Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
Display paragraphs in this book containing:
First Pub. Date
New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
Pub. Date
Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
713 of 1105



MISSISSIPPI, a state of the American Union. Its territory consists mainly of land ceded by Georgia to the United States in 1802, a strip about twelve miles wide along the northern edge being a part of the South Carolina cession of 1790. (For both see TERRITORIES.) That part of the state from the parallel of 31° north to an east and west line passing through the mouth of the Yazoo river seems rightfully to have been ceded by Great Britain to the United States in the treaty of 1783; but it was claimed by Georgia, and was included in her cession. The portion of the state south of the parallel of 31° was ceded to the United States by France in 1803. (See ANNEXATIONS, I., II.)


—The act of April 7, 1798, for the appointment of commissioners for the Georgia cession, authorized the president to form a territorial government in the ceded territory like that of the northwest territory (see ORDINANCE OF 1787), "excepting and excluding the last article of the ordinance." (See SLAVERY.) In this way the cession became slave territory, and subsequently a slave state. The organization of Mississippi territory was formally completed by the supplemental act of May 10, 1800. The name of Mississippi was given to the territory, and subsequently to the state, from the name of the river which was its western boundary, an Indian word signifying "the great river," or "the whole river," not "father of waters" as it is usually translated. By an enabling act of March 1, 1817, the inhabitants of the western part of the state (see ALABAMA) were authorized to form a state Government.


—BOUNDARIES. The enabling act prescribed the following as the boundaries of the new state: "Beginning on the river Mississippi at the point where the southern boundary line of the state of Tennessee strikes the same; thence east along the said boundary line to the Tennessee river; thence up the same to the mouth of Bear creek; thence by a direct line to the northwest corner of the county of Washington; thence due south to the gulf of Mexico; thence westwardly, including all the islands within six leagues of the shore, to the most eastern junction of Pearl river with lake Borgne; thence up said river to the 31st degree of north latitude; thence west, along the said degree of latitude, to the Mississippi river; thence up the same to the beginning." These boundaries were accepted by the first constitution of the state.


—CONSTITUTIONS. A convention at the town of Washington, July 7-Aug. 15, 1817, formed the first constitution, which was ratified by popular vote. It confined the right of suffrage to free white males, twenty one years of age or more, on a residence of one year in the state and six months in the county. The legislature was composed of a house of representatives chosen for one year, and a senate for three years. Property qualifications were imposed as follows: on the governor the possession of 600 acres, or $2,000 worth of land; on senators 300 acres, or $1,000 worth; and on representatives 150 acres, or $500 worth. The governor was to hold office for two years, and was to remove judges on address of two thirds of both houses. The legislature was forbidden to pass laws for the emancipation of slaves without consent of their owners, unless a slave should render some distinguished service to the state, in which case the owner was to be paid a full equivalent; or to pass any laws to prevent immigrants from bringing their bona fide slaves into the state; but was to have full power to prevent the bringing of slaves into the state as merchandise. In capital cases slaves were never to be deprived of the right of trial by jury. Under this constitution the state was admitted Dec. 10, 1817.


—The second constitution was formed by a convention at Jackson, Sept. 10-Oct. 26. 1832. and was ratified by popular vote. Its principal. changes were as follows: no property qualification for office or suffrage was ever to be required; representatives were to hold office for two years and senators for four years; the capital was fixed at Jackson; the legislature was empowered to direct in what courts suits against the state were to be brought; the introduction of slaves for the buyer's own use was permitted until 1845; and the provision for a jury trial-for slaves was omitted.


—A state convention at Jackson, Jan. 7, 1861, passed an ordinance of secession, Jan. 9, which was not submitted to popular vote. Another convention, Aug. 14-26, 1865, made two amendments to the constitution, the second of which prohibited slavery thereafter in the state, and empowered the legislature to provide by law for the protection of the freedmen, and to guard against the evils that might arise from their sudden emancipation.


—A reconstruction convention at Jackson, Jan. 7-May 15, 1868. formed a constitution, which was at first rejected by popular vote, June 28, but was afterward ratified, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 1868. Its more important changes were as follows: all citizens of the United States, resident in the state, were to be citizens of the state; no property or educational qualifications were ever to be required for electors, and this provision was not to be amended before the year 1885; slavery was forbidden; "the right to withdraw from the federal Union on account of any real or supposed grievances shall never be assumed by this state, nor shall any law be passed in derogation of the paramount allegiance of the citizens of this state to the government of the United States"; the governor's term was lengthened to four years, and he was given the power to call forth the militia to suppress "riots," as well as insurrections; the right of suffrage was to be limited to such persons as could swear that they were "not disfranchised in any of the provisions of the acts known as the reconstruction acts of the 39th and 40th congresses," but this was not to apply to persons whose disabilities should be removed by congress, provided the state legislature concurred therein; no one was to hold office who was not a qualified elector as aforesaid, or who in any way voted for or aided secession or rebellion; and the ordinance of secession was declared null and void. (See RECONSTRUCTION.)


—GOVERNORS. David Holmes, 1817-19; George Poindexter, 1819-21; Walter Leake, 1821-5; David Holmes, 1825 -7; Gerard C. Brandon, 1827-31; Abraham M. Scott, 1831-3; Hiram G. Runnels, 1833-5; Charles Lynch, 1835-7; Alexander G. McNutt, 1837-41; Tilghman M. Tucker, 1841-3; Albert G. Brown, 1843-8; Joseph W. Matthews, 1848-50, John A. Quitman, 1850-52; Henry S. Foote, 1852-4; John J. MacRae, 1854-8; William McWillie, 1858-60; John J. Pettus, 1860-62; Jacob Thompson, 1862-4; Charles Clarke, 1864, until superseded in 1865; Wm. L. Sharkey, provisional, 1865-6; Benj. G. Humphreys, 1866-8; Adelbert Ames, provisional, 1868-70; Jas L. Alcorn, 1870-74; Adelbert Ames, 1874-8; John M. Stone, 1878-82.


—POLITICAL HISTORY. The electoral vote of the state has always been given to democratic candidates, except in 1840 and 1848, when it was given to Harrison and Taylor respectively, whigs, and in 1872, when it was given to Grant, republican; in 1864 and 1868 the vote of the state was not counted. (See ELECTORAL VOTES.) The whig party of the state, though usually unsuccessful, was always a strong minority, polling about 45 per cent. of the total vote; and so late as 1856, when its organization had taken the name of the American party, it still polled 41 per cent. of the total vote.


—During the same period the state elections were almost as steadily democratic. The whigs were a strong minority in both houses of the legislature, and occasionally, as in 1841, 1842 and 1852, obtained a majority in one or both houses. Until 1842 the two representatives in congress were chosen by general ticket, and in 1837 the whigs elected both; with this exception the state's representatives were democratic. After 1842, when congressmen were chosen by districts, the only exceptions to the general rule were the elections of one whig representative in 1847 and one pro slavery know. nothing in 1855. After 1856 the opposition to the dominant party became steadily weaker; in 1855 it had polled 27.694 votes to 32,638, while in 1859 the proportion was but 10 308 to 34 559. In 1860 the democrats controlled both houses of the legislature by majorities of 27 to 4 in the senate and 86 to 14 in the house. Two political contests of this period deserve more particular mention.


The Union Bank Bonds. At the session of the legislature in 1837 an act was passed "to incorporate the subscribers to the Mississippi Union Bank." As the constitution required in such cases, it was published to the people, and re-en-acted Feb 5, 1838. The act provided for the issue of $15,500,000 in state stock to the bank, as capital, as soon as a corresponding amount in private subscriptions should come in. A supplementary act of Feb. 15, 1838, changed the conditions to an immediate issue of $5,000,000 of state stock, prior to private subscriptions, and this was the change which was afterward alleged to be unconstitutional. The stock was issued and sold at a heavy discount through the bank of the United States, but the sale was sanctioned by the legislature in 1839. It was not until July 14, 1841, that the governor, McNutt, who had signed the acts mentioned, and had ordered the issue of the remaining $10,500,000 to the bank in 1839, declared his belief that the first issue of $5,000,000 was unconstitutional and void. The question of their payment at once became a political one. T. M. Tucker, who had opposed the first issue in the legislature, heading the opposition to its payment. In 1841 Tucker was elected governor, and thereafter the repudiation of the first issue was made final. A resolution of the legislature in 1842 denied that the state was under any obligation, legal or moral, to redeem the bonds; and in 1873 an amendment to the state constitution forbade the legislature to make any provision for their redemption.


The Davis-Foote Campaign. In 1850 the time for secession seemed to be close at hand. (See SECESSION.) Of the two United States senators of the state, Jefferson Davis was the leader of the pronounced secessionists, and Henry S Foote of those who were against the advisability of secession. (See ALLEGIANCE,II.) Both resigned. and began a joint canvass for the governorship in 1852, in order to bring the issue plainly before the people. Davis polled 27,729 votes to 28,738, and was beaten for the time. At the same time Davis' party had a majority (21 to 11) in the senate, and Foote's a majority (68 to 35) in the house. The anti-Davis party had a popular majority of 28,403 to 21,241 on the question of a state convention.


—RECONSTRUCTION. The close of the war of the rebellion found very little semblance of government in the state, which had suffered enormously during the war. Preparations had been made to aid Gov. Clarke in reorganizing civil government, when his functions were suspended by the appointment of Wm. L. Sharkey as provisional governor, June 13, 1865. Under his guidance the reorganization was completed, Gov. Humphreys was elected Dec. 2, and the whole state government began operations Dec. 16. Its functions were again suspended by the act of March 2, 1867. (See RECONSTRUCTION. ) In no state was congressional reconstruction more relentlessly opposed than in Mississippi. Maj. Gen A. C. Gillem, military governor of the state, succeeded in forming a convention, but the constitution which it formed contained so many severe restrictions upon the rights of suffrage and of office holding by those who had taken part in the rebellion as to intensify the opposition. The state appealed in vain to the United States supreme court against the reconstruction acts, and a majority of its voters rejected the constitution. Adelbert Ames was then appointed provisional governor, Humphreys' functions being suspended. At the beginning of 1869 four years had been lost, the state was in about as bad a plight as in 1865, and there seemed to be little hope for the future adoption of the obnoxious constitution. The act of congress of April 10, 1869, therefore ordered a new election in the state, and authorized the president to submit the disfranchising clauses and the test oaths to a separate vote, but required the new legislature to ratify the 15th amendment, as well as the 14th, before readmission. In the election, though the constitution was adopted by a vote of 76,186 to 38,097, and all the radical republican candidates for governor, state officers and congressmen were elected, the proscriptive clauses were struck out by very heavy majorities. The new legislature, in which the republicans had majorities of 26 to 7 in the senate and 82 to 23 in the house, ratified the amendments, and the state was readmitted Feb. 17, 1870. March 10 the governor was inaugurated.


—The republican majority in the state, mainly colored, was unbroken for five years. For a time the democrats made a peaceable but very apparent inroad upon it. In 1871 they came within two votes of a tie in the house, and in 1872 they carried one of the six congressional districts. In 1875, however, driven to desperation either by the peculation and fraud of negro officials, or by the pent-up wrath of a five years' peaceable struggle on even terms with a former slave race, the white democracy resorted to what was elsewhere called "the Mississippi plan." Open violence seems to have had little or no share in it. Midnight rides by companies of red-shirted horsemen, an occasional volley from harmless pistols, and the careful dissemination of startling rumors among the black population, furnish a combination of influences sufficient to explain the sudden decrease in the negro vote. At the election of Nov. 2. 1875, the republican party of the state went by the board. The democrats carried five of the six congressional districts, and, what was of more importance to them, both houses of the legislature; their majority in the senate was 26 to 11 and in the house 97 to 20. Feb. 23, 1876, the new legislature, after getting rid of the other state officers, impeached Gov. Ames for "inciting a war of races" in several specified instances. March 28 the governor offered to resign if the impeachment was dropped. This arrangement was carried into effect, and J. M. Stone, president of the senate, became governor Since that time the state has been democratic in all elections, and in 1880-81 there was but one republican in the senate out of thirty-seven and seven in the house out of 120. (See INSURRECTION, II)


—A new element of opposition, the national party, or greenbackers, has developed in the state, and under that organization it has been possible for white voters to make head against the dominant party without becoming identified with a negro party. In 1880-81 this new element had two members in the senate and fourteen in the house, and polled a considerable vote in three of the congressional districts. In 1881 it combined with the republicans, and was only defeated in the state election by a very narrow majority. Its possible future results are only a matter for speculation. The republican party of the state, however, is by no means dead. In 1880, it is alleged, it carried the notorious "shoe-string district" (see GERRYMANDER), and was only "counted out" with great difficulty.


—Jefferson Davis (see his name) is the only citizen of the state who has become notably prominent in national politics. Among the other leaders of the state are the following: William Barksdale, democratic representative 1853-61, killed at Gettysburg; Albert G. Brown, democratic representative 1839-41 and 1848-53, United States senator 1854-61, and confederate states senator 1862-5; Henry S. Foote, United States senator 1847-52. and governor 1832-4 (see TENNESSEE); L. Q. C. Lamar, democratic representative 1857-61 and 1873-7, and United States senator 1877-83, George Poindexter, democratic representative 1817-19, governor 1819-21, and United States senator 1830-35; Sergeant S. Prentiss (see WHIG PARTY), whig representative 1838-9; John A. Quitman, major general in the Mexican war, governor 1850-52, democratic representative 1833-8; Jacob Thompson, democratic representative 1839-51, and secretary of the interior under Buchanan; and Robert J. Walker, democratic United States senator 1836-45, secretary of the treasury under Polk, governor of Kansas in 1857, and financial agent to Europe under Lincoln.


—See 1 Stat. at Large, 549, 2:70. 3:348, 472 (for acts of April 7, 1798. May 10. 1800, March 1, 1817, and Dec. 10, 1817. respectively); 2 Poore's Federal and State Constitutions; Monette's History of the Mississippi Valley (to 1846); Tribune Almanac, 1838-81; Nine Years of Democratic Rule in Mississippi (1838-47); 10 Democratic Review, 3,365; J. Thompson's Speech in the House of Representatives (Jan. 10, 1842); Report of Committee on Union Bank Bonds to the Legislature (Feb., 1842); Walker's Slavery, Finances and Repudiation; Claiborne's Life of Quitman; authorities under DAVIS, J.; H. S. Foote's Casket of Reminiscences (1874); 3 Reporter, Nos. 43-46; McPherson's History of the Reconstruction, 239, (see also index under Mississippi).


713 of 1105

Return to top