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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 people.
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 hav¬ing to repeat a menu for 30 days.
Roaring blast furnaces at Birmingham show that factories as well as farms are im¬portant in Alabama. Birmingham is known as the Pittsburgh of the South because of its steel mills. It is the largest of Alabama's in¬dustrial 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 Huntsville.
The map on the state seal proudly displays Alabama's rivers. They have always
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.
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. or Alabamu. tribe of Indians, members of the Creek Confederacy. The name may have come from words in the Choctaw language, alba ayamule, meaning "I clear the thicket."
ABBREVIATIONS: Ala.; AL.
NICKNAMES: Heart of Dixie, from its location in the center of the Deep South. Yellowhammer State, from Civil Wa'r times, when troops from Alabama were called Yellowhammers.
STATE SONG: "Alabama," by Julia S. Tutwiler; music by Edna Goeckel Gussen.
STATE MOTTO: Audemus jura nostra defendere (We " dare defend our rights).
STATE SEAL: A map of Alabama showing the bordering states, the Gulf of Mexico, and the major rivers.
STATE COAT OF ARMS: The shield in the center contains the emblems of five governments that have ruled over Alabama—France (upper left), Spain (upper right), Great Britain (lower left), the Confederacy (lower right), and the United States (center). The eagles on each side of the shield represent courage. They stand on a banner that carries the state motto. The ship above the shield shows that Alabama borders on water.
STATE FLAG A crimson field. cross of St. Andrew on a white.
Alabama is one of the East South Central group of states. It could be called an Appalachian state or a Gulf state. The southern end of the Appalachian Mountain system extends into Alabama and covers the northeastern part of the state. The Gulf of Mexico forms a small but important part of Alabama's southern border.
Within the state of Alabama there are three major landforms. They are the Interior Low Plateau, the Appalachian Highlands, and the Gulf Coastal Plain. The Gulf Coastal Plain is the largest of the three regions. It lies south of a line that begins in the northwestern corner of the state, runs southeastward through the city of Tuscaloosa, and continues to Phenix City, on the eastern border.
The Interior Low Plateau enters Alabama from the state of Tennessee and covers a small area in the extreme northwest. The average elevation of this part of Alabama is 210 meters (700 feet). It is a region of knobby hills, cut through by the broad valley of the Tennessee River.
The Appalachian Highlands include three areas. They arc the Appalachian Plateau, the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region, and the Piedmont Plateau. The average elevation of the highlands varies from 150 to 200 meters (500 to 700 feet), with most of the highest points in the Ridge and Valley Region.
The Appalachian Plateau, also known as the Cumberland Plateau, enters the northeast corner of the state and extends southwest-ward. This plateau is rather rugged. It has some good farmland, but it is mainly an area of lumbering and mining.
The Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region is made up of narrow valleys between steep mountain ridges. It is known for its mineral riches and forests of oak and pine.
The Piedmont Plateau is a wedge-shaped area southeast of the Ridge and Valley Region. It gets its name from the word pied-mont, which means "lying at the base, or foot, of mountains." This region is generally hilly, with some rolling land. The most rugged part is in the northwest, where Cheaha Mountain rises to 734 meters (2,407 feet).
The Gulf Coastal Plain is mainly a flat to rolling plain. Ages ago it was covered by oceans. The part adjoining the Appalachian
Highlands is called the Upper Coastal Plain. This is the oldest part, as well as the highest in elevation. South of it is a strip of nearly level land known as the Black Belt because of its dark-colored soils. The southeastern quar¬ter of the state is known as the Wire Grass area because it was once covered with a kind of coarse grass called wire grass.
For many years the Coastal Plain was the heart of the cotton fields. It is changing gradually to an area where livestock graze and many different crops are grown.
Rivers, Lakes, and Coastal Waters
Alabama is drained by three major river systems. The Tennessee River dips down' into Alabama from the state of Tennessee. It flows westward through northern Alabama and then northward to join the Ohio River. The other major rivers of Alabama flow toward the Gulf of Mexico. The Mobile River system is made up of several important rivers. The Tombigbee River and its main tributary, the Black Warrior River, drain the western part of the state. The Coosa and the Talla-poosa rivers flow through east central and eastern Alabama. They join near Montgomery to form the Alabama River, which flows southwestward toward the Tombigbee. North of Mobile, the Alabama and the Tombigbee rivers join to form the Mobile River, which drains southward into Mobile Bay. The Chat-tnhoochee is the major river of southeastern Alabama. Guntcrsvillc Lake is the largest of the many lakes in the state.
The Tennessee-Tombigbee (Tenn-Tom) Waterway project was designed to provide a water route from the Tennessee Valley to the Gulf of Mexico, by way of the Tombigbee River. It includes a canal in the northeastern corner of Mississippi that links the rivers.
Alabama's general coastline on the Gulf of Mexico is 85 kilometers (53 miles) long. If the shorelines of inlets, bays, and offshore islands are added, the total shoreline is 977 kilometers (607 miles).
People sometimes think of Alabama as an uncomfortably hot, tropical state, but this impression is false. Actually, there is a wide variety of climate from the highlands of the north to the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.
Winter temperatures in the southern half of the state rarely drop below freezing. Snow is so rare that many children have never seen a snowfall.
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