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October 2005

Map of Montgomery, Alabama, 1956

Map of Montgomery, Alabama, 1956

Montgomery, Alabama lies near the head of navigation on the Alabama River just below the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers, and in the rich Black Belt. Montgomery became the capital of Alabama in 1847 and boomed as a river port and cotton market. The city has been called the "Cradle of the Confederacy." In the capitol building, (erected 1857) the convention met (Feb. 1861) that formed the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis was inaugurated president on the capitol steps, and the city served as the Confederate capital until the seat was moved to Richmond in May 1861. The city was occupied by Federal troops in the spring of 1865.

During the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, Montgomery was marked by African-American demonstrations, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a minister in Montgomery in the mid-1950s. In Dec. 1955, Rosa Parks, a seamstress in Montgomery, refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white passenger. In response, African-Americans organized a non-violent boycott of the segregated public bus system; by the following year a desegregation edict regarding public transportation was issued. Racial unrest ensued here in the 1960s.

The city is the seat of Alabama State University, Auburn University at Montgomery, Huntingdon College, Troy State University, Faulkner University, two technical schools, and Southern Christian University. Maxwell Air Force Base, home of Air University, the center of professional military education for the United States Air Force, adjoins the city on the northwest. In addition to the historic state capitol, points of interest in Montgomery include the "1st White House of the Confederacy" (built c.1825), preserved as a Confederate museum; a planetarium; a museum of fine arts; the state archives and history museum; a zoo; the Alabama Shakespeare festival and many antebellum homes and buildings.

The Columbia Gazeteer, 2005