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Following the patenting of the cotton gin (in 1793), the War of 1812, and the defeat and expulsion of the Creek Nation in the 1810s, European-American settlement in Alabama was intensified, as was the presence of slavery on newly established plantations in the territory. Like its neighbors, the Alabama Territory was fertile ground for the surging cotton crop, and soon became one of the major destinations for African-American slaves who were being shipped to the extreme Southeastern United States.
Most of the settlers came from the nearby states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, attracted by the prospect of fertile planting of cotton in the Tennessee Valley and Black Belt. The plantation system was solidified throughout the first half of the 19th century, and Alabama was one of the first seven states to withdraw from the Union prior to the American Civil War. The U.S. Census taken six months before Alabama's secession showed slaves accounted for 45% of Alabama's population.
Slavery was officially abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment which took effect on December 18, 1865. Slavery had been theoretically abolished by President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation which proclaimed, in 1863, that only slaves located in territories that were in rebellion from the United States were free. Since the U.S. government was not in effective control of many of these territories until later in the war, many of these slaves proclaimed to be free by the Emancipation Proclamation were still held in servitude until those areas came back under Union control.
As of 2018 [update], slavery illegally continues in Alabama as modern-day labor and human sex trafficking.
- Ethridge, Robbie Franklyn, and Sheri Marie Shuck-Hall. 2009. Mapping the Mississippian Shatter Zone: The Colonial Indian Slave Trade and Regional Instability in the American South. University of Nebraska Press
- Baine, Rodney M. 1995. "Indian Slavery in Colonial Georgia." The Georgia Historical Quarterly 79 (2).
- Memories of Childhood's Slavery Days by Annie L. Burton (Boston: Ross Publishing Company, 1909). Available via Documenting the American South