With the Mississippi Territory’s center of government, largest population center, and leading trading hubs oriented towards the mighty Mississippi River, easterners had with some justiﬁcation long felt neglected. As early as 1803, they had complained of being a virtual ﬁefdom of remote and aloof Natchez, initiating the ﬁrst of many concerted eﬀorts to divide the sprawling territory in a way suitable to local interests. Even up to the very day of the Alabama Territory’s creation, residents had passionately debated whether to divide the immense Mississippi Territory and where exactly to place the border if it should enter the Union as two states rather than one. Eastern section fortunes rather suddenly and unexpectedly began to change with the cession of over twenty million acres of choice lands by the Creeks following their defeat in the brief and bloody Creek War, which raged within what became Alabama from 1813 to 1814. Alabama would experience immigration quite unlike anything the nation had ever witnessed in the aftermath. In 1813 the portion of the territory that would become Mississippi claimed over three times the number of settlers as the future state of Alabama. Within a decade Alabama had not only out-stripped the Magnolia State but was also on its way to more than doubling its population by 1830. A ﬁerce regional pride, born of the long-simmering jealous resentment of early arrivals and stoked by anxious ambition of the more recent, would color the development in Alabama.
The Alabama Territory’s future appeared exceptionally bright in large part because its legendarily rich lands promised the creation of great wealth in short order. Newspapers, traveler’s guides, and personal correspondence oﬀered glowing descriptions of the land and its potential, generally characterizing the territory as a sort of modern Eden. None of the breathless assessments was more enthusiastic or comprehensive than a description in the New York Herald just a few months after the territory’s formation:
Despite all of its advantages, the Alabama Territory was in truth still a raw frontier. Its preparation for statehood would inherently be trying, since virtually everything necessary to establish an independent political entity had to be created, formed, or organized in short order. The brief but eventful dramatic interlude in which Alabama’s founders did this not only accomplished the immediate goal of statehood with remarkable haste but also laid the foundation for the ultimate transformation of the heart of the Old Southwest into the Heart of Dixie within the span of a generation. Along the way the state-in-the-making con-fronted all the problems and issues that typiﬁed the American experience of the era. It would be challenged by class conﬂict, rattled by rumors of wars, shaken by economic set-back, riven by sectional rivalry, tested in channeling greed and personal ambition into instruments for the greater good, and divided in determining the place of Indians and slaves in its society. The ways it dealt with these and a host of other issues would reverberate far into statehood, even to this very day. The story of the Alabama Territory, then, is nothing less than the story of Alabama becoming the state we know today.