Alabama History Timeline

By | May 12, 2022

Long home to a variety of Indian tribes, the first Spanish explorer, Alonso Alvarez de Pineda, sailed to Mobile Bay in 1519.

The British and Spanish remained active here, but the first permanent European settlers were actually French, arriving in the late 17th century. By 1711 Fort Louis (on the present Mobile site) was settled, and then declared the capital of a new French colony called Louisiana.

When the French and Indian War ended in 1763, French influence over the Alabama lands was over, the British took control of most of the land, and turf battles with the Spanish continued for another 20 years.

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In 1783 the British (in accordance with the agreement) gave their West Florida lands to Spain. Ironically, in 1783 the Treaty of Paris formally ended the American Revolutionary War, and in defeat, all British controlled lands (including most of Alabama) ceded to the US.

The Spaniards held onto their lands for only a few short years as the pressure of the rapidly growing US increased. By 1812, the United States controlled the entire Mississippi Territory, including all of Alabama, Mississippi, and West Florida, lands that would later be divided into the US states of Alabama and Mississippi.

During the war of 1812 between Britain and the US, the Creek Indians were finally defeated by General Andrew Jackson’s suppressive forces. By 1816, most of the long-held Indian homelands had ended and their resistance in Alabama had ended.

With the Indians gone, farmland tracts were now available and cotton became the main crop. Over the next few decades, settlers arrived in great numbers from all directions. They called this rush “Alabama Fever”.

In 1819, Alabama became the 22nd state admitted to the Union of the United States. The early optimism and agricultural successes within the state were superseded by the 1837 US depression, where many Alabamas lost their savings. In the 1850s, the faltering economy was now worse, as a constant drought had destroyed most of the crops.

Economic rivalry between the industrial North and the agricultural South has caused many conflicts, but those regarding the rights of the states and slavery put both sides on edge. Unresolved issues were getting worse and talk of war was in the air across the American South.

In 1861, Alabama seceded from the Union. In February of that year, six southern states formed the Confederate States of America. naming Montgomery. Alabama, capital.

America’s Civil War was bloody and costly for both north and south, and although Alabama (with the exception of Mobile) saw limited fighting, over 120,000 of its men would serve in the army against the north, and more than 25,000 of them would die as a result. In the Battle of Gettysburg alone, nearly 2,000 of his soldiers were dead.

At the end of the American Civil War, Alabama was wiped off the face of the earth. This time King Cotton ‘s home was in economic, political and social turmoil.

In 1868, he was readmitted to the Union, but poverty remained under control for the next decade. In the mid-1870s, railroads soon flourished, stretching across the state and Alabama’s long-suffering economy, as the lumber, mining and textile industries grew rapidly.

Like many other states, Alabama prospered during World War I, and especially in Mobile, as shipbuilding companies exploded with growth. Then in 1929 America’s stock market crashed, the Great Depression set in, and Alabama would suffer once more.

World War II helped restart the economy, military installations were built, and the state’s agricultural and industrial production rapidly increased.

In the 1950s and 1960s an ugly chapter of racism was emerging. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Martin Luther Kingled demonstrations of Birmingham, Gov. George C. Wallace’s student blockade and Selma March made international headlines, and all would later prove to be catalysts for much-needed civil rights across America.

Today Alabama is a vital part of modern America. Here the bells of personal freedoms ring loud and true as this southern state and its people cheer one and all as they are proudly woven into the fabric of America’s history and the civil rights movement.

And speaking of hospitality, if you ever travel to what many call “Sweet Home Alabama”, you’ll discover the true meaning of Southern Hospitality.

Alabama Timeline

1500s – 1600s

  • (1519) Spanish explorer, Alonzo Alvarez de PiƱeda, explored the Gulf of Mexico, including Mobile Bay
  • (1539 – 1541) Hernando De Soto explored the Southeast; met Chief Tuscaloosa at the Battle of Maubila
  • (1559 – 1561) Don Tristan de Luna attempted to establish a Spanish colony; failed
  • (1600) Events created by Indian tribes


  • (1702) The Le Moyne brothers established Fort Louis de la Mobile and a settlement on the River Mobile
  • (1712) The La Moyne brothers moved the fort and settlement until the Mobile present day
  • (1717) Fort Toulouse, erected on the river Couse to trade with the Indians
  • (1721) The Africane sailed into Mobile Harbor with over 100 slaves
  • (1724) Slavery that institutionalizes in the Mobile area the French Code Noir (Black Code)
  • (1756 – 1763) Seven Years ‘ War (French and Indian War) won by Great Britain ; France ceded territory east of the Mississippi River
  • (1780) Spaniards captured Mobile during the American Revolution
  • (1798) Mississippi Territory, organized from western Georgia, included Alabama
  • (1799) USA captured Fort St. Stephens from Spanish; Andrew Ellicott surveyed the border between US and Spanish West Florida, placed a stone north of Mobile to mark the 31st latitude


  • (1802) Georgia formally conceded Western demands at the 31st parallel
  • (1805 – 1806) White settlements of Indian lands began
  • (1813) US captured Mobile from Spanish
  • (1813 – 1814) Indian Creek Wars
  • (1814) General Andrew Jackson defeated Brooks; lands that are ceded to the federal government; British failed in attack on Fort Bowyer at Mobile Point
  • (1815) Briton calls captured Fort Bowyer; left when the heard war was over
  • (1817) Alabama Territory created
  • (1818) Alabama Territory’s first legislature met at St. Stevens; Cahaba designated as the state capital
  • (1819) State Constitution passed; the first general election was held; Alabama becomes the 22nd American state
  • (1820) Steamboat Harriett reached Montgomery; river trade opened between Montgomery and Mobile
  • (1820 – 1840) over 150,000 slaves brought to Alabama
  • (1826) Capital moved to Tuscaloosa
  • (1830 – 1835) Indian Removal of the Bill Agreement signed; Indians ceded lands in Alabama to western lands
  • (1832) First railroad, Tuscamia, opened
  • (1833) A meteor shower made the night famous as “night stars fell on Alabama”
  • (1835 – 1836) Alabama Gold Rush in the East Central Highlands
  • (1836 – 1837) Second Creek War; The Battle of Hodby’s Bridge was the last Indian battle in Alabama.
  • (1846) Montgomery chosen as state capital
  • (1849) Capitol at Montgomery destroyed by fire
  • (1852) Senator William Rufus King elected US Vice President; died before taking office
  • (1861) Civil War has begun; Alabama became the fourth state to secede from the Union
  • (1861 – 1865) (194) land battles, (8) naval battles occurred within the Alabama borders during the American Civil War
  • (1868) Alabama re-admitted to the Union
  • (1895) State flag adopted


  • (1909) Wright Brothers founded flying school outside of Montgomery; weevil entered the state, destroyed cotton crops
  • (1926) University of Alabama won the Rose Bowl
  • (1931) Conviction and death sentence by an all-white jury of black youths, “The Scottsboro Boys” outraged the international community
  • (1936) Jessie Owen won Olympic gold medals in Berlin, Germany
  • (1937) State sales tax established by fund formation
  • (1944) First oil well in Alabama
  • (1948) Dixiecrat Convention met in Birmingham, elected Strom Thurmond Presidential Candidate; Henry Truman’s name is not on the ballot
  • (1954) State Attorney General nominee, Albert Patterson, assassinated in Panicks City, “the wickedest city in America”
  • (1955) Black seamstress, Rosa Parks, arrested for refusing to give a seat on a bus to a white passenger; The Montgomery Bus Boycott began; Parks called “the mother of the modern day civil rights movement”
  • (1956) Army Ballistic Missile Agency founded at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville; segregated seating on Montgomery public transit vehicles banned by Supreme Court; Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks among the first people to ride an integrated bus; The Montgomery Bus Boycott Is Over
  • (1961) Freedom Ride, an integrated bus ride from Washington D.C. Carrived at a bus depot in Montgomery attacked by an angry mob
  • (1963) Civil Rights targets bombed in Birmingham; four children killed in bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church; first African American students enroll at the University of Alabama
  • (1965) 600 demonstrators made first of three attempts to pass from Selma to electoral limits Montgomery’s objection to black Americans, attacks by law enforcement officials forced them to return, broadcast through US-induced surge in protester support; Martin Luther King led 3,200 demonstrators from Selma to Montgomery; Voting Rights Act Becomes Law, Ending Voting Restrictions
  • (1967) Lerlyn Wallace elected the first female governor in the state
  • (1972) Governor George Wallace shot in Maryland during the presidential campaign paralyzed from the waist down
  • (1981) Academy of Country Music Chosen Band, Alabama, “Vocal Group of the Year”
  • (1993) Governor Guy Hunt removed from office, convicted of misusing public funds
  • (1995) Heather Whitestone became the first Miss America with a disability
  • (1998) David Sacher Anniston appointed US Chief Medical Officer


  • (2001) Condoleezza Rice, Birmingham National Security Adviser on President Bush’s birth
  • (2002) Vonetta Flowers became the first African American to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics; Bobby Frank Cherry convicted of murder for his part in 1963 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church
  • (2004) Condoleezza Rice appointed U.S. Secretary of State by President George W. Bush
  • (2005) Hurricane Katrina caused major damage along coastal areas
  • (2009) Bandit burned down his own house, killed 10 people
  • (2011) Storm barrage killed over 200
  • (2011) Most strict US immigration laws passed in Alabama

Alabama History