Alabama was the 22nd state to join the United States. It got the nickname “Heart of Dixie” because it is in the middle of a group of states in the deep South. Before Europeans came, the land was home to two groups of Native Americans: the Cherokee and Muskogee. The Muskogee peoples included the Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek tribes.
The Spanish were the first Europeans to settle Alabama. They arrived at Mobile Bay in 1519. In 1540, Hernando de Soto and his army came to Alabama to search for gold. The Spaniards fought the Choctaw but never found any gold.
King Charles II of England gave land to his favorites using the charters of 1663 and 1665. English traders came to the area as early as 1687 to trade for deerskins.
In 1702, the French founded a settlement on the Mobile River and built Fort Luis. For nine years this was the French seat of government until it was abandoned in 1711 because the river flooded too often. Later they built Fort Conde in what is now Mobile, Alabama. This became the first permanent European settlement in the state.
In the Treaty of Paris 1783, Spain gained Mobile while the United States got the rest of the territory known today as Alabama.
1800s: Conflicts and Wars
In the War of 1812, the Creek Indians and the British fought the Americans. Andrew Jackson, who would later become president, beat the Creek at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. In 1813, the US beat the Spaniards and made them leave the area.
Alabama relied on slave labor. In 1861, Alabama left the United States and joined the Confederate States of America, which fought to keep slaves during the Civil War. After the Civil War ended, the state was put under military rule for refusing to accept the 14th Amendment, which gave citizenship to former slaves. Alabama signed the amendment in the end, and was allowed back into the United States with its own state government.
State Flower: The state flower is the Camellia, also called “the rose of winter.”
State Motto: Audemus Jura nostra Defendere, which means “We dare defend our rights.”
State Mascot: Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly.
State Bird: The Yellowhammer, a member of the woodpecker family.
State Tree: Southern longleaf pine.