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Montgomery History, Alabama

Montgomery History – Initial Settlement and Function

The first expedition on the Alabama River that was ended with a permanent settlement in the Montgomery area was that of Scottish trader James McQueen and it took place in 1716. Later, the territory was fought for by the French, the Spanish and the British and it finally ended up as part of the state of Mississippi in 1804. The foundation of Montgomery County in 1816 meant that land could be sold and soon there were two separate towns which were rivals at first, but merged to form the city of Montgomery in 1819. The city got its name from a general that wanted to capture the territory of Quebec in the American Revolutionary War.

Montgomery History – The Fight for Secession

The cotton trade gave a certainty that Montgomery would grow very fast after the merging of the two smaller towns and therefore made way for institutions to be founded and infrastructure to be raised. The courthouse was built in where the Court Square lies today and the Montgomery railroad opened in 1832, so the capital of the state was soon moved to Montgomery due to a decision of local authorities. Not much later, Alabama fought a battle for secession from the Union in order to form the Confederate States of America together with more states form the area. During the Civil War that followed Montgomery suffered little damage but it was reincorporated into the Union in 1865.

Montgomery History – The Civil Rights Movement

An important chapter in Montgomery history was the installation of electric street cars in the entire city on a route that was nicknamed the “lightning route”. This led to a suburban development that put Montgomery in front of Columbus and Dothan as far as depopulation of the city centre is concerned. The Wright brothers opened a flight school in the city at the beginning of the 20th century and many airfields were founded which would later be used in military purposes. The civil rights movement that followed had a significant base in Montgomery, as the bus system was desegregated and important meetings and decisions took place in the city. Moreover, Martin Luther King, Jr. lived in the city for an important period of time, returning there in 1965 to hold important and empowering speeches for the community.

Montgomery History – Recent Developments

Recent years in Montgomery history have made the town more prosperous and diverse, as it started orienting on the cultural side and giving productive results as the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the fifth largest of its kind in the world. The first skyscraper was built in 1996 and a very heavy monument of the Ten Commandments was erected in 2001. After the huge investment brought to the city by the South Korean automaker Hyundai, a master plan for the city was developed which includes restoration of the downtown area and of the riverfront.

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