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Alabama History Timeline
Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in Alabama
Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in Alabama history
The first inhabitants of the area we now call Alabama have been living here for thousands of years. One location in Alabama has proof that prehistoric Native Americans existed there 10,000 years ago. Today, this location is preserved as the Russell Cave National Monument. The cave provided shelter for these people, while the surrounding forest provided them with food and fuel. The artifacts from the cave indicate that the site was inhabited almost continuously from that time.
Alabama was populated by many Native American groups when Europeans arrived in the 1500s. These Native Americans were mostly unaffected until the French established a permanent settlement in 1699. In the 1700s many more Europeans moved into the area. Eventually these new residents would clash with various Native American groups, many of whom were organized as the Creek Confederacy.
16th Century Alabama History Timeline
1519 - Alonzo Alvarez de Piñeda of Spain explores Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Mexico, including Mobile Bay.
1528 - 1536 - Spaniard Pánfilo de Narváez fails in Florida Gulf Coast colonization attempt.
1539 - 1541 - Hernando de Soto explores Southeast, meeting Chief Tuskaloosa (Tascaluza) in Battle of Maubila (October 1540).
1540 - October 18 - The largest Indian battle in North America occurs at the village of Mabila (or Mauvila) between Hernando de Soto's Spaniards and Chief Tuscaloosa's (or Tascaluza's) warriors. Accounts vary, but most agree that the Indian village and most of its more than 2,000 inhabitants were destroyed. The exact location of this battle has eluded researchers for centuries.
1559 -1561 - Don Tristán de Luna fails to establish permanent Spanish colony on Alabama-Florida coast.
17th Century Alabama History Timeline
1600 - Beginning of the rise of the historic tribes of Alabama - Muskogean-speaking Indian groups, remnants of the Mississippian chiefdoms, coalesces into the Creek Confederacy. Similar developments take place among the other heirs to the Mississippian tradition, creating the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Cherokee tribes.
18th Century Alabama History Timeline
1700's - Alabama was first explored by the Spanish.
1702 - January 6 - Le Moyne brothers, Iberville and Bienville, establish French fort and settlement at Twenty-seven Mile Bluff; settlement and fort moved downriver to Mobile site, 1712.
1717 - Fort Toulouse on the Coosa River constructed to trade with the Indians and offset influence of British; farthest eastward penetration of the French.
1720 - French Louisiana capital moved from Mobile west to Biloxi; then to New Orleans (1722).
1721- Africane sails into Mobile harbor with cargo of over 100 slaves.
1724 - French Code Noir extended from French West Indies to North American colonies, institutionalizing slavery in Mobile area.
1780 - Spanish capture Mobile during American Revolution and retain the West and East Floridas as part of war-ending treaty.
19th Century Alabama History Timeline
1802 - Georgia formally cedes western claims for its southern boundary at the 31st parallel.
1803 - 1811 - Federal Road conceived and built connecting Milledgeville, Georgia to Fort Stoddert, American outpost north of Mobile.
1805 - 1806 - Indian cessions opened up to white settlement large portions of western (Choctaw) and northern (Chickasaw and Cherokee) Alabama.
1810 - West Florida, from Pearl River to the Mississippi, annexed by US from Spain.
1811 - 1812 - Schools established in Mobile (Washington Academy 1811) and Huntsville (Green Academy 1812).
1811 - 1816 - Newspapers established in Mobile to the south (Sentinel May 11, 1811; Gazette 1812) and Huntsville to the north (Alabama Republican 1816).
1813 -1814 - Creek Indian War
1817 - March 3 - The Alabama Territory is created when Congress passes the enabling act allowing the division of the Mississippi Territory and the admission of Mississippi into the union as a state. Alabama would remain a territory for over two years before becoming the 22nd state in December 1819.
1822 - December - The Legislature charters Athens Female Academy, which later becomes Athens State University.
1825 - French general and American Revolution-hero, the Marquis de Lafayette, toured Alabama at Governor Israel Pickens' invitation.
1826 -Capitol moved to Tuscaloosa.
1831 - April 13 - The University of Alabama formally opens its doors. Fifty-two students were accepted that first day. By the end of the session, the student body had swelled to nearly one hundred. The faculty was made up of four men including the Reverend Alva Woods who had been inaugurated president of the University on April 12, 1831.
1835 - 1836 - Alabama gold rush, concentrated in east-central hill country.
1836 - 1837
1840 -State population=590,756.
1846 - January 28 - Montgomery is selected as capital of Alabama by the State Legislature on the 16th ballot. Montgomery won the final vote largely because of promises of Montgomery city leaders to provide $75,000 for a new capitol and the rise of the prominence of the Black Belt region of the state.
1852 -Alabama Insane Hospital established at Tuscaloosa (renamed Alabama Bryce Insane Hospital upon death of its first director, Peter Bryce, 1892).
1854 -Alabama Public School Act creates first state-wide education system by establishing an office of State Superintendent of Education.
1861 - 1865 - 194 military land events and 8 naval engagements occurred within the boundaries of Alabama including -
1866 - Lincoln Normal School founded as private institution for African-Americans at Marion; relocated to Montgomery (1887) and evolved into Alabama State University.
1868 - Reconstruction Constitution ratified (February) gaining Alabama readmission to the Union, and allowing black suffrage for the first time.
1871 - Birmingham founded; evolves into center of Southern iron and steel industry.
1873 - Huntsville Normal and Industrial School chartered; evolves into Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University.
1874 - State elections return conservative Democrat "Bourbon Redeemers" to political power.
1875 - November 16 - Alabama's Constitution of 1875 is ratified. The Bourbon Democrats, or "Redeemers," having claimed to "redeem" the Alabama people from the Reconstruction rule of carpetbaggers and scalawags, wrote a new constitution to replace the one of 1868. It was a conservative document that gave the Democrats, and especially Black Belt planters, a firm grip on their recently reacquired control of state government.
1881 - February 10 - The Alabama Legislature establishes Tuskegee Institute as a "normal school for the education of colored teachers." The law stipulated that no tuition would be charged and graduates must agree to teach for two years in Alabama schools. Booker T. Washington was chosen as the first superintendent and arrived in Alabama in June 1881. Washington's leadership would make Tuskegee one of the most famous and celebrated historic black colleges in the US
1887 -1896 - Farmers' Alliance grew out of earlier Grange (1870s) and Agricultural Wheel (early 1880s) organizations; evolved into the Populist movement which challenged conservative Democrats for control of state politics.
1895 - February 16 - Alabama formally adopts a state flag for the first time. The legislature dictated "a crimson cross of St. Andrew upon a field of white," which was the design submitted by John W. A. Sanford, Jr., who also sponsored the bill. This flag remains Alabama's flag today.
1896 - October 12 - The Alabama Girls' Industrial School opens its doors as the first state-supported industrial and technical school devoted to training girls to make a living. The school later became known as Alabama College, and is now the University of Montevallo.
20th Century Alabama History Timeline
1902 - November 29 - The New York Medical Record publishes an account of Dr. Luther Leonidas Hill performing the first open heart surgery in the western hemisphere when he sutured a knife wound in a young boy's heart. Dr. Hill was the father of Alabama politician and US senator Lister Hill.
1904 - Colonel William Crawford Gorgas of Alabama begins elimination of scourges of yellow fever and malaria in Panama Canal Zone.
1907 - Tennessee Coal and Iron Company in Birmingham purchased by US Steel.
1919 - December 11 - The boll weevil monument is dedicated in Enterprise. The monument honors the insect that killed cotton plants and forced local farmers to diversify by planting more profitable crops such as peanuts. Even though the monument was in appreciation of the boll weevil, the weevil statue was not added to the monument until 30 years later.
1928 - Convict lease system ended.
1936 - August 3 - Lawrence County native Jesse Owens wins his first gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. Owens went on to win four gold medals
in Berlin, but German leader Adolf Hitler snubbed the star athlete because he was black. Today visitors can learn more about Owens at the Jesse Owens Memorial Park and
Museum in Oakville, Alabama.
1937 - State sales tax instituted to help fund education.
1941 - Training of African-American military pilots, the "Tuskegee Airmen," underway.
1944 - First Oil Well In Alabama: On January 2, 1944, the State of Alabama granted Hunt Oil Company a permit to drill the A.R. Jackson Well No. 1 near Gilbertown, Choctaw County.
1945 - University of Alabama Medical School moved from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham.
1947 - Georgiana's Hank Williams signs recording contract with MGM and becomes regular on The Louisiana Hayride radio program.
1954 - Democratic nominee for state Attorney General, Albert Patterson, murdered in Phenix City, prompting clean-up of the "wickedest city in America."
1967 - Lurleen Wallace inaugurated as state's first woman governor (died 1968).
1969 - University of Alabama at Huntsville established. University of Alabama at Birmingham established, joining University's medical and dental schools there since the 1940s.
1972 - May 15 - Gov. George C. Wallace is shot in Maryland while campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president. The assassination attempt by Arthur Bremer left the Governor paralyzed from the waist down and effectively ended his chances at the nomination. He campaigned again for president in 1976, marking his fourth consecutive run for that office.
1981 - Country music group Alabama selected "Vocal Group of the Year" by Academy of Country Music; went on to garner fifth consecutive "Entertainer of the Year" award from the Country Music Association (1986).
1985 - Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway opens.
1993 - Governor Guy Hunt, in second term as first Republican governor of the state since Reconstruction, convicted of misuse of public funds and removed from office.
1995 - Alabama's Heather Whitestone serves as first Miss America with a disability.
1998 - Anniston native Dr. David Satcher is appointed Surgeon General of the United States.
2000 - Etowah County Circuit Judge Roy Moore is elected Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore rose to national attention earlier when he was sued by the ACLU for displaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom.
2004 - Condoleezza Rice appointed US Secretary of State by President George W. Bush
2005 - Hurricane Katrina caused major damages along coastal areas
2009 - Gunman burned down own house, killed 10 people
2011 - Barrage of storms killed over 200
2011 - Most stringent immigration laws in U.S. passed in Alabama
Source - Alabama Department of Archives & History