Published in September of 1922 in the Montgomery Advisor out of Montgomery, AL
CONSERVING OUR HISTORY
It took Alabama about a hundred years to show any special interest in its own history, but of late its people have been concerned over the preservation and teaching of that history. This modern movement for marking historic sites and stimulating in various ways the study of Alabama history was led by Dr. Thomas M. Owen and his work as the head of the Department of History and is being carried on by that department.
It is now being fostered by the Centennial Commission of which Governor Kilby is chairman and Mrs. Thomas M. Owen now head of the Department of History, is secretary.
The unveiling exercises attendant upon the setting up of a boulder, with a suitable inscription at St. Stephens, is one of a number of series of historic occasions of that character. Boulders or monuments have been erected at Twenty-Seven Mile Bluff on the Alabama river, marking the rite of the first settlement in Alabama, a site which preceded but was merged into the establishment of the city of Mobile. Then a monument was erected at Old Fort Toulouse, nine miles from Montgomery at the junction of the Alabama and Coosa rivers, designating the site occupied by a garrison from 1715 to 1760 by the French, when it was taken over by the English. This is a point of significant importance in the State’s history, reminding us that Alabama was once colonial territory, its fate decided by a battle between French and British armies on the plains of Abraham, overlooked by the walls of Quebec.
Into the same fort, dismantled even on this day, Andrew Jackson marched his victorious riflemen after the battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814. There he summoned the Creek chiefs and forced them to sign a treaty which gave most, but not all, the lands of the Indians to the white settlers.
Old Hickory was frankly an “imperialist” and untroubled by modern theories of the consent of the governed and the rights of small nations. He held to the crude practice followed by soldiers of every age, that when your enemy fought you and tried to kill you that he owed a penalty if he did not succeed. Moreover, the white settlers wanted to come in and cultivate the unused lands that were occupied by the Indians.
The Centennial Commission in commemorating events which fell in and around centenary of Alabama’s birthday put up last year an inscribed boulder to mark the site of the first capitol building at Cahaba. St. Stephens was never the capital after the government of the State was organized. It was the capital of the Territory of Alabama. All these events have revived interest and stimulated study of Alabama history and all help to conserve the history of the State.