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Map of Mississippi

The Mississippi Territory was established on April 7, 1798 from land ceded by Spain to the United States in 1795. The original area comprised about half the present states of Alabama and Mississippi. The size of this Territory grew substantially in 1804 with the cession of land from Georgia, and again in 1812 with annexation of the Mobile District from Spanish West Florida. With this final land acquisition the territory would encompass the entire present day states of Alabama and Mississippi.

Members of the Territorial Legislature were elected by popular vote, but other State and Federal officials were appointed either by the President, Congress or the Territorial Legislature. The first popular election for a Territory Delegate to Congress took place in October 1808.

The first Territorial Governor, appointed by President Adams was Winthrop Sargent, a Federalist from Massachusetts. With the election in 1801 of Thomas Jefferson as President, Winthrop Sargent was replaced by William C. Claiborne, a Republican from Tennessee.

During the term of Winthrop Sargent, Natchez was the Territorial capitol. It was moved to nearby Washington shortly after the appointment of William C. Claiborne, and in 1822 to accommodate the rapidly expanding population; the capitol was permanently moved at Jackson.

By Federal statues of March 1, and 3, 1817, a plan to divide the Mississippi Territory into two separate entities was set in motion. After setting boundaries, the western area began the process of organizing for statehood.

On July 7, 1817 a Convention of 48 delegates convened at Washington, Mississippi to write a State Constitution, which was adopted on August 15, 1817. The first state elections were held on September 1 and 2, 1817. Mississippi was admitted to the Union on December 10, 1817.

Under the State Constitution, future state elections would take place in early August. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor were chosen by popular vote, serving for two years. Members to the House of Representatives were elected annually and State Senators for three years. Local officials like Sheriff and Coroners were also chosen at this time. Various other state officials were chosen by the Legislature. On the federal level, Mississippi’s one Congressman was also elected in August and their Presidential Electors were to be chosen at large by popular vote.

For the first decade of statehood, much of Mississippi was still Indian land, and with the exception of northern Monroe County, which had been cut off from Madison County, now in Alabama, all the organized counties were in the southern part of the state or along the lower Mississippi River.

Although the state was politically Republican, there still may have been some lingering Federalist influence around the Natchez area from the days of Winthrop Sargent. It is interesting to note that in the 1824 election for President, two thirds of the vote for John Adams, came from the five oldest counties in the state, being Adams, Claiborne, Jefferson, Warren and Wilkinson, all of which were along the Mississippi River.


  • Bettersworth, John K. Mississippi: A History. Austin: The Steck Company, 1959.
  • Bettersworth, John K. and James W. Silver, eds. Mississippi in the Confederacy. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1961.
  • Bunn, Mike and Clay Williams, "Capitals and Capitols:The Places and Spaces of Mississippi’s Seat of Government"Mississippi History Now
  • Clark, Thomas D. and John D.W. Guice. The Old Southwest, 1795–1830. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996.
  • Cox, James L. The Mississippi Almanac. Yazoo City: Computer Search and Research, 2001.
  • Cross, Ralph D., Robert W. Wales, and Charles T. Traylor. Atlas of Mississippi. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1974.
  • Gleason, David K., Mary Warren Miller, and Ronald W. Miller. The Great Houses of Natchez. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1986.
  • James, D. Clayton. Antebellum Natchez. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1968.
  • Lowry, Robert and William H. McCardle. A History of Mississippi. Spartanburg, SC: The Reprint Company, 1978.
  • McCain, William D. The Story of Jackson. Jackson: J.F. Hyer, 1953.
  • McLemore, Richard A., ed. A History of Mississippi, Vol. 1. Jackson: University & College Press of Mississippi, 1973.
  • Rowland, Dunbar. History of Mississippi. Spartanburg, SC: The Reprint Company, 1978.
  • ________. Mississippi Territorial Archives, Vol. 1. Nashville, TN: Press of Brandon Printing Company, 1905.
  • Sansing, David G., Sim C. Callon, and Carolyn V. Smith. Natchez: An Illustrated History. Natchez, MS: Plantation Publishing Company, 1995.</li> <li>Skates, John Ray. <title>Mississippi’s Old Capitol: Biography of a Building. Jackson: Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 1990.
  • Sydnor, Charles S. A Gentleman of the Old Natchez Region: Benjamin L. C. Wailes. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1938.

candidate parties

With the fading of the Federalist party in many areas and the lack of organized political "parties" in the modern-sense, several candidates for election were often described in terms of their support for a single candidate.

New York 1806-08: Morgan Lewis was the Governor of New York from 1804-07. He was elected in 1804 with the support of DeWitt Clinton, but after their split, those supporters of Lewis would be described as such in many newspapers.

Pennsylvania 1805, 1811: With the split in the Republican Party in Pennsylvania in 1805 (See Quid), those followers of Simon Snyder, the Republican candidate for Governor, were identified as Snyderites in many newspapers. These included the Political and Commercial Advertiser (Philadelphia) and The True American (Philadelphia). The True American continued to use this designation in the 1811 elections when Snyder was running for re-election, having been elected in the intervening 1808 Gubernatorial election.

"A strong and aggressive Federalist Party had contributed much to the Republican victory in Pennsylvania in 1799. It had forged Republican unity and, by its excesses, had added large numbers to the ranks of its opponents. After the election of 1800 Federalism in the State declined precipitately; and within two years John Quincy Adams was to describe it as 'so completely palsied, that scarcely a trace of it is to be discovered except in here and there a newspaper edited by New England men.' (ft: John Quincy Adams to Rufus King, October 8, 1802 in Charles R. King (ed.) The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, 6 vols. (New York, 1894-1900), IV, 176.) Gratifying as such a metamorphosis must have been to the Republicans, it was not without its cost. The virtual disappearance of Federalism weakened the compulsion for unity and gave play to Republican differences on measures and men which by 1802 had resulted in a number of local divisions in the party." (The Keystone in the Democratic Arch: Pennsylvania Politics, 1800-1816. Sanford W. Higginbotham. 1952. p 25)

"Whatever the true explanation of these intricate political maneuvers, the [1801] senatorial election had disclosed division in the Republican ranks. The party had begun a new era in its history." (Higginbotham, p 34)

Pennsylvania 1808, 1813-14: Michael Leib was elected in 1808 as a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. In that same year, Thomas Humphreys, a candidate for the Bank Director of the Bank of Philadelphia was described by The True American as "Leib's candidate." Later, in 1813 and 1814, factions would develop in the Republican Party and many candidates for elections in these two years would be described by The Democratic Press (Philadelphia) as Leibites.

Much of the division in Pennsylvania, and specifically, Philadelphia politics stemmed from those supporters of Simon Snyder, who was the Speaker of the House, and later Governor, and Michael Leib, whose power over the Republican party lead to the Constitutionalists, those supporters of then governor Thomas McKean, to split away from the Republican Party in Pennsylvania as a whole and form their own party for several years, from 1805-1808.

"The new era was dominated by two themes. The first of these was the national issue of supporting the administration's foreign policy, including the War of 1812. Party lines were sharply drawn, and a strong Federalist minority took an active part in politics. The second was the bitter feud between the Leib-Duane faction and the followers of Snyder. This persisted in full rancor throughout the period and was only partially subdued by the compulsion for the Democratic unity exerted by the War of 1812." (Higginbotham, p 177

"The second period, which ended with the election of 1808, was characterized by two main questions - whether the Federalist-Quid coalition was to form the basis of a permanent new party; and whether the city Democrats, led by Leib and Duane, or the country Democrats, controlled by the adherents of Snyder, should dominate the party. The growing importance of foreign relations arising out of American neutrality in the Napoleonic wars settled the first question in the negative and forced the postponement of a decision of the second. In the face of a resurgent Federalism, Pennsylvania Republicans suppressed their differences and united in a successful support of Snyder, Madison, and the embargo. Foreign affairs continued to be important for the next three years; but congressional vacillation and the relaxing of Federalist efforts within the State permitted the Snyderites and the Duane-Leib faction, now known as the Old School, to fight out their battle for control of the party. The Olmsted affair offered the occasion, and for a time it appeared that the Old School might be victorious. However, its own intemperate violence and political blundering redounded to the benefit of the Governor adn his adherents; and by 1811 Duane had forsworn State politics, and the Old School consisted only of Leib and a few hangers-on. The Snyderites not only dominated the State as a whole, but, acting through Binns, had achieved supremacy in Philadelphia." (Higginbotham, p 328-329.

Pennsylvania 1819 Speaker of the House: Joseph Lawrence is listed as a Findlayite. In the same election, Rees Hill is listed as a Binnsman by the American Republican of December 14, 1819 and as a Binnite by the Crawford Weekly Messenger (Meadville) of December 17, 1819. The Village Record of December 15, 1819 lists Lawrence as an Administration candidate and Hill as an Anti-Administration candidate.