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Mobile began as the first capital of colonial French Louisiana in 1702. The city gained its name from the Native American Mobila tribe that the French colonists found in the area of Mobile Bay. During its first 100 years, Mobile was a colony of France, then Britain, and lastly Spain. Mobile first became a part of the United States of America in 1813, with the annexation of West Florida under President James Madison. It then left that union in 1861 when Alabama joined the Confederate States of America, which collapsed in 1865. Located at the junction of the Mobile River and Mobile Bay on the northern Gulf of Mexico, the city is the only seaport in Alabama. The Port of Mobile has always played a key role in the economic health of the city beginning with the city as a key trading center between the French and Native Americans down to its current role as the 12th largest port in the United States. As one of the Gulf Coast's cultural centers, Mobile has several art museums, a symphony orchestra, a professional opera, a professional ballet company, and a large concentration of historic architecture. Mobile is known for having the oldest organized Carnival celebrations in the United States. The festival began to be celebrated in the first decade of the 18th century, during the city's French colonial period. Mobile was also host to the first formally organized Carnival mystic society, known elsewhere as a krewe, to celebrate with a parade in the United States, beginning in 1830.
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