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David G. Farragut


David G. Farragut
David G. Farragut

Although Union support remained strong in the north hill country and mountains, most Alabamians supported the Confederacy in the American Civil War (1861-1865) that followed. Union forces invaded several times and occupied parts of north Alabama, but the most important military action of the war in Alabama was the naval Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864. Union Admiral David G. Farragut easily defeated the outgunned Confederate navy that defended the bay. However, the city of Mobile itself was not captured until April 1865. Union cavalry raids swept through the state late in the war and caused devastation, although not on the same scale as was inflicted on Georgia.

The Confederacy surrendered in 1865, and Union troops were stationed in the Southern states. Alabama attempted to reestablish state government under the lenient terms that President Andrew Johnson offered for restoration, or Reconstruction, of the union. However, Congress imposed harsher terms: among other requirements, each state had to ratify the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which extended citizenship and civil rights to blacks.

The Alabama legislature refused, and in 1867 Alabama was placed under military rule, as were nine other Southern states. A new voter registration excluded many former Confederates. Northerners and pro-Union Southerners, called respectively carpetbaggers and scalawags by their enemies, joined with blacks to form the state Republican Party and take control of the government.

The new government adopted a new state constitution, and Alabama was readmitted to the Union in 1868. The Reconstruction government, despite much corruption, had some positive effects on Alabama. Railroads were built, industrial communities such as Birmingham emerged, and lumbering expanded. A federal agency, the Freedmen’s Bureau, took responsibility for furnishing food and medical supplies to blacks, most of whom were destitute, and to needy whites as well.

It was also concerned with the regulation of wages and working conditions of blacks and the establishment and maintenance of schools for illiterate former slaves. In addition, the bureau handled legal trials involving blacks. Most of the activities of the bureau were ended in 1869, except for the educational program, which continued until 1872.

Many whites opposed military occupation and rule by carpetbaggers and scalawags based on black votes. The Ku Klux Klan and similar violent groups were organized to intimidate blacks and Republicans. Because of the violence, which drove both black and white Republicans from the polls, but also because of the high taxes imposed by the ambitious Reconstruction government, the Democrats regained control of state government in 1874. This ended Reconstruction in Alabama. "USA" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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