Tuscaloosa - Encyclopedia

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TUSCALOOSA, a city and the county-seat of Tuscaloosa county, Alabama, U.S.A., in the west-central part of the state, on the Black Warrior river, about 55 m. S.W. of Birmingham and about 100 m. N.W. of Montgomery. Pop. (1900), 5094; (local census, 1908), 7140 (3551 negroes); (19,0 U.S. census), 8407. It is served by the Alabama Great Southern and the Mobile & Ohio railways. The Black Warrior river, formerly not navigable beyond Tuscaloosa, has been improved by the United States government, and there are three locks in or near the city. Tuscaloosa lies between the foothills of the Appalachians to the north-east and the low alluvial valley of the Black Warrior. It has many old-fashioned residences and gardens, and a fine Federal building. It is the seat of the university of Alabama; of the Alabama Central Female College (Baptist, 1858), which occupies the old state capitol; of the Tuscaloosa Female College (Methodist Episcopal, South, 1860); of Stillman Institute (Presbyterian, 1876; originally the Tuscaloosa Institute for the Education of Coloured Ministers; named in honour of its founder, Dr Charles A. Stillman, in 1897); and of Alabama Bryce Hospital for the Insane 0860. The university of Alabama was founded by an act of the state legislature of 1820, the United States government having donated 46,080 acres of public lands for this purpose in the preceding year; in 1831 the university was opened at Tuscaloosa, then the state capital. On the 4th of April 1865 all the buildings of the university, except the observatory, were burned by a body of Federal cavalry, and the university was closed thereafter until 1869; in 1884 the United States government gave another 46,080 acres of public lands in restitution, and in 1907 the state legislature appropriated $445,000 for new buildings. The university is a part of the public school system of the state, and is governed by a board of trustees, consisting of the governor and the superintendent of education of the state, of two members from the congressional district in which the university is situated, and of one member from each of the other congressional districts of the state. The university includes, besides a college and a graduate school, departments of engineering, law, medicine (formerly the Medical College of Alabama, established in 1859) and pharmacy (the two last in Mobile), and a summer school for teachers, and in 1908-9 had 60 instructors and 887 students. In the city there are several manufacturing establishments, principally cotton and lumber mills; and in the immediate vicinity there are important coal, coke and iron interests - there is a large iron furnace, pipe foundry and coking plant at Holt, about 4 m. north-east of the city.

Tuscaloosa derives its name from an Indian chief, who, after a desperate battle with De Soto at Mauvilla (the site of which is not definitely known) in 1540, is said to have hanged himself in order to escape capture, and is commemorated by a granite monolith in the Court House Square; the name is said to mean "black warrior." The first settlement of whites was made in 1815. The city was chartered in 1819, and in1826-1846it was the capital of Alabama.

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