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Alabama state
After the battle came the night. It was the night of March 27, 1814. The
soldiers stretched wearily by the campfires. General Andrew Jackson sat in
his tent at Horseshoe Bend and thought of the great victory. At last he had
broken the power of the Creek Indians. Hundreds of warriors lay dead in the
sweeping bend of the Tallapoosa River.
Across the river, deep in the forest, a man stood motionless and alone. He
was William Weatherford, also known as Red Eagle, a leader of the Creeks.
He had escaped from the battle, and he would be hunted.
Yet Red Eagle did not flee. He thought of the Creek women and children
hiding in the forest without food or protection. He sighed and made a
decision. He would offer his life in exchange for food and safety for his
Red Eagle crossed the dark river and stood before Jackson, waiting for
death. But Jack-son, admiring his courage, allowed Red Eagle to leave in
peace. Before long the Creeks and other tribes left Alabama, and settlers
took the land.
One of Alabama's nicknames, Heart of Dixie, comes from the fact that the
state is located in the heart, or center, of the South. There are several
stories about the origin of the word "Dixie." Perhaps it came from the
French word dix, meaning "ten." This word was printed on $10 bills used in
the state of Louisiana before the Civil War. The bills were called dixies,
and the name Dixie, or Dixie Land, came to be used for all the cotton-
growing states.
Alabama has a long history as a farming area. The Indians were its first
farmers. Long before European settlers came to the New World, the Indians
cleared the thickets-thick growths of shrubs, bushes, and vines
—along Alabama's rivers and carried on agriculture. Then settlers took the
land, and fields of fluffy cotton began to stretch across Alabama. For
years the state was known as a land of cotton. But the time came when
Alabama's farmers realized that it was not wise to depend on a single crop.
They began to grow. many different kinds of crops and to raise hogs,
cattle, and chickens. Today leaders of the state say that Alabama's farms
can produce enough foods to give every one of its citizens a well-balanced
diet without having to repeat a menu for 30 days.
Roaring blast furnaces at Birmingham show that factories as well as farms
are important in Alabama. Birmingham is known as the Pittsburgh of the
South because of its steel mills. It is the largest of Alabama's industrial
cities. There are many others.
The U.S. Army's Redstone Arsenal, located at Huntsville, took Alabama into
the space age. Here scientists worked on the Jupiter C rocket. This rocket
hurled the nation's first successful satellite into orbit. Huntsville is
also known for the Redstone III rocket and the Saturn. The Redstone III
boosted the nation's first astronaut into outer space. The Saturn enabled
U.S. astronauts to land on the moon. Later, the space shuttle was tested at
The map on the state seal proudly displays Alabama's rivers. They have
been important for transportation. Dams in some of the rivers have great
power plants. These plants supply electric power to help light Alabama's
farms and cities and to run its factories. The dams also create strings of
sparkling lakes, where residents and visitors can enjoy fishing, boating,
and other forms of recreation. Besides its rivers and lakes, Alabama has a
share of the Gulf of Mexico. Mobile, on beautiful Mobile Bay, is one of the
important ports of the nation.
Timber from the forest and fish from the sea add to Alabama's wealth. Many
of the people still grow cotton and corn, but agriculture alone is no
longer the main concern of the state.
CAPITAL: Montgomery.
STATEHOOD: December 14, 1819; the 22nd state. SIZE: 133.915 km2 (51,705 sq
mi); rank, 29th.
POPULATION: 3.893,888 (1980 census); rank, 22nd.
ORIGIN OF NAME: From the Alibamu
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