Alabama History in August
Excerpted from Alabama Department of Archives and History
August 1, 1704: French colonists in Mobile welcome the "Pelican Girls," twenty-three young women from France who had crossed the Atlantic aboard the Pelican.The ladies had been recruited to move to the young settlement, foundedin 1702, in order to marry the male settlers and naturally increaseMobile's population.
August 2, 1819: The first Alabama constitution is adopted, paving the way to statehood in December. Known today as the Constitution of 1819, to distinguish it from five subsequent constitutions,it was considered a model of democracy at the time. It granted, forexample, suffrage to all adult white males without regard to propertyownership or other qualifications.
August 3, 1936: Lawrence County native Jesse Owenswins his first gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany.Owens went on to win four gold medals in Berlin, but German leaderAdolf Hitler snubbed the star athlete because he was black. Todayvisitors can learn more about Owens at the Jesse Owens Memorial Park and Museum in Oakville, Alabama.
August 5, 1864: The Battle of Mobile Baybegins. U.S. Admiral David Farragut, with a force of fourteen woodenships, four ironclads, 2,700 men, and 197 guns, assaulted greatlyoutnumbered Confederate defenses guarding the approach to Mobile Bay.Farragut's victory removed Mobile as a center of blockade-running andfreed Union troops for service in Virginia.
August 5, 1917: Members of the Alabama National GuardBrigade, which had been federalized in 1916, are discharged from guardservice so that they can be drafted into the regular army. Oncedrafted, the guardsmen were assigned to their former units, and one ofthese, the 4th Alabama, would become the 167th U.S. Infantry Regimentand serve with distinction in France during World War I as a part ofthe famed 42nd "Rainbow" Division.
August 7, 1882: Isaac “Honest Ike” Vincentis elected to an unprecedented third term as State Treasurer. Thankingthe Democratic Convention that had nominated him two months earlier,Vincent promised that he would “endeavor in the future, as I have inthe past, to guard and advance your interests as faithfully as I wouldmy own.” January 31, 1883, Gov. Edward A. O’Nealreported to the Legislature that Treasurer Vincent had absconded fromoffice and that state funds totaling more than $200,000 were missing.
August 7, 1946: Lt. Gen. Holland "Howlin' Mad" Smithretires from the Marines after a forty-year career. A veteran of WorldWars I and II, the Russell County native became known as "the father ofamphibious warfare," and was honored for his years of service by beingretired as a full general.
August 8, 1922: Hattie Hooker Wilkinsof Selma becomes the first woman to win a seat in the Alabamalegislature. One of three Alabama women to run for legislative officethat year, Wilkins was the only successful candidate, beating outincumbent J. W. Green for a seat in the House of Representatives.Wilkins served only one term, choosing not to run for re-election in1926.
August 9, 1814: The Treaty of Fort Jackson is finalized after warring Creeks, under the leadership of William Weatherford, aka Red Eagle,surrender to Gen. Andrew Jackson and cede their lands to the federalgovernment. This event opened up half of the present state of Alabamato white settlement.
August 12, 1937: President Franklin Roosevelt appoints Alabama senator Hugo Blackto the U.S. Supreme Court. Black's nomination was soon confirmed by hisSenate colleagues, but before he took his seat on the court thatOctober he was compelled to address the nation by radio in order torespond to controversy about his membership in the Ku Klux Klan in theearly 1920s. Black served on the court until 1971, retiring just a fewdays before his death.
August 12, 1959: An earthquakecentered in Huntsville, and felt over a 25-mile radius, causes minordamage. Many Huntsville residents at first believed the shock was theresult of an explosion or missile test at nearby Redstone Arsenal.
August 15, 1841: Julia Tutwileris born in Tuscaloosa. Tutwiler, president of what later became theUniversity of West Alabama, worked to secure the admittance of women tothe University of Alabama, to reform Alabama's prisons, and to expandeducational opportunities for women.
August 17, 1870: Spanish-American War hero Richmond Pearson Hobson is born in Greensboro. Hobson later represented Alabama in the U.S. Congress and was active in the prohibition movement. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1933 for heroism during the Spanish-American War and became a Rear Admiral in 1934. Hobson died in 1937.
August 17, 1909: With a unanimous vote by the legislature, Alabama becomes the first state to ratify the 16th amendmentto the U.S. Constitution. When the amendment went into effect onFebruary 25, 1913, it gave Congress the power to collect income taxes.
August 20, 1937: Dixie Bibb Gravestakes her seat in the U.S. Senate to become Alabama's first femalesenator. Only the fourth woman to serve as a U.S. senator, Graves hadbeen appointed by her husband, Gov. Bibb Graves, to succeed Hugo Black, who had been appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
August 20, 1965: Civil rights worker Jonathan Daniels,a white Episcopal seminary student from New Hampshire, is shot andkilled in Lowndes County. Special deputy sheriff Tom Coleman, an ardentsegregationist, admitted to the shooting, but was acquitted by anall-white jury six weeks later.
August 22, 1900: Confederate heroine Emma Sansom dies in Texas. In 1863 sixteen-year-old Sansom helped Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrestcross Black Creek near Gadsden as he pursued Union forces led by Col.A.D. Streight. Later in 1863, Sansom was awarded a gold medal by theAlabama legislature for her actions.
August 23, 1864: The Battle of Mobile Bay ends with the Confederate surrender of Fort Morgan.Alabama had seized the fort from federal control in January 1861 andthen turned it over to Confederate forces, which, until August 1864,used it to keep the U.S. Navy out of Mobile Bay, while letting blockaderunners in.
August 25, 1956: During the ninth month of the Montgomery Bus Boycott,the home of Montgomery minister and boycott activist Robert Graetz isbombed. A white West Virginian, Graetz pastored Trinity LutheranChurch, a black congregation. Graetz and his family were away from homewhen the dynamite blast occurred.
August 25, 1919: George C. Wallaceis born in Clio. Four-time governor of Alabama, three-time candidatefor U.S. president, George Wallace early in his career epitomized whiteresistance to Civil Rights demands in the 1960s. Almost killed by awould-be assassin in 1972, Wallace later recanted his segregationistviews and was re-elected governor largely due to votes of AfricanAmericans.
August 30, 1813: Creek Indians attack Fort Mims in what is now Baldwin County, killing nearly 250 settlers gathered there for protection. The attack caused fear and hysteria among frontier settlers, who quickly raised militia companies to fight the Indians in the Creek War of 1813-1814.
August 30, 1908: Officials of the United Mine Workers (UMW) in Birmingham call off a bitter coal strike, prompting the Birmingham Newsto declare that the result would be "Prosperity in the BirminghamDistrict." Workers had walked out of the mines in early July to protestwage conditions, and almost two months of violence ensued. As many as18,000 black and white workers had joined UMW, but resistance byemployers, intervention by Gov. B. B. Comer, and public dissatisfactionbroke the strike and debilitated UMW's strength in Birmingham foryears.