The Mississippi Territory and the Southwest Frontier, 1795-1817

The Mississippi Territory and the Southwest Frontier, 1795-1817

The Mississippi Territory and the Southwest Frontier, 1795-1817

The Mississippi Territory and the Southwest Frontier, 1795-1817

Synopsis

Originally inhabited by Native American tribes, territorial Mississippi has a complex history rife with fierce contention. Since 1540, when Hernando de Soto of Spain journeyed across the Atlantic and became the first European to stumble across its borders, the territory has been the center of passionate international disagreements. After numerous boundary shifts, Mississippi was finally admitted as the twentieth state of the Union on December 10, 1817.In The Mississippi Territory and the Southwest Frontier, 1795--1817, Robert V. Haynes does more than recount history; he explores the political and diplomatic situations that led to the formation and expansion of the Mississippi Territory. Extensively researched and exceptionally written, Haynes details critical events in Mississippi's rich history, such as ongoing border violence, the arrest of infamous traitor Aaron Burr, and the bloody Creek War.

Excerpt

In 1798, when Congress created Mississippi Territory, the United States was a young nation, struggling to forge unity at home and respect abroad. President John Adams was in his second year of office, having succeeded the much-admired and beloved George Washington, who had placed the country on a promising footing by resolving its internal fiscal problems and by pursuing a policy of neutrality toward foreign belligerents. Lacking his predecessor’s charisma and political acumen, Adams tossed the nation into an undeclared naval war with revolutionary France, and polarized the public. In response, he persuaded Congress to embark on a costly preparedness program and acquiesced in the tightening of internal security by signing the controversial Alien and Sedition Acts. These measures and others divided the populace into two warring factions or embryonic parties (Federalists and Republicans) and forced a few to threaten nullification of the repressive acts.

Conditions were not much better in the emerging western country. Officials worried about the loyalty of settlers there, separated as they were from the east coast by the rugged Appalachian Mountains and blocked from the seas by Spanish control of the lower Mississippi Valley. Americans had always been westward-looking, and none more than Washington, who was not alone in believing that America’s future lay in the West.

After the Revolution, immigrants poured across the mountains into the future states of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio, encroaching on lands long held by Native Americans and arousing suspicions of the British in Canada and the Spanish in Louisiana. To ward off any potential threat, both European nations renewed their friendship with the Indians, and Spain craftily regulated commerce on the Mississippi to dis-

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