1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mississippi
MISSISSIPPI, a South Central state of the United States, situated between 35° N. lat. and 31° N. lat., with its S.E. part extending to the Gulf of Mexico, the extreme southern point being in 30° 13′ N. lat. near the mouth of the Pearl River. On the E. the line is mostly regular, its extreme E. point being at 88° 7′ W. long, in the N.E. corner of the state; the W. boundary has its extreme W. point at 91° 41′ W. long, in the S.W. corner of the state. Mississippi is bounded N. by Tennessee, E. by Alabama, S. by the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana, W. by Louisiana, from which it is separated by the Pearl River and by the Mississippi, and by Arkansas, from which also it is separated by the Mississippi. The total area is 46,865 sq. m., of which 503 sq. m. are water surface.
Physical Features.—Mississippi lies for the most part in the Mississippi embayment of the Gulf Coastal Plain. A feature of its surface is a strip of bottom land between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, known as the Yazoo Delta; it extends from north to south about 175 m., and has an average width of more than 60 m., and covers an area of about 7000 sq. m. With the exception of a few flat ridges running from north to south, it is so low that it requires, to protect it from overflows, an unbroken line of levees averaging 15 ft. in height; these were built and are maintained by the state in part from a special tax on the land and in part from the sale of swamp lands of the United States (under an act of 1850). Along the eastern border of this delta, and southward of it, along the Mississippi itself, extends a belt of hills or bluffs (sometimes called “cane-hills”), which is cut by deep ravines and, though very narrow in the north, has in the south an average width of about 10 m. East of the belt are level or gently rolling prairies, and along the Gulf Coast is a low, marshy tract. The highest elevations, from 800 to 1000 ft. above the sea, are on the Pontotoc ridge in Tippah and Union counties; and from this ridge there is an almost imperceptible slope south and west from the Appalachian Mountain system. Along the margins of valleys there are hills rising from 30 to 120 ft., but farther back from the water courses the differences of elevation are much less. The coast-line, about 85 m. long, is bordered by a beach of white sand, and broken by several small and shallow indentations, among which are St Louis, Biloxi, Pascagoula and Point aux Chenes bays; separated from it by the shallow and practically unnavigable Mississippi Sound is a chain of low, long and narrow sand islands, the largest of which are Petit Bois, Horn, Ship and Cat. The principal rivers are: the Mississippi on the western border, and its tributaries, the Yazoo and the Big Black; the Pearl and Pascagoula, which drain much of the southern portion of the state and flow into the Gulf; and the Tombigbee, which drains most of the north-eastern portion. The Pontotoc ridge separates the drainage system of the Mississippi from that of the Tombigbee; extending from the northeastern part of the state southward, this ridge divides in Choctaw county, the eastern branch separating the drainage basin in the Pascagoula from that of the Pearl, and the western branch separating the drainage basin of the Pearl from that of the Big Black and the Mississippi. The Delta is drained chiefly by the Yazoo. A small area in the north-eastern corner of the state is drained northward by the Tennessee and the Hatchie. Each of the larger rivers is fed by smaller streams; their fall is usually gentle and quite uniform. The valleys vary in width from a few hundred yards to several miles. In the east of the state much of the valley of each of the larger streams is several feet above the stream's present high-water mark and forms the “hommock” or “second bottom” lands. Most of the rivers flowing into the Gulf are obstructed by sand-bars and navigable only during high-water from January to April. Oxbow lakes and bayous are common only in the Delta.
Geology.—The older formations are nearly all overlaid by deposits of the Quaternary period, which will be described last. In the extreme north-east are found the oldest rocks in the state—lower Devonian (the New Scotland beds of New York) and, not so old, an extension of the Lower Carboniferous which underlies the Warrior coalfields of Alabama, and which consists of cherts, limestones, sandstones and shales, with a depth of 800 to 900 ft. The strata here show some traces of the upheaval which formed the Appalachian Mountain chain. When this chain formed the Atlantic mountain-border of the continent excepting this north-eastern corner, Mississippi had not emerged from the waters of the ancient Gulf of Mexico. As the shore line of the Gulf slowly receded southward and westward, the sediment at its bottom gradually came to the surface, and constituted the Cretaceous and Tertiary formations. Wherever stratification is observed in these formations in Mississippi, it shows a dip west and south of 20 or 30 ft. to the mile.
The Cretaceous region includes, with the exception of the Lower Carboniferous, all that part of the state eastward of a line cutting the Tennessee boundary in 88° 50′ W. long., and drawn southward and eastward near Ripley, Pontotoc, and Starkville, crossing into Alabama in latitude 32° 45′. There are four formations of Cretaceous strata in Mississippi, defined by lines having the same general direction as the one just described. The oldest, bordering the Lower Carboniferous, is the Tuscaloosa formation of clays and sands arranged as follows: dark clays, thin lignite seams, lignitic clays, sands and chert, and light clays; this formation is 5–15 m. wide and reaches from about 33° 30′ on the Alabama boundary north to the Tennessee boundary. It is about 270 ft. thick. Tuscaloosa clays are used in the manufacture of pottery. Overlying the Tuscaloosa are the Eutaw sands, characterized by sandy laminated clays, and yellow, orange, red and blue sands, containing lignite and fossil resin. The Eutaw formation is a strip about 5 to 12 m. wide with a maximum depth of 300 ft. Westward to Houston and southward to about 32° 48′ on the Alabama boundary and occupying a much larger area than the other Cretaceous formations, is the Selma chalk, called “Rotten Limestone” by Hilgard; it is made up of a material of great uniformity,—a soft chalky rock, white or pale blue, composed chiefly of tenacious clay, and white carbonate of lime in minute crystals. Borings show that the thickness of this group varies from 350 ft. in the north to about 1000 ft. at Starkville. Fossils are abundant, and forty species are recorded. The latest Cretaceous is the Ripley formation, which lies west of the northern part of the last-named, and, about Scooba, in a small strip, the most southerly of the Cretaceous—it is composed of coarse sandstones, hard crystalline white limestones, clays, sands, phosphatic greensands, and dark-coloured, micaceous, glauconitic marls; its greatest thickness is about 280 ft. Its marine fossils are admirably preserved, and one hundred and eight species have been described.
Deposits of the Tertiary period form the basis of more than half the state, extending from the border of the Cretaceous westward nearly to the Yazoo Delta and the Mississippi Bottom, and southward to within a few miles of the Gulf coast. Seven formations (or groups) of the Tertiary strata have been distinguished in Mississippi. The oldest is the Midway limestone and clays in a narrow strip whose western limit is nearly parallel to the western boundary of the Selma chalk; it includes: the Clayton formation, characterized by the hard blue Turritella limestone (so named from the frequent fossil (Turritella mortoni); and Porters Creek (previously called Flatwoods) clay, which is grey, weathering white, and is occasionally overlain by grey fossiliferous sandstone. The Wilcox formation (called Lignitic by Hilgard, and named by Safford the Lagrange group) lies to the west of the last, and its western limit is from about 32° 12′ on the Alabama boundary about due north-west; in its north-westernmost part it is on the western edge of the Tertiary, in this state. Its minimum depth is 850 ft. It is marked by grey clays and sands, lignitic fossiliferous clays, beds of lignite or brown coal, sometimes 8 ft. in thickness, and brownish clays. The siliceous Claiborne (or Tallahatta Buhrstone) formation lies southwestward from the last-named in a strip 10-30 m. wide, whose south-eastern extremity is the intersection of the 32nd meridian with the Alabama boundary, is characterized by beds of aluminous grey and white sandstone, aluminous and siliceous clay-stone, quartzitic sandstone, and green sand and marls. The calcareous Claiborne or Claiborne-Lisbon formation-group lies south of the last, in a wedge-like strip with the apex on the Alabama boundary; it is a series of clays and sands, richly fossiliferous. The Jackson formation south-west of the Lisbon beds, is made up chiefly of grey calcareous clay marls, bluish lignitic clays, green-sand and grey siliceous sands. Basilosaurus (or Zeuglodon) bones are found only in the Jackson marls, and other marine fossils are abundant. The minimum thickness of the formation is 240 ft. The Vicksburg formation lies next in order south-west, in a narrow strip of fairly regular width which alone of the Tertiary formations runs as far west as the Mississippi River; it is probably nowhere more than 110 ft. deep. It is characterized by semi-crystalline limestones and blue and white sandy marls. Marine fossils are very abundant in the marl. The Grand Gulf group, of formations of different ages, consisting of sands, sandstones and clays, and showing a few fossil plants, but no marine fossils, extends southward from the last to within a few miles of the coast, and is 750-800 ft. deep.
The older formation of the Quaternary period is the Lafayette (also called “Orange-sand” or “stratified drift”), which immediately overlies all the Cretaceous groups except the prairies of the Selma chalk, and all the Tertiary except the Porters Creek and Vicksburg formations and parts of the Jackson. Its depth varies from a few feet to over 200 ft. (in the southern part of the state), and it forms the body of most of the hills in the state. Its materials are pebbles, clays and sands of various colours from white to deep red, tinged with peroxide of iron, which sometimes cements the pebbles and sands into compact rocks. The shapes of these ferruginous sandstones are very fantastic—tubes, hollow spheres, plates, &c., being common. The name stratified drift has been used to indicate its connexion with the northern drift. The fossils are few, and in some cases probably derived from the underlying formations. Well-worn pebbles of amorphous quartz (agate, chalcedony, jasper, &c.) are found in the stratified drift along the western side of the Tertiary region of the state, and from Columbus northward. The second Quaternary formation is the Port Hudson, occurring within 20 m. of the Gulf coast, and, with alluvium, in the Yazoo Delta. Heavy clays, gravel and sands, containing cypress stumps, driftwood and mastodon bones, are characteristic. The loess or bluff formation lies along the bluffs bordering the Bottom, nearly continuously through the state. Its fine-grained, unstratified silt contains the remains of many terrestrial animals, including fifteen mammals.
Fauna.—Among the more common species of game are squirrels, opossums, musk-rats, rabbits, racoons, wild turkeys, “partridges” (quail, or Bob White), geese, and ducks; deer, black bears, grey (or timber) wolves, black wolves and “wild cats” (lynx), once common, have become rare. Alligators inhabit the southern river-bottoms, and there are some rattlesnakes on the uplands. Among a great variety of song-birds the mocking-bird is prominent; the parakeet is found in the southern part of the state. Buffalo-fish, paddle-fish, cat-fish, drum, crappie, black bass, rock bass, German carp, sturgeon, pike, perch, eels, suckers and shrimp inhabit the waters of the Mississippi and its tributaries, and oysters, shrimp, trout, Spanish mackerel, channel bass, black bass, sheepshead, mullet, croakers, pompano, pin-fish, blue-fish, founders, crabs and terrapin are obtained from the Mississippi Sound and the rivers flowing into it.
Flora.—Originally Mississippi was almost entirely covered with a growth of forest trees of large size, mostly deciduous; and in 1900 about seven-tenths of its area was still classed as timber-land. The north central part of the state, known as the “flat woods,” is level and heavily forested. There are more than 120 species of trees in the state, 15 of oak alone. The most valuable species for lumber are the long-leaf pine which is predominant in the low southern third of the state, sometimes called the “cow-country”; the short-leaf pine, found farther north; the white oak, quite widely distributed; cotton-wood and red gum, found chiefly on the rich alluvial lands; and the cypress, found chiefly in the marshes of the Delta. The beautiful live oaks and magnolias grow only in the south of the state; the holly in the lowlands; and the finest species of pecan, in the Delta. The sassafras, persimmon, wild cherry and Chickasaw plum are found in all (parts of the state. The grape, Ogeechee lime (Nyssa capitata) and pawpaw are also native fruits. Among indigenous shrubs and vines are the blackberry, dewberry, strawberry, yellow jasmine, mistletoe and poison oak; and among medicinal herbs are horehound, ginger and peppermint. Here, too, grows Spanish moss, used by upholsterers.
Climate.—The southern latitude, the low elevation and the proximity to the Gulf of Mexico produce in southern Mississippi a rather mild and equable climate, but to the northward the extremes increase. The normal annual temperature for the state is 64° F.; on the coast it is 67° F., and on the northern border it is 61° F. During a period of twenty years, from January 1887 to December 1906, extremes of temperature at Biloxi, on the coast, ranged from 1° F. to 100° F.; during nearly the same period at Pontotoc, in the north-eastern part of the state, they ranged from -11° F. to 105° F. The greatest extremes recorded were -15° F. at Aberdeen, Monroe county, on the 13th of February 1899, and 107° F. at several places in July and August of different years. January is the coldest month, and July is the warmest. During the winter the normal temperature decreases quite steadily from south to north; thus the mean temperature in January at Biloxi is 51° F., at Meridian, in the east central part, it is 46° F ., and at Pontotoc it is 43° F. But during the summer, temperatures are affected as much by altitude as by latitude, and the coast is cooled at night by breezes from the Gulf. The July mean is 82° F. at several places in the southern part of the state, an at Yazoo city, in the west central part, it is 83° F. The normal annual precipitation for Mississippi is about 51 in.; for the southern half, 54 in., and for the northern half, 49 in. An average of 4 in. of snow falls in the northern half, but south of Natchez snow is seldom seen. Nearly one-third of the rain falls in January, February and March; July, also, is one of the wet months. The driest season is in September and October. The prevailing winds are from the south-east; but the rain-bearing winds are chiefly from the south-west, and the high winds from the west and north-west.
Soils.—The most fertile soil is the alluvium of the Delta, deposited during the overflows of the Mississippi. Others that are exceedingly productive are the black calcareous loam of the prairies, the calcareous silt of the bluff belt along the eastern border of the Delta, and the brown loam of the tableland in the central part of the state. Of inferior quality are the yellow loam of the hills in the north-east and the sandy loam in the pine belt of the south. Throughout the southern portion sand is a large ingredient, and to the northward there is more or less lime.
Agriculture.—Mississippi is devoted largely to the cultivation of cotton. Of the total land area of the state, 18,240,736 acres (61.3%) were, in 1900, included in farms, and the improved farm land increased from 4,209,146 acres in 1870 to 7,594,428 acres (41.6% of all farm land) in 1900. After the abolition of slavery, farms greatly decreased in size and increased in number; the number grew from 68,023 in 1870 to 220,803 in 1900; the average size fell from 369.7 acres in 1860 to 82.6 acres in 1900. Of the total number of farms in 1900, 81,412 were worked by owners or part owners (60,585 by whites and 20,827 by negroes); 70,699 were worked by cash tenants (13,505 by whites and 57,194 by negroes); and 67,153 were worked by share tenants (16,748 by whites and 50,405 by negroes).
The acreage of cotton increased from 2,106,215 acres in 1879 to 3,220,000 in 1907; the yield increased from 936,111 bales in 1879 to 1,468,177 bales in 1907. Cotton is grown in every county of the state, but the large yields are in the Delta (Bolivar, Coaohma, Washington, Yazoo and Leflore counties), the greatest cotton-producing region of the world, and in Monroe, Lowndes and Noxubee counties on the Alabama border. The acreage of Indian corn in 1907 was 2,500,000 acres and the crop 42,500,000 bushels. The production of other cereals decreased during the latter half of the 19th century: oats, from 1,959,620 bushels in 1879 to 1,611,000 bushels in 1907; wheat, from 587,925 bushels in 1859 to 22,000 in 1907; rye, from 39,474 bushels in 1859 to 963 bushels in 1899, after which year the crop has been negligible; and rice, from 2,719,856 ℔ in 1849 to about 1,080,000 ℔ in 1907. The largest Indian-corn producing districts are nearly the same as those which produce the most cotton; oats and wheat are grown chiefly in the north-eastern quarter of the state, and rice in the south-western quarter.
Between 1850 and 1907 dairy cows increased from 214,231 to 330,000; other neat cattle from 519,739 to 589,000; sheep decreased from 304,929 to 181,000; swine decreased from 1,582,734 to 1,316,000; horses increased from 115,460 to 260,000, and mules from 54,547 to 279,000.
Sugar-cane is grown principally in the southern part of the state, but sorghum-cane is grown to some extent in nearly every county. Sweet potatoes, white potatoes and onions also are important crops. The greatest relative advance between 1889 and 1899; in any branch of agriculture was made in the growth of market-garden produce and small fruits; for old pine lands, formerly considered useless, had been found valuable for the purpose. The number of orchard trees increased nearly 100% within the same decade. At Crystal Springs tomatoes were first successfully grown for the market (1874-1876). Orchard trees and grape-vines are widely distributed throughout the state, but with the exception of peaches their yield is greater in the northern portion.
Lumber.—Mississippi ranks high among the southern states in the production of lumber. Its timber-land in 1900 was estimated at 32,300 sq. m. From the extreme south most of the merchantable timber had been cut, but immediately north of this there were still vast quantities of valuable long-leaf pine; in the marshes of the Delta was much cypress, the cotton-wood was nearly exhausted; and the gum was being used as a substitute for it; and on the rich upland soil were oak and red gum, also cotton-wood, hickory and maple. The lumber and timber product increased in value from $1,920,335 in 1880 to $24,035,539 in 1905. Pine stumps and waste limbs are utilized, notably at Hattiesburg, for the manufacture of charcoal, tar, creosote, turpentine; &c.
Fisheries.—Fishing is a minor industry, confined for the most part to the Mississippi Sound and neighbouring waters and to the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers. The most valuable branch is the oyster fishery on the reefs in the Sound, much developed since 1880. The shrimp fishery, too, grew during the same period. About 40% of the total catch of the state is made by the inhabitants of Harrison county on the Gulf of Mexico.
Minerals.—The mineral wealth of the state is limited. Clays and mineral waters are, however, widely distributed. Large quantities of mineral water, sulphur, chalybeate and lithia, bottled at Meridian, Raymond and elsewhere, are sold annually. The state contains deposits of iron, gypsum, marl, phosphate, lignite, ochre, glass-sand, tripoli, fuller's earth, limestones and sandstones; and there are small gas flows in the Yazoo Delta.
Manufactures.—The lack of mineral resources, especially of coal and iron, of a good harbour (until the improvement of Gulfport), and of an adequate supply of labour has discouraged most kinds of manufacturing. The value of the total factory product was $57,451,445 in 1905, when a little more than three-fourths was represented by lumber and timber products, cotton-seed oil and cake, and cotton goods. The leading manufacturing centres are Meridian, Vicksburg, Jackson, Natchez and Biloxi.
Transport.—Along the entire western border of the state the Mississippi River is navigable for river steamboats. On the southern border, the Mississippi Sound affords safe navigation for small coasting vessels, and from Gulfport (13 m. W.S.W. of Biloxi) to Ship Island, which has one of the best harbours on the entire Gulf Coast, the Gulf & Ship Island Railroad Company, with the co-operation of the United States Government, in 1901 began to dredge a channel 300 ft. wide and 19 ft. at mean low water, and to construct an anchorage basin (completed in 1906) at Gulfport, ½ m. long and ¼ m. wide, and 19 ft. deep. In June 1908 the maximum low-water draft of the channel and the basin was 19 ft. The Gulfport project reduced freight rates between Gulfport and the Atlantic seaboard cities and promoted the trade of Gulfport, which is the port of entry for the Pearl River customs district. Its imports for 1909 were valued at $82,028 and its exports at $8,581,471. The Yazoo, Tallahatchie, Yalobusha, Sunliower, Big Black, Pascagoula and Pearl rivers are also navigable to a limited extent. The first railway in Mississippi was completed from Vicksburg to Clinton in 1840, but the state had suffered severely from the panic of 1837, and in 1850 it had only 75 m. of railway. This was increased to 862 m. by 1860. The Civil War then interfered, and in 1880 the mileage was only 1127 m. During the next decade it was a little more than doubled, and at the close of 1908 it was 3916.85 m. The principal lines are the Illinois Central, the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley, the Southern, the Mobile & Ohio, the New Orleans & North-eastern, the Kansas City, Memphis & Birmingham, the Mobile, Jackson & Kansas City, the Alabama & Vicksburg, and the Gulf & Ship Island.
Population.—The population increased from 1,131,597 in 1880 to 1,289,600 in 1890, of 14% within the decade, and by 1900 it had grown to 1,551,270 (99.48% native-born), and by 1910 to 1,797,114. The density of population in 1900 was 33.5 per sq. m.; 641,200, or 41.3%, were whites; 907,630, or 58.5%, were negroes; 2203 were Indians, and 237 were Chinese; in eight counties of the Delta the ratio of negroes to whites was almost 7 to 1. The Indians are descendants of the Choctaw tribe; they are all subject to taxation, and most of them live in the east central part of the state. The principal religious denominations are the Baptist (371,518 in 1906) and the Methodist (212,105 in 1906). The cities and towns having a population in 1900 of 4000 or more were: Vicksburg, Meridian, Natchez, Jackson, Greenville, Columbus, Biloxi, Yazoo City, McComb and Hattiesburg.
Government.—The chief special object of the present constitution, adopted on the 1st of November 1890, was to preserve in a legal manner the supremacy of the whites over the ignorant negro majority. In addition to the ordinary suffrage qualifications of age, sex, and residence, the voter must have paid all taxes due from him for the two years immediately preceding the election, and he must be able to read any section of the constitution or “be able to understand the same when read to him, or give a reasonable interpretation thereof.” The former provision, strengthened by a poll-tax for school purposes assessed on adult males, affects both white and blacks; the latter, owing to the discretion vested in the election officers, affects (in practice) mainly the blacks. The chief executive officials are the governor, lieutenant-governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, attorney-general, and superintendent of education. All are chosen for terms of four years, and the governor, treasurer, and auditor are ineligible for immediate re-election. The method of election is peculiar, being based in part upon the national presidential model. Each county or legislative district casts as many electoral votes as it has members in the state house of representatives, and a majority of both the electoral and the popular vote is required. If no one has such a majority, the house of representatives chooses one of the two who have received the highest number of popular votes; but this is really a provision never executed, as the Democratic nominees are always elected without any serious opposition. The governor is empowered to call extraordinary sessions of the legislature, to grant pardons and reprieves, and to exercise a power of veto which extends to items in appropriation bills; a two-thirds majority of the legislature is necessary to pass a bill over his veto. His appointing power is not very extensive, as nearly all officials, except judges, are elected by popular vote.
The legislature consists of a senate and a house of representatives, chosen every four years. It meets in regular session quadrennially, in special sessions in the middle of the interval to pass the appropriation and revenue bills, and in extraordinary session whenever the governor sees fit to call it. Revenue measures may originate in either house, but a three-fifths vote in each is necessary to their enactment. The constitution goes into minute detail in prohibiting local, private and special legislation.
The judiciary consists of a supreme court of three judges, thirteen (1908) circuit courts, seven (1908) chancery courts, county courts and justice of the peace courts. Under the constitution of 1890 the governor, with the consent of the senate, appoints supreme court judges for a term of nine years, and circuit and chancery judges for four years. The local judicial authorities are the county board of supervisors of five members and the justices of the peace.
The other county officials are the sheriff, coroner, treasurer, assessor, surveyor and superintendent of education. The superintendent is chosen by the state board of education except in those counties (now all or nearly all) in which the legislature has made the office elective. The courts have interpreted this to mean that the manner of selection need not be uniform (Wynn v. State, 67 Miss. 312), a rule which would possibly apply to other local offices. The intention seemed to be to permit the appointment of officials in counties and districts where there was any likelihood of negro supremacy.
Mississippi has taken a leading part in the movement to bring about the removal of the common law disabilities of married women, the first statute for that purpose having been passed in 1839. Under the present constitution they are “fully emancipated from all disability on account of coverture,” and are placed on an equality with their husbands in acquiring and disposing of property and in making contracts relative thereto. A divorce may be granted only to one who has lived for at least one year in the state; among the recognized causes for divorce are desertion for two years, cruelty, insanity or, physical incapacity at time of marriage, habitual drunkenness or excessive use of opium or other drugs, and the conviction of either party of felony. The homestead of a householder (with a family) who occupies it may be held exempt from sale for the collection of debts other than those for purchase-money, taxes, or improvements, or for the satisfaction of a judgment upon a forfeited recognizance or bail-bond, but a homestead so exempted is limited to $3000 in value and to 16O acres of land. A considerable amount of personal property, including furniture, a small library, provisions, tools, agricultural implements, livestock and the proceeds of a life insurance policy, is also exempt from seizure for the satisfaction of debts. Since 1909 the sale of intoxicating liquors has been prohibited by statute.
Penal and Charitable Institutions.—The penitentiary at Jackson was established under an Act of 1836, was erected in 1838-1839, was opened in 1840, was burned by the Federals in 1863, and was rebuilt in 1866-1867. The board of control is composed of the governor, attorney-general and the three railroad commissioners. The convict lease system was abolished by the constitution of 1890 (the provision to take effect on the 31st of December 1894), and state farms were purchased in Rankin, Hinds and Holmes counties. As these were insufficient to give employment to all the prisoners, some were put to work on Yazoo Delta plantations on partnership contracts. Under an act of 1900, however, 13,889 acres of land were purchased in Sunflower county; and there and at Tchula, Holmes county, and at Oakley, Hinds county, the negro convicts—the white convicts are on the Rankin county farm—are kept on several large plantations, with saw-mills, cotton gins, &c. Under a law of 1906 these farm penitentiaries are controlled by a board of three trustees, elected by the people; they are managed by a superintendent, appointed once every four years by the governor. The charitable institutions of the state are supervised by separate boards of trustees appointed by the governor. The state insane hospital, opened at Jackson in 1856 (act of 1848), in time became overcrowded and the East Mississippi insane hospital was opened, 2 m. west of Meridian in 1885 (act of 1882). The state institution for the education of the deaf and dumb (1854) and the state institution for the blind (1848) are at Jackson. State aid is given to the hospitals at Vicksburg and Natchez.
Education.—Educational interests were almost entirely neglected during the colonial and territorial periods. The first school established in the state was Jefferson College, now Jefferson Military College, near Natchez, Adams county, incorporated in 1802. Charters were granted to schools in Claiborne, Wilkinson and Amite counties in 1809–1815, and to Port Gibson Academy and Mississippi College, at Clinton, in 1826. The public school system, established in 1846, never was universal, because of special legislation for various counties; public education was retarded during the Civil War and the Reconstruction period (when immense sums appropriated for schools were grossly mismanaged), but conditions gradually improved after 1875, especially through the concentration of schools. The sessions are still too short, teachers are poorly paid and attendance is voluntary. The long lack of normal training for white teachers (from 1870 to 1904 there was a normal school for negroes at Holly Springs) lasted until 1890, when a teacher’s training course was introduced into the curriculum of the state university. There are separate schools for whites and blacks, and the equipment and service are approximately equal, although the whites pay about nine-tenths of the school taxes. The schools are subject to the supervision of a state superintendent of public education and of a board of education, composed of the superintendent, the secretary of state, and the attorney-general, and within each county to a county superintendent. The schools are supported by a poll-tax, by general appropriations, by local levies, and by the Chickasaw school fund. An act of Congress of the 3rd of March 1803 reserved from sale section sixteen of the public lands in each township for educational purposes. When the Chickasaws ceded their lands to the national government, in 1830 and in 1832, the state made a claim to the sixteenth sections, and finally in 1856 received 174,550 acres—one thirty-sixth of the total cession of 6,283,804 acres. The revenue derived from the sales and leases of this land constitutes an endowment fund upon which the state as trustee pays 6% interest. It is used for the support of the schools in the old Chickasaw territory in the northern part of the state.
Among the institutions for higher education are the university of Mississippi (chartered 1844; opened 1848), at Oxford, which was opened to women in 1882; the Agricultural and Mechanical College (opened 1880), at Agricultural College, near Starkville, Oktibbeha county; the Industrial Institute and College for Girls (opened 1885), at Columbus; and the Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College for negroes (1871; reorganized in 1878), at Westside. In 1819 Congress granted thirty-six sections of public land for the establishment of a university. This land was sold in 1833 for $277,332.52, but the entire sum was lost in the failure of the Planters’ Bank in 1840. In 1880 the state assumed liability for the full amount plus interest, and this balance, $544,061.23, now constitutes an endowment fund, upon which the state pays 6% interest. Congress granted another township (thirty-six sections) for the university in 1892, and its income is supplemented by legislative appropriations for current expenses and special needs. The two agricultural and mechanical colleges were founded by the sale of public lands given by Congress under the Morrill Act of 1862. An agricultural experiment station established in 1887 under the Hatch Act, is at Agricultural College; and there are branch experiment stations at McNeill, Pearl River county (1906), near Holly Springs, and at Stoneville, near Greenville.
Finance.—The chief sources of revenue are taxes on realty, personalty and corporations, a poll-tax, and licences. The more important expenditures are for public schools, state departments, educational and charitable institutions and pensions for Confederate veterans. The early financial history of the state is not very creditable. The Bank of Mississippi, at Natchez, incorporated by the Territorial legislature in 1809, was rechartered by the state in 1818, and was guaranteed a monopoly of the banking business until 1840. In violation of this pledge, and in the hope that a new bank would be more tractable than the Bank of Mississippi, the Planters’ Bank was established at Natchez, in 1830, with a capital of $3,000,000, two-thirds of which was subscribed by the state. During the wild era of speculation which followed (especially in 1832—upon the opening of the Chickasaw Cession to settlement) a large number of banks and railroad corporations with banking privileges were chartered. The climax was reached in 1838 with the incorporation of the Union Bank. This, the most pretentious of all the state banks of the period, was capitalized at $15,500,000. The state subscribed $5,000,000, which was raised on bonds sold to Nicholas Biddle, president of the United States Bank of Pennsylvania. As the Union Bank was founded in the midst of a financial panic and was mismanaged, its failure was a foregone conclusion. Agitation for repudiation was begun by Governor A. G. McNutt (1801–1848), and that question became the chief issue in the gubernatorial campaign of 1841, Tilghman M. Tucker (1802–1859), the Democratic candidate, representing the repudiators and David O. Shattuck, Whig, representing the anti-repudiators. The Democrats were successful, and the bonds were formally repudiated in 1842. In 1853 the High Court of Appeals and Errors of the state in the case of Mississippi v. Hezion Johnson (35 Miss. Reports, 625) decided unanimously that nothing could absolve the state from its obligation. The decision was disregarded, however, and in the same year the Planters’ Bank bonds were also repudiated by popular vote. These acts of repudiation were sanctioned by the constitution of 1890. The $7,000,000 saved in this manner has doubtless been more than offset by the additional interest charges on subsequent loans, due to the loss of public confidence. Mississippi suffered less than most of the other Southern states during the Reconstruction period; but expenditures rose from $463,219.71 in 1869 to $1,729,046.34 in 1871. At the close of the Republican régime in 1876 its total indebtedness was $2,631,704.24, of which $814,743 belonged to the Chickasaw fund (see above) and $718,946.22 to the general school fund. As the principal of these funds is never to be paid, the real debt was slightly over $1,000,000. On the 1st of October 1907 the payable debt was $1,253,029.07, the non-payable $2,336,197.58, a total of $3,589,226.65. Since the Civil War the banking laws have become more stringent and the national banks have exercised a wholesome influence. There were, in 1906, 24 national banks and 269 state banks, but no trust companies, private banks or savings banks.
History.—At the beginning of the 16th century the territory included in the present state of Mississippi was inhabited by three powerful native tribes: the Natchez in the south-west, the Choctaws in the south-east and centre, and the Chickasaws in the north. In addition, there were the Yazoos in the Yazoo valley, the Pascagoulas, the Biloxis, and a few weaker tribes on the borders of the Mississippi Sound. The history of Mississippi may be divided into the period of exploration (1540–1699), the period of French rule (1699–1763), the period of English rule (1763–1781), the period of Spanish rule (1781–1798), the territorial period (1798–1817), and the period of statehood (1817 seq.).
Hernando de Soto (q.v.) and a body of Spanish adventurers crossed the Tombigbee river, in December 1540, near the present city of Columbus, marched through the north part of the state, and reached the Mississippi river near Memphis in 1541. In 1673 a French expedition organized in Canada under Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet sailed down the Mississippi to the mouth of the Arkansas, and nine years later (1682) René Robert Cavelier, sieur de la Salle, reached the mouth of the river, took formal possession of the country which it drains, and named it Louisiana in honour of Louis XIV. The first European settlement in Mississippi was founded in 1699 by Pierre Lemoyne, better known as Iberville, at Fort Maurepas (Old Biloxi) on the north side of Biloxi Bay, in what is now Harrison county. The site proving unfavourable, the colony was transferred to Twenty-seven Mile Bluff, on the Mobile River, in 1702, and later to Mobile (1710). The oldest permanent settlements in the state are. (New) Biloxi (c. 1712), situated across the bay from Old Biloxi and nearer to the Gulf, and Natchez or Fort Rosalie (1716). During the next few years Fort St Peter and a small adjoining colony were established on the Yazoo River in Warren county, and some attempts at settlement were made on Bay St Louis and Pascagoula Bay. The efforts (1712–1721) to foster colonization and commerce through trading corporations established by Antoine Crozat and John Law failed, and the colony soon came again under the direct control of the king. It grew very slowly, partly because of the hostility of the Indians and partly because of the incapacity of the French as, colonizers. In 1729–1730 the Natchez tribe destroyed Fort St Peter, and some of the small outposts, and almost destroyed the Fort Rosalie (Natchez) settlement.
At the close of the Seven Years’ War (1763) France ceded to Great Britain all her territory east of the Mississippi except New Orleans, and Spain ceded Florida to Great Britain. By a royal proclamation (Oct. 7, 1763) these new possessions were divided into East Florida and West Florida, the latter lying S. of the 31st parallel and W. of the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola rivers. Crown orders of 1764 and 1767 extended the limits N. to a line due E. from the mouth of the Yazoo at about 32° 28' N. lat. Under English rule there was an extensive immigration into this region from England, Ireland, Georgia and South Carolina. A settlement was made on the Big Black, 17 m. from its mouth, in 1774 by Phineas Lyman (1716-1774) of Connecticut and other “military adventurers,” veterans of the Havana campaign of 1762; this settlement was loyal during the War of Independence. Spain took military possession in 1781, and in the Treaty of Paris (1783) both of the Floridas were ceded back to her. But Great Britain recognized the claims of the United States to the territory as far south as the 31st parallel, the line of 1763. Spain adhered to the line of 1764-1767, and retained possession of the territory in dispute. Finally, in the treaty of San Lorenzo el Real (ratified 1796) she accepted the 1763 (31°) boundary, and withdrew her troops in 1798. Mississippi Territory was then organized, with Winthrop Sargent as governor. The territorial limits were extended on the north to the state of Tennessee in 1804 by the acquisition of the west cessions of South Carolina and Georgia, and on the south to the Gulf of Mexico by the seizure of West Florida in 1810-1813, but were restricted on the east by the formation of the Territory of Alabama in 1817. Tust after the uprising of 1729-1730 the French, with the help of the Choctaws, had destroyed the Natchez nation, and the shattered remnants were absorbed by the neighbouring tribes. The Chickasaws ceded their lands to the United States in 1816 and the Choctaws theirs in 1830-1832; and they removed to the Indian Territory. The smaller tribes have been exterminated, absorbed or driven farther west.
An Enabling Act was passed on the 1st of March 1817, and the state was formally admitted into the Union on the 10th of December. The first state constitution (1817) provided a high property qualification for governor, senator and representative, and empowered the legislature to elect the judges and the more important state officials. In 1822 the capital was removed to Jackson from Columbia, Marion county. The constitution of 1832 abolished the property qualification for holding office and provided for the popular election of judges and state officials. Mississippi thus became one of the first states in the Union to establish an elective judiciary. The same constitution prohibited the importation of negro slaves from other states; but this prohibition was never observed, and the United States Supreme Court held that it was ineffective without an act of the legislature. On the death of John C. Calhoun in 1850 the state, under the leadership of Jefferson Davis, began to rival South Carolina as leader of the extreme pro-slavery States' Rights faction. There was a brief reaction: Henry Stuart Foote (1800-1880), Unionist, was elected governor in 1851 over Davis, the States' Rights candidate, and in the same year a Constitutional Convention had declared almost unanimously that “the asserted right of secession” . . . “is utterly unsanctioned by the Federal Constitution.” But the particularistic sentiment continued to grow. An ordinance of secession was passed on the 9th of January 1861, and the constitution was soon amended to conform to the new constitution of the Confederate States. During the Civil War battles were fought at Corinth (1862), Port Gibson (1863), Jackson (1863) and Vicksburg (1863). In 1865 President Johnson appointed as provisional governor William Lewis Sharkey (1797-1873), who had been chief justice of the state in 1832-1850, and a convention which assembled on the 14th of August recognized the “destruction” of slavery and declared the ordinance of secession null and void. The first reconstruction legislature met on the 16th of October 1865, and at once proceeded to enact stringent vagrancy laws and other measures against the freedmen; these laws the North interpreted as an effort to restore slavery. Under the Reconstruction Act of the 2nd of March 1867 Mississippi with Arkansas formed the fourth military district, commanded successively by Generals E. O. C. Ord (1867), Alvan C. Gillem (1868) and Irvin McDowell (June-July 1868), and by Gillem (1868-1869) and Adelbert Ames (1869-1870). The notorious “Black and Tan Convention” of 1868 adopted a constitution which conferred suffrage upon the negroes and by the imposition of test oaths disfranchised the leading whites. It was at first rejected at the polls, but was finally ratified in November 1869 Without the disfranchising clauses. The fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the Federal Constitution were ratified in 1870, and the state was formally readmitted into the Union on the 23rd of February of that year.
From 1870 to 1875 the government was under the control of “carpet-baggers,” negroes and the most disreputable element among the native whites. Taxes were increased—expenditure increased nearly threefold between 1869 and 1871—and there was some official corruption; but the state escaped the heavy burden of debt imposed upon its neighbours, partly because of the higher character of its reconstruction governors, and partly because its credit was already impaired by the repudiation of obligations contracted before the war. The Democrats carried the legislature in 1875, and preferred impeachment charges against Governor Adelbert Ames (b. 1835), a native of Maine, a graduate of the United States Military Academy (1861), a soldier in the Union army, and military governor of Mississippi in 1868-1870. The lieutenant-governor, A. K. Davis, a negro, was impeached and was removed from office; T. W. Cardoza, another negro, superintendent of education under Ames, was impeached on twelve charges of malfeasance, but was permitted to resign. Governor Ames, when the impeachment charges against him were dismissed on the 29th of March 1876, immediately resigned. The whites maintained their supremacy by very dubious methods until the adoption of the constitution of 1890 made it no longer necessary. The state has always been Democratic in national politics, except in the presidential elections of 1840 (Whig) and 1872 (Republican). The electoral vote was not counted in 1864 and 1868.
|Territorial Period (1798-1817).|
|William C. C. Claiborne||1801-1805|
|Statehood Period (1817 seq.).|
|Walter Leake||Democrat (died in office)||1822-1825|
|Gerard C. Brandon (ad int.)||Democrat||1825-1826|
|David Holmes||Democrat (resigned)||1826|
|Gerard C. Brandon||(ad int. 1826-1828)||1826-1832|
|Abram M. Scott||Democrat (died in office)||1832-1833|
|Charles Lynch (ad int.)||Democrat||1833|
|Hiram G. Runnels||”||1833-1835|
|John Anthony Quitman (ad int.)||Whig||1835-1836|
|Alexander Gallatin McNutt||”||1838-1842|
|Tilghman M. Tucker||”||1842-1844|
|Albert Gallatin Brown||”||1844-1848|
|Joseph W. Matthews||”||1848-1850|
|John Anthony Quitman||”||1850-1851|
|John Isaac Guion (ad int.)||”||1851|
|James Whitfield (ad int.)||”||1851-1852|
|Henry Stuart Foote||Unionist||1852-1854|
|John Jones Pettus (ad int.)||Democrat||1854|
|John J. McRae||”||1854-1857|
|John Jones Pettus||”||1859-1863 |
|William Lewis Sharkey||Provisional||1865|
|Benjamin Grubb Humphreys||Republican||1865–1868|
|Adelbert Ames||Republican (Military Governor)||1868–1870|
|James Lusk Alcorn||Republican||1870–1871|
|Ridgley Ceylon Powers (ad int.)||”||1871–1874|
|John Marshall Stone (ad int. 1876–78)||Democrat||1876–1882|
|J. M. Stone||”||1890–1896|
|Anselm Joseph McLaurin||”||1896–1900|
|Andrew Houston Longino||”||1900–1904|
|James Kimble Vardaman||”||1904–1908|
|Edmund Favor Noel||”||1908|
See T. A. Owen, “A Biography of Mississippi,” in the Annual Report of the American Historical Association, 1899, i. 633-828 (Washington, 1900); “Report of the Mississippi Historical Commission” in the Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, v. 52-310 (Oxford, Miss., 1902). J. F. H. Claiborne’s Mississippi as a Province, Territory and State (Jackson, 1880), gives the best account of the period before the Civil War. R. Lowry and W. H. McCardle, History of Mississippi (New York, 1893), is useful for local history. Of most value for the history are the writings of P. J. Hamilton, J. W. Garner and F. L. Riley. Hamilton’s Colonial Mobile (Boston and New York, 1898), and the Colonization of the South (Philadelphia, 1904) are standard authorities for the French and English periods (1699–1781). Garner’s Reconstruction in Mississippi (New York, 1902) is judicial, scholarly and readable. Most of Riley’s work is in the Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society (Oxford, 1898 seq.), which he edited; see his Spanish Policy in Mississippi after the Treaty of San Lorenzo, i. 50-66; Location of the Boundaries of Mississippi, iii. 167-184; and Transition from Spanish to American Rule in Mississippi, iii. 261-311. There is much material in the Encyclopaedia of Mississippi History (2 vols., Madison, Wisconsin, 1907), edited by Dunbar Rowland. There is a state Department of Archives and History.
- The population at each of the preceding censuses was: 8850 in 1800; 40,352 in 1810; 75,448 in 1820; 136,621 in 1830; 375,651 in 1840; 606,526 in 1850; 791,305 in 1860; and 827,922 in 1870.
- The increase is due mainly to the assumption of the university obligations in 1880.
- South Carolina ceded its western lands to the United States in 1787 and Georgia in 1802. The government added them to Mississippi in 1804. The seizure of West Florida was supplemented by the treaty of 1819-1821, in which Spain surrendered all of her claims.
- The seats of government have been Natchez (1798-1802), Washington (1802-1817), Natchez (1817-1821), Columbia (1821-1822), Jackson (1822 seq.).
- This system proved unsatisfactory, and in 1869 was abandoned.
- Under the constitution of 1832 the president of the senate succeeded the governor in case of a vacancy.
- Governor Quitman resigned because of charges against him of aiding Lopez's expedition against Cuba.
- On the 4th of November the term for which Guion had been elected as a senator expired and he was succeeded in the governorship by Whitfield, elected by the senate to be its president.
- Served from the 5th of January (when Foote resigned) to the 10th, when McRae was inaugurated.
- Removed from office by Federal troops, 22nd of May 1865; W. L. Sharkey was appointed provisional governor by President Johnson.
- Removed from office by U.S. troops 15th of June 1868.
- Resigned 30th of November 1871.
- Resigned 29th of March 1876; succeeded by the president of the senate.