History of Mississippi
The state of Mississippi's history goes back beyond American statehood to ancient Native American times.
- 1 Native Americans
- 2 European colonial period
- 3 Territory and statehood
- 4 Antebellum period
- 5 Civil War
- 6 Reconstruction
- 7 Gilded age: 1877-1900
- 8 Progressive Era
- 9 1920s and 1930s
- 10 World War II
- 11 1945-2000
- 12 Since 2000
- 13 Literature
- 14 See also
- 15 Bibliography
- 16 External links
- 17 References
At the end of the last Ice Age Native American or Paleo-Indians appeared in what today is the South. Paleo Indians in the South were hunter-gatherers who pursued the mega fauna that became extinct following the end of the Pleistocene age. A variety of indignenous cultures arose in the region, including some that built great earthwork mounds more than 2,000 years ago. About 950 CE the Mississippian culture developed along the Mississippi and its tributaries. These people also built mounds and complex settlements that were densely inhabited.
Although the Mississippian culture disappeared in many places before European encounter, archeological and linguistic evidence has shown their descendants are the Chickasaw and Choctaw. Other tribes who inhabited the territory of Mississippi (and whose names were given to local towns and features) include the Natchez, the Yazoo, the Pascagoula, and the Biloxi.
European colonial period
The first major European expedition into the territory that became Mississippi was that of Hernando de Soto who passed through in 1540. The French claimed the territory that included Mississippi as part of their colony of New France and started settlement. They created the first Fort Maurepas under Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville on the site of modern Ocean Springs (or Old Biloxi) in 1699.
In 1716, the French founded Natchez as Fort Rosalie; it became the dominant town and trading post of the area. In the early 18th century, the Roman Catholic Church created pioneer parishes at Old Biloxi/Ocean Springs and Natchez. The church also established seven pioneer parishes in Louisiana and two in Alabama, which was also part of New France.
The French and later Spanish colonial rule influenced early social relations of the settlers who held enslaved Africans. As in Louisiana, for a period there grew a third class of free people of color, whose origin was chiefly as descendants of white planters and enslaved African or African-American mothers. The planters often had formally supportive relationships with their mistresses of color and arranged for freedom for them and their multiracial children. The fathers sometimes passed on property or arranged for the apprenticeship or education of children so they could learn a trade. Free people of color often migrated to New Orleans, where there was more opportunity for work and a bigger community.
Like Louisiana as part of New France, Mississippi was alternately ruled by Spanish, and British. In 1783 the Mississippi area was deeded by Great Britain to the United States after the American Revolution under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.
Territory and statehood
Before 1798 the state of Georgia claimed the entire region between the Mississippi and Chattahoochee rivers and tried to sell lands there, most notoriously in the Yazoo land scandal of 1795. Georgia finally ceded the disputed area in 1802 to the national government; in 1804 the northern part of the cession was added to Mississippi Territory.
The Mississippi Territory was sparsely populated and suffered initially from a series of difficulties that hampered its development. Pinckney's Treaty of 1795 ended Spanish control over Mississippi, but Spain continued to hamper the territory's growth by harassing commercial traders. Winthrop Sargent, governor in 1798, proved unable to impose a code of laws. Not until the emergence of cotton as a profitable staple crop after the invention of the cotton gin, and the development of plantations with slave labor, did the riverfront areas of Mississippi begin to flourish.
There were continuing land disputes with the Spanish. In 1810 the settlers in parts of West Florida rebelled and declared their freedom from Spain. President James Madison declared that the region between the Mississippi and Perdido rivers, which included most of West Florida, had already become part of the United States under the terms of the Louisiana Purchase. The section of West Florida between the Pearl and Perdido rivers, known as the District of Mobile, was annexed to Mississippi Territory in 1812; Americans occupied Kiln, Mississippi in 1813.
The attraction of vast amounts of high-quality, inexpensive cotton land attracted hordes of settlers, mostly from Georgia and the Carolinas, and from former tobacco areas of Virginia and North Carolina. By this time, many planters had switched to mixed crops, as tobacco was barely profitable. From 1798 through 1820, the population in the territory rose dramatically, from less than 9,000 to more than 222,000, with the vast majority enslaved African Americans. Migration came in two fairly distinct waves - a steady movement until the outbreak of the War of 1812, and a flood after it was ended, from 1815 through 1819. The postwar flood was caused by various factors including high prices for cotton, the elimination of Indian titles to much land, new and improved roads, and the acquisition of new direct outlets to the Gulf of Mexico. The first migrants were traders and trappers, then herdsmen, and finally farmers. The Southwest frontier produced a relatively democratic society.
Expansion of cultivation of cotton into the Deep South was made possible by the invention of the cotton gin that made short-staple cotton profitable. Americans pressed to gain more land for cotton and caused conflicts with the several tribes of Native Americans who historically occupied this territory. Americans forced the Civilized Tribes to cede their lands, and various leaders developed proposals for Indian Removal to west of the Mississippi River, which took place following passage of an act by Congress. As Indians ceded their lands to whites, they moved west and became more isolated from the American planter society, where many African Americans were enslaved. The state sold off the ceded lands, and white migration into the state continued. Some families brought slaves with them; most slaves were transported into the area from the Upper South in a forced migration through the domestic slave trade.
In 1817 elected delegates wrote a constitution and applied to Congress for statehood. On Dec. 10, 1817, the western portion of Mississippi Territory became the State of Mississippi, the 20th state of the Union. Natchez, long established as a river port, was the first state capital. In 1822 the capital was moved to a more central location at Jackson.
French colonists had established the Catholic Church in their colonial settlements along the coast. As Americans entered the territory, they mostly brought a Protestant tradition. Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians made up the three leading denominations in the territory, and new churches and chapels were soon built. Adherents to other religions were a distinct minority. Some Protestant ministers won converts and often promoted education, although there was no state public school system until it was authorized by the Reconstruction era biracial legislature. Whereas in the Great Awakening, Protestant ministers of these groups had promoted abolition of slavery, by the early 19th century, most had retreated to support for slavery and arguing for an improved paternalistic attitude by white slaveholders. This sometimes led to improved treatment for the enslaved.
William C. C. Claiborne (1775–1817), a lawyer and former Republican Congressman from Tennessee (1797–1801), was appointed by President Thomas Jefferson as governor and superintendent of Indian affairs in the Mississippi Territory from 1801 through 1803. Although he favored acquiring some land from the Choctaw and Chickasaw, Claiborne was generally sympathetic and conciliatory toward Indians. He worked long and patiently to iron out differences that arose, and to improve the material well-being of the Indians. He was partly successful in promoting the establishment of law and order; his offer of a $2000 reward helped destroy a gang of outlaws headed by Samuel Mason (1750–1803). His position on issues indicated a national rather than regional outlook, though he did ignore his constituents. Claiborne expressed the philosophy of the Republican Party and helped that party defeat the Federalists. When a smallpox epidemic broke out in the spring of 1802, Claiborne directed he first recorded mass vaccination in the territory. This prevented the spread of the epidemic in Natchez.
Native American lands
The United States government purchased land from the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes from 1801 to about 1830, after which it forced Indian Removal to west of the Mississippi River. After 1800 the rapid development of a cotton economy and slave society in the Deep South changed the economic relationship of native Indians with whites and slaves in Mississippi Territory. As Indians ceded their lands to whites, they became more isolated from whites and blacks. The following table illustrates ceded land in acres:
|Treaty||Year||Signed with||Where||Purpose||Ceded land|
|San Lorenzo||1795||Between Spain and United States||San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain||The treaty, also known as Pinckney's Treaty, put Choctaw & Chickasaw country under U.S. control||n/a|
|Fort Adams||1801||Choctaw||Mississippi Territory||Redefined Choctaw cession to England and permission for whites to use the Natchez Trace||2,641,920 acres (10,691.5 km2)|
|Fort Confederation||1802||Choctaw||Mississippi Territory||n/a||10,000 acres (40 km2)|
|Hoe Buckintoopa||1803||Choctaw||Choctaw Nation||Small cession of Tombigbee River and redefined English treaty of 1765||853,760 acres (3,455.0 km2)|
|Mount Dexter||1805||Choctaw||Choctaw Nation||Large cession from Natchez District to the Tombigbee Alabama River watershed||4,142,720 acres (16,765.0 km2)|
|Fort St. Stephens||1816||Choctaw||Fort Confederation||Ceded all Choctaw land east of Tombigbee River||10,000 acres (40 km2)|
|Doak's Stand||1820||Choctaw||Natchez Trace, Choctaw Nation||Exchanged cession in Mississippi for parcel in Arkansas||5,169,788 acres (20,921.39 km2)|
|Washington City||1825||Choctaw||Exchanged Arkansas land for Oklahoma parcel||2,000,000 acres (8,100 km2)|
|Dancing Rabbit Creek||1830||Choctaw||Choctaw Nation||Removal and granting U.S. citizenship to Choctaws||10,523,130 acres (42,585.6 km2)|
|Pontotoc||1832||Chickasaw||Pontitock Creek||Seek a home in the west||6,283,804 acres (25,429.65 km2)|
The exit of most the Native Americans meant that vast new lands were open to settlement, and tens of thousands of immigrant Americans poured in. Men with money brought slaves and purchased the best cotton lands in the Delta region along the Mississippi River. Poor men took up poor lands in the rest of the state.
By the 1830s Mississippi was a leading cotton producer, increasing its demand for enslaved labor. Some planters considered slavery a "necessary evil" to make cotton production profitable. for the survival of the cotton economy, and were brought in from the border states and the tobacco states where slavery was declining. The 1832 state constitution forbade any further importation of slaves by the domestic slave trade, but the provision was found to be unenforceable, and it was repealed.
As planters increased their holdings of land and slaves, the price of land rose, and small farmers were driven into less fertile areas. An elite slave-owning class arose that wielded disproportionate political and economic power. By 1860, of the 354,000 whites, only 31,000 owned slaves and two thirds of these held fewer than 10. Fewer than 5,000 slaveholders had more than 20 slaves; 317 possessed more than 100. These 5000 planters controlled the state. In addition a middle element of farmers owned land but no slaves. A small number of businessmen and professionals lived in the villages and small towns. The lower class, or "poor whites," occupied marginal farm lands remote from the rich cotton lands and grew food for their families, not cotton. Whether they owned slaves or not, however, most white Mississippians supported the slave society; all whites were considered above blacks in social status. They were both defensive and emotional on the subject of slavery. A slave insurrection scare in 1836 resulted in the hanging of a number of slaves and several white northerners suspected of being secret abolitionists.
When cotton was king during the 1850s, Mississippi plantation owners—especially those in the old Natchez District, as well as the newly emerging Delta and Black Belt regions—became increasingly wealthy due to the great fertility of the soil and the high price of cotton on the international market. The severe wealth imbalances and the necessity of large-scale slave populations to sustain such income played a strong role in state politics and political support for secession. Mississippi was among the six states in the Deep South with the highest proportion of slave population; Mississippi was the second state to secede from the union.
Mississippi's population grew rapidly, reaching 791,000 in 1860. Cotton production grew from 43,000 bales in 1820 to more than one million bales in 1860, as Mississippi became the leading cotton-producing state. The textile factories of Britain, France and New England demanded more and more cotton, and at the time, the Deep South was the major supplier. In Mississippi some modernizers spoke of crop diversification, and production of vegetables and livestock increased, but King Cotton prevailed. Cotton's ascendancy was seemingly justified in 1859, when Mississippi planters were scarcely touched by the financial panic in the North. They were concerned by inflation of the price of slaves but were in no real distress. Mississippi's per capita wealth was well above the U.S. average. Planters made very large profits, but they invested it on buying more cotton lands and more slaves, which pushed up prices even higher. The threat of abolition troubled them, but they reassured themselves that if need be the cotton states could secede from the Union, form their own country, and expand to the south in Mexico and Cuba. Until late 1860 they never expected a war.
The relatively low population of the state before the Civil War reflected the fact that much of the state was still frontier and needed many more settlers for development. Except for riverside settlements and plantations, 90% of the Mississippi Delta bottom lands were still undeveloped and covered mostly in mixed forest and swampland. These areas were not developed until after the war, and for a time, most of the owners were freedmen, who bought the land by clearing it and selling off timber.
At the time of the Civil War, the great majority of blacks were slaves living on plantations with 20 or more fellow slaves. Many had been transported to the Deep South in a forcible migration through the domestic slave trade from the Upper South.
The division of labor included an elite of house slaves, a middle group of overseers, drivers (gang leaders) and skilled craftsmen, and a "lower class" of unskilled field workers whose main job was hoeing and picking cotton. The owners hired white overseers to direct the work. Some slaves resisted by work slowdowns and by breaking tools and equipment. There were no slave revolts of any size, although whites often circulated fearful rumors that one was about to happen. Most of those who tried to escape were captured and returned, though a handful made it to northern states and eventual freedom. Most slaves endured the harsh routine of plantation life, though some with special skills attained a quasi-free status.
By 1820, 458 former slaves had been freed, but they were forbidden to have weapons and had to carry identification. In 1822 planters decided it was too awkward to have free blacks living near slaves and passed a state law forbidding emancipation except by special act of the legislature. By 1860 only 1,000 of the 437,000 blacks in the state were free. Most of these lived in wretched conditions near Natchez.
Mississippi was a stronghold of Jacksonian Democracy, which glorified the independent farmer; they even named their state capital in Jackson's honor. But dishonor was also rampant. Corruption and land speculation caused a severe blow to state credit in the years preceding the Civil War. Federally allocated funds were misused, tax collections embezzled, and finally, in 1853, two state-supported banks collapsed when their debts were repudiated. In the Second Party System (1820s to 1850s) Mississippi moved politically from a divided Whig and Democratic state to a one-party Democratic state bent on secession. Criticism from Northern abolitionists escalated after the Mexican War ended in 1848, causing an intense countercrusade that tried to identify and eliminate all dangerous abolitionist influences. White Mississippians became outspoken defenders of the slave system. An abortive secession attempt in 1850 was followed by a decade of political agitation during which the protection and expansion of slavery became their major goal. When Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860 with the goal seeking an eventual end of slavery, Mississippi followed South Carolina and seceded from the Union on January 9, 1861. Mississippi's U.S. senator Jefferson Davis became president of the Confederate States.
See the main article Mississippi in the Civil War.
More than 80,000 Mississippians fought in the Civil War, and casualties were extremely heavy. Thousands of ex-slaves were enlisted in the Union Army. Fear that white supremacy might be lost, among a plethora of other reasons, motivated men to join the Confederate Army. The amount of personal property owned, including slaves, increased the likelihood that a man would volunteer. However, men in Mississippi's river counties, regardless of their wealth or other characteristics, were less likely to join the army than were those living in the state's interior. The river made its neighbors especially vulnerable, and river-county residents apparently left their communities (and often the Confederacy) rather than face invasion. The major military operations came in the Shiloh and Corinth campaigns and the siege of Vicksburg, from the spring of 1862 to the summer of 1863. The most important was the Vicksburg Campaign, fought for control of the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. The fall of the city to General Ulysses S. Grant on July 4, 1863, gave the Union control of the Mississippi River, cut off the western states, and made the Confederate cause in the west hopeless.
At the Battle of Grand Gulf Admiral Porter led seven Union ironclads in an attack on the fortifications and batteries at Grand Gulf, Mississippi, with the intention of silencing the Confederate guns and then securing the area with troops of McClernand's XIII Corps who were on the accompanying transports and barges. The Confederates managed to win a hollow victory; the loss at Grand Gulf caused just a slight change in Grant's offensive. Grant won the Battle of Port Gibson. Advancing towards Port Gibson, Grant's army ran into Confederate outposts after midnight. Union forces advanced on the Rodney Road and a plantation road at dawn, and was met by Confederates. Grant forced the Confederates to fall back to new defensive positions several times during the day but they could not stop the Union onslaught and left the field in the early evening. This defeat demonstrated that the Confederates were unable to defend the Mississippi River line and the Federals had secured their beachhead. William Tecumseh Sherman's march from Vicksburg to Meridian was designed to destroy the railroad center of Meridian. The campaign was Sherman's first application of total war tactics, prefiguring his March to the Sea in Georgia in 1864. The Confederates had no better luck at the Battle of Raymond. On May 10, 1863, Pemberton sent troops from Jackson to Raymond, 20 miles (32 km) to the southwest. Brig. Gen. over-strength brigade, having endured a grueling march from Port Hudson, Louisiana, arrived in Raymond late on May 11 and the next day tried to ambush a small Union raiding party. The raiding party turned out to be Maj. Gen. John A. Logan's Division of the XVII Corps. Gregg tried to hold Fourteen Mile Creek and a sharp battle ensued for six hours, but the overwhelming Union force prevailed and the Confederates retreated, exposing the Southern Railroad of Mississippi to Union forces, thus severing the lifeline of Vicksburg.
In April–May 1863 a major cavalry raid by Union colonel Benjamin H. Grierson raced through Mississippi and Louisiana, that destroying railroads, telegraph lines, and Confederate weapons and supplies. The raid also served as a diversion for Grant's moves toward Vicksburg.
A Union expedition commanded by General Samuel D. Sturgis was opposed by Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest. They clashed at the Battle of Brice's Crossroads on 10 June 1864, as Forrest routed the Yankees in his greatest battlefield victory.
After each battle there was increased economic chaos and societal breakdown. State government during the course of the war was forced to move from Jackson to Enterprise, to Meridian and back to Jackson, to Meridian again and then to Columbus, Macon, and finally back to what was left of Jackson. The two wartime governors were fire-eater John J. Pettus, who carried the state into secession, whipped up the war spirit, began military and domestic mobilization, and prepared to finance the war. His successor, General Charles Clark, elected in 1863, although facing a deteriorating military and economic situation, remained committed to continuing the fight regardless of the cost. The war presented both men with enormous challenges in providing an orderly, stable government for Mississippi.
There were no slave insurrections, as plantations turned to food production. The Union presence made it possible for planters to sell their cotton to Union Treasury agents for high prices, a sort of treason the Confederates were unable to stop.
Most whites supported the Confederacy, but there were holdouts. The two most vehemently anti-Confederate areas in were Jones County in the southeastern corner of the state, where the "Knight Company" originated, and Tishomingo in the northeastern corner. Among the most influential Mississippi Unionists was Presbyterian minister John Aughey, whose sermons and book The Iron Furnace or Slavery and Secession (1863) became hallmarks of the anti-secessionist cause in the state.
The war shattered the lives of all classes, high and low. Upper class ladies replaced balls and parties with bandage-rolling sessions and fund-raising efforts. But soon enough they found their world shattering as they lost brothers, sons and husbands to battlefield deaths and disease, lost their incomes and luxuries and instead had to deal with chronic shortages and poor ersatz substitutes for common items. They took on unexpected responsibilities, including the chores always left to slaves; they coped by focusing on survival. They maintained their family honor by upholding Confederate patriotism to the bitter end, and after the war became the champions of the "Los Cause." Less privileged white women were less wedded to honor and patriotism and in even more trouble as they immediately were forced to do double and triple work with the men gone; many became refugees in camps or fled to Union lines.
Black women and children had an especially hard time as the plantation regime collapsed and the only option was to find a refugee camp operated by the Union Army. Tens of thousands of freedmen died from cholera, yellow fever, diphtheria, dysentery, pneumonia, phthisis, convulsions, and other fevers. Death rates were especially high in informal refugee camps, and somewhat lower in the better-organized camps funt by the Freedmen's Bureau of the U.S. Army
After the defeat of the Confederacy, new 17th President, President Andrew Johnson, (1808-1875), (a former U.S. Senator from the Democratic Party for Tennessee and the previous war-time military governor of Union Army-occupied Tennessee), appointed a temporary state government under provisional governor, Judge William Lewis Sharkey, (1798-1873). It repealed the 1861 Ordinance of Secession and wrote new "Black Codes" defining and limiting the civil rights of the former slaves now African American "freedmen" as a sort of third-class status without citizenship or voting rights. Johnson was following the previously expressed policies of his predecessor, 16th President Abraham Lincoln, who had planned a generous and tolerating Reconstruction policy towards the former Confederates and southerners, but allowing former Black soldiers to be citizens and vote and slowly integrating them into the political and economic life in the nation and hopefully the "new South". The Black Codes never took effect, however, since the legal affairs of the freedmen came under the control of the sympathetic Freedmen's Bureau representatives, a new agency created to help, educate and assist the former slaves, in the U.S. War Department by Radical Republican representatives in the Congress, with the support of President Lincoln. Most of them were former Union Army officers from the North. Many stayed in the state and became political and business leaders (scornfully known as "carpetbaggers"). The Black Dodes outraged northern opinion and apparently were never put into effect in any state. The Black Codes established by the provisional Mississippi legislature in 1866 demonstrate how white Mississippians, following the Civil War, remained committed to circumscribing the legal, civil, political, and social rights of the freed people or ex-slaves.
Congress, now under the control of more Radical Republicans from the North, responded in September 1865 by refusing to seat the newly elected delegation and support the President's policies on Reconstructing the former rebellious southern states, such as Lincoln's policy of the fact that they never legally seceded and therefore were never "out of the Union". In 1867, however the increasingly dominating Congress, put Mississippi's state governing under the U.S. Army's military rule as part of their more substantial and hostile Reconstruction policies until the legal status of ex-Confederates and freedmen could be worked out. The military Governor-General, and Union Army Gen. Edward O.C. Ord, (1818-1883), (commander of the Mississippi/Arkansas District, later Fort Ord, (Monterey, California) is named for him) received the task of registering the state's electorate so a new state constitution could be written. In a contested election, the state's voters rejected the proposal of a new state constitution, and as a result Mississippi remained and continued under martial law. Union Gen. Adelbert Ames, (1835-1933), of Maine, under direction from the Republican majority in the U.S. Congress, deposed the provisional civil government (appointed by President Johnson), immediately enrolled black men as voters (not just former soldiers), and temporarily prohibited about a thousand or so former Confederate leaders to vote or hold state offices. Then they later enacted their own revisions and had a more radical reformed constitution for the state adopted in another referendum in 1868.
The 1868 constitution had major elements that lasted for 22 years. The Constitutional Convention was the first political organization in the state's history to include African American (then referred to as "Negro" or "Colored") representatives, who numbered 17 among the 100 members (about one quarter of the total Black population [which totaled over half] of the state then). Although 32 counties had Negro majorities, they elected whites as well as Negroes to represent them. The Convention adopted universal male suffrage, (no property qualifications, educational requirements or poll taxes); created the framework for the state's first public school system (which Northern and Border states had begun over forty years earlier); forbade race distinctions in the possession and inheritance of property; and prohibited limiting of civil rights in travel; allowed the Governor to have a greater amount of time to enact his policies by serving a four-year term instead of two years; provided the Governor with the power to appoint judges (taking judicial elections out of the corrupt elections before the war); required legislative reapportionment; and repudiated the ordinances and powers of secession. Since 17 of the 100 delegates were blacks, the body was called the "Black and Tan Convention" by its enemies. Mississippi was readmitted to the Union on Jan. 11, 1870 and its representatives and senators were seated in Congress on Feb. 23, 1870.
Black Mississippians, participating in the political process for the first time ever, formed a coalition with some locals whites (called "Scalawags") and newly arrived Northerners (called "Carpetbaggers") in a Republican party that controlled the state. Most of its votes came from blacks, several of whom held important state offices. A. K. Davis served as lieutenant governor, Hiram Revels, (1827-1901), and Blanche K. Bruce, (1841-1898), were elected by the Legislature to the U.S. Senate, and John R. Lynch, (1847-1939), served as a representative ("congressman"). The Republican radical regime faced the determined opposition of the "unreconstructed" white population. Blacks who attempted to exercise their new rights were terrorized by such groups as the Ku Klux Klan.
The planter James Lusk Alcorn, (1816-1894), a Confederate general, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1865 but, like other Southerners who had been loyal to the Confederacy, was not allowed to take a seat. He supported suffrage for freedmen and endorsed the Fourteenth Amendment, as required by the Republicans in Congress. Alcorn became the leader of the "scalawags", who comprised about a third of the Republican party in the state, in coalition with "carpetbaggers" and freedmen.
Alcorn was elected as governor in 1869 and served from 1870 to 1871. As a modernizer, he appointed many like-minded former "Whigs", even if they had become "Democrats". He strongly supported education, including segregated public schools, and a new college for freedmen, now known as Alcorn State University (established 1871 in Lorman, Mississippi). He maneuvered to make his ally Hiram Revels its president. Radical Republicans opposed Alcorn as they were angry about his patronage policy. One complained that Alcorn's policy was to see "the old civilization of the South "modernized"" rather than lead a total political, social and economic revolution.
Alcorn resigned the governorship to become a U.S. Senator (1871–1877), replacing his ally Hiram Revels, the first African-American/Black U.S. Senator. Senator Alcorn urged the removal of the political disabilities of white southerners and rejected Radical Republican proposals to enforce social equality by Federal legislation. Further, he denounced the Federal cotton tax as robbery, and defended separate schools for both races (later termed "segregation") in Mississippi. Although a former slaveholder, he characterized slavery as "a cancer upon the body of the Nation" and expressed gratification which he felt over its destruction.
In 1870, former military governor Adelbert Ames, (1835-1933), was elected by the Legislature (as was the process at the time) to the U.S. Senate. Ames and Alcorn battled for control of the Republican party in Mississippi; their struggle ripped apart the Republican party. In 1873 they both sought a decision by running for governor. Ames was supported by the Radicals and most African Americans, while Alcorn won the votes of conservative whites and most of the scalawags. Ames won by a vote of 69,870 to 50,490. A riot broke out in Vicksburg in December 1873, which resulted in white Democratic reprisals against many Republican supporters, the vast majority of them black.
There was factionalism within the Democratic Party between the Regulars and New Departures, but as the state election of 1875 approached, the Democrats united and worked on the "Mississippi Plan," to organize whites to defeat the black Republicans. Armed attacks by the Red Shirts, White League and the Ku Klux Klan on Republican activists proliferated, as in the September 1875 "Clinton Riot," and Governor Ames appealed to the federal government for armed assistance, which was refused. That November, Democrats gained firm control of both houses of the legislature. Ames requested the intervention of the U.S. Congress since the election had been aubject to voter intimidation and fraud. The state legislature, convening in 1876, drew up articles of impeachment against him and all statewide officials. He resigned and fled the state, "marking the end of Republican Reconstruction in Mississippi."
Gilded age: 1877-1900
Not much was gold plated in Mississippi, but there was steady economic and social progress, despite the low prices for cotton. Politically the state was controlled by the conservative whites called "Bourbon Democrats" by their critics. The Bourbons represented the planters, landowners and merchants. They use violence, intimidation, and coercion to suppress black voting at the polls. The Bourbons controlled the Democratic party conventions, and thus state government.
The state remained rural, but the railroad system, which had been destroyed in the war, was rebuilt; a few more towns developed, as well as small-scale industry, notably the lumber industry in the Piney Woods region of the state. Most farmers continued to grow cotton. The "crop-lien system involved local merchants who lent money for food and supplies all year, and then split the cotton crop to pay the debts and perhaps leave a little cash left over for the farmer—or often leave him further in debt to the merchants.
In 1878 the worst yellow fever epidemic Mississippi had seen ravaged the state. The disease, sometimes known as 'Yellow Jack,' and 'Bronze John,' devastated Mississippi socially and economically. Entire families were wiped out, while others fled their homes in panic for the presumed safety of other parts of the state. Quarantine regulations, passed to prevent the spread of the disease, brought trade to a stop. Some local economies never recovered. Beechland, near Vicksburg, became a ghost town because of the epidemic. By the end of the year, 3,227 people had died from the disease.
The small farmers sent it again and again the Bourbon control of politics and the credit lien system that seemed to keep them forever in debts. Efforts to fight the system politically went nowhere. The Populist movement failed to attract the large following in Mississippi that it did in Alabama, Georgia and other Southern states. Mississippi did put forward a few articulate Populist spokesmen, such as newspaper editor Frank Burkitt, but poor farmers, white and black, refused to follow the leadership of the Farmers' Alliance. Few farmers were willing to support the subtreasury plan, the Alliance plan of aiding farmers by providing low-cost federal loans secured by crops. The Democratic Party machine, the increasing activism of the National Grange, and effective disfranchisement of most black voters and many poor whites by inclusion of a poll tax in the new state constitution of 1890 meant the failure of Mississippi populism. By the birth of the People's Party in 1892, Mississippi populism was too weak to play a major role.
Whitecapping, a violent, anti-Semitic, anti-Negro dirt farmer movement, arose in the Piney Woods region of southern Mississippi in response to low prices, rising costs, and increasing tenancy brought about by the crop lien system. Whitecaps resented Negro tenancy on lands acquired by merchants –some of them Jewish—through foreclosures. Whitecap Clubs, resembling fraternal and military organizations, attempted to intimidate Negro laborers and landowners, and to prevent mercantile land acquisition. Whitecaps came from the rural poor; their leaders from a higher social strata.
Mississippi has been thought to typify the Deep South during the era of Jim Crow. But, it had an enormous frontier of undeveloped land in the backcountry of the Mississippi Delta. Tens of thousands of black and white migrants came to the Delta seeking the chance to buy and work land, cut timber and make lives for themselves and their families. Because the Mississippi Delta contained so much fertile bottomland away from the river settlements, African Americans achieved unusually high rates of land ownership from 1870 to 1900. Two-thirds of the independent farmers in the Delta were black.
As the Panic of 1893 brought another depression and very low cotton prices, many farmers had to sell their land to pay off debts and become sharecroppers. The sharecropping system, as Cresswell (2006) shows, functioned as a compromise between white landowners' desire for a reliable supply of labor and black workers' refusal to work in gangs.
In 1890 the state adopted a new constitution that imposed a poll tax of $2 a year that the great majority of blacks and poor whites could not pay; they were effectively excluded from the political process. These requirements, with additions in legislation of 1892, resulted in a 90% reduction in the number of blacks who voted. In every county a handful of prominent black ministers and local leaders were allowed to vote.
As only voters could serve on juries, disenfranchisement meant blacks could not serve on juries, and lost all chance at local and state offices, as well as representation in Congress. When these provisions survived a Supreme Court challenge in 1898 in Williams v. Mississippi, other southern state legislatures rapidly incorporated them into new constitutions or amendments, effectively extending disfranchisement to every southern state. In 1900 the population of Mississippi was nearly 59% African American, but they were virtually excluded from political life.
The Jim Crow system became total after 1900, with disenfranchisement, coupled with increasingly restrictive racial segregation laws, and increased lynchings. Economic disasters always lurked, such as failure of the cotton crop due to boll weevil infestation, and successive severe flooding in 1912 and 1913. By 1920, the third generation after freedom, most African Americans in the state were landless sharecroppers or laborers facing inescapable poverty.
Racial segregation began in Mississippi following the Civil War, with a handful of state laws requiring separate facilities for black and white school children in addition to statutes requiring three restroom facilities in public buildings: one for white males, one for white females, and one for black males and females. Otherwise, segregation arose by local custom more than it did by state or municipal law. Since segregation was a customary practice, historians consider it to be one that mandated social distance between whites and blacks rather than physical distance. In most Mississippi communities from the late 1800s until the 1970s, blacks and whites lived in relative proximity to one another, and whites depended on the labor of blacks either as agricultural or domestic workers. White and black children often played together until they reached puberty, at which time parents began instructing their children about the racial status quo.
White children learned that they were superior to their black counterparts while black children learned the vacillating and arbitrary customs of Jim Crow, which often differed from community to community. By 1900, racial segregation had become more rigid and the customary nature of the practice made it difficult for African Americans to challenge it legally. Jim Crow became the mainstay of the Mississippi social order until it ended by virtue of federal law in 1964, enforcement, court challenges, and local customs began to break down by 1970.
Tens of thousands of African Americans left Mississippi by train, foot, or boat to migrate north starting in the 1880s; migration reached its pinnacle during and after World War I. In the Great Migration, they went North to leave the violence and a society that had been steadily closing off opportunity. Another wave of migration came in the 1940s and 1950s. Almost half a million people, three-quarters of them black, left Mississippi in the second migration. Many sought jobs in the burgeoning wartime defense industry on the West Coast.
Following Reconstruction, the Democrat-dominated state legislature cut back on funding for public schools. For decades public school funding was poor for whites and very poor for blacks. However, northern philanthropy helped a great deal. The Anna T. Jeanes Foundation, begun in 1907 and also known as the Negro Rural School Fund, aimed to provide rudimentary education for rural Southern blacks. Jeanes supervisors, all experienced teachers, personally implemented physical and academic improvements in rural schools. Early Jeanes supervisors brought vocational education into their classrooms, based on the Hampton and Tuskegee Institute models promoted by Booker T. Washington. By the 1940s, the Jeanes program changed its emphasis from industrial education to academic subjects. Other major northern foundations also helped, especially the General Education Board (funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rosenwald Fund, which supported construction of more than 5,000 schools in southern rural areas. Northern churches supported denominational colleges.
Mississippi became a center of rich, quintessentially American music traditions: gospel music, jazz music, blues, and rock and roll, all were invented, promulgated, or developed largely by Mississippi musicians.
John Lomax and his son Alan recorded some of the Delta's rich musical tradition for the Library of Congress. They sought out blues songs and field chants at Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. In 1941, Alan Lomax recorded Muddy Waters, then 28 years old, at Stovall's Plantation. Among other major artists, Bo Diddley, B.B. King and Muddy Waters were born and raised on Mississippi plantations.
By 1900, with no paved highways, a one-party government, regular epidemics of contagious diseases, endemic hookworm, routine lynchings, local affairs controlled by courthouse rings, widespread illiteracy, and few assets besides prime cotton land, Mississippi failed to attract much outside investment or European immigration.
The Progressive Era reached Mississippi. Governor Theodore Bilbo (1916–20) had the most successful administration of all the governors who served between 1877 and 1917, putting state finances in order and supporting such Progressive measures as passing a compulsory school attendance law, founding a new charity hospital, and establishing a board of bank examiners. However, Bilbo was also an avowed racist who openly defended segregation and was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
A renewed surge of patriotism during World War I swept away most of the remaining bitterness from the Civil War and helped end Mississippi's physical and psychological isolation.
1920s and 1930s
Mississippians had more prosperity in the 1920s than they had known for two generations, although the state was still poor and rural by national standards. The people nevertheless had a slice of the American Dream. Ownby (1999), in his in-depth study of the state, identifies four American dreams that the new consumer culture addressed. The first was the "Dream of Abundance," offering a cornucopia of material goods to all Americans, making them proud to be the richest society on earth. The second was the "Dream of a Democracy of Goods," whereby everyone had access to the same products regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or class, thereby challenging the aristocratic norms of the rest of the world, whereby only the rich or well-connected are granted access to luxury. The "Dream of Freedom of Choice," with its ever expanding variety of goods, allowed people to fashion their own particular style. Finally, the "Dream of Novelty," in which ever-changing fashions, new models, and unexpected new products broadened the consumer experience and challenged the conservatism of traditional society and culture, and even politics. Ownby acknowledges that the dreams of the new consumer culture radiated from the major cities, but notes that they quickly penetrated the most rural and most isolated areas, such as rural Mississippi. With the arrival of the Model T car after 1910, many consumers in rural America were no longer locked into local general stores with their limited merchandise and high prices, and to comparison shop and in towns and cities. Ownby demonstrates that poor black Mississippians shared in the new consumer culture inside Mississippi. He attributes some of their desire to move to ambition, and acknowledges that hundreds of thousands of blacks moved to Memphis or Chicago in the Great Migration. Other historian have attributed their decisions to poor schools, a high rate of violence, and political disfranchisement in Mississippi.
Not all Mississippi was doing well. In the Pearl River country in the south central region, the 1920s was a decade of persistent poverty and new interest in anti-modernist politics and culture. The timber companies that had employed up to half of all workers were running short of timber, so payrolls dwindled. Farming was hard-scrabble. Governor Theodore G. Bilbo, a native of the region, won widespread support among the poor white farmers and loggers with his attacks on the elites, the big cities, and the blacks. Dry laws were but one aspect of a pervasive prohibitionism that included laws against business or recreation on Sunday, as well as attacks on Catholics and immigrants. Baptist and some other denominations embraced fundamentalism and rejected newfangled liberal ideas such as evolution along with the Social Gospel.
When the automobile arrived about 1910, the state had poorly constructed dirt roads used for wagon traffic, and an outdated system of taxation. Road improvement continued to be a local affair controlled by county supervisors and achieved few positive results. The Lindsey Wagon Company of Laurel built the famous Lindsey wagon after 1899. It was a heavy-duty eight-wheel wagon used to haul logs, timber, and other bulky and heavy material. Wagon production reached a peak in the 1920s, then declined. Improved road finally made it possible to use trucks built in Detroit. The Great Depression after 1929 reduced the need for new wagons.
After 1928, the pressure to build roads motivated politicians to talk up the cause. They enacted massive bond issues, create excise taxes, and centralize control to create a genuine state highway system, with a system of main highways designed by engineers, using a common system of signage and nomenclature.
World War II
The war years brought prosperity as cotton prices soared and new war installations paid high wages. Many blacks headed to northern cities, and white farmers often headed to southern factory towns. Young men, white and black, were equally subject to the draft, but farmers were often exempt on occupational grounds. The World War II era marked a transition from labor-intensive agriculture to mechanized farming in the Delta region of Mississippi. Federal farm payments and improvements in mechanical cotton pickers made modernization economically possible by 1940, but most planters feared loss of racial and social control and simply shifted from sharecropping to wage labor. As workers left the farm for military service or defense jobs, farm wages rose. By 1944, wages had tripled. In 1945 the newly established Delta War Wage Board provided planters temporary relief by setting a maximum wage for farm workers, but President Harry S. Truman lifted wartime economic controls in 1946.
Beginning in the 1930s, the ravages of the boll weevil and federal crop restrictions and conservation programs encouraged many farmers to turn from cotton farming to growing other crops, such as soybeans; to sowing grasses for livestock; and to planting trees for timber. Agricultural productivity increased, and as an added bonus the soils were improved by crop rotation, strip planting, terracing, contour plowing, and the use of improved fertilizers, insecticides, and seeds. After 1945, farm mechanization advanced rapidly, especially in the cotton belt, and small farms were consolidated, as small farmers who could not afford the new machinery and sharecroppers left the land. Planters rapidly mechanized. It now took only a few operators of cotton picking machines to do the work of hundreds. There was no other farm work for the sharecroppers, so the entire sharecropping system collapsed as the croppers moved to the cities, often in the North. By 1950 whites were a majority of the population, statewide and in every region outside the Delta.
Mississippi was a center of the American Civil Rights Movement and especially captured the national stage in 1963 and 1964. Few white leaders in the state supported the effort to secure voting and exercise of other civil rights for African Americans.
According to the 1960 census, the state had a population of 2,178,141, of which 915,743, or 42% of the residents, were black. Their long disfranchisement meant that white state legislators had consistently underfunded segregated schools and services for African Americans, and passed laws that worked against their interests. African Americans had no representation in local governments, juries or law enforcement.
The Ole Miss riot of 1962 erupted as a white mob attacked 500 United States marshals deployed by President John F. Kennedy to ensure the safety of James Meredith, the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. Segregationist rioters assaulted the marshals with bricks, bottles, and gunfire before the marshals responded with tear gas. The fighting which ensued claimed the lives of two men and seriously injured dozens more, and polarized race relations and politics, as whites assumed they were under attack from the federal government.
In September 1964, the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a secretive and extralegal counterintelligence program known as COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE. This covert action program sought to expose, disrupt, and otherwise neutralize Ku Klux Klan groups in Mississippi whose violent vigilante activities alarmed the national government. The program succeeded in creating an atmosphere of paranoia that turned many Klan members against each other. The effect on Klan groups between 1964 and 1971 helped destroy many of them. Some members of the Klan groups subsequently joined other white supremacist organizations, including Christian Identity.
Mississippi Freedom Summer, 1964
Meanwhile black activists had been increasing their local work throughout the South. In Mississippi in 1962, several activists formed the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), to coordinate activities in voter registration and education of civil rights groups in Mississippi: Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
In 1963 COFO organized a Freedom Vote in Mississippi to demonstrate the desire of black Mississippians to vote. They had been disfranchised since statutory and constitutional changes in 1890 and 1892. More than 80,000 people quickly registered and voted in mock elections which pitted candidates from the "Freedom Party" against the official state Democratic Party candidates.
In the summer of 1964, the COFO brought more than one hundred college students, many from outside the state, to Mississippi to join with local activists to register voters, teach in "Freedom Schools" and organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Many white residents deeply resented the outsiders and attempts to change their society. The work was dangerous. Activists were threatened.
On June 21, 1964, three civil rights workers, James Chaney, a young black Mississippian and plasterer's apprentice; and two Jewish volunteers from New York, Andrew Goodman, a Queens College student; and Michael Schwerner, a social worker, were murdered by members of the Klan, some of them members of the Neshoba County sheriff's department. With the national uproar caused by their disappearance, President Johnson forced J. Edgar Hoover to have the FBI to investigate.
The FBI found the bodies of the civil rights workers on August 4 in an earthen dam outside Philadelphia, Mississippi. During its investigation, the FBI also discovered the bodies of several other Mississippi blacks whose murders and disappearances over the past several years had not gained attention outside their local communities.
The case of the young murdered activists captured national attention. President Johnson used the outrage over their deaths and his formidable political skills to bring about passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed July 2. It banned discrimination in public accommodations, employment and education. It also had a section about voting, but voting protection was addressed more substantially by passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, 1964
In 1964, civil rights organizers launched the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) to challenge the all-white slate from the state party, based as it was on disfranchisement of blacks. When Mississippi voting registrars refused to recognize their candidates, the MFDP held its own primary. They selected Fannie Lou Hamer, Annie Devine, and Victoria Gray to run for Congress, and a slate of delegates to represent Mississippi at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.
The presence of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, was inconvenient for national leaders. Democratic Party organizers had planned a triumphant celebration of the Johnson Administration’s achievements in civil rights, rather than a fight over racism within the party. Johnson was also worried about inroads that Republican candidate Barry Goldwater was making in what had been the Democratic stronghold of the "Solid South", as well as the support which Independent candidate George Wallace had gained in the North during the Democratic primaries. The all-white delegations from other Southern states threatened to walk out if the official slate from Mississippi was not seated.
Johnson could not prevent the MFDP from taking its case to the Credentials Committee. There Fannie Lou Hamer testified eloquently about the beatings which she and others endured, and the threats they faced, all for trying to register to vote and exercise their constitutional rights. Turning to the television cameras, Hamer asked, "Is this America?"
Johnson offered the MFDP a "compromise" under which it would receive two non-voting, at-large seats, while the white delegation sent by the official Democratic Party would retain its seats. The MFDP angrily rejected the compromise. The MFDP kept up its agitation within the convention, even after it was denied official recognition. The 1964 convention disillusioned many within the MFDP and the Civil Rights Movement, but it did not destroy the MFDP. The new party invited Malcolm X, head of the Black Muslims, to speak at its founding convention and issued a statement opposing the war in Vietnam.
Armed self-defense became an integral part of the Southern planning strategy of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) after 1964. The ideological shift on the question of nonviolence within CORE and SNCC occurred primarily because of the effect of white violence in Mississippi, such as the murders of Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman in Neshoba County. The shift marked the beginning of the end of nonviolence as the philosophy and method of the Southern freedom movement.
Southern blacks had a tradition of armed resistance to white violence that had become more organized and intense as the struggle accelerated and federal protection failed to appear. Moreover, it was the armed protection by local blacks and the haven provided by Mississippi's black farming communities that allowed SNCC and CORE to operate effectively in the state.
After 1966 the blacks moved into the Democratic party, where they organized politically to vote, to nominate candidates for office, and win their elections. They struggled to get candidates elected to office, particularly in the Delta, where they were a majority of the population and had long been oppressed by white officials.
During the 1960s, the vocal opposition of many politicians and officials, the use of tax dollars to support the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, which spied on citizens and helped achieve economic boycotts of civil rights activists; and the violent tactics of Ku Klux Klan members and sympathizers gave Mississippi a reputation as a reactionary state. The state was the last to repeal prohibition and to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, in 1966 and 2013, respectively.
As in other states of the former Confederacy since the late 1960s, the Republican Party has won increasing support from white conservatives, who formerly had voted Democratic since before the Civil War. In Mississippi, the three majority-white congressional districts support Republican candidates. The majority-black 2nd congressional district has supported Democratic candidates since the national party's support for the civil rights movement and President Lyndon B. Johnson's gaining passage of legislation to this end in the mid-1960s. As was noted by reporter R.L. Nave of the Jackson Free Press in 2012 when the Republicans took control of the state legislature for the first time since Reconstruction, "of course, the Republican Party of the 1880s was very different from the GOP that now rules the state."
Mississippi in recent years has been noted for its political conservatism, improved civil rights record, and increasing industrialization. In addition, a decision in 1990 to permit riverboat gambling has led to economic gains for the state. However, the state lost an estimated $500,000 per day in tax revenue following Hurricane Katrina's severe damage to several riverboat casinos in August 2005.
Gambling towns in Mississippi include Gulfport and Biloxi on the Gulf Coast; Vicksburg, Tunica Resorts, and Greenville on the Mississippi River; and the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi in the interior. Prior to Katrina, Mississippi was the second-largest gambling state in the Union in terms of its revenues, after Nevada and ahead of New Jersey.
September 12, 1979 - Hurricane Frederic
September 2, 1985 - Hurricane Elena
September 28, 1998 - Hurricane Georges
August 29, 2005 - Hurricane Katrina caused the greatest destruction across the entire 90 miles (140 km) of Mississippi Gulf coast from Louisiana to Alabama.
- Busbee, Westley F. Mississippi: A History (2005), good survey online edition
- Gonzales, Edmond, ed. A Mississippi Reader: Selected Articles from the Journal of Mississippi History (1980)
- Krane, Dale and Stephen D. Shaffer. Mississippi Government & Politics: Modernizers versus Traditionalists (1992), government textbook; online edition
- Loewen, James W. and Charles Sallis, eds. Mississippi: Conflict and Change (2nd ed. 1980), high school textbook
- McLemore, Richard, ed. A History of Mississippi 2 vols. (1973), thorough coverage by scholars
- Mitchell, Dennis J., A New History of Mississippi (2014)
- Skates, John Ray. Mississippi: A Bicentennial History (1979), popular
- Sparks, Randy J. Religion in Mississippi (2001) 374 pp. online edition
- Swain, Martha H. ed. Mississippi Women: Their Histories, Their Lives (2003). 17 short biographies
Indians and archaeology
- Barnett, James F., Jr. The Natchez Indians: A History to 1735 (2007). 185 pp.
- Carson, James Taylor. Searching for the Bright Path: The Mississippi Choctaws from Prehistory to Removal, (1999) online edition
- Peacock, Evan. Mississippi Archaeology Q and A (2005) online edition
- Wells, Samuel J.. and Roseanna Tubby. After Removal: The Choctaw in Mississippi (1986)
- White, Douglas R., George P. Murdock, Richard Scaglion. Natchez Class and Rank Reconsidered. Ethnology 10:369- 388. (1971), study of the kingdom of the Natchez people before the French-Indian wars of the 1720s. online
- Ballard, Michael B. Civil War Mississippi: A Guide (2000) online edition
- Barney, William L. The Secessionist Impulse: Alabama and Mississippi in 1860 (1974) 371 pp. statistical analysis of voting
- Bettersworth, John K. Confederate Mississippi: The People and Policies of a Cotton State in Wartime (1943). 386 pp.
- Cresswell, Stephen. Multiparty Politics in Mississippi, 1877-1902 (1995) online edition
- Cresswell, Stephen. Multiparty Politics in Mississippi, 1877-1902 (1995)
- Cresswell, Stephen. Rednecks, Redeemers, And Race: Mississippi After Reconstruction, 1877-1917 (2006)
- Donald, David H. "The Scalawag in Mississippi Reconstruction," Journal of Southern History, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Nov., 1944), pp. 447–460 in JSTOR
- Ellem, Warren A. "The Overthrow of Reconstruction in Mississippi," Journal of Mississippi History 1992 54(2): 175-201
- Ellem, Warren A. "Who Were the Mississippi Scalawags?" Journal of Southern History, Vol. 38, No. 2 (May, 1972), pp. 217–240 in JSTOR
- Ferguson, James S. "The Grange and Farmer Education in Mississippi," Journal of Southern History 1942 8(4):497-512. in JSTOR
- Frankel, Noralee. Freedom's Women: Black Women and Families in Civil War Era Mississippi (1999)
- Garner, James Wilford. Reconstruction in Mississippi (1901) reflects Dunning School historiography; full text; online edition; full text online
- Guice, John D. W. "The Cement of Society: Law in the Mississippi Territory," Gulf Coast Historical Review 1986 1(2): 76-99
- Halsell, Willie D. "The Bourbon Period in Mississippi Politics, 1875-1890," Journal of Southern History, Vol. 11, No. 4 (Nov., 1945), pp. 519–537 in JSTOR
- Harris, William C. The Day of the Carpetbagger: Republican Reconstruction in Mississippi (1979) online edition
- Harris, William C. Presidential Reconstruction in Mississippi (1967) online edition
- Haynes, Robert V. "Territorial Mississippi, 1798-1817," Journal of Mississippi History 2002 64(4): 283-305
- James, Dorris Clayton. Ante-Bellum Natchez' (1968)
- Johannsen, Robert W. "The Mind of a Secessionist: Social Conservatism or Romantic Adventure?" Reviews in American History, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Sep., 1986), pp. 354–360 in JSTOR on John A. Quitman
- Kirwan, Albert D. Revolt of the Rednecks: Mississippi Politics: 1876-1925 (1965), classic political history; online edition
- Libby, David J. Slavery and Frontier Mississippi, 1720-1835 (2004) online edition
- Logue, Larry M. "Who Joined the Confederate Army? Soldiers, Civilians, and Communities in Mississippi," Journal of Social History, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Spring, 1993), pp. 611–623 in JSTOR
- Lowery, Charles D. "The Great Migration to the Mississippi Territory, 1798-1819," Journal of Mississippi History 1968 30(3): 173-192
- McMillen, Neil R. Dark Journey: Black Mississippians in the Age of Jim Crow (1989)
- Miles, Edwin Arthur. Jacksonian Democracy in Mississippi (1960) online edition
- Morris, Christopher. Becoming Southern: The Evolution of a Way of Life, Warren County and Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1770–1860 (1995) online edition
- Olsen, Christopher J. Political Culture and Secession in Mississippi: Masculinity, Honor, and the Antiparty Tradition, 1830-1860 (2000) online edition
- Pereyra, Lillian A. James Lusk Alcorn: Persistent Whig (1966), the standard scholarly biography
- Rainwater, P. L. "An Analysis of the Secession Controversy in Mississippi, 1854-61." Mississippi Valley Historical Review Vol. 24, No. 1 (Jun., 1937), pp. 35–42 in JSTOR
- Rainwater, P. L. "Economic Benefits of Secession: Opinions in Mississippi in the 1850s," Journal of Southern History, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Nov., 1935), pp. 459–474 in JSTOR
- Roberts, Giselle. "The Confederate Belle: the Belle Ideal, Patriotic Womanhood, and Wartime Reality in Louisiana and Mississippi, 1861-1865," Louisiana History 2002 43(2): 189-214
- Roberts, Giselle. The Confederate Belle (2003) online edition
- Roberts, Bobby and Moneyhon, Carl. Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of Mississippi in the Civil War, (1992). 396 pp.
- Smith, Timothy B. Mississippi in the Civil War: The Home Front (University Press of Mississippi, 2010) 265 pages; $Documents the declining morale of Mississippians as they witnessed extensive destruction and came to see victory as increasingly improbable
- Span, Christopher M. From Cotton Field to Schoolhouse: African American Education in Mississippi, 1862-1875 (2009)
- Sydnor, Charles S. Slavery in Mississippi. (1933).
- Thompson, Julius E. Lynchings in Mississippi: A History, 1865–1965. (2007). 253 pp. ISBN 978-0-7864-2722-2.)
- Wayne, Michael. The Reshaping of Plantation Society: The Natchez District, 1860–1880 (1983)
- Weaver, Herbert. Mississippi Farmers, 1850-1860 (1945)
- Wharton, Vernon Lane. The Negro in Mississippi, 1865-1890 (1947)
- Willis, John C. Forgotten Time: The Yazoo-Mississippi Delta After the Civil War (2000)
- Wynne, Ben. Mississippi's Civil War: A Narrative History. (2006). 243 pp. ISBN 978-0-88146-039-1.
- Beito, David T., "'Let Down Your Bucket Where You Are: The Afro-American Hospital and Black Health Care in Mississippi, 1924–1966," Social Science History, 30 (Winter 2006), 551–69. in Project MUSE
- Bolton, Charles C. William F. Winter and the New Mississippi: A Biography (University Press of Mississippi; 2013) 368 pp; scholarly biography of the governor 1980-84
- Bolton, Charles C. The Hardest Deal of All: The Battle over School Integration in Mississippi, 1870-1980 (2005) online edition
- Crespino, Joseph. In Search of Another Country: Mississippi and the Conservative Counterrevolution (2009) 360 pages; examines the conservative backlash among white Mississippians after the state's leaders strategically accommodated themselves to federal and civil-rights demands
- Crespino, Joseph. Mississippi as Metaphor: State, Region, and Nation in Historical Imagination Southern Spaces, 2006.
- Cresswell, Stephen Edward. Rednecks, Redeemers, and Race: Mississippi after Reconstruction, 1877–1917 (2006)
- Danielson, Chris. "'Lily White and Hard Right': The Mississippi Republican Party and Black Voting, 1965-1980," Journal of Southern History Feb 2009, Vol. 75 Issue 1, pp 83–119
- Danielson, Chris. After Freedom Summer: How Race Realigned Mississippi Politics, 1965-1986 (University Press of Florida; 2012) 294 pages
- Katagiri, Yasuhiro. The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission: Civil Rights and States' Rights (2001)
- Key, V.O. Southern Politics in State and Nation (1949), has famous chapter on Mississippi, pp 229–53.
- Lesseig, Corey T. “ ‘Out of the Mud’: The Good Roads Crusade and Social Change in 20th-century Mississippi.” Journal of Mississippi History 60 (Spring 1998): 51–72.
- McLemore, Nannie Pitts. "James K. Vardaman, a Mississippi Progressive," Journal of Mississippi History 29 (1967): 1-11
- McMillen, Neil R. Dark Journey: Black Mississippians in the Age of Jim Crow (1989)
- Namorato, Michael V. The Catholic Church in Mississippi, 1911-1984: A History (1998) 313pp. online edition
- Nash, Jere, and Andy Taggart. Mississippi Politics: The Struggle for Power, 1976-2008 (2nd ed. 2010)
- Orey, Byron D'Andra. "Racial Threat, Republicanism, and the Rebel Flag: Trent Lott and the 2006 Mississippi Senate Race," National Political Science Review July 2009, Vol. 12, pp. 83–96, on Senator Trent Lott
- Osborn, George Coleman. James Kimble Vardaman: Southern Commoner (1981).
- Ownby, Ted. American Dreams in Mississippi: Consumers, Poverty & Culture, 1830-1998 (1998) online edition
- Parker, Frank R. Black Votes Count: Political Empowerment in Mississippi After 1965 (1990)
- Peirce, Neal R. The Deep South States of America: People, Politics, and Power in the Seven Deep South States (1974) see chapter 4 on Mississippi in the 1970s online edition
- Silver, James W. Mississippi: The Closed Society (1963)
- Smith, Lewis H. and Robert S. Herren, "Mississippi" in Richard P. Nathan, Fred C. Doolittle, eds. Reagan and the States (1987), pp. 208–30.
Local and regional histories
- Bolton, Charles C. Poor Whites of the Antebellum South: Tenants and Laborers in Central North Carolina and Northeast Mississippi (1994) online edition
- Brazy, Martha Jane. An American Planter: Stephen Duncan of Antebellum Natchez And New York (2006)
- Cobb, James C. The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity (1992) online edition
- Cosby, A.G. et al. A Social and Economic Portrait of the Mississippi Delta (1992) online
- Currie, James T. Enclave: Vicksburg and Her Plantations, 1863-1870 (1980)
- Dittmer, John. Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi (1994)
- Dollard, John. Caste and Class in a Southern Town (1957) sociological case study of race and class in the 1930s
- Greenberg, Kenneth S. "The Civil War and the Redistribution of Land: Adams County, Mississippi, 1860-1870," Agricultural History, Vol. 52, No. 2 (Apr., 1978), pp. 292–307 in JSTO
- Helferich, Gerry. High Cotton: Four Seasons in the Mississippi Delta (2007), growing cotton in the 21st century
- James, Dorris Clayton. Ante-Bellum Natchez (1968)
- Morris, Christopher. Becoming Southern: The Evolution of a Way of Life, Warren County and Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1770–1860 (1995)
- Nelson, Lawrence J. "Welfare Capitalism on a Mississippi Plantation in the Great Depression." Journal of Southern History 50 (May 1984): 225–50. in JSTOR
- Owens, Harry P. Steamboats and the Cotton Economy: River Trade in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta (1990).
- Polk, Noel. Natchez before 1830 (1989)
- Von Herrmann, Denise. Resorting to Casinos: The Mississippi Gambling Industry (2006) online edition
- Willis, John C. Forgotten Time: The Yazoo-Mississippi Delta After the Civil War (2000)
- Woodruff, Nan Elizabeth. American Congo: The African American Freedom Struggle in the Delta (2003)
- Brinkley, Douglas G. The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (2007)
- Fickle, James E. Mississippi Forests and Forestry (2001). 384 pp.
- Hearn, Philip D. Hurricane Camille: Monster Storm of the Gulf Coast, (2004) 233 pp
- Abbott, Dorothy. ed. Mississippi Writers: Reflections of Childhood and Youth. Vol. 2: Nonfiction, (1986).
- Baldwin, Joseph G. The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi: A Series of Sketches (1853), on the boom times of the 1830s online edition
- Bond, Bradley G. ed. Mississippi: A Documentary History (2003) excerpt and text search; online edition
- Evers, Charles. Have No Fear: The Charles Evers Story (1997), memoir of a black politician
- Moody, Anne. Coming of Age in Mississippi. (1968) memoir of Black girlhood
- Percy, William Alexander. Lanterns on the Levee; Recollections of a planter's son (1941) 347 pages excerpt and text search
- Rosengarten, Theodore. All God's Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw (1974) memoir of a Black Mississippian;
- Waters, Andrew, ed. Prayin' to Be Set Free: Personal Accounts of Slavery in Mississippi (2002) 196pp
- Charts and data on farm production, 1911-201
- Reconstruction in Mississippi (by Professor Donald J. Mabry)
- The Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice (by David M. Oshinsky)
- Mississippi Historical Society: Mississippi History Now
- Gibson, John L; Philip J Carr (2004). Signs of power: the rise of cultural complexity in the Southeast. University of Alabama Press. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-8173-5085-7.
- Busbee (2005)
- "A History of the Archdiocese of New Orleans - French Beginnings", Archdiocese of New Orleans, accessed 6 May 2008
- Robert V. Haynes, "Territorial Mississippi, 1798-1817", Journal of Mississippi History 2002 64(4): 283-305
- Lowery (1968)
- Daniel H. Usner, Jr., "American Indians on the Cotton Frontier: Changing Economic Relations with Citizens and Slaves in the Mississippi Territory," Journal of American History 1985 72(2): 297-317 in JSTOR
- Winbourne Magruder Drake, "The Framing of Mississippi's First Constitution," Journal of Mississippi History 1967 29(4): 301-327
- Margaret Deschamps Moore, "Protestantism in the Mississippi Territory," Journal of Mississippi History 1967 29(4): 358-370
- Randy J. Sparks, Religion in Mississippi (2001)
- Joseph T. Hatfield, "Governor William Claiborne, Indians, and Outlaws in Frontier Mississippi, 1801-1803," Journal of Mississippi History 1965 27(4): 323-350
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