The New International Encyclopædia/Mississippi

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MISSISSIPPI. One of the South-Central States of the American Union. It takes its name from the river which forms its western boundary for a distance of about 500 miles, and separates it from the States of Louisiana and Arkansas. It lies between Tennessee on the north and Louisiana on the south, being separated from the former by the thirty-fifth parallel of north latitude and from the latter by the thirty-first parallel from the Mississippi River to the Pearl River, a distance of 110 miles. Thence following the Pearl River southward, the boundary line is completed on the south by the Gulf of Mexico. The Tennessee River cuts off a small portion from the northeastern corner, but the eastern boundary separating the State from Alabama runs southward in a nearly straight line to the Gulf. Mississippi has an extreme length of 330 miles and an extreme width of 188 miles, and comprises an area of 46,810 square miles, of which water occupies 470 square miles, the land amounting to 46,340 square miles. Mississippi includes, in addition to the mainland territory, the islands Ship, Horn, Cat, Petit Bois, and others, separated from the mainland by the Mississippi Sound.

Topography. The highest ridges in the northeast reach an altitude of about 1000 feet. Throughout most of the State the elevations range from 500 to 600 feet down to 150 feet a few miles from the Gulf. A moderate uplift of the region has allowed the rivers to carry the work of dissection to maturity, all gradients now being low, nearly or quite at base level, the streams having their lower courses in valleys opened wide, from a few hundred yards to several miles, and wandering in sinuous courses upon silted bottoms. These river bottoms cover a total of 7500 square miles, or over one-sixth of the entire State. Of this the Yazoo bottoms occupy the greater part. The flood plains of the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers are lined on the east by bluffs from 100 to 300 feet in height, caused by the lateral corrosion of the swinging meanders of the great river. These bluffs are capped throughout with a deposit of loess. Extending through the middle of the Yazoo bottoms is a flat ridge, standing above flood level, and this and the banks of the various streams are available for cultivation, being the best cotton lands in the world. The bottom is being steadily reclaimed for plantations. The swamp and marsh area is occupied by cypress trees very valuable as lumber, while the drier lands are covered with cane brakes and rich forests of many species of timber trees.

NIE 1905 Mississippi.jpg


County Map
 County Seat.   Area in 

1890. 1900.

Adams C 8  Natchez 428 26,031 30,111
Alcorn H 1  Corinth 402 13,115 14,987
Amite D 8  Liberty 708 18,198 20,708
Attala G 4  Kosciusko 707 22,213 26,248
Benton C 1  Ashland 409 10,585 10,510
Bolivar D 3  Rosedale 913  29,980   35,427 
Calhoun G 3  Pittsboro 588 14,688 16,512
Carroll E 4  Vaiden 612 18,773 22,116
Chickasaw G 3  Houston 507 19,891 19,892
Choctaw G 4  Chester 372 10,847 13,036
Claiborne D 7  Port Gibson 505 14,516 20,787
Clarke H 6  Quitman 664 15,826 17,741
Clay H 3  Westpoint 399 18,607 19,563
Coahoma D 2  Clarksdale 592 18,342 26,293
Copiah D 7  Hazlehurst 748 30,233 34,395
Covington F 7  Williamshurg 577  8,299 13,076
De Soto E 1  Hernando 551 24,183 24,751
Franklin D 8  Meadville 555 10,424 13,678
Greene H 8  Leakesville 819  3,906  6,795
Grenada F 3  Grenada 435 14,974 14,112
Hancock G 9  Bay St. Louis 611  8,318 11,886
Harrison H 9  Mississippi city 982 12,481 21,002
Hinds E 6  Raymond & Jackson 847 39,279 52,577
Holmes E 4  Lexington 825 30,970 36,828
Issaquena D 5  Mayersville 473 12,318 10,400
Itawamba J 2  Fulton 536 11,708 13,544
Jackson J 9  Scranton 1,073   11,251 16,513
Jasper G 6  Paulding 647 14,785 15,394
Jefferson C 7  Fayette 519 18,947 21,292
Jones G 7  Ellisville 674  8,333 17,846
Kemper H 5  Dekalb 704 17,961 20,492
Lafayette G 2  Oxford 673 20,553 22,110
Lauderdale H 6  Meridian 677 29,661 38,150
Lawrence E 7  Monticello 638 12,318 15,103
Leake F 5  Carthage 561 14,803 17,360
Lee H 2  Tupelo 449 20,040 21,956
Leflore E 3  Greenwood 578 16,869 23,834
Lincoln D 7  Brookhaven 574 17,912 21,552
Lowndes J 4  Columbus 504 27,047 29,095
Madison E 5  Canton 714 27,381 32,493
Marion F 8  Purvis & Columbia 1,095    9,532 13,501
Marshall F 1  Holly Springs 707 26,043 27,674
Monroe H 3  Aberdeen 762 30,730 31,216
Montgomery  F 3  Winona 391 14,459 16,536
Neshoba G 5  Philadelphia 543 11,146 12,726
Newton G 6  Decatur 561 16,625 19,708
Noxubee H 4  Macon 659 27,338 30,846
Oktibbeha H 4  Starkville 435 17,694 20,183
Panola E 2  Sardis & Batesville 699 26,977 29,027
Pearl River F 9  Poplarville 663  2,957  6,697
Perry G 8  Hattiesburg & Augusta. 1,091    6,494 14,682
Pike E 8  Magnolia 697 21,203 27,545
Pontotoc G 2  Pontotoc 496 14,940 18,274
Prentiss H 1  Booneville 420 13,679 15,788
Quitman E 2  Belen 409  3,286  5,435
Rankin E 6  Brandon 777 17,922 20,955
Scott F 6  Forest 584 11,740 14,316
Sharkey D 5  Rolling Fork 438  8,382 12,178
Simpson E 7  Westville 578 10,138 12,800
Smith F 7  Raleigh 610 10,635 13,055
Sunflower D 4  Indianola 703  9,384 16,084
Tallahatchie E 3  Charleston 636 14,361 19,600
Tate E 1  Senatobia 407 19,253 20,618
Tippah H 1  Ripley 456 12,951 12,983
Tishomingo E 2  Iuka 433  9,302 10,134
Tunica E 1  Tunica 449 12,158 16,479
Union G 1  New Albany 418 15,606 16,522
Warren D 6  Vicksburg 601 33,164 40,912
Washington D 4  Greenville 925 40,414 49,216
Wayne H 7  Waynesboro 788  9,817 12,539
Webster G 3  Walthall 409 12,060 13,619
Wilkinson C 8  Woodville 664 17,592 21,453
Winston G 4  Louisville 577 12,089 14,124
Yalobusha F 2  Coffeeville & Water Valley  501 16,629 19,742
Yazoo F 5  Yazoo City 1,018   36,394 43,948

Hydrography. The principal rivers of the State are the Mississippi, flowing the entire length of the western margin, the Tombigbee, Big Black, and Pearl. The Yazoo River is a distributary of the Mississippi, and the whole area of its bottoms is a mesh of interlacing streams, bayous, and oxbow lakes. About one-half the area of the State drains directly into the Mississippi River. The bottom lands of the Mississippi and other rivers are liable to overflow when the rivers are flooded. To guard against this, levees or artificial banks are built to restrain the rivers. Occasional breaks or ‘crevasses’ occur, causing much damage to the plantations, and in times of exceptional high water whole counties may be flooded. The injury, however, is alleviated by the fact that a layer of rich silt is left over all the bottom by the receding flood. The levees are built by the State partly from a fund derived from a special tax on the land, and partly with moneys derived from the sale of swamp lands set aside for the purpose by the General Government. See Levee, and Mississippi River.

Climate. Mississippi lies in the semi-tropical climatic belt and its climate is strongly influenced by reason of its proximity to the Gulf. The average January temperature is 55° F. in the islands off coast, 50° in the southern part of the mainland, and 40° near the northern boundary. The average July temperatures range from 82° to 80°. The average maximum shade temperature is 100°, while occasional anticyclones of winter bring a minimum temperature of 10° F. to the southern portion, and zero weather reaches below the northern quarter of the State. Such cold weather is, however, very transient. The frost-free growing season lasts seven months in the north and ten months in the south. This is of the very greatest importance to many of the crops, especially cotton. The average annual rainfall for the whole State is over 50 inches. The southern quarter has over 60 inches, this distribution being largely due to the prevailing southwestern winds, and to the influence of the Gulf. The heaviest rains occur in late winter or early spring, when the warm Gulf winds meet the cold north winds, but on the whole the precipitation is quite evenly distributed through the year. There is a slight snowfall as far south as Natchez. The atmosphere is humid at all seasons, the average annual relative humidity being not far from 70 per cent. in the northern half of the State and from 70 per cent. to 75 per cent. in the southern half. The average wind velocity for the whole year is seven miles per hour. The prevailing wind for January is north, while it is south for July. The cyclonic belt lies far to the north, and generally does not touch the State.

Flora. The result of the rather large annual rainfall and of the equable distribution through the year is best seen in the luxuriant forests, largely of deciduous trees. Over 120 species of forest trees are known. There are 15 species of oak, including the live oak. Cypress predominates on the bottom and swamp lands. The long-leafed pine is the chief forest tree of the southern half of the State. Tupelo, sycamore, persimmon, magnolia, holly, cucumber tree, sweet gum, black-walnut, and various species of hickory, elm, and maple are also present.

Geology. The Cumberland Ridge just reaches the northeast corner of the State with its outlying undulations, thus bringing a small outcrop of subcarboniferous rocks into its borders. From this corner as a focus, the younger strata dip away gently to the west and south. Cretaceous beds cover a belt radiating about 25 miles west and 75 miles south of the northeast corner. The four prominent members of the Cretaceous outcrop, in series from the oldest up, are the Coffee, Tombigbee, Rotten Limestone, and Ripley. The total thickness of these beds in the State is 2000 feet. At the close of Cretaceous time there was a deep gulf extending north to Cairo, Ill., which was slowly filled by fluvial and off-shore deposits. These beds are the Eocene and Neocene outcrops, covering the greater part of the State and extending from the Cretaceous on the northeast to the Yazoo bottoms and almost to the Gulf on the south.

Mineral Resources. Clay deposits are found widely distributed in Mississippi, and are utilized to some extent for brick. The total value of clay products in 1901 was $456,473. Marl and phosphatic rock are found extensively in many counties, but are used only locally. Hydraulic limestone and coal are found in Tishomingo County and gypsum in Rankin County, but none of these minerals are worked. Potable waters are found everywhere, except on river bottoms; even in the Rotten Limestone region artesian wells supply good water from the underlying Coffee series. Mineral springs are very numerous and are largely chalybeate. In some localities all the springs and wells are highly mineralized. The bluffs of the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers have many springs, the supply flowing through ocherous earths and pyritous clays, whence it is so strongly charged with iron sulphate as to make its use very deleterious. Many mineral springs are used locally in a medicinal way and a few have become well known resorts, as Ocean Springs, in Jackson County, and Iuka Springs in Tishomingo County.

Fisheries. The fisheries of Mississippi, never important, have decreased in recent years. In 1897, the last year for which statistics were compiled, the total value of the catch reported was $192,294, of which $110,964 represented the value of the oyster fisheries. Shrimp fishing is becoming more important. In the year mentioned 2565 men were engaged in the fishing industry.

Agriculture. The predominant industry in the State is agriculture and it is highly favored both by the nature of the climate and the soil. There is a variety of soil, including the brown loam of the central tableland, the rich, black, calcareous soil of the prairie region, the extremely fertile alluvium of the bottom lands, the sandy loam with a clayey or sandy subsoil, south of the central ridge, and the yellow loam of the northeast. They are all, except the last two, unusually rich. The most desirable region is included between the Yazoo and the Mississippi rivers. Very extensive areas are still covered with forests, but it is nearly all susceptible of cultivation. In 1900 there were 18,240,736 acres, or 61.5 per cent. of the total area, included in farms. Of this 41.6 per cent. was improved, the improved area having increased about 1,500,000 acres since 1860, while the unimproved area remains about the same. The change in the system of agriculture incident upon the cessation of slavery has decreased the average size of farms from 369.7 acres in 1860 to 82.6 in 1900. The number of colored farmers in Mississippi (128,679 in 1900), amounting to 58.3 per cent. of the total number in the State (tilling about 32.4 per cent. of the farm acreage), is much greater than in any other State. However, only 14.3 per cent. of these own their farms, as against 62.5 per cent. for the white farmers. The cash rent system is rapidly increasing, the farms rented according to this system already exceeding the number rented on the share system. Nearly two-fifths of the farms of the State are between 20 and 50 acres in area, this size of holding being very common among the negro cotton farmers. In no other State is cotton so dominant as in Mississippi. In 1899 the acreage of cotton was over half of the total crop acreage and contributed 63.6 per cent. of the value of farm crops. The State ranks third in the production of cotton. It was not until the last decade of the nineteenth century, however, that its cultivation regained the importance it held prior to the Civil War. The greatest production was reached in 1897-98, when the output amounted to 1,600,000 bales, and only once in that decade did the production fall below 1,000,000 bales. Aside from cotton the agricultural interest of the State is almost wholly centred in corn. The acreage of this crop in 1899 constituted 95.9 per cent. of the total area devoted to cereals. The acreage increased 33.4 per cent. in the last census decade. The production of oats decreased decidedly during the same period. Wheat had acquired some importance before the war, but its cultivation has almost wholly ceased. There are extensive alluvial areas that could be easily irrigated and devoted to rice culture, but little attention has been given to it. Compared with its sister State across the Mississippi River, remarkably little attention is paid to the growing of sugar cane, and the crop of late years is almost wholly converted into syrup and molasses. Small fruits and orchard fruits are not extensively raised. In the decade 1890-1900, however, the number of trees almost doubled. In the latter year the peach trees numbered 1,856,748, which was 53 per cent. of the total number. The following table shows the acreage of the leading crops for the census years indicated:

1900 1890

Corn 2,276,313  1,706,352 
Oats 87,066  133,361 
Sweet potatoes  38,169 
Hay and forage  99,261  66,159 
Cotton  2,897,920   2,883,278 
Pease 69,490 

Stock-Raising. As in other States where cotton is predominant, stock-raising does not receive much attention. The total number of domestic animals has greatly increased over 1850, and the gain since 1870 is very marked. As compared with the latter year the horses and mules have increased in number about 2½ times, and swine, dairy cows, and other neat cattle have also gained. The decade 1890-1900 is characterized by a marked falling off in the number of sheep, and by an increase in the number of horses and mules. The following table gives the number of domestic animals on farms for the years indicated:

1900 1890

Dairy cows 299,318 310,159
Other neat cattle  574,038 604,619
Horses 229,311 155,050
Mules and asses 216,032 156,755
Sheep 236,470 451,779
Swine  1,290,498     1,163,141   

Manufactures. The manufacturing industry is probably less developed in Mississippi than in any other of the older States of the Union. On the other hand, the rate of the recent increase has been greater than that of most of the other States. Prior to 1837 some prominence had been attained in the manufacture of cotton, leather, liquor, and flour; but the financial panic of that year left these industries in a bad condition. There was a decided revival in the decade following 1850; but because of the Civil War and the depression following it, manufacturing remained almost stationary for twenty years. In the decade 1880-1890 the value of the manufactured product increased 148.8 per cent. and in the decade 1890-1900 increased 116.1 per cent. The value of the product in 1900 was $40,431,000, and 26,4l8 wage-earners, or 1.7 per cent. of the population, were engaged. Having no large transportation centre, and the water power and mineral resources being of little consequence, the State is at a comparative industrial disadvantage. But the products of her cotton fields and forests supply an abundance of raw materials. The recent development is largely in response to the encouragement extended by the State, through a law passed in 1882 exempting machinery of factories from taxation for ten years.

From the table appended the importance of the industries dependent upon cotton may be seen. The largest of these—the manufacture of cottonseed oil and cake—experienced an increase during the decade of 177.6 per cent. The State contained the first mill of this kind erected in the United States. A less absolute but much larger per cent. of increase was made in cotton-ginning. The largest increase in the cotton goods product was in the period 1870-90; the value in 1870 was only $234,400.

Forests and Forest Products. The State's timbered area in 1900 was estimated at 32,300 square miles, or seven-tenths of its area. The southern third and a narrow strip extending northward consists of pine, the Yazoo bottom of cypress, and most of the remaining portion of hard woods. Very little progress had been made in the exploitation of these forests until the last decade of the nineteenth century, in which period the value of lumber and timber products increased 171.3 per cent. (See table below.) In 1900 over three-fourths of the cut consisted of yellow pine, oak being the most important of the hard woods. The Pascagoula River and Hancock County districts, in the southern part of the State, showed most activity. The manufacture of turpentine and rosin was not important prior to the last decade of the nineteenth century, but made large gains during that period, as will be seen from the above table below.

Comparative Summary of Eight Leading Industries

INDUSTRIES  Year  Number of
Value of products,
including custom
 work and repairing 

  Total for selected industries for State
1900 3,205  20,072  $31,372,422 
1890 963  9,584  12,638,534 

Increase 1890 to 1900 ...... 2,242  10,488  $18,733,908 
Per cent. of increase ...... 232.8  109.4  148.2 
Per cent. of total of all industries in State
1900 67.2  76.0  77.6
1890 56.7  66.3  67.6
Oil, cottonseed and cake
1900 41  1,521  $6,681,121 
1890 13  891  2,406,628 
Cotton, ginning*
1900 1,901  2,422  2,214,949 
1890 130  547  130,387 
Cotton goods
1900 1,675  1,472,835 
1890 1,154  1,333,398 
Flouring and grist mill products
1900 225  208  932,816 
1890 408  777  1,249,669 
Lumber and timber products
1900 844  9,676  15,656,110 
1890 366  4,427  5,770,387 
Lumber, planing mill products,
 including sash, doors and blinds
1900 34  748  1,315,775 
1890 92  136,450 
Cars and general shop construction and
 repairs by steam railroad companies
1900 1,534  1,326,401 
1890 1,076  1,329,549 
Turpentine and rosin
1900 145  2,288  1,772,435 
1890 24  620  282,066 

 *Does not include many ginneries operated in connection with saw, grist, and cottonseed oil mills,
or for the use exclusively of plantations on which they are located.

Transportation. The railroad mileage increased from 862 miles in 1860 to 1127 in 1880; to 2470 in 1890, and to 2934 in 1900. Among the important lines are the Illinois Central, the Southern, the Louisville and Nashville, the Mobile and Ohio, the New Orleans and Northeastern, and the Queen and Crescent. There is a board of railroad commissioners which is empowered to revise, fix, regulate, and approve the rates of charges of railroad companies. Having a considerable Gulf coast line and being bordered upon one side by the Mississippi River, the State has the advantages of navigation afforded by these waters. Of the two customs districts, Pearl River and Vicksburg, the former only is important in regard to foreign trade.

Banking. The Bank of Mississippi at Natchez was chartered in 1809. In 1818 it was created a State bank, with a capital of $3,000,000, the State participating in its management, and pledging to it a monopoly of the banking business of the State until 1840. In 1830, however, the Legislature broke the pledge by establishing the Planters' Bank of Mississippi, with a capital of $3,000,000, and making it the financial agent of the State. This forced the first bank into liquidation. For a few years the Planters' Bank had a practical monopoly of the banking, but from 1835 new banks followed in rapid succession. The most daring venture was the organization of the Mississippi Union Bank in 1838, with a capital of $15,500,000, which made it the largest State bank in the United States at that time. These bold undertakings in the very midst of a financial crisis could but lead to one result. There were numerous failures in 1838-45; in 1855 there was but one chartered bank in the State. A revival came in the eighties, when national banks were introduced. Stringent banking laws have given to the State banks the confidence of the people, and their number has increased tenfold since 1888, In 1902 there were 17 national banks with a capital of $1,530,000, surplus $549,000, cash, etc., $561,000, loans $4,957,000, and deposits $5,257,000; 92 State banks with capital of $5,468,800, surplus $971,857, cash, etc., $1,550,929, loans $19,467,101, and deposits $16,297,325. There are no savings banks in the State.

Finance. The early financial history of Mississippi is closely connected with the organization of the banks in the State. A large State debt of $2,000,000 was created in 1830 in order to acquire shares in the Planters' Bank and in 1838 $5,000,000 for shares of the Union Bank of Mississippi. The financial crisis of the thirties brought the banks to insolvency in 1840; this involved the State in an enormous debt. Infringements upon the Constitution in the floating of the debt led to its repudiation by a popular vote in 1852, which was finally disposed of by a clause in the Constitution of 1875. The Civil War again involved the State in serious financial difficulties and also reduced the general economic condition of the State. The ‘carpet bag’ régime which followed aggravated the situation: the expenditures grew from about $500,000 in 1867-69 to more than $1,500,000 in 1871-75, and the tax rate was increased in these years proportionately from 1 mill to 14 mills. An organized protest from the taxpayers in 1874 was the result, and a gradual diminution of the State debt, expenditures, and rate of taxation followed. In September, 1901, the payable debt was $676,799 and the non-payable debt, for the interest on which alone the State is responsible, was $2,210,227, making the total indebtedness $2,887,026. Total receipts for the year ending September 30, 1901, were $2,436,048; total dislmrsements, $2,229,996, leaving a surplus of $206,052, and the cash balance was $828,453. The main source of income was a direct State property tax which yielded almost 85 per cent. of the total income; of the disbursements 30 per cent. were for common school purposes and 15 per cent. for redemption of the State debt.

Population. The following figures show the growth of population: 1800, 8850; 1830, 136,621; 1850, 606,527; 1860, 791,305; 1870, 827,922; 1880, 1,131,597; 1890, 1,289,600; 1900, 1,551,270. The rank of the State was advanced from 20 in 1810 to 14 in 1860, and receded to 20 in 1900. The greatest absolute gain was made in the decade 1870-80. In the last decade the increase was 20.3, or nearly the same as for the United States. The foreign-born population in 1900 numbered only 7981, or less than that in, any other State except the two Carolinas. The colored population in 1900 numbered 907,630, or about 58 per cent. of the total population, which is a larger per cent. than is found in any other State, although Georgia contains a larger absolute number. The per cent. of increase for the decade 1890-1900 was 22.2 for the negroes and 17.7 for the whites. The negroes are most numerous in the western or Mississippi Valley counties, in some of which they are five times as numerous as the whites. The Indians number about 2200; they are of the Choctaw tribe. Only 10 places in the State exceed 4000 in population, and together constitute but 5.3 per cent. of the total number of inhabitants, being the smallest per cent. of urban population found in any State. The largest towns in 1900 were: Vicksburg, 14,834; Meridian, 14,050; and Natchez, 12,210.

Education. In 1846 a law providing for a public school system was passed. Although educational matters have shown signs of improvement of late, they still suffer from causes peculiar to the South, and the present facilities are far from adequate. Like most Southern States, Mississippi has no compulsory attendance law, and there is a complete separation of the races. The census of 1900 gives Mississippi a total school population (five to twenty years of age) of 633,026, including 379,873 colored. The illiterate population amounted to 351,461, or 32 per cent. of the total population of the State ten years of age and over, the native whites numbering 36,038, or 8 per cent. of the total native white population, and the colored 314,617, or 49.1 per cent. of the entire colored population. The total enrollment in 1900 was about 387,500, and the average attendance 258,995—133,098 whites and 125,897 colored, the proportion of school attendance to school population in the case of the whites and the colored being about 53 and 33 per cent. respectively. The length of the school term in 1900 was 105 days, as compared with about 86 days in 1889-90. Out of the 8515 teachers employed in the public schools in 1900, 5147 were white and 3368 colored. The proportion of male teachers fell off from 61.2 per cent. in 1879-80 to 39.4 in 1898-999. The State Board of Education is composed of the Secretary of State, Attorney-General, and the Superintendent of Education. This board and the Senate appoint school superintendents in each county. Before 1886 licenses to teach were granted practically without any examinations. In that year a law was passed providing for uniform State examinations, payment of salaries according to licenses held by the teachers, and for the establishment of teachers' institutes. The maintenance of the public school system in 1900 cost the State $1,472,432, or 95 cents per capita of population. The State taxes which formerly yielded the bulk of the revenue for school purposes have been decreased and now amount only to about one-half of the total revenue, the rent being derived chiefly from local taxes. In 1899-1900 there were 4052 secondary students (including 394 colored) attending the public high schools; in the same year 1977 students (including 166 colored) were in private high schools. The chief higher educational institutions of the State besides the State University, near Oxford, and the Agricultural and Mechanical College at Agricultural College, are the Mississippi College (Baptist) at Clinton, Millsaps College (Methodist) at Jackson, Whitworth Female College at Brookhaven, and Woman's College at Oxford. The principal higher educational institutions for the colored youth are Tougaloo University at Tougaloo, near Jackson, Rust University at Holly Springs, the States Normal School at Holly Springs, and Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College at Westside.

Charitable and Penal Institutions. The State institution for the deaf and dumb (white and colored) is located at Jackson; and the school for the blind (white) is also at that place. There are two State hospitals for the insane, one at Jackson and the other at Meridian. The State aids in the support of hospitals at Vicksburg and Natchez. The penitentiary is located at Jackson. Most of the prisoners are employed in farm labor, or in the production of articles of necessity in the prison administration. Some of the prison farms are owned by the State, others are rented. The farm labor system is considered very satisfactory and does not incur any financial loss. Prisoners committed to the county jails are also put to labor upon farms.

Religion. Over half of the Church population of the State belong to the Baptist Church, and the majority of the remainder to the Methodist. Of the lesser denominations the more important are the Presbyterian, Catholic, Christian, and Protestant Episcopal.

Government. The present Constitution was adopted in 1890. If two-thirds of the members of each House vote each day for three several days in favor of a proposed amendment, the same will be submitted to the people of the State, and it becomes a part of the Constitution if approved by a majority of the qualified electors voting. Voters must have resided in the State two years, in the election district one year (six months for ministers of the Gospel), and have paid taxes legally required. Registration is necessary, and the would-be voter, in order to register, must be “able to read any section of the Constitution of the State; or he must be able to understand the same when read to him, or give a reasonable interpretation thereof.”

Legislative. Representatives and Senators are elected for terms of four years. The regular session of the Legislature meets on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of January, every fourth year after 1892; special sessions of the Legislature are held on the corresponding day every fourth year, beginning with 1894, unless sooner convoked by the Governor. Special sessions cannot continue longer than thirty days unless the Governor extends them by proclamation. Compensation is prescribed by law, but at the special session not more than $5 per day and mileage can be allowed. Revenue bills and bills providing for the assessment of property for taxation shall not become laws except by a vote of at least three-fifths of the members of each House present and voting. Vetoed bills or parts of appropriation bills may be carried over the Governor's head by a two-thirds vote. General elections of State and county officers are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Mississippi sends eight members to the United States House of Representatives. The capital is Jackson.

Executive. The Governor and Lieutenant-Governor are elected for four years, and the former cannot be his own successor. The president of the Senate pro tem, and the Speaker of the House are in the line of succession to the Governorship in case of vacancy in that office. The Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Auditor are elected for terms of four years, and the two last named cannot immediately succeed themselves or each other.

Judiciary. The Supreme Court consists of three judges who are appointed by the Governor and the Senate for terms of nine years. Judges of the Circuit Courts and Chancery are similarly appointed for terms of four years. A clerk of the Supreme Court and an Attorney-General are elected for terms of four years. A district attorney for each Circuit Court district is selected as determined by law for a term of four years.

Local Government. In each county an assessor, surveyor, coroner, sheriff, and treasurer are elected for four years, the two latter not being eligible to succeed themselves or each other. Each county is divided into five districts, in each of which a resident freeholder is selected as a member of the board of supervision of the county. This board has jurisdiction over roads, ferries, and bridges. Justices of the peace and constables are elected in each district for terms of four years.

Militia. According to the census of 1900 the population of militia age in the State amounted to 289,599. The aggregate strength of the militia in 1901 was 1373 men.

History. In 1539 Hernando de Soto, with a band of Spanish adventurers, crossed the northeastern part of what is now the State, and in the early part of 1541 reached the Mississippi River, near the present site of Memphis, Tenn. In 1673 the French explorers Joliet and Marquette, passing down the Mississippi, sailed as far as the mouth of the Arkansas. In 1681-82 La Salle sailed down the river to its mouth, and, taking formal possession for the King of France, Louis XIV., named the country Louisiana after him. The first attempt to found a colony was made in 1699 by Iberville, who brought 200 immigrants from France to Biloxi. on the eastern shore of the Bay of Biloxi. This was the germ of the subsequent settlement of New Orleans (1718). In 1716 Iberville and Bienville, with a large body of immigrants and a military force, ascended the Mississippi to the present site of Natchez, where they founded a settlement named Rosalie, in honor of the Countess of Pontchartrain. Attempts to plant colonies were soon after made at Saint Peter's (on the Yazoo), at Pascagoula, and elsewhere. The small colonies in Mississippi, however, grew but slowly. New Orleans attracting many of the settlers. Under Bienville, who was Governor of Louisiana from 1718 to 1724, friendly relations with the Indians were preserved; but under his successor, Perriez, the hostility of the Natchez Indians was awakened. In 1729 a sudden assault was made on the line of French posts. At Fort Rosalie 200 persons were killed and more than 500 were taken prisoners. In the smaller settlements many of the inhabitants were butchered. Retribution followed swiftly. Aided by the Choctaw tribes, the French succeeded in defeating the Natchez, the greater part of whom fell in battle, while most of the survivors were sold as slaves. When Bienville became Governor again in 1733 he found the colony at war with the Chickasaws, allies of the English, and the conflict continued for several years. There was a peace, followed in 1752 by another Indian war, instigated, it was said, by English adventurers. The French commander sought to retaliate, but without much success. Under French rule the country failed to prosper, and the number of inhabitants at the end of the period was less than one thousand. In 1763 France ceded its possessions east of the Mississippi to Great Britain, which received also Florida from Spain. Immigrants flocked thither in considerable numbers from the English colonies on the Atlantic Coast as well as from Scotland.

That part of the territory south of a line drawn through the mouth of the Yazoo River eastward to the Chattahoochee had been erected into the Province of West Florida soon after the establishment of English rule in 1763. In 1781 West Florida was conquered by Spain, and passed under Spanish rule. By the Peace of Paris, in 1783, the thirty-first parallel of latitude was recognized as the southern boundary of the United States, and Spain was therefore considered as an intruder in that part of Mississippi to the north of the line. By the treaty of 1795 between the United States and Spain, Spain ceded her claims to the disputed territory, but continued to occupy it until 1798. In 1798 the Territory of Mississippi was extended to Tennessee, and in 1813 the district south of 31° and east of the Pearl River, taken from Spain, was annexed. At first a Governor and three judges appointed by the President were the chief authorities for the government of the Territory, but in 1800 provision was made for a legislature, the Lower House consisting of nine members representing the three counties into which the Territory was then divided. In 1802 Washington became the capital of the Territory. In the Creek War Mississippi took a conspicuous part, several hundred inhabitants of the Territory being massacred at Fort Mims (q.v.). In the War of 1812 the Territory was well represented at the battle of New Orleans. In March, 1817, Congress passed an enabling act for the admission of Mississippi to the Union, and the State was formally admitted December 10, 1817. The most notable features of the first Constitution of Mississippi were the high property qualifications for holding office, the short tenures of offices, and the large appointing power of the Governor and Legislature. The first Governor was David Holmes, and during his administration the capital was permanently located at Jackson, near the headwaters of the Pearl River.

By the treaties of 1830 and 1832, with the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians, who inhabited all the northern part of the State, the lands occupied by those tribes were incorporated into the State, subjected to its jurisdiction, and thrown open to settlement by the whites. In 1832 a new Constitution was adopted for the State. Its most notable features were the abolition of property qualifications for office-holding, the requirement that all officers, both State and county, including the judges, should be chosen by the people. It also created a High Court of Errors and Appeals and abolished the office of Lieutenant-Governor. During the ‘flush times’ of this period Mississippi, like many other Southern and Western States, fell a victim to financial extravagance and speculation, one of the results of which was the repudiation by the State of five million dollars in bonds which it had issued for the purpose of acquiring stock in the Union Bank. The Supreme Court of the State decided in favor of the liability of the State for the payment of the bonds, but the people, in an election in which this was the main issue, decided otherwise, and the Legislature refused to make any appropriation for the purpose. A little later two million dollars of the Planters' Bank bonds were repudiated under similar circumstances. Upon the outbreak of the Mexican War Mississippi was called upon to furnish one regiment of volunteers, but more than enough men for two regiments responded. The first regiment was commanded by Col. Jefferson Davis, who won great distinction at the battle of Buena Vista. In 1851 occurred the first important struggle in Mississippi over the slavery question, which had become serious on account of the enactment by Congress of the so-called Compromise Measures of 1850. The Democratic Party in Mississippi adopted a platform favoring secession and nominated Jefferson Davis for Governor, while the Whigs declared their attachment to the Union and nominated United States Senator Foote as their standard-bearer. The Union Party won a substantial victory and the slavery question rested until 1856, when the question of secession was again agitated on account of the fear that Frémont would be elected President. The news of Jonn Brown's raid in 1859 led the legislature to appropriate $150,000 for the purchase of military supplies and for the organization of the militia. It was left, however, for the election of Lincoln to bring the secession movement to a head. An ordinance of secession was passed on January 9, 1861, by a convention, by a vote of 84 to 15, and the State Constitution was amended to bring it into conformity with the Constitution of the Confederate States. During the Civil War the people of Mississippi suffered greatly, and in 1863 and 1864 especially, a large part of the State was devastated by the contending armies. Almost all semblance of government had disappeared. (For the military operations in Mississippi, see Civil War; Iuka; Corinth; Vicksburg.) In June, 1865, Governor Clarke was removed and a provisional Governor was appointed by President Johnson. On July 21st, slavery was abolished by a State convention, and on the following day the ordinance of secession was repealed. In December the State Government was given over into the hands of the duly elected officers, who proceeded to reorganize the State militia for the public defense, a course in which they were upheld by the President. Limited civil rights were conferred on the freedman, but the Fourteenth Amendment was rejected in January, 1867, and in March the State came under military government.

In January, 1868, a convention framed a new Constitution, conferring the suffrage on negroes. The conservative element vehemently opposed the Constitution because of the severe penalties it imposed on members of the Government and armies of the Confederacy, and brought about its rejection at a popular election. Resubmitted in November, 1869, with the test oath and disfranchisement clauses to be voted on separately, the Constitution was adopted almost unanimously, while the independent clauses were as unanimously rejected. In January, 1870, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were ratified, and on February 17, 1870, the State was readmitted into the Union. The period before 1875 was marked by a spirit of bitter hatred between the old Democrats and the newly enfranchised negroes, together with their leaders, the white Republicans. The feeling of animosity was intensified by the unhappy financial condition of the State, and by the dishonesty and incapacity of its officers, very many of whom were ignorant negroes, the tools of scheming politicians. Bloody collisions between whites and negroes were frequent in 1874 and 1875, in one of which, at Vicksburg, 29 negroes and several whites were killed. The desperate attempts of the ‘conservatives’ to restore the supremacy of the white population proved finally successful in 1875, when the Democratic Party captured the Legislature. The Republican Governor and Lieutenant-Governor and the Superintendent of Education were driven from office by impeachment or threats of impeachment, and since then the Democratic Party has retained an overwhelming predominance. The twenty years after 1865 were a period of economic depression, the result of the havoc wrought by the war and of the difficulties encountered in readjusting production to the new conditions of labor, but later the rise of manufactures marked the beginning of a bright era. The racial problem assumed a momentous aspect in 1844, when a vast migration of colored men into the swamp lands of Mississippi seemed to threaten the rise of a negro State within the State of Mississippi. The policy of fortifying the white race in power was continued. By the Constitution of 1890 the suffrage was restricted to those able to read a section of the Constitution, or to interpret any passage, if read aloud, a provision aimed against the negro voter, and sufficiently successful in attaining its aim. In national elections Mississippi has been a Democratic State with the exception of the year 1840, when it voted for the Whig candidate, and of 1872, when its vote was given to Grant. In 1864 and 1868 its vote was not counted. The Governors of Mississippi have been the following:

Winthrop Sargent 1798-1801
John Steele, act. gov. 1801
William C. C. Clairborne 1801-03
Cate West, act. gov. and governor ad int. 1804
Robert Williams 1805-09
David Holmes 1809-17
David Holmes Democrat-Republican 1817-20
George Poindexter Democrat 1820-22
Walter Leake 1822-25
Gerard C. Brandon (ad int.) 1825
David Holmes (ad int.) 1826
Gerard C. Brandon 1827
Gerard C. Brandon 1828-32
Abram M. Scott 1832-33
Charles Lynch (ad int.) 1833
Hiram G. Runnels 1833-35
John A. Quitman Whig 1835
Charles Lynch Democrat 1836-38
Alexander G. McNutt 1838-42
Tilghman M. Tucker 1842-44
Albert G. Brown 1844-48
Joseph W. Matthews 1848-50
John A. Quitman 1850-51
John J. Guion (ad int.) 1851
James Whitfield (ad int.) 1851
Henry S. Foote Union Democrat 1852-54
John J. McRae Democrat 1854-58
William McWillie 1858-60
John J. Pettus 1860-64
Charles Clarke 1864-65
W. L. Sharkey (provisional) 1865
Benjamin G. Humphreys Democrat 1865-68
Adelbert Ames (provisional) 1868-70
James L. Alcorn Republican 1870-71
Ridgley C. Powers (acting) 1871-74
Adelbert Ames 1874-76
John M. Stone Democrat 1876-82
Robert Lowry 1882-90
John M. Stone 1890-96
Anselm J. McLaurin 1896-1900
A. H. Longino 1900 —

Bibliography. Wailes, Report on the Agriculture and Geology of Mississippi (Jackson, 1854); Hilgard, Report on the Geology and Agriculture of Mississippi (Jackson, 1860); Chapman, Flora of the Southern United States (New York, 1860); Wall, The State of Mississippi: Resources, Conditions, and Wants (Jackson, 1879); Hurt, Mississippi: Its Climate, Soil, Productions, and Agricultural Capabilities (Washington, 1883); Davis, Recollections of Mississippi and Mississippians (Boston, 1889); Goodspeed, Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi (Chicago, 1891); Winsor, The Mississippi Basin (Boston, 1895); Muckenfuss, History of Scientific Industries in Mississippi (Jackson, 1900); Garner, Reconstruction in Mississippi (New York, 1901); Flint, History and Geography of the Mississippi Valley (Cincinnati, 1832); Monette, History of the Discovery and Settlement of the Valley of the Mississippi (New York, 1848); French, Historical Collections of Louisiana (New York, 1851); Gayarré, History of Louisiana (New York, 1854); Claiborne, Mississippi as a Province, Territory, and State (Jackson, 1880); Rozier, History of the Early Settlements of the Mississippi Valley (Saint Louis, 1890); Riley, School History of Mississippi (Richmond, 1900); Montgomery, Reminiscences of Mississippi (Cincinnati, 1901); Mayes, Educational History of Mississippi (Jackson, 1891); Lowry and McCardle, History of Mississippi (Jackson, 1891); Duval, History of Mississippi (Louisville, Ky., 1892); Tracy, Mississippi as It Is (Jackson, 1895); Owen, “Bibliography of Mississippi,” in American Historical Association Report for 1899 (Washington, 1900); Publications of Mississippi Historical Society, 6 vols. (Oxford, 1900-03).