Comparative Study of Tennessee and Alabama

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Tennessee and Alabama are two of the 50 states that form the United States of America. Tennessee is the 36th largest state in terms of area size and 16th

in terms of its population size. It attained its independence and was officially admitted to the union in 1st June 1796 as the 16th state. According to the United States Centre Bureau, Tennessee estimated population in 2017 was 6,715,984 with its main capital city Nashville having a population of 667,560. On the other hand, Alabama joined the union in 1819 as the 22nd

state and its ranked 24th most populated state with an estimated population of 4.875 million. Its capital city Montgomery with an estimated population of 199,518 (United States Centre Bureau).

                                                 Demographical/social changes

              Majority of the people both in Tennessee and Alabama are of European ancestry. This happened during the 19th century when the Europeans were looking for vast tracks of land. A few percentages of the population is made of the black people of Africa descent who were taken there as the slave to work in the large tracks of land. There are also other ethnic majority groups who mostly comprise of people born in recent years by foreigners. In Tennessee, there has been a notable growth of the Hispanic community in the 20th century.  Majority of the population from both states comprise of Christians who are mainly Protestants. Before the 20th-century majority of the people in both states lived in rural areas. However, in the 20th century, this has changed as the people in the rural areas have migrated to urban areas. Areas around major cities and urban areas have seen a rapid grown of suburb areas. This has led in a significant reduction of the number of people living in the old cotton producing areas.  This has mainly be attributed to the better services available within the urban centers and also the job opportunities available. It's notable that the two states have experienced almost similar demographical and social changes.  

                                                    Economic growth

              In the late 19th century and early 20th century, both Tennessee and Alabama state economy depended wholly on agricultural production. The main cash products were cotton, tobacco, hay, soybeans while cattle, milk, broiler chicken and eggs were the most significant livestock products. Farming is still practiced in the modern date but in large tracts of land due to mechanization and introduction of modern farming methods. Forestry was and is still practiced in both states with both softwoods and hardwood being planted.

                During the World War 1, industrialization was highly witnessed in both states. In Tennessee, there was a significant growth in the textile and manufacturing plants. This was a result of the construction of hydroelectric dams and power plants by Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1933. The state has a stable mining industry with Zinc the main product. Other minerals found there include copper, silver, lead, and coal which is used to produce electricity in coal-fired plants. Manufacturing industry was the mains contributor to the states GDP with the main computer and electronics, metal products, foods, chemicals, and transport equipment.   The automobile industry has experienced high growth in the early 21st century. There has been a significant growth in the service industry in the last decade. The tourism sector is the most important component of the service industry. This is due to the fact that Tennessee State has a lot of historical sites, parks, world-class entertainment facilities and thus offers a lot of employment opportunity to its people. Other world-class services being offered include high-quality medical care, education, transport, and financial services.

           Alabama also enjoys a stable mining industry. The state has been a lead producer of iron and steel for the past century. Petroleum wells are also found in the state where petroleum products and natural gas are the main products. Other important minerals found there include limestone, the white marble, and coal that is used in the thermal plants for electricity generation. Alabama's manufacturing industry has also been an important backbone to its economy. The main products include food products, textile, paper, chemicals, and wood products. The state also boasts of its world known technology. In the 1970s, the Saturn booster rockets that propelled Apollo spacecraft to the moon was manufactured at George C Marshall Space Flight Centre found in the Alabama state. The number of foreign investors has had a significant increase in the 21st century. Alabama also has one of the best service industry. It's boasts of having the best financial services providers (banks and insurance) in recent years.  

                                  Significant Historical events

                  In the late 19th century both Tennessee and Alabama experienced the worst civil war and reconstruction. It’s also during this period that racial segregation was at its peak. The civil war was experienced when the southern states that were initially in the United States fought to secede from the union. The reconstruction period was a notable period since it’s when the rights of the former slaves (blacks) were advocated for. Alabama made its constitutional changes to protect the civil rights of the black citizens. This was a hard period for the whites who were against the recognition of the blacks rights. The black Alabamians never enjoyed their full civil rights until the 1960s when there was a rise in civil rights movements.  Throughout this period a lot of constitutional amendments were made but none of them gave blacks the right to participate in the government.

                  In 1915 the Alabama state experience the great migration where people moved to either the north or southern cities due to the fact that many people had died World War 1. The two states also experienced a very memorable period called the Great Depression. This was when the farmers lost their money as a result of the falling of the cotton price. In 1954, the Supreme Court in Alabama made a ruling that racial segregation was unconstitutional. This marked the beginning of the civil rights boycotts led by Martin Luther King Jr. The blacks fully attained their freedom in 1965 with the introduction of the Voting Rights Act which gave the blacks full political rights. Since then, the number of registered voters increased significantly with some of them being elected in various leadership positions including the election of Barrack Obama as the 44th

president of the United States. The two states enjoy the affiliation of two political parties; Democrats and Republicans.

        Tennessee role in the World War II could not be ignored since an atomic energy plant was established that was to create an atomic bomb. It was in the mid-20th

century that Tennessee made constitution changes to ban racial segregation. It’s during this time that Martin Luther King Jr went to Memphis to campaign the rights of black workers when he was assassinated.

            Clearly, with all the above analysis of Tennessee, there has been a great transformation from the time the state gained its independence to the present day. This comparison provides a clear picture of the bold steps the state has taken to be where it is socially, politically and economically.  It also shows with a good leadership, Tennessee has a great future for its people




Phelan, James. History of Tennessee: The making of a state. Houghton, Mifflin, 1888.

Hale, Will Thomas, and Dixon L. Merritt. History of Tennessee and Tennesseans. Rarebooksclub Com, 2012.

West, Carroll Van. Tennessee History : The Land, the People, and the Culture. Knoxville : University of Tennessee Press, c1998., 1998. EBSCOhost,

November 13, 2023


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