Federal Road as it was in 1800
In 1806 congress authorized President Jefferson to open a path from Athens, GA to New Orleans to deliver mail. The route was built by the military and was initially intended to move wagons, supplies, soldiers and horses. The sandy soil made the land erode with ruts everywhere. Because repair costs were high, is was a Mississippi Territory statute that free males and all male slaves between ages 16 and 50 were required to work on the road for up to 6 days a year, using their privately owned tools. When Alabama became a separate territory in 1817, the requirements were expanded. In 1811 it was partially rerouted to connect Fort Stoddert, Alabama, to For Wilkinson, Georgia, tracing the Chattahoochee River. The route was approximately 1,152 miles.