Can America ever overcome its terrible history of conquest, genocide and enslavement? Those horrors are deeply embedded in the American psyche and legal system, and allow for repeated aggressions at home and abroad. This columnist was reminded of the roots of this never ending terror during a recent trip to Alabama.
Every region of the United States shares in the history of displacement and murder of indigenous peoples. Alabama differs from New England only in that Indians there were brutally attacked and forcibly removed 200 years after the interlopers called pilgrims committed their crimes. In the early 1800s white settlers from the Carolinas and Georgia happily suffered from what was called “Alabama fever.” They knew that the lands recently wrested from the Creek, Choctaw and Cherokee would be theirs for the taking.
Alabama was called the Cotton State with good reason. It owes its very existence to the global demand for cotton, the theft of Indian land and the domestic trade in enslaved people. At the start of the Civil War nearly half of the population was comprised of enslaved people. The wealth generated by king cotton made Montgomery one of the largest slave trading cities in the South, as rivers and rails were used to bring the product and the people who produced it to pens and auction blocks on Market Street, later re-named Dexter Avenue.
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