View Full Version : How did Alabama get screwed on its coastline?

02-10-2009, 05:50 PM
Looking at a map, it should seem that Alabama should have a lot more coastline that it has. It only has a little bit of coastline around Mobile.

At first I assumed it was because Florida became a state before Alabama, and Florida gobbled up as much coastline as it could. But then I learned Alabama was admitted to the union 26 years before Florida. So why didn't Alabama insist on a full coastline? It's not like Florida would be screwed out of any coastline once it became a state, as Florida would be guaranteed to have lots of coastline anyway.

02-10-2009, 06:30 PM
Prior to any question of statehood (and indeed, prior to ownership of the land by the US), the entire coastline that would come to belong to Mississippi and Alabama was part of Florida. When the US made the Louisiana Purchase, they claimed the lands that they called West Florida (roughly that which would become part of the other two states mentioned) were part of that deal. The Spanish disputed that claim, but by 1810 or 1812, the US presence was strong enough to hold the territory. It wasn't until the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819 (taking effect in 1821) that the US took control of the East Florida -- roughly the territory that would become the state of Florida.

So, really, it was Florida that screwed out of coastline, not Alabama.

SSG Schwartz
02-10-2009, 06:48 PM
FTR, Alabama would not accept statehood until it had a coastline. Florida had designed before the British took control in 1763. The Brits split it in two, East and West Florida. So, Alabama never had a claim to the coast, and Florida gave up some in the real estate shuffles in the early years of the American Colonies.

Don't ask me to explain how Mississippi got such a small coastline, however.

SSG Schwartz

02-10-2009, 08:31 PM
Alabama's coastline includes Mobile Bay, and in the 18th/19th centuries a bay and harbor was a lot more valuable than a long stretch of beach.

The Hamster King
02-10-2009, 10:38 PM
Don't ask me to explain how Mississippi got such a small coastline, however.Alabama and Mississippi together formed the Mississippi Territory. The Mississippi Territory was basically the northern and southern boundaries of Georgia extended to the Mississippi River, plus some coastal territory wrested from Spanish Florida during the War of 1812.

When the time came to give the Mississippi Territory statehood, Congress decided to split it in half so that the two new states would be closer in size to Georgia, their neighbor. They divided the coastline roughly equally, giving both of the two new states that little tab at the bottom.

Cite: How the States Got Their Shapes (http://www.amazon.com/How-States-Got-Their-Shapes/dp/0061431389) by Mark Stein.