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1817 writer says that Alabama is an American Cannan

(From The Evening Post, New York, New York, August 21, 1817)

Much valuable information to emigrants and others, is contained in the following letter from a gentleman now in the Alabama Territory, to his friend in this city.



Letter continued from Part III

At the falls of Cahaba river, which runs into Alabama, nearly 100 miles north of fort Claiborne from the north-west, and is a fellow to the Blackwarrior,  (Black Warrior) a town of some importance will probably be established when the lands are sold. Boats ascend to this place with facility, except in dry times. Considerable settlements are making on this river.

Cahaba River

At the mouth of this river, or in its vicinity, an important town will, undoubtedly, soon be located. The lands are now selling at Milledgeville in Georgia; and the most extensive body of good land lies east of Alabama and about this place of any part of the Creek cession.

Fort Jackson

It has been thought by many that a large town would forthwith spring up at fort Jackson in the fork of Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers; but, as the Indian boundary is within ten miles of that place, in my opinion, it will not be the case, till the U. States acquire the lands up those rivers. Fort Jackson is 500 miles from Mobile by the meanders of the river, and good barge navigation extends to that place at all seasons.

It is impossible to foresee where every flourishing inland town is to be permanent in a new country; so much depends on the effect of capital, and leading roads, where head of navigation does not settle the question.

Great speculations are constantly agitating the minds of the adventurers with regard to the location of towns, and ever discerning prudent man will calculate for himself on this subject.

Map of Alabama and Mississippi in 1817 (Library of Congress)


Huntsville, in Madison County, and now in the Alabama Territory, is a very prosperous inland town; it lies north of the Great Bend of Tennessee river, near the 35th deg. of lat. or south line of the state of Tennessee. The extensive bodies of land of the first quality, which surround it, will ensure its permanent prosperity. Its population was, according to a census taken last year, 14,200 souls, 10,000 of whom were whites.

Madision county is twenty-three miles square, has been settled but ten or twelve years, and as I have been informed, raised last year 10,000 bales of cotton. Huntsville has upwards of 30 stores in it. The planters in the county have become wealthy by their own industry in a few years, in the worst of times. Though slavery is tolerated in the Alabama Territory, there are but few slaves in Madison County; their cotton is chiefly raised by the whites, which is a proof that this valuable staple of our country can be raised in abundance without the labour of slaves.

Purchase from the Chickasaw Indians

The purchase from the Chickasaw Indians, last fall, of territory sufficient for six counties as large as Madison, each, which lies on both sides of Tennessee river, about the Muscle Shoals, opens another great field for enterprising people of all descriptions.

This extensive body of land lies within Alabama Territory.

The trade not only of the north part of our territory will pass into the waters of Mobiel, but, East Tennessee to will find it her interest to turn her trade into the same channel.

The navigation on the Muscle Shoals is dangerous, and New-Orleans too remote for reciprocal dealing, to advantage. Considerable merchandize (sic) has already passed into Huntsville, by way of Mobile, and the falls of the Blackwarrior, (Black Warrior) on much better terms than by the former routes.

Alabama is an American Cannan

Considering the great extent of the territory of Alabama – the vast bodies of fertile lands every few months coming into market, the principal part of which will be purchased at two dollars per acre, in a country too, which is congenial to the culture of one of the most valuable staples the planter can raise – privileged with three noble rivers, of extensive, easy and safe navigation – blesses also with one of the most delightful climates in the world – where the delicious products of the vine and olive are about to flow in abundance within its borders – I say, with all thes privileges and luxurious bounties of nature, which are not mere creatures of fancy, but substantial realities, who is not ready to exclaim, that the Alabama Territory is an American Cannan.

Respectfully, your most obedient


Discover more lost and forgotten stories about Alabama in:

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. I can relate to this because my ancestors were part of this early movement into the newly acquired territory. My Brewsters migrated into the Mississippi Territory around 1810. I have tracked them from the old Wilkes Co , GA to the present day Sumter Co, AL where my 1790 Henry Brewster settled and pattened land.

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