Before the Beginning
BY AUGUST 1950, nothing of any great significance had happened in Montgomery, Alabama, for more than eighty years.
Back in February 1861, white politicians from all over the South had gathered in the small town. They met in the Senate chambers of the state capitol and formed the Confederate States of America. They inaugurated a president and began talking about fighting the United States. Hearing the echoes of such talk, men from all over the South poured into Montgomery, doubling the town's white population of eight thousand within several weeks. It was not long before the politicians declared war against the United States. Four years later, in April 1865, Union troops marched into Montgomery, burned thousands of bales of cotton, bivouacked for a few days, and left. Since then the city had been relatively quiet. Serving as a reminder of its history were two ominous large rocks—one on the eastern edge of town, next to the highway to Atlanta, and another on the southwestern end, next to the road to Selma. On each were the words "Cradle of the Confederacy."