Jacksonian Democracy in Mississippi

By Edwin Arthur Miles | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
A NATION DIVIDING

"We Detest the tariff, but will hold to the Union."

Samuel Gwin1

During the eighteen-twenties sectionalism emerged as a dominant influence in American politics. The question of slavery, although raised earlier during the controversy over the admission of Missouri to the Union, was not yet the fundamental divisive issue. During Jackson's first administration the debates concerning the public lands, internal improvements, and the tariff bore witness to the conflicting economic interests of the different sections of the nation. The Webster-Hayne debate of 1830 dramatized the rival efforts of the East and the South to form an alliance with the West. To most Mississippians a political coalition of the South and West seemed a logical one because their state contained elements of both sections.

The public lands question was of paramount interest to Mississippians. When Jackson became President, the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians occupied most of the central and northern portions of the state. In 1829 and 1830 the General Assembly, following the precedent of the Georgia legislature, passed laws extending the legal processes of the state over the Indian territories within its borders. The Choctaws and Chickasaws were thus confronted with the alternative of submitting to the rule of the state or subscribing to the terms of the federal government for their removal west of the Mississippi River.2

The Choctaws were loath to leave the state but even more reluctant to bow to the laws of Mississippi. "I had never expected that such a resolution would have been sanctioned by our friends in Mississippi," Mingo Musholatubee, one of their chiefs, wrote to Governor Gerard C. Brandon. Nor were the Choctaws placated by the governor's assurances that "we done this not from any unfriendly feelings to our red Brothers--it was done for your safety and protection."3

Jackson appointed John H. Eaton, his Secretary of War, and General John Coffee, an old comrade, to negotiate a treaty with the Choctaws to effect the removal of the tribe west of the Mississippi. When the

____________________
1
Gwin to Andrew Jackson Donelson, January 6, 1832 [ 1833], Donelson Papers.
2
Mississippi Session Laws, 12 Sess. ( 1829), 81-83; ibid., 13 Sess. ( 1830), 5-6.
3
Musholatubee to Brandon, June 17, 1830, Brandon to Musholatubee, July 13, 1830, Governor's Papers, Series E, No. 18, Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

-55-

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Jacksonian Democracy in Mississippi
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Chapter I - "The Hog Round for Old Hickry" 3
  • Chapter II - A State Divided 18
  • Chapter III - Whole Hogs, Half Hogs, and Aristocrats 33
  • Chapter IV - A Senator of Lofty Bearing 44
  • Chapter V - A Nation Dividing 55
  • Chapter VI - Mr. Biddle's Bank 70
  • Chapter VII - The Jackson Star 87
  • Chapter VIII - An Angry and Embittered Contest 102
  • Chapter IX - Flush Times 117
  • Chapter X - Hard Times 130
  • Chapter XI - The Bargain of 1839 146
  • Chapter XII - A Last Look 160
  • Bibliography 172
  • Index 187
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