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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Cahaba in Dallas County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
 

A Courthouse Reduced to Rubble

 
 
A Courthouse Reduced to Rubble Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, January 6, 2018
1. A Courthouse Reduced to Rubble Marker
Inscription. Prior to 1905, workmen in search of salvageable bricks dismantled the old Dallas County Courthouse (pictured here). The grassy mound before you contains the damaged bricks the workmen left behind.

Cahawba was the county seat from 1818 until 1866. This structure was built in 1834, after an earlier courthouse collapsed.

The courthouse was the heart of the town, so when the county seat was moved to Selma after the Civil War most of Cahawba's residents followed.

Meanwhile the abandoned courthouse became a meeting hall for emancipated slaves seeking new political power. Selma newspapers began to refer to Cahawba as the "Mecca of the Radical Republican Party." By 1876, there were only 307 registered voters in Cahawba; all but 9 were African American. Cahawba had become a village of politically active freedmen, but soon even that settlement would fade away.

Abandoned Courthouse Setting for 1876 Political Drama

Jeremiah Haralson, an African American, served in the U.S. Congress from 1875 until 1877. In 1876 he was giving a speech in Cahawba's old courthouse as part of his re-election campaign. His opponent, General Charles M. Shelley, the white sheriff of Dallas County, sent a deputy to Cahawba to escort the congressman to Selma. Haralson
Looking east towards view mentioned on marker. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, January 6, 2018
2. Looking east towards view mentioned on marker.
reported that he was forced at gunpoint to retract a statement and to promise to hold no more political meetings. Seeing a congressman treated this way had a chilling effect on Black voters. This event is generally accepted as the official end of Reconstruction in Dallas County. In tallying the votes, several precincts were excluded for "irregularities," and Congressman Haralson lost his bid for re-election to Shelley.

Unfinished Business
Post-Civil War policies that protected the politically active Freedmen at Cahawba were short lived. By 1879, the chugging sounds of a steam-powered cotton gin had replaced the oratory of Congressman Jeremiah Haralson and the Radical Republicans.
 
Erected 2015 by the Alabama Historical Commission.
 
Location. 32° 19.087′ N, 87° 5.776′ W. Marker is in Cahaba, Alabama, in Dallas County. Marker is at the intersection of Vine Street and 1st Street North, on the right when traveling north on Vine Street. Touch for map. Located within the Cahawba Archaeological Park (nominal fee required). Marker is at or near this postal address: Vine Street, Orrville AL 36767, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dallas County Courthouse (a few steps from this marker); Saltmarsh Hall
Entrance sign to the Cahawba Archaeological Park. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, January 6, 2018
3. Entrance sign to the Cahawba Archaeological Park.
(within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome to Downtown Cahawba (within shouting distance of this marker); Commissary - R.R. Depot (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Cahaba First State Capital (about 300 feet away); Vine Street (about 300 feet away); Alabama's First Statehouse (about 400 feet away); Cahaba Drug Store (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cahaba.
 
Also see . . .  Wikipedia article on Cahaba. (Submitted on January 12, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
 
Categories. African AmericansNotable BuildingsPoliticsWar, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 12, 2018. This page originally submitted on January 12, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 186 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 12, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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