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History of Mobile

Founded by the French

The third largest city in the state of Alabama, Mobile is currently home to almost 200,000 people.  Situated along the banks of the Mobile River, the city is the largest municipality to be found between New Orleans,Louisiana and Saint Petersburg, Florida along the Gulf Coast.

Mobile was established as the capital of French Louisiana in 1702.  The French took the name from the Mobilian tribe of Indians that inhabited the region at the time.  For about 100 years, it remained a French colony then more briefly it was a British possession and then came under Spanish control.  In 1810, Mobile entered U.S. Territory as the administration of President James Madison annexed the territory of West Florida.  It was an important port for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Mobile is sited at the terminus of the Mobile River into a large bay.  The city serves as Alabama’s only port.  The port has always functioned as a key economic driver of the city beginning back in the days when it served as a trading post between Indians and French settlers.  Today it ranks ninth in port volume in the United States.

The city also functions as an important center for culture.  The city is filled with historical structures and is home to an opera company, a ballet troupe, a symphony orchestra, and several art museums.  Mobilians as the inhabitants are known are proud of their carnival heritage.  Such celebrations date back to the 18th century when the French settles began the traditions.  The first “krewe” or mystic society associated with carnival was founded here in 1830.

A Long History Back to French and Before

Fort Louis was founded here by the French in 1702 to be the first capitol of their colony of Louisiana.  It was the first French parish established along the Gulf Coast.  A ship brought 23 French women to the colony.  Unfortunately, many of them had contracted Yellow Fever during a stopover in Havana.  Many colonists and Indians in the region then perished from the disease.  Several more outbreaks of this plague along with flooding problems prompted the city fathers to relocate the town several miles downriver to its present site along the bay.

In 1720, the capitol of Louisiana moved from here to Biloxi reducing Mobile to a trading and military center.  In 1723, a new brick fort was built named Fort Conde.  The Treaty of Paris signed in 1763 ended the French and Indian Wars and ceded the region to England which became part of the West Florida Colony. Fort Conde’s name was changed to Fort Charlotte.

In their eagerness to keep settlers in place, the British allowed the French to stay and adopted a policy of religious tolerance that attracted the first Jewish immigrants to the area.  They had fled from other French territories after an edict ordered the expulsion from areas under French control all non natives who were not Catholic.  The area became a refuge for colonialists with Loyalist sentiments during the American Revolutionary War.