The real Alabama
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Feb 14, 2013 | 2972 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama celebrates its 200th birthday in 2019, so the state Legislature is hard at work — well, at least at work — setting up a committee to plan activities to mark the occasion.

Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, got the Senate to pass a resolution creating the Alabama Bicentennial Commission. The House is expected to follow suit.

Reportedly, the commission will consist of representatives from state government, tourism and historic preservation.

That’s good, though it should be noted that two other anniversaries will appear on the Alabama history calendar between now and 2019.

First is the Creek War anniversary. While the rest of the nation was fighting what was known as the War of 1812, white settlers and Native Americans were engaged in a bitter struggle whose outcome enabled Alabama to be born. The other was the Civil War, which determined which government Alabama would be part of and whether slavery would continue in our state.

This page hopes that the commission works closely with a group that already exists to coordinate these commemorations.

Becoming Alabama is a statewide partnership comprising more than 40 organizations, including the Department of Archives and History, Tourism and the Alabama Historical Commission. Involving a variety of interests, including historians and archeologists, Becoming Alabama will use these anniversaries to provide an opportunity for Alabamians to reflect on the forces that made us what we are today.

Alabama became a state at a time when the Union was expanding and feeling its growing pains. The Creek War was just over, and though European-Americans won, the future of Native Americans was far from settled. The post-War of 1812 boom and bust was driving the nation into its first great financial crisis, and what would “become” Alabama was right in the middle of it.

Many things are worth remembering as part of the bicentennial celebration. There was the controversial effort to build a new state capital on the banks of the Cahaba River. There were efforts by transplanted Georgians to create a plantation empire in the Tennessee Valley and efforts by small farmers to resist the “aristocrats” and put power in the hands of the people.

It was a tumultuous time as individuals like the Bibb brothers, Thomas and William, Leroy Pope, Israel Pickens and Sarah Chotard helped shape a state being born. They are little-known today, but any Alabama bicentennial without them is an Alabama bicentennial without Alabama history.

Certainly, this will be a time for celebration, for events, parties, re-enactments and speeches, but it should also be a time to consider the conditions under which we came into the Union and how those circumstances enable us to “become” Alabama.
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