Alabama in the Twentieth Century

Alabama in the Twentieth Century

Alabama in the Twentieth Century

Alabama in the Twentieth Century

Excerpt

Americans were so anxious to greet the new century that they could not wait an entire hundred years. So the 20th century officially lasted only 99 years, beginning January 1, 1901, and ending December 31, 1999. It is no wonder they were glad to have the century over. It witnessed the greatest depression and the bloodiest war in human history. It also recorded momentous changes.

In 1901 journalists were just as happy to see the 19th century end. In fact, Chicago demanded that it cease on December 31, 1899, earning a scolding in the December 30, 1899, Mobile Daily Register: “The twentieth century begins day after tomorrow, in Chicago exclusively.” The 19th century also had recorded great wars and incredible changes. Some journalists pronounced the world remarkably improved, with more creature comforts, reduced cost of living, and greater wealth even for ordinary people than ever before. The bicycle, steamboat, railroad, telegraph, telephone, elevator, gas and electric lighting, camera, sewing machine, typesetter, phonograph, typewriter, chloroform, ether, cocaine, cocktails, Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, searchlights, free libraries, iron bridges, and stenographers all began between 1800 and 1900.

So remarkable had been the changes of that century that journalists did not doubt even greater things to come. The Mobile Daily Register predicted that “the marvels of this century now ended will doubtless be cast into the shadows of the discoveries of the twentieth century.” Predictions were of course imperfect. Most notable among the disappointments of the previous epoch had been the failure of flight. “Possibly, the hundred years of experiment,” the Mobile editor speculated, “teach us that we will never fly in the air as do the birds, or, if we do so, it will be merely for the pleasure of the thing. Flying in so variable an element as the air can never, we think, be reduced to a science.”

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