Mobile County is the second most-populous county in the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, its population was 412,992. Its county seat is Mobile, Alabama. The county is named in honor of the indigenous Maubila tribe.
Mobile County comprises the Mobile, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area.
This area was occupied for thousands of years by varying cultures of indigenous peoples. The historic Choctaw had occupied this area along what became called the Mobile River when encountered by early French traders and colonists, who founded Mobile in the early eighteenth century. The British took over the territory in 1763 (along with other French territories east of the Mississippi River) after defeating the French in the Seven Years' War. During the American Revolutionary War, it came under Spanish rule as part of Spanish Florida. Spain ceded the territory to the United States after the War of 1812.
In the 1830s, the United States forced the removal of most of the Native Americans in the area under President Andrew Jackson's policy to relocate them to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. Many of those who remained continued their culture; since the late 20th century, several tribes have reorganized and gained state recognition. Among those is the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians, which was recognized as a tribe in 1979 by the state; it occupies land along the border of Mobile and Washington counties.
After more than a century of European settlement, Mobile County was organized by the legislature and the proclamation of Governor Holmes of the Mississippi Territory on December 18, 1812. When Mississippi was separated and admitted as a state on August 15, 1817, Mobile County became part of what was called the Alabama Territory. Two years later, the county became part of the state of Alabama, granted statehood on December 14, 1819.
The city of Mobile, first settled by French colonists in the early 18th century as part of La Louisiane, was designated as the county seat from the early days of the county. Both the county and city derive their name from Fort Louis de la Mobile, a French fortification established (near present-day Axis, Alabama) in 1702. The word "Mobile" is believed to stem from a Choctaw Indian word for "paddlers". The area was occupied by French colonists from 1702–1763, whose influence was strong in the city. It was ruled by the British from 1763–1780, when more American colonists began to enter the territory; and controlled by the Spanish from 1780-1813.
At the end of the War of 1812, the United States took over the territory. At that time, new settlers were being attracted to the land, eager to develop short-staple cotton in the uplands area. Invention of the cotton gin made processing of this type of cotton profitable, stimulating wholesale development of new cotton plantations in the Black Belt during the antebellum years. Mobile developed as a major port for export of cotton.
Courthouse fires occurred in the years 1823, 1840, and 1872.
Note: Population for 1890 includes 384 Indians (Geronimo's Apaches) at Mount Vernon Barracks, reported separately.