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1540 Oct 19
Hernando de Soto fought native Indians at the bloody battle of Mabila in present day Alabama.
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1839
A law banning the carrying of concealed weapons was passed in Alabama.
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1845
Henry Lehman, an immigrant from Germany, opened a dry goods store in Montgomery, Alabama. He was joined by his two brothers in 1850. The family often accepted raw cotton instead of cash for merchandise, which resulted in a successful cotton business on the side. In 1862, the brothers formed Lehman, Durr & Co. with cotton merchant John Durr, and in 1870, helped to form the New York Cotton Exchange.
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1861 Mar 11
The Confederate convention in Montgomery, Ala., adopted a constitution. Representatives from the 7 Confederate states ratified the constitution of the Confederate states of America.
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1863 Jul 27
William Lowndes Yancey (b.1814), former Alabama state senator, and advocate of states’ rights and slavery, died at his home near in Montgomery, Alabama. In 2006 Eric H. Walther authored “William Lowndes Yancey and the Coming of the Civil War.”
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1864 Nov 19
Confederate commander Nathan Bedford Forrest joined Gen. Hood at Gunter’s Landing on the Tennessee River in northern Alabama.
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1864 Nov 21
Confederate General John Bell Hood launched the Franklin-Nashville Campaign into Tennessee from northern Alabama. Hood led the Confederate Army of Tennessee in its offensive into Tennessee, which was decisively broken in the battles of Franklin and Nashville. Hood, a graduate of West Point, had been in the U.S. Cavalry until the Civil War broke out. He was seriously wounded attacking Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg and later lost a leg at Chickamauga in September of that year. In 1864, he was appointed a Lieutenant General under Joseph E. Johnston's command in defense of Atlanta. In July, Confederate president Jefferson Davis put Hood in command who promptly attacked Sherman's Union army and was repulsed. Hood then attempted a long march to the north and west to assault Sherman's rear and ran into Union Army of the Cumberland. The November Battle of Franklin and December Battle of Nashville decisively defeated Hood's Army which was harassed and almost destroyed in its retreat. Hood's own request to end his command was granted the following month. After the war he lived in New Orleans.
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1886 Feb 27
Hugo L. Black (d.1971) was born in Alabama. He became the 78th Supreme Court Justice (1937-71) and wrote opinions forbidding prayer in schools (Sen-D-Ala).
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1914 Oct 28
Fayard Nicholas (d.2006), the elder half of the Nicholas Brothers tap dancing duo, was born in Mobile, Ala.
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1915 Nov 14
Booker T. Washington (b.1856), Black American educator, died in Tuskegee, Alabama. The former slave later founded the Tuskegee Institute (1881). Booker Taliaferro Washington later became the 1st black on a US postage stamp. His autobiography "Up From Slavery" was listed in 1999 as the 3rd best work of non-fiction in the English language in the 20th century by the Modern Library. In 2009 Robert J. Norrell authored “Up From History: The Life of Booker T. Washington.”
Links: USA, Postage, Black History, Alabama, Biography     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1920 Apr 20
Tornadoes struck northern Alabama and Mississippi. The final Alabama death toll reached 92 people. As many as 219 people were reportedly killed.
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1925 Mar 18
The great Tri-State Tornado killed 695 people in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri and injured some 13,000 people, and causing $17 million in property damage. Several other destructive tornadoes in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana, as well as tornadoes in Alabama and Kansas brought the total to at least 747 dead.
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1927
In Alabama and many other states sheriffs and other county office holders were paid fixed fees for services performed and were allowed to keep whatever was left over. In 2008 all but 12 of Alabama’s 67 counties remained on the fee system with a $1.75-a-day allowance for feeding prisoners. Some sheriffs still profited with no accounting to auditors.
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1931 Mar 25
In Alabama 9 young black men, arrested at Paint Rock after riding a freight train, were taken to Scottsboro. Victoria Price (21) and Ruby Bates (17), who had worked as prostitutes in Huntsville, were also found on the train dressed as boys. The 9 men were soon charged with raping the 2 white woman, while riding on the freight train.
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1931 Mar 30
In Scottsboro, Ala., 9 young black men were indicted for rape. By the end of April all were tried, convicted and sentenced to death, except for one age 13, who was sentenced to life in prison. The US Supreme Court later overturned the convictions, but they were convicted at a 2nd trial, even though one of the accused said no rape had occurred. Five convictions were overturned in 1937 after one alleged victim recanted her story. Clarence Norris received a pardon before his death in 1976. In 2013 Alabama’s parole board approved posthumous pardons for the “Scottsboro Boys” during a hearing for three black men whose convictions were never overturned.
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1931 Apr 6
The 1st Scottsboro (Ala) trial began for 9 blacks accused of rape.
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1934
Alabama’s last Confederate veteran living at the Mountain Creek Confederate Soldiers' Home died. The hospital, which was converted into apartments for widows, closed in 1939 and the five women who lived there were moved to Montgomery. In 2011 residential property taxes, initiated in 1901, continued to support Confederate Memorial Park.
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1937 Jul 24
The state of Alabama dropped charges against 4 black men accused of raping two white women in the so-called Scottsboro case.
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1937 Aug 19
Hugo Black (1886-1971), US Senator from Alabama, was sworn in as associate US Supreme Court Justice.
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1941 Jan
The US War Dept. formed an all-black flying unit that achieved fame as the Tuskegee Airmen. On June 20 the Tuskegee program officially began with the formation of the 99th Fighter Squadron at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Their 1st mission was in June 1943. African-Americans were barred from the Air Corps until this year, and then were shunted to all-black squadrons.
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1950
German physicist and engineer Wernher von Braun and a team of some 118 German scientists, described as “prisoners of peace,” began arriving in Huntsville, Alabama, to work on the US space program at Redstone Arsenal.
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1954 Sep 1
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) became pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
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1955 Dec 1
Rosa Parks (42), a seamstress and secretary of the Montgomery NAACP, was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, as she sat in a section of a bus just behind the area reserved for whites. She refused to move to the back the bus, to accommodate a white male passenger, as ordered by driver James F. Blake (d.2002 at 89) and defied the South’s segregationist laws. This prompted the Dec. 5 bus boycott, a year-long boycott of the buses by blacks, and launched the Civil Rights movement in the United States. Virginia Durr (d.1999 at 95) helped a black civil rights leader bail Parks out of jail. In 1985 Durr wrote her memoir: "Outside the Magic Circle." In 1999 Pres. Clinton authorized a Congressional Gold Medal for Rosa Parks.
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1955 Dec 5
The Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott began in an effort to overturn the city’s bus segregation law. It was organized in part by Jo Ann Robinson (1912-1992), Fred D. Grey, E.D. Nixon, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and others, following the Dec 1 arrest of Rosa Parks, who had refused give up her seat to a white male passenger and move to the back. Black residents chose Mr. King to head The Montgomery Improvement Association, formed to sustain the protest against segregation policies on the municipal buses.
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1956 Feb 3
Autherine Lucy (b.1929) arrived at the Tuscaloosa branch of the Univ. of Alabama and became the first black person to enroll there. She had been accepted in 1952 and then was denied because of her race.
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1956 Feb 6
The Univ. of Alabama board of trustees voted to suspend Autherine Lucy, the 1st black admitted to school, on the grounds that the campus was no longer safe for her.
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1956 Feb 22
The US Montgomery Boycott sparked arrests that included Martin Luther King. He was found guilty on March 22 and ordered to pay a $500 fine.
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1956 Apr 10
In Alabama singer Nat Cole was attacked on stage at the Birmingham Municipal Auditorium by a small group of white supremacists. Six local men were arrested for the attack.
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1956 Dec 20
The Supreme Court affirmed the Jun 5 decision against segregation on buses in Montgomery, Alabama. Montgomery removed race-based seat assignments on its buses.
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1957 Jan 10
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to fight facial segregation by means of nonviolent protests. In 1986 David J. Garrow authored “Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.”
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1965 Feb 18
Alabama police were sent to Marion as some 500 people marched from a church toward the city jail to protest the jailing of a civil rights worker. Street lights went out and troopers began swinging clubs on the marchers. Jimmie Lee Jackson (26) was shot while aiding his grandfather (82) and mother. Jackson died 2 days later. In 2007 trooper James Bonard Fowler was indicted for the shooting death of Jackson. In 2010 Fowler (77) pleaded guilty to 2nd degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 6 months in jail.
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1965 Mar 7
A march by some 600 civil rights demonstrators was broken up in Selma, Ala., by state troopers and posse under Sheriff Jim Clark (d.2007). The Black community of Marion, Ala., marched to protest the earlier killing of a demonstrator by a state trooper. John Lewis, later US Representative, led the march and was hit in the head by a state trooper.
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1965 Mar 25
Viola Liuzzo (b.1925), a white civil rights worker from Detroit, was shot and killed by the Ku Klux Klan on a road near Selma, Ala. The later trial of Collie Leroy Jenkins, one of 3 men charged in the killing, ended in a hung jury. Jenkins was also acquitted at a 2nd trial but was later convicted along with Eugene Thomas of civil rights violations in federal court and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
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1965 May 30
Vivian Malone (later Vivian Malone Jones) became the first black graduate of the University of Alabama with a degree in Business Management.
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1968 Feb 8
George Wallace, the pro-segregation governor of Alabama, entered the US presidential race. Wallace ran as a third-party candidate. He was mainly popular in the deep south, but he was able to attract 14% of the popular vote in the November election.
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1968 Oct 3
American Independent Party presidential candidate George Wallace tapped retired Air Force Gen. Curtis E. LeMay to be his running mate.
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1968
The American Independent Party candidate George Wallace named General Curtis LeMay as his vice-presidential candidate.
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1970 Sep 12
The Univ. of Alabama under coach Bear Bryant football team played against an integrated opponent for the 1st time losing to the Univ. of Southern California 42-21.
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1972 May 15
Alabama’s Gov. George Wallace was shot by Arthur Bremer while campaigning in Laurel, Maryland, for the Democratic presidential primary. Wallace was left paralyzed. In 2007 Bremer was released from jail after serving 35 of his 53 year sentence.
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1972 Jul 25
US health officials conceded that blacks were used as guinea pigs in the 40 year Tuskegee Syphilis Study in Macon County, Ala. By this time 28 participants had died of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, at least 40 wives had been infected and 19 children had contracted the disease at birth [see 1932].
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1972 Aug 4
Arthur Bremer (b.1950) was sentenced to 63 years for shooting Alabama Gov. Wallace and 3 bystanders on May 15, 1972, in Laurel, Maryland. An appeal reduced the sentence to 53 years. After 35 years of incarceration, Bremer was released from prison on parole on November 9, 2007. He remains on probation until 2025 and resides in a halfway house in Cumberland, Maryland.
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1972
Monsanto ceased producing PCBs in Anniston, Alabama. In 2001 Monsanto agreed to a $40 million settlement for toxic pollution.
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1974 Apr 3
A series of 148 deadly tornadoes struck wide parts of the South and Midwest before jumping across the border into Canada; some 330 people were killed in 13 states: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Total property damage was estimated at $600 million. In 2007 Mark Levine authored “F5: Devastation, Survival, and the Most Violent Tornado Outbreak of the 20th Century.”
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1974
The Bellefonte nuclear power plant was begun by the TVA in Hollywood, Ala. Construction was halted in 1988 amid soaring costs.
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1975 Feb 25
In Tennessee Marcia Trimble (9) disappeared while delivering Girl Scout cookies in her Nashville neighborhood. Her body was discovered on Easter Sunday and evidence led police to believe that she had been sexually assaulted and strangled to death. In 2009 Jerome Barrett (62) was convicted of 2nd-degree murder based on DNA testing. He was already serving a life sentence for the 1975 rape and murder of a Vanderbilt Univ. student.
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1975 Mar 22
In Alabama a fire at the Browns Ferry Unit 1 nuclear power plant caused $10 million in damage and knocked the reactor out of service for over a year. A worker checking for air leaks with a candle ignited insulation near the control room. The reactor was mothballed in 1985. It was scheduled to reopen in 2007 following a 5 year, $1.8 billion restoration.
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1976 Oct 16
In Alabama Sheryl Lynn Payton (24) was abducted, raped and murdered. In 1977 Thomas Whisenhant (29) was convicted after he confessed to her murder and that of 2 other convenience store clerks. Whisenhant's original conviction was overturned by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. He was convicted again at a retrial in 1981. On May 27, 2010, Whisenhant was executed by lethal injection.
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1976 Oct 25
Gov. Wallace of Alabama granted full pardon to Clarence Norris, the last known survivor of 9 Scottsboro Boys who were convicted in a 1931 rape.
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1979 Jan 19
Former Attorney General John N. Mitchell was released on parole after serving 19 months at a federal prison in Alabama.
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1981 Mar 20
Michael Donald (b.1961), a black teenager in Mobile, Alabama, was abducted, tortured and killed in what prosecutors charged was a Ku Klux Klan plot. Henry Hays (d.1997) murdered Michael Donald in a random abduction. Donald was beaten, cut, strangled and his body was strung up a tree. Hays was convicted and sentenced to death. He was executed Jun 6, 1997. In 1987 A wrongful death suit filed by Donald’s mother gave a $7 million verdict against the United Klans of America, led by Robert Shelton (d.2003 at 73).
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1981 Nov 28
Bear Bryant of the Univ. of Alabama won his 315th game to out distance Alonzo Stagg & become college football's winningest coach.
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1982 Feb 6
Civil rights workers began a march from Carrolton to Montgomery, Alabama.
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1982 Dec 29
Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant ended his career with Alabama. He logged 323 wins (http://bryantmuseum.ua.edu/direction.cfm?dir=bio). In 1996 Keith Dunnavant authored “COACH: The Life of Paul "Bear" Bryant.”
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1982
Troy Wicker of Muscle Shoals, Ala., was shot to death. Judy Wicker later testified that she had had sex with Thomas Arthur and paid him $10,000 to kill her husband. Arthur was convicted and sentenced to death. His execution, set for Dec 6, 2007, was delayed because of a pending Supreme Court case involving lethal injections.
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1983 Jan 17
Alabama Gov George C. Wallace (1919-1998), became governor for a record 4th time.
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1983 Jan 26
Paul Bryant (Bear Bryant), former Univ. of Alabama football coach, died at age 69. In 1975 he authored his autobiography “Bear.”
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1983 May
In Montgomery, Ala., the mysterious Jack Smith invited a number of Blacks and Whites to have supper together at the Piccadilly Cafeteria. 35 people convened and the Friendly Supper Club thus was born and continued to convene.
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1985 Jun 4
The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling striking down an Alabama law providing for a daily "moment of silence" in public schools.
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1986 Apr 2
George Corley Wallace (1919-1998), Governor of Alabama (Dem.), announced his retirement.
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1986 Apr 13
Phillip Hallford forced his daughter (15) to lure her boyfriend Eddie Shannon (16) to an isolated area in Daly County, Alabama, where he shot and killed the boy and threw his body off a bridge. Melinda Hallford was pregnant at the time of the killing and had been sexually abused by her father. In 2010 Hallford (63) was executed.
Links: Murder, Alabama     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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