The first settlers in America arrived in Jamestown in April of 1607. (1) It was a long and difficult journey. There were some who didn’t make it to see the beautiful terrain that would soon be referred to as the Land of the Brave. Those who did, I’m sure they were glad for the firearms that they brought with them. I’m sure that you are wondering what Jamestown settlers and weapons being used have to do with Alabama. I assure you that I am almost there. Just bear with me a little more.
Fresh from the Mother Land, the settlers were armed with mainly matchlocks, as that was the most popular firearm at the time, along with some wheel locks and snaphaunces. The term matchlocks was used to describe three types of firearms; the harquebus (arquebus), the caliver and the musket. During the 16th century, the harquebus was the most used. The muskets, built requiring something to support the 20lbs that it weighed was introduced by Duke Alba in the Spanish service. The English had a lighter musket that was a 10 gauge. But to use these, you need to have plenty of time. It was slow to load and was only able to shoot twice a minute. (1)
By 1609, there were reports by John Smith claiming that there were 300 muskets, snaphaunces and firelocks (wheel locks) at Jamestown. Wheel locks were less common because they cost a considerable amount more than other firearms. The workings of the wheel lock functioned in a similar fashion as today’s cigarette lighters. There was a key that wound the steel wheel and when that was released by pulling the trigger, it forced the wheels edges to ignite on a piece of pyrite. If you lose the key, the weapon was useless.
In 1610 the first flintlock was invented; being the first firearm to shoot a spherical bullet after the spark ignited the gunpowder. Most of the settlers were using long rifles by the early 1700s. It was lighter than the matchlocks, weighing in at 7-10 pounds. It might have been the very firearms that the settlers would have showed up and established a fort that came to be known as Fort Louis de la Mobile. This bluff that would draw the Le Moyne brothers was only 27 miles up from Mobile River. (2)
The people in this area continued with their firearms clear up until the Alabama Territory was created in 1817. Alabama then entered into the United States officially as a state on December 14th, 1817. (3) The people of Alabama knew it was important to be able to keep their right to bear arms. In Article I Section 26 of the Alabama State Constitution it states “That every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state.” (4)
Today, Alabama stands in support of the Second Amendment. Thanks to the early settlers who forged the new land and created a new country, where we could be free to bear arms.
1. National Park Service. History of Armour and Weapons Relevant to Jamestown. January 1995. February 7, 2015. http://www.nps.gov/…/history-of-armour-and-weapons-relevant….
2. Brian McLintock. Modernization of the Muzzleloaded Rifle. 2015. February 7, 2015. http://www.popularmechanics.com/…/the-modernization-of-th…/….
3. Alabama Department of Archives and History 1801-1900. Timeline 1801-1900. February 7, 2015. http://www.archives.alabama.gov/timeline/al1801.html.
4. Opencarry.org. Alabama. February 7, 2015. http://www.opencarry.org/?page_id=176.
Blog posts are original content written by 1MMAGC moms and dads.