John Marshall Stone

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For the archaeologist John Stone, see J. F. S. Stone.

John Marshall Stone (April 30, 1830– March 26, 1900) was an American politician from Mississippi who served longer as Governor of that state than anyone else, from 1876 to 1882 and again from 1890 to 1896. During this latter period, he approved a new constitution in 1890 passed by the Democratic-dominated state legislature that disfranchised most African Americans, excluding them from the political system. They were kept out for nearly 70 years.

Background[edit]

Born in Gibson County, Tennessee, Stone was the son of Asher and Judith Stone, natives of Virginia who were part of the migration to the west. He did not attend college since his family was fairly poor, but he studied a great deal and eventually taught school. In 1855, he moved to Tishomingo County, Mississippi.

Career in Mississippi[edit]

Stone became a station agent at Iuka when the Memphis and Charleston Railroad opened.

With the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, Stone enlisted in the Confederate States Army that April. He commanded Company K of the Second Mississippi Infantry and saw action in Virginia. Stone, who had the rank of colonel, in 1862 was placed in command of another regiment due to a reorganization in 1862. Colonel Stone was offered a promotion to major general, but he declined since it meant leaving his regiment. He and his unit were captured in early 1865 and held prisoner in Kentucky, Camp Chase, Ohio; he and other officers were transferred to Johnson's Island, Ohio.

At the end of the war, Stone returned to Tishomingo County. He was elected mayor and treasurer. In 1869, he won a race to become state senator, winning re-election in 1873. State elections were marked by fraud and violence; the Red Shirts, a paramilitary group, worked to disrupt and suppress black voting, and turned Republicans out of office. After Governor Adelbert Ames resigned in 1876, Stone, who was President Pro Tempore of the Mississippi Senate at that time, served as the acting governor.

In the 1877 election, Stone won the Governor's office in his own right, as a Democrat; in 1881 he was defeated for re-election by Robert Lowry. Stone became Governor again after winning the 1889 election. The gubernatorial term was extended through 1896 by the new state constitution of 1890.

Determined to keep control and maintain white supremacy, the Democratic-dominated legislature effectively disfranchised most African Americans in the state by adding a requirement to the constitution for voter registration for payment of poll taxes. Two years later, they passed laws requiring literacy tests (administered by white officials in a discriminatory way), and grandfather clauses (the latter benefited white citizens). These requirements, with additions in legislation of 1892, resulted in a 90% reduction in the number of blacks who voted in Mississippi.[1] In every county a handful of prominent black ministers and local leaders were allowed to vote. African Americans were essentially excluded from the political system for 70 years, until after passage of federal civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s.[1]

When this constitution and laws survived an appeal to the US Supreme Court, other southern states quickly adopted the "Mississippi Plan" and passed their own disfranchising constitutions, through 1908.[1] Voter rolls dropped dramatically in other southern states as well, and politics was dominated by white Democrats.

Marriage and family[edit]

after the war, Stone married Mary G. Coman in 1872. The couple had two children who died young. They adopted three children of John's brother and raised them as their own.

Later years[edit]

Following his term as governor, in 1899 Stone accepted a position as the 2nd President of Mississippi A&M (now Mississippi State University) in Starkville. Stone died in Holly Springs, Mississippi, in 1900, at the age of 69. He is buried at Oak Grove Cemetery in Iuka, Mississippi.[2][3][4]

Legacy and honors[edit]

  • In 1916 Stone County, Mississippi, was named in his honor posthumously.
  • Stone Boulevard at Mississippi State is named for him.
  • The John M. Stone Cotton Mill in Starkville was formerly named in his honor, but it was renamed after being purchased by Mississippi State University (MSU) in 1962. This building was used to house the university police department, but it has since been demolished.[5]

References[edit]

External links[edit]


Political offices
Preceded by
Adelbert Ames
Governor of Mississippi
1876-1882
Succeeded by
Robert Lowry
Preceded by
Robert Lowry
Governor of Mississippi
1890-1896
Succeeded by
Anselm J. McLaurin
Academic offices
Preceded by
General Stephen D. Lee
President of Mississippi State University
1899–1900
Succeeded by
John Crumpton Hardy