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Lowndes County was created from Montgomery, Dallas, and Butler counties by an act of the Alabama General Assembly on January 20, 1830. William Lowndes, a South Carolina statesman, is the county's name. It is located in the Black Belt. There, cotton plantations were established in the antebellum era and agriculture remained a major part of the economy well into the 20th century.
Blacks were elected to state and local offices during the Reconstruction era. In 1874, the power and control of the state legislature were regained by white Democrats who drove out the other officeholders. They adopted the 1875 Constitution of Alabama, and another in 1901 which disenfranchised many blacks and poor whites. Those who wanted to register to vote, they were required to pay a cumulative poll tax. This was difficult to manage for many poor people, who often didn't have enough cash. Literacy tests were also required. In the following years, the number of black voters dropped dramatically as did that of poor white voters.
Between the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, organized violence against blacks increased. 16 lynches were recorded in the county. This is the fourth-highest number in the state. The South historically has the highest per capita rate of lynchings. The majority of victims were black men who were subject to extra-legal white efforts to preserve white supremacy through racial terror. Seven murders occurred in Letohatchee; five were committed in 1900, and two in 1917. Mobs murdered a black man who was accused of murdering a white man in 1900. Jim Cross, a local black resident, objected to the killing and was followed by his wife, his son, and his daughter. Two black brothers were murdered by a mob in 1917 for their alleged "insolence” to a farmer on the street. The Equal Justice Initiative, in collaboration with the city, erected a historical marker at Letohatchee on July 31, 2016, to remember those who were subject to these extrajudicial executions.
The shift in agriculture and the Great Migration of Africans to escape oppressive conditions has caused a decline in rural population by two-thirds from the 1900 peak of over 35,000. Widespread job loss was caused by farm automation and boll weevil infestations that decimated cotton crops and decreased the need for farm labor during the 1920s and 30s.