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Early Settlers

Updated January 16, 2011

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Alabama Migrations and mine were right in the midst of it.
http://www.archives.state.al.us/teacher/settle.html
After the Revolutionary War, the U.S. Government established laws to survey and sell land gained from Britain. The area that became Alabama was originally part of the Mississippi Territory from 1798 to 1817. Many settlers arrived in the area before government lands had been surveyed. Unable to buy, they simply picked a location, built a cabin, cleared fields, and put in crops. Such families were called squatters. Land laws were passed to provide legal title to land for settlers who already lived on the land. Some settlers claimed land by British or Spanish land grants, and others were squatters who claimed land by right of pre-emption....Starting in 1804, U. S. Land Offices were established to sell land in the area which would become Alabama. By law federal land was sold to the highest bidders at public auctions. Alabama sales attracted men from all over the nation, many of them speculators. Groups of speculators bought large tracts, sometimes for as little as $10 an acre, then resold at $20 to $100 an acre. When an auction ended, poorer migrants could buy less desirable land for as little as $2 an acre. The smallest amount one person could buy was 160 acres. Under the Land Law of 1800 a purchaser could put one-fourth down and pay the rest off over three years. But when the price of cotton fell to eighteen cents a pound, few could meet payments on land bought at inflated prices. By 1820, Alabama owed the federal government $11 million--more than half of the national land debt. In 1820 and 1821 Congress passed new laws to deal with this problem. The Land Law of 1820 required future buyers to pay the entire amount in cash but lowered the minimums to $1.25 an acre and 80 acres. Those already in debt were aided by the Relief Act of 1821 which permitted them to keep part of their land and return the rest to the government or buy it all on the installment plan at reduced rates. Introduction to the Settlement Unit: The defeat of the Creek Indians opened the heartland of Alabama to white settlement and caused Alabama fever to sweep the nation. Pioneers by the thousands left Tennessee, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia seeking fertile land for growing cotton. Mississippi territorial law was in place, but when Mississippi became a state, Congress created the Alabama Territory in 1817. Congress designated St. Stephens as capital of the Alabama Territory and approved a legislature of Alabama delegates already elected to the old Mississippi territorial legislature. William Wyatt Bibb, a Georgia physician who had served in the United States Congress and had powerful friends in Washington, was named Territorial governor. He was also elected as the first governor when Alabama became a state December 14, 1819. He helped establish the government, pass laws and administer justice. The following documents deal with cost of government, land speculation, cotton, and law as settlers poured in the area during the early settlement of Alabama.At the start of the 19th century, Indians still held most of present-day Alabama. War broke out in 1813 between American settlers and a Creek faction known as the Red Sticks, who were determined to resist white encroachment. After General Andrew Jackson and his Tennessee militia crushed the Red Sticks in 1814 at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in central Alabama, he forced the Creek to sign a treaty ceding some 40,000 sq mi (103,600 sq km) of land to the US, thereby opening about three-fourths of the present state to white settlement. From 1814 onward, pioneers, caught up by what was called "Alabama fever," poured out of the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky into what Andrew Jackson called "the best unsettled country in America." Wealthy migrants came in covered wagons, bringing their slaves, cattle, and hogs. But the great majority of pioneers were ambitious farmers who moved

 
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