Present-day Alabama had been a Spanish territory from the 16 century until the early eighteenth century, when it was taken over by the French. Until the American Revolutionary War, it belonged to the British. Until 1813, Spain controlled all of Spanish West Florida, including Mobile. In December of that year, Alabama became a state. Alabama was a prominent cotton grower during in the antebellum period, and slaves were employed extensively.

When Alabama broke away from the United States in 1861, it chose Montgomery as its first capital and re-joined the Union in 1868, becoming part of Confederate States of America. Agriculture & a few cash crops were the primary drivers of Alabama’s economy following the Civil War, resulting in decades of economic suffering. From the late 19th century until the 1960s, Alabamian politicians, like those in other former slave states, used Jim Crow legislation to disenfranchise or discriminate against African Americans.