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Library Alabama Classics

John Smith, Will Wordsworth

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The Forge

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The Forge was first published in 1931.

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The Formative Period in Alabama, 1815-1828

Thomas Abernethy, with an introduction by David T. Morgan

The Formative Period in Alabama, 1815-1828 is a beautifully crafted history of the evolution of the state written by Thomas Perkins Abernethy in 1922. The work shows how Alabama grew out of the Mississippi Territory and discusses the economic and political development during the years just before and just after Alabama became a state.

Abernethy’s story begins when Alabama existed as the eastern part of the Mississippi Territory, settled primarily by Cherokees, Choctaws, and Creeks, a few traders, and some brave but foolhardy “squatters” who thought to supplant the Indians and carve out a home for themselves and their descendants from Indian territory. Friction with the Creeks escalated into war and, with their defeat at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, the successful move began to wrest land from the Indians for white settlement. The availability of good land, the promise of transportation of goods along the waterways, and the opening of the Federal Road brought rapid population growth to an area blessed (and cursed) with forceful leaders. Abernethy describes in detail the political maneuverings and economic strangleholds that created territorial division and turmoil in the early days of Alabama’s statehood.

 

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Fort Toulouse

The French Outpost at the Alabamas on the Coosa

Daniel H Thomas, with an introduciton by Gregory A. Waselkov

Situated at the head of the Alabama River system—at the juncture of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers—Fort Toulouse in 1717 was planned to keep the local Indians neutral, if not loyal, to the French and contain the British in their southernmost Atlantic colonies. Unlike the usual frontier settlements, Fort Toulouse was both a diplomatic post, since its officers acted as resident ministers, and a military post. Because it was located in a friendly territory adjoining an area under a rival (British) influence, the post participated in psychological warfare rather than in blood-letting. It used trade and aid, and was familiar with spies and double-agents—welcoming and debriefing British defectors; no cannon was discharged in anger at Toulouse.

The most eminent figure to have been connected directly with Fort Toulouse was General Andrew Jackson, who established a military post there during the War of 1812 after his victory over the Indians at Horseshoe Bend. The outpost was named Fort Jackson in his honor and played a key role in the treaty negotiations and eventual settlement of the Indian land by Americans.

In addition to discussing geopolitical and military affairs and diplomatic relations with Indian chiefs, Thomas describes daily life at the post and the variety of interactions between residents and visitors. Waselkov's introduction places the original 1960 book within the context of the existing scholarship of that time and adds an extensive and enlightening review of the most recent archaeological and historical research to Thomas' pioneering work.

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Foundation Stone

Using the history of Alabama and the stories of her pioneering ancestors, Lella Warren created the Whetstone clan who settled Alabama in the 1820s, helped lead it into the prosperity of the 1850s, and fought for it in the War Between the States. The historical background of Foundation Stone is authentic, but, more, it is a compelling story about believable characters. The story of these people—three generations of Whetstones—captures the American pioneering spirit. As an unidentified reviewer described the novel, “Lella Warren’s ‘Foundation Stone’ is the long, well-told chronicle of a family that loved and hoped and struggled in a difficult world, unaware that they symbolized an era and a way of life.” Foundation Stone was published in September 1940 and was on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list September 1940-February 1941, along with Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again.

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Indian Place Names in Alabama

Written by William A. Read and revised edition by James B. McMillan

"What is the 'meaning' of names like Coosa and Tallapoosa? Who named the Alabama and Tombigbee and Tennessee rivers? How are Cheaha and Conecuh and Talladega pronounced? How did Opelika and Tuscaloosa get their names? Questions like these, which are asked by laymen as well as by historians, geographers, and students of the English language, can be answered only by study of the origins and history of the Indian names that dot the map of Alabama.—from the Foreword

Originally published by Professor Read in 1937, this volume was revised, updated, and annotated in 1984 by James B. McMillan and remains the single best compedium on the topic.

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Labor Revolt In Alabama

The Great Strike of 1894

The Alabama coal miners’ strike of 1894 to gain improved working conditions and to protect themselves from wage reductions. The authors recount the depression of the early 1890s, which set the stage for the strike, and the subsequent use of convict labor, which became a catalyst. The gripping story of the strike includes the dramatic decision to strike and corporate attempts to break the strike by the use of company guards and "scab" labor. In Alabama corporate bosses inflamed passions further by deploying African American “black leg” workers, ultimately requiring the deployment of the state militia to restore peace. 

 

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Letters from Alabama

Chiefly Relating to Natural HIstory

Philip Henry Gosse, introduction by Harvey H Jackson, edited by Virginia Hamilton

Philip Henry Gosse (1810-1888), a British naturalist, left home at age 17 and made his way to Alabama in 1838, where he had heard educated people were in demand. He was employed by Judge Reuben Saffold at Pleasant Hill in Dallas County as a teacher for about a dozen children of local landowners, but his principal interest was natural history. During the eight months he lived in th Black Belt he watched, listened, thought, took notes, and made sketches--activities that eventually led to Letters from Alabama. He lived among Alabamians, talked and listened to them, saw them at their best and their worst, and came to understand their hopes and fears. They were a part of the natural world, and he paid attention to them as any good scientist would. With the skills of a scientist and the temperament of an artist, Gosse set down an account of natural life in frontier Alabama that has no equal. Written to no one in particular, a common literary device of the period, the letters were first published in a magazine, and in 1859 appeared as a book. By that time Gosse was an established scholar and one of England’s most noted scientific illustrators.

 

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Letters from Alabama

Chiefly Relating to Natural History

Philip Henry Gosse, F.R.S., edited by Gary R. Mullen and Taylor D. Littleton

This new and improved edition of Letters from Alabama offers a valuable window into pioneer Alabama and the landscape and life-forms encountered by early settlers of the state.

Philip Henry Gosse (1810–1888), a British naturalist, left home at age seventeen and made his way to Alabama in 1838. He was employed by Judge Reuben Saffold and other planters near Pleasant Hill in Dallas County as a teacher for about a dozen of their children, but his principal interest was natural history. Letters from Alabama is a personalized record of Gosse’s perceptive observations during his eight-month residence in this small antebellum community. The work addresses a Victorian readership, including entomologists, who Gosse believed were relatively uninformed about the novelty and beauty of this “hilly region of the State of Alabama.” Written in an engaging literary style and organized as a series of epistolary discussions, the book is unparalleled in its detailed evocations of the natural history and cultural conditions of frontier Alabama. By the time Letters from Alabama appeared in 1859, Gosse’s scientific publications and fine illustrations had led to his being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

Edited by Gary R. Mullen and Taylor D. Littleton, this authoritative edition features thirty grayscale lithographs shot directly from the 1859 edition, reset type for easier reading, a new introduction and index by the two foremost scholars of Gosse in Alabama, a new appendix that provides modern scientific and common names for the plant and animal species described by Gosse, and a four-color cover featuring one of the plates from Gosse’s Entomologia Alabamensis.

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The Life of Andrew Jackson

Original copies of the first, 1817, edition of this work are so rare that even the Library of Congress does not have an undamaged copy. Consequently scholars and students of Jackson have had to rely on later, incomplete or bowdlerized editions. It is therefore all the more valuable to have Owsley’s critical restoration of the original edition, complete with its useful maps.
 
The work is a straightforward history of Jackson’s military career, begun by John Reid, Jackson’s military aide throughout the War of 1812 and the ensuing Creek War. Reid wrote the first four chapters, and after his death John Eaton completed the work from Reid’s outline, notes, and papers. Owsley, quondam professor of history at Auburn University, has carefully restored the original edition, noted variants between this and successor editions, and included helpful apparatus, including a memoir of John Reid by Helen Reid Roberts, and indexes to the whole.
 
This is the first paperback edition of this valuable record and includes the original four large-scale foldout maps on an accompanying CD.

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