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State Names & Nicknames
Alabama State Symbols
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State Symbol Listings
Alabama State Names (Etymology of Names)
Alabama Name Etymology and State Nicknames
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west.
Origin of Alabama State Name
The state of Alabama was named after the river. The Alabama River was named by early European explorers after the Indian tribe that lived in the territory and first appeared in 1540 spelled as "Alibamu", "Alibamo" and even "Limamu" in the journals of the Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto (c.1500-1542). The origin of the name Alabama is thought to come from a combination of two Choctaw words; Alba and Amo. In Choctaw, "Alba" means vegetation, herbs, plants and "Amo" means gatherer or picker. "Vegetation gatherers" would be an apt description for the Alabama Indians who cleared much land for agricultural purposes.
The State's Name
Alabama Nicknames (no official nickname)
Alabama has no official state nickname, but Alabama has been known as the "Yellowhammer State" since the Civil War. However, "The Heart of Dixie" is prevelant and reflects the central role that Alabama played in the history of the South.
Alabama has been known as the "Yellowhammer State" since the Civil War. The yellowhammer nickname was applied to the Confederate soldiers from Alabama when a company of young cavalry soldiers from Huntsville, under the command of Rev. D.C. Kelly, arrived at Hopkinsville, KY, where Gen. Forrest's troops were stationed. The officers and men of the Huntsville company wore fine, new uniforms, whereas the soldiers who had long been on the battlefields were dressed in faded, worn uniforms. On the sleeves, collars and coattails of the new cavalry troop were bits of brilliant yellow cloth. As the company rode past Company A , Will Arnett cried out in greeting "Yellowhammer, Yellowhammer, flicker, flicker!" The greeting brought a roar of laughter from the men and from that moment the Huntsville soldiers were spoken of as the "yellowhammer company." The term quickly spread throughout the Confederate Army and all Alabama troops were referred to unofficially as the "Yellowhammers."
When the Confederate Veterans in Alabama were organized they took pride in being referred to as the "Yellowhammers" and wore a yellowhammer feather in their caps or lapels during reunions.
Acts of Alabama, September 6, 1927
The Heart of Dixie
Alabama is called "The Heart of Dixie" because of the $10 notes issued by the Citizens Bank of Louisiana before the Civil War. The notes bore the French word "dix" meaning 10, and eventually the South became Dixieland, with Alabama serving as the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
"The Heart of Dixie" was a phrase developed in the 1940s and 1950s by the Alabama Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber sought a more distinctive slogan for their state and promoted that "Alabama is geographically the Heart of Dixie". In 1951, with backing from the Alabama Chamber of Commerce, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill to add "Heart of Dixie" to automobile license plates.
Alabama has a central position within the cotton-growing area east of the Mississippi, which has led it to be known as the Cotton State (1844) or the Cotton Plantation State. However, this term was also applied to all the states of the area as a group. There were also many variations quoted, such as Cottondom (first seen in 1856), Cotton Belt (1871), Cotton Country (1871), and even Cottonia (1862).
Stars Fell on Alabama
"Stars Fell on Alabama" is the title of a 1934 jazz standard composed by Frank Perkins with lyrics by Mitchell Parish and made famous by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, and other artists. It also refers to an actual meteor shower that was seen across Alabama on November 12-13, 1833. Quote from then-Governor Don Siegelman: "It is my hope that this design will help send a message that stars have indeed fallen on Alabama and continue to fall on Alabama." Stars Fell on Alabama is also the title of a book by Carl Carmer.
In January 2002, the phrase "Stars Fell on Alabama" was added to Alabama's license plates, and the traditional "Heart of Dixie" slogan was reduced to a very small size. A 1951 law requires Alabama license plates to display the words "Heart of Dixie" and a conventionalized heart shape.
The first Alabamians were sometimes known as "lizards", which gave the state its earlier nickname of Lizard State back in 1845.
Occasionally, Alabama also gets the Camelia State. Camellia japonica is the state flower of Alabama
Cotton Plantation State
This term was also applied to all the states of the area as a group
Alabama Postal Code
Alabama Resident's Name
The etymologies of some US state names are more obvious than others, derived from the Spanish or French tongue. Though, more than half of the US state names come from Native American tribal languages, with several still a mystery to scholars and historians.
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