The death of perhaps a fifth of the prime-age white male population during the war, the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in capital with the emancipation of slaves, political control by a liberal outside power structure followed by the reinstitution of conservative white rule, and finally the establishment of a system of racial apartheid all shaped the state well into the twentieth century.
They ranged from huge stands of mountain longleaf pine that grew amidst an open grassy understory to extensive and dense hardwood forests.
The longleaf pine—unique for its dense core used for naval stores, lumber, railroad ties, and "heart-pine" floors—once constituted the most extensive ecosystem in North America (90 million acres); that acreage has now shrunk to less than 3 million.
The Gulf sturgeon, one of the largest and most primitive fishes in the United States, was once abundant in Alabama's rivers before dams prevented these fish from reaching their spawning areas upriver.
When the Tombigbee and Alabama river systems join in south Alabama, they create one of the largest and most ecologically complex deltas in the nation.
Fiercely independent and resistant to outsiders, a portion of the state's white population enslaved a population nearly its own size to promote plantation cotton cultivation and became fabulously wealthy in the process.