Lands Sold in Alabama. 
In $100,000's. 

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Land (HKce odb 
GoLUawDCu s 

American State Papers, Lands, V, 384-oS5. 

Chap. VII.— Plate 12. Average Yearly Price of Middling Upland 


In cents. 

llVi \\\± \\n Hit lV< \t3o VtXt Vt%V \»« \%l* \ViT VUfa H-V7 ^1 >^H H*» 







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New \\brk fr\ce = 

Liverpool? vice. = 

J. L. Watkins, Production and Price of Cotton, U. S. Department of 

Agriculture, Statistics, Miscellaneous Bulletins, No. 9, 8-9, 

1895. Also used by later writers. 


Chap. VII. — Plate 13. Average Valuation of Slaves in Mobile. 

In dollars. 

\%Vk vaS itu* wn n\%. \avs x*?» ^»3■^ <ria - »» u>* wxs vo^ \wt \e»« \*vi m o. 

DeBow, Industrial Resources, II, 79. 


Chan. VII.— Plate 14. Cotton Crop of South Alabama, 1818-1330. 

In 1,000 bales, 
tvt \i\i v*v> \*u vtio- \%->a \v>+ \tvs \»*j. \*xi \*-wj \*?A m« 

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,L £. 

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Computed increase in crop proportionate to increase in number of 

slaves indicated by — — — — 

Hazard, U. S. Commercial and Statistical Register, III, 272. 
(From Mobile Letter Sheet.) 

Chap. VII.— Plate 15. Slave Population. Census, 1818 

— * 


Walker Papers. 

Chan. VII— Plate 16. Slave Population, 1824. 


Huntsville Democrat, Nov. 22, 1824. LaTourette Map. 


Chap. VII.— Plate 17. Slave Population, 1830. 

WWW il l 

0/er 50 per Cfctit. slcn/es. 
40-SO f cy cent, slo-ves. 

See U. S. Census, 1830. 


Chan. VIII.— Plato IS. River Map. 


Chap. IX. — Plate 19. Imnorts and Exports at Mobile. 

In $100,000. 

»V« W9 IUO It-ll >«•«. tli i»t.* i»tr mw 'SIT HZ.% IU1 \r*0 







1 1, 






















■* — 



Note: Exports include coastwise cotton. 
MacGregor, Commercial Statistics, III, 289. 


Chap. XL— Plate 20. Presidential Election of 1824. 

ES3 75"-100 

*&22k 50-75 
EZ3 £5-50 

Huntsville Democrat, Nov. 22. 1824. Cahawba Press, Nov. 22, 1824, 

et seq. 


Chap. XI. — Plate 21. On Motion Proposing Jackson for Presidency. 

Senate, 1823. 

Senate tTouTuaA, ^2/5, ^2, 

Chap. XI. — Piate 22. On Motion Proposing Jackson for Presidency., 182$. 

House Journal, 1823, 77. 

Chap. XI.— Plate 23. Election of United States Senator, 1^22. 

ttou^e Journal \%TL 23. 


Chap. XL— Plate 24. Election of United States Senator, 1822. 

/ t 

House <L -turnout, IS 2,2/. $0. 

Chap. XL— Plate 25. Election of United States Senator, 1824. 

Senate DVuvvuA., 1*5^^,60 

Chap. XII.— Plate 2G. Vole on Bill to Extei.-l Jurisdiction of State 
Over Creeks. House, 1328. 

House Journal, 1S2S, 263. 

Chap. XII.— Plate 21 

House Vote in Election of Unit(-d States 
Senator, 1826. 

House lour^ul^Ufc, lQ-%] 



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[I'M • 9BSS! 

I fcfe 

■•■■ ■■--■■ &$ p, 



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Chap. XII.— Plate 29. Vote on Bill Fixinpr the State Capital at 
Tuscaloosa. House, 1825. 

\uscq.\«»so- ... X /' \ 

C>U\e.Y L»QCo.V*onc, y,'.y.-.\ 

House Journal, 1S25, 75. 

Chap. XII.— Plata 30. Vote on Lewi? Report Proposing Jackson for 
Presidency. House, 1827 

House Journal, 1827, 182 et seq. 


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Chap. XIV.— Plate 32. 

Vote on Bill to Prohibit Import of Slaves to 
State. Senate, 1826. 

Senate. JiitfrflftX^WAj ™ 


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