VIEWING A political party ane its leaders in action in a state legislature or constitutional convention is similar to looking at the exposed portion of an iceberg. In both cases the foundation, broader than its visible manifestations, lies hidden beneath the surface. Whereas on the national or state level a party comprises a hopeless jumble of competing and contradictory interests and principles, its character on the county level is only as complicated or simple as the county's economic and social structure. The local constituency is, then, the vital heart and soul of a party, the bedrock of its strength.
Material influences such as the wealth of a county and the extent of its participation in the commercial market are major factors affecting political inclination. The quality and ambition of the local political leadership are also of considerable importance in forming an area's political climate, as are the heritage and traditions of the people. Habits, especially political ones, are difficult to break or change, and it is probably such long-term factors rather than more immediate ones that are most important in determining political conduct. This partially explains why certain constituencies continued to be hard money in sympathy even after it became obvious that it was contrary to their economic interests.
Cotton was king in ante-bellum Mississippi, and political, social, and economic institutions in the state were organized in such a way as to maximize its production. Economic conflicts between urban-commercial and agricultural areas, prevalent in many parts of the country during the ante-bellum. years, were not found in Mississippi, which was