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Although the official nickname of Alabama is the Yellowhammer State, it is frequently known as “The Heart of Dixie.” It is situated in the deep south of the United States. It was named in honor of the Alabama, who were part of the Muscogee Creek Confederacy and who were living in the area when explorer Hernando de Soto came into the area in 1540. In 1702, the city of Mobile was founded by French colonists who made it the capital of French Louisiana. That city is now called Old Mobile due to the fact that in 1711, the city was moved to its current location. In 1763, the French lost the Seven Years' War to the British and Alabama became part of British West Florida, and in 1783, after the American Revolutionary War, the fledgling United States and Spain divided the territory. In 1813, during the War of 1812Spain surrendered their part of that deal to America. The Alabama Territory was created in 1817 when Congress divided the Mississippi Territory prior to admitting that state into the union, and Alabama followed as the 22nd state in 1819. That same year, the first, and likely only, monument to the boll weevil was erected by the citizens of Enterprise, Alabama. It stands in the downtown area of town to this day, reminding all of how the destructive beetle played a role in saving the local economy by leaving farmers no choice but to grow crops other than cotton. In 1836, Alabama was the first to declare Christmas to be a legal holiday. In 1860, Alabama was rich in cotton plantations which depended upon slaves, and by 1860, slaves made up almost 45% of the state’s population. The calls for secession were heavy in Alabama as early as election day of 1860, when Abraham Lincoln was elected. On Christmas Eve of 1860, Governor Andrew B. Moore called for the election of delegates to a constitutional convention, and on January 7, 1861, those delegates assembled, voting four days later 61 to 39 to declare Alabama's independence from the United States. The current capital of Alabama, Montgomery, was designated the first capital of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Jefferson Davis arrived in Montgomery on February 16, and he took the oath as President of the Confederate States of America on February 18. In May of 1861, the Confederate capital was moved to Richmond, Virginia. During that war, more than 122,000 men served in the Confederate Army; 35,000 died and 30,000 more were wounded. After the war, many of Alabama’s freed slaves became sharecroppers and free tenant farmers, but the life was difficult, and there was virtually no infrastructure, so the buyers of crops were limited. Between 1915 to 1930, tens of thousands of African-Americans joined what would be known later as the Great Migration, the movement of more than 6 million Blacks from the American South to the industrial cities in the Midwest and North. In the first few years of the 1960s, famous aerospace engineer Wernher on Braun and rocket engineer Arthur Rudolf, both of whom were part of Project Paperclip, oversaw the creation of the groundbreaking Saturn V rocket at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. More than 20 astronauts traveled to the moon with Saturn V between December 1968 and December 1972. The American Civil Rights movement was very active in the state, with protests including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Tuskegee’s fight for voting rights, and numerous Freedom Rides. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” was also written in Alabama, after his arrest for defying a court order forbidding public protest. Tuscaloosa’s integration of the University of Alabama was the venue which saw Governor George Wallace stand in the schoolhouse door, barring entry of black students, Selma’s “Bloody Sunday” beating of black protestors by police officers made its way to the evening news in 1965, and more than 20,000 people marched 50 miles from Selma to Montgomery, despite the court order limiting the number of marchers to a few hundred.  In March of 1965, three separate protest marches were held by nonviolent civil rights activists. The primary reason for the marches was to protest the denial of many Black Americans' right to vote. The marches were held between Selma and Montgomery, 54 miles away. This was the backdrop for Dr. Martin Luther King's his famous "How Long? Not Long" speech It also resulted in Congress passing the Voting Rights Act, a keystone in the Civil Rights movement, shortly after the third march.

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