Alabama History in November

Excerpted from Alabama Department of Archives and History

November 1, 1865: Alexander Beaufort Meek, lawyer, poet, newspaper editor, and state legislator, dies at age 51. Meek was responsible for the passage of the Public School Act of 1854,the first statewide legislation to create a fund for public educationand the position of state superintendent of education. Meek’s mostfamous poem, The Red Eagle, a lyrical epic about Creek chief William Weatherford, was published in 1855.

November 3, 1813: The Battle of Tallushatcheeoccurs in what is now Calhoun County. General John Coffee led theTennessee volunteers, including Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, andCherokee scouts John Ross and Sequoyah, as they attacked the CreekIndian village. The American forces killed all adult males (at least186) and captured an additional 84 women and children. This was thefirst offensive as Andrew Jackson made his way south to Horseshoe Bend.

November 3, 1970: Fred Grayand Thomas Reed are elected to the state House of Representatives tobecome the first black Alabama legislators since Reconstruction. Bothmen won seats from the 31st House District, composed of Macon, Bullock,and Barbour counties.

November 5, 1867: The Alabama Constitutional Convention,consisting of delegates elected under U.S. Congress’s RadicalReconstruction plan, begins meeting in Montgomery. The 100 delegates,of which 96 were Republicans, including 18 African Americans, drafted aliberal document that was declared ratified the next year to become theAlabama Constitution of 1868.

November 10, 1972: Southern Airways Flight 49 is hijackedon a flight from Birmingham to Montgomery. Three armed men wanted byDetroit police demanded a $10 million ransom while diverting the planefrom one airport to another in the United States, Canada, and Cuba,where the ordeal ended thirty hours after it began. The hijackingresulted in heightened security measures at American airports,including required use of metal detectors.

November 11, 1901: Alabama's 1901 Constitution is ratified by statewide vote in an election fraught with corruption.Following the trend of other southern states in this period, Alabamaused the constitution to effectively disfranchise blacks and poorwhites. With hundreds of amendments, the 1901 Constitution carries the distinction of being twice as long as the constitution of any other state.

November 12, 1813: Sam Dale, Jeremiah Austill, and James Smith become frontier heroes in a Creek War episode on the Alabama River known as The Canoe Fight.From their canoe, paddled by a black man named Caesar, the threeAmericans engaged a large canoe carrying nine Creek warriors. Asmilitiamen and Indians watched from opposite sides of the river, Dale,Austill, and Smith killed the nine warriors in hand-to-hand combat.

November 12-13, 1833: In a spectacle seen across the Southeast,a fantastic meteor shower causes this night to be known as “the nightstars fell on Alabama.” The shower created such great excitement acrossthe state that it became a part of Alabama folklore and for years wasused to date events. A century later it inspired a song and book, and in 2002 the state put the phrase "Stars Fell on Alabama" on its license plates.

November 16, 1873: W. C. Handyis born in Florence, Alabama. Handy brought the sounds ofAfrican-American blues to mainstream culture when he composed a song in1909 that became known as “The Memphis Blues.” Handy, known as “Fatherof the Blues,” had a long career that yielded many other blues hits,such as “Beale Street Blues” and “St. Louis Blues.” Handy died in 1958.

November 16, 1875: Alabama’s Constitution of 1875is ratified. The "Bourbon" Democrats, having claimed to “redeem” theAlabama people from the Reconstruction rule of carpetbaggers andscalawags, wrote a new constitution to replace the one of 1868.It was a conservative document that gave the Democrats, and especiallyBlack Belt planters, a firm grip on their recently reacquired controlof state government.

November 20, 1826: Alabama's legislature convenes in the new capitalof Tuscaloosa for the first time. The capital had been moved there fromCahaba, the state's first permanent capital. In 1846 the legislaturevoted to change the capital again, this time moving it to Montgomery.

November 21, 1818: Cahaba, located at the confluence of the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers, is designated by the territorial legislature as Alabama’s state capital.Huntsville would serve for a short time as the temporary capital. Theselection of Cahaba was a victory for the Coosa/Alabama Rivercontingent, which won-out over a Tennessee/Tombigbee Rivers alliancegroup that wanted to place the capital at Tuscaloosa. The powerstruggle would continue between the two sections of the state; in 1826the capital was moved to Tuscaloosa, but in 1847 it was moved to theAlabama River at Montgomery.

November 22, 1989: Kathryn Thornton,a native of Montgomery and graduate of Auburn University, becomes thefirst woman to fly on a military space mission on the Space ShuttleDiscovery. Thornton became the second woman to walk in space in 1992.Dr. Thornton retired from NASA in 1996 to join the faculty of theUniversity of Virginia.

November 24, 1869: By joint resolution of the legislature, Alabama ratifies the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment guaranteed the right to vote to blacks, including former slaves.

November 24, 1874: George Smith Houston, a Democrat, is inaugurated governor, signaling the end of Reconstruction in Alabama.In addition to defeating the incumbent Republican governor, Democratswon control of the state legislature, leading them to claim"redemption" for Alabamians from the rule of "carpetbaggers" and"scalawags." It would be more than 100 years before another Republicanwould be elected governor of Alabama.

November 29, 1902: The New York Medical Record publishes an account of Dr. Luther Leonidas Hillperforming the first open heart surgery in the western hemisphere whenhe sutured a knife wound in a young boy’s heart. Dr. Hill was thefather of Alabama politician and U.S. senator Lister Hill.

November 30, 1954: A meteorite weighing eight and one-halfpounds crashes into Ann Hodges of Sylacauga as she rests on her livingroom couch. The event gave Hodges a severely bruised hip and instantcelebrity status. The meteorite, the first one known to have caused injury to a human, is housed at the Alabama Museum of Natural History in Tuscaloosa.