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Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area that is today Alabama was inhabited various Native American peoples including the Alibamu, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Koasati and Mobile.
The first European settlement in Alabama, was established by the French at Mobile in 1702. As a result, southern Alabama was French from 1702 to 1763. This region subsequently became part of British West Florida from 1763 to 1780, and later Spanish West Florida from 1780 to 1814.
The northern parts of Alabama were part of British Georgia from 1763 to 1783. This area became part of the American Mississippi Territory following the American Revolution (1775 to 1783).
In 1819, Alabama, became the 22nd state admitted to the Union. During this part of the 19th century, Alabama, was home to many large cotton plantations, which were worked by slaves. In the American Civil War (1861 to 1865), in an attempt to retain slavery, which it was thought was under threat of abolition, Alabama, seceded from the Union and joined the Confederate States of America.
Alabama's slaves were emanicipated after the defeat of the Confederacy, at the end of the Civil War. Like many other southern states, Alabama went through a difficult period of Reconstruction. The state however remained a poor rural state, with an economy closely tied to cotton, and with legally enforced racial segregation (and consequent high racial tension).
Things gradually began to change in Alabama, as result of the changes wrought by World War II. In particular, the economy was no longer solely focused around cotton, with the emergence of growing industrial and service sectors.
Politically things also began to change in Alabama in the post-war period. The state, especially the cities of Birmingham and Montgomery, became a important and prominent location during the civil rights struggle. Eventually, despite the opposition of the state's Governor, George Wallace, to Federal integration efforts, blacks regained the right to vote, and Jim Crow segregation laws disappeared.
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