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A New History of Mississippi

Dennis J. Mitchell

Publication Year: 2014

Creating the first comprehensive narrative of Mississippi since the bicentennial history was published in 1976, Dennis J. Mitchell recounts the vibrant and turbulent history of a Deep South state. The author has condensed the massive scholarship produced since that time into an appealing narrative, which incorporates people missing from many previous histories including American Indians, women, African Americans, and a diversity of other minority groups. This is the story of a place and its people, history makers and ordinary citizens alike. Mississippi's rich flora and fauna are also central to the story, which follows both natural and man-made destruction and the major efforts to restore and defend rare untouched areas.

Hernando De Soto, Sieur d'Iberville, Ferdinand Claiborne, Thomas Hinds, Aaron Burr, Greenwood LeFlore, Joseph Davis, Nathan Bedford Forrest, James D. Lynch, James K. Vardaman, Mary Grace Quackenbos, Ida B. Wells, William Alexander Percy, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, John Grisham, Jack Reed, William F. Winter, Jim Barksdale, Richard Howorth, Christopher Epps, and too many more to list--this book covers a vast and rich legacy.

From the rise and fall of American Indian culture to the advent of Mississippi's world-renowned literary, artistic, and scientific contributions, Mitchell vividly brings to life the individuals and institutions that have created a fascinating and diverse state.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Mississippi is a place and a state of mind. The name evokes strong reactions from those who live here and from those who do not, but who think they know something about its people and their past. Mississippi is what the American Indians called the river along the state’s western border. Only...

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pp. xi-2

Jim Barnett and Evan Peacock were kind enough to read and offer suggestions for improvements to chapter 1. Lamar Neal and Steven Slimp read most of the manuscript, providing numerous suggestions and improvements. Janet St Lawrence read each chapter as it rolled out of the printer and pronounced...

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Geographical Introduction: The Place

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pp. 3-6

Water, flooding, and erosion shaped Mississippi for millions of years. Fifty thousand feet of sedimentary rocks underlie the entire state and crop to the surface in a few places, but most of the state is covered with gravel and sand that washed out of the forming mountains to the north or with soils deposited...

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Chapter One: Rise and Fall of Indian Culture

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pp. 7-26

As the warm, wet land emerged, the Paleoindians adapted. They continued to hunt deer and bear with an improved spear thrown with an atlatl, a throwing device that increased the distance and force of their weapons, but gradually they came to depend more on the fish, alligators, turtles, snakes, birds, and...

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Chapter Two: Frontier and Borderland

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pp. 27-49

With the end of the Seven Years War in 1763, the French transferred Natchez into the British colony of West Florida, comprised of what today are southern Mississippi, south Alabama, and the panhandle of Florida. France gave western Louisiana, including New Orleans, to the Spanish. The British...

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Chapter Three: Mississippi Territory

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pp. 50-81

In 1798 the newly created Mississippi Territory encompassed the northern portions of the current states of Alabama and Mississippi. The Natchez district consisted of a triangular-shaped piece of land bordered by the thirtyfirst latitude on the south, the Mississippi River on the west, and a vague line...

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Chapter Four: Frontier Democracy to Slave Society

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pp. 82-115

Statehood provided Mississippians with the legal means to press for the surrender of the two-thirds of the state occupied by the Choctaw and Chickasaw, but the politicians appeared in many respects to be minor players in the sweep of people and events transforming the land in a quick rush of building...

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Chapter Five: Cotton Kingdom

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pp. 116-153

In the late 1830s and early 1840s American surveyors imposed imaginary lines on the Choctaw and Chickasaw homelands, continuing Elliott’s mission begun with the thirty-first parallel dividing American from Spanish territories. Between 1840 and 1860 Mississippi’s population increased from...

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Chapter Six: Civil War: Disaster and Freedom

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pp. 154-184

In congressional debates, Reuben Davis warned his colleagues that failing to protect slavery and denying slaveholders their right to expand into the territories would lead to war and that southerners would resist coercion even if it meant devastating their homeland and making it a wasteland. Yet despite...

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Chapter Seven; Reconstruction: War by Other Means

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pp. 185-216

The war between the North and South ended in May 1865, but the fighting continued for another decade. Initially, President Johnson, a fellow southerner, encouraged the old planter class to resume their rule of Mississippi with minimal interference from the federal government, but Mississippi’s...

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Chapter Eight: Redemption and Black Subjection

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pp. 217-245

Too often the period of Redemption (1876–1903) has been misunderstood as a return to absolute white control; instead, historians have come to view these years as a contentious time when Republicans continued to share power and a variety of political parties challenged the Bourbons, as the...

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Chapter Nine: Attempted Revolt of the Rednecks

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pp. 246-279

The corrupt political and economic system imposed on Mississippi by the Bourbons produced indescribable suffering for the vast majority of the state’s people. Conditions in the state were so bad that northern life insurance companies refused to write policies for Mississippians, and some required their...

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Chapter Ten: Segregation: Red, Yellow, Black, and White

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pp. 280-305

White Mississippians fought to establish their racial superiority after seizing control of the government in 1876. In order to achieve total dominance and feel secure as a ruling minority, whites created a segregation system designed to humiliate blacks as a means of social control. Ultimately the...

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Chapter Eleven: War, Depression, and Environmental Restoration

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pp. 306-348

In the period spanning the First World War and the Great Depression, Mississippi struggled with modernity and the destruction of its natural resources. Lumber companies finished clear-cutting the state’s forests without replanting trees on land unsuitable for any other crop and left...

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Chapter Twelve: World War II, Economic Improvement, and Social Confusion

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pp. 249-378

When the Second World War began, Mississippi and the nation still lingered in the Depression. Mississippians earned less than half the national per capita income each year. The Balance Agriculture with Industry (BAWI) program had attracted only twelve manufacturing plants employing 2,700...

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Chapter Thirteen: A Closed Society’s Response to Challenge

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pp. 379-410

At the end of the Second World War, Mississippians faced a dilemma. Most Mississippians wanted the new world of supermarkets, automobiles, movies, factory jobs, and suburban homes, but at the same time, whites wanted to preserve racial segregation and deny that lifestyle to blacks. Black Mississippians...

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Chapter Fourteen: The Civil Rights Movement and White Defiance

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pp. 411-473

In the 1950s and 1960s Mississippi music rocked the planet as the world watched Mississippians engage in bloody, violent battles over black equality. Sharecropping disappeared as chemicals and machines industrialized agriculture, forcing laborers and small farmers off the land. Towns and rural...

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Chapter Fifteen: Mississippi and the Modern World

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pp. 474-534

In the last three decades of the twentieth century and the opening years of the twenty-first, Mississippians struggled to remake their society; to construct a two-party political system; to build schools, libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions; and to understand their past. While accepting and...

Further Reading

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pp. 535-546


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pp. 547-582


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pp. 583-593

E-ISBN-13: 9781626740198
E-ISBN-10: 1626740194
Print-ISBN-13: 9781617039768
Print-ISBN-10: 1617039764

Page Count: 672
Publication Year: 2014