Mississippi: A Documentary History

By Bradley G. Bond | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
ANTEBELLUM WHITE SOCIETY

Between the close of the War of 1812 and the mid-1830s, the population of Mississippi grew exponentially. Three phenomena sparked the population boom. First, the war itself helped settle lingering conflicts with Native Americans and led to the eventual removal of Choctaws and Chickasaws from Mississippi, opening fresh lands to settlement by white farmers and their slaves. Second, the state of Mississippi's admission to the union encouraged potential settlers to believe greater stability on the southwestern frontier loomed. Most importantly, between the early 1790s and 1830, Mississippi emerged as one of the chief cotton producing states in the nation. The invention of the cotton gin, as well as Mississippi's fertile soils and good climate, made possible the spread of cotton cultivation and the concomitant growth in the state's population.

White settlers who rushed to occupy and purchase land in Mississippi brought with them their dreams for economic success. Poor farmers found in Mississippi cheap land that they could occupy or purchase and on which they tended livestock and raised row crops. Many remained forever on the move, seeking that perfect patch of land. Middling folk also found Mississippi attractive as a place where they could attempt to enter plantation society by cultivating cotton. And, of course, wealthy planters from other southeastern states relocated to Mississippi.

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