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How Alabama Got It's Name

The state of Alabama was named after the river. The Alabama River was named by early European explorers after the Indian tribe that lived in the territory and first appeared in 1540 spelled as "Alibamu", "Alibamo" and even "Limamu" in the journals of the Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto (c.1500-1542).

The origin of the name Alabama is thought to come from a combination of two Choctaw words; Alba and Amo. In Choctaw, "Alba" means vegetation, herbs, plants and "Amo" means gatherer or picker. "Vegetation gatherers" would be an apt description for the Alabama Indians who cleared much land for agricultural purposes.

Alabama Nick Name

The Heart of Dixie
Alabama has no official state nickname, but "The Heart of Dixie" is prevelant and reflects the central role that Alabama played in the history of the South. A major Cotton State, Alabama also became a leading proponent of secession in the days leading up to the Civil War. The Constitution of the Confederacy was drawn up in Montgomery and Jefferson Davis took his oath of office in Montgomery, which served as the first Confederate Capital. "The Heart of Dixie" was a phrase developed in the 1940s and 1950s by the Alabama Chamber of Commerce. Alabama was commonly referred to as the "Cotton State" but so were many other southern states. The Chamber sought a more distinctive slogan for their state and promoted that "Alabama is geographically the Heart of Dixie, Alabama is industrially the Heart of Dixie, Alabama is, in fact, the Heart of Dixie." In 1951, with backing from the Alabama Chamber of Commerce, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill to add "Heart of Dixie" to automobile license plates. In 1955, the first license plate bearing the new slogan was produced.

Susequent standard-issue license plates have been adorned with slogans such as "Stars Fell on Alabama" and, as of 2009, "Sweet Home Alabama."