Friday, March 31, 2006


"It is not at all surprising that the people of the South are so indifferent to the rights of the African race. For, as far as the negro is concerned, the press, the pulpit, the bench, the bar, and the stump, conspire with a unity of purpose and pertinacity of zeal, which is no less lamentable than extraordinary, to eradicate every sentiment of justice and brotherhood from their hearts. They sincerely believe Wrong to be Right, and act on that unhappy conviction." - James Redpath, The Roving Editor, 1859

"The slavery controversy in the United States presents a case of the most violent antagonism of interests and opinions. No persuasions, no entreaties or appeals, can allay the fierce contention between the two mutually repulsive elements of our system." - Mississippi Free Trader, August 28, 1857

The antebellum slavery press played two major roles: political and economic. Deciding which of these roles was most important is not an easy task because of the shifting situations of specific newspapers. A large political role for the newspapers can be seen from the very earliest days of the Natchez press, but a careful examination of the nature of political rhetoric shows a marked transformation in the manner in which the newspapers conducted political business as Mississippi and its place in the republic changed between 1800 and 1860. Starting about 1830, the Natchez newspapers clearly highlighted the importance of sectional politics and the South’s increasing concern over its slave interests. This focus on sectional matters, emphasized by column after column of many newspapers dedicated to stories on abolition, submissionists, disunionists and secessionists, popularized these issues and inflamed large segments of the white southern population. As early as 1850, disunion and civil war seemed likely, if not inevitable.

Of course, politics is more than candidates and elections and the president’s latest speech. What exactly constitutes a political article? Articles titled “Abolitionists Endorse Whig Candidate” or “The Dangers of the Tariff” can be safely characterized as political pieces. Sometimes the distinction is not so clear. Some articles promoted stereotypes of women, northerners or blacks without specific references to elections or parties or candidates, yet some of these articles certainly had a political purpose.

Until the late 1820s, many southerners viewed slavery as a necessary embarrassment, echoing Thomas Jefferson’s imagery of slavery: “As it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” (1) In the early 1800s, southern planters commonly admitted the problems of slavery, but they rationalized the institution in a number of ways. They had inherited a bad system and they would have liked to have been able to do away with it, but the slaves could not be freed en masse because they would either starve during the winter or rampage across the countryside. This attitude changed drastically by the 1830s, and the Natchez press would play its part in propagandizing slavery as a beneficial institution.

A number of factors put the South on the defensive, but the rise of the abolitionist movement and the wide distribution of anti-slavery literature disturbed the southern planters and the placidity of their worldview. Nat Turner’s rebellion of 1831 also shook the core belief of white southerners that slaves felt contentment and gratitude for the paternalistic care of the good white people. A shift in reasoning began in the 1830s, in response to Nat Turner and the publication of abolitionist journals like William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator. By the end of the decade, slavery was no longer a necessary evil; the institution had become a positive good, beneficial to whites and blacks, northerners and southerners. Blessed by God, endorsed by the Bible, southern thinkers lauded slavery as a vital cog in the machinery of freedom. (2)

Attitudes towards slavery and blacks surfaced in many articles, and these types of articles, while also useful for cultural reasons, provide excellent examples of more subtle political uses. In a slave society, the social order had to be rigidly maintained, and politics played a major role in supporting and strengthening the rules that made up this social order. The press in such an environment endorsed candidates, publicized the viewpoints of a party, and supported the social order in a manner that transcended party politics. The Natchez press supported slavery in several ways. Natchez newspapers offered various philosophical and practical justifications for the institution, printed individual stories that mocked black behavior, and often proposed to show the negative consequences of disturbing the accepted power structure.

The southern newspapers often filled the lengthy gaps of time between proslavery pamphlets for its readers. The Natchez press regularly published editorial attacks on the abolitionists and reported on violence allegedly provoked by critics of slavery. Natchez newspapers, like journals across the South, also published defenses of slavery on a regular basis.

With the 1860 publication of Cotton is King, most of the wide-ranging justifications for slavery appeared in book form. Cotton Is King defended the institution in a number of ways through a variety of essays written by proslavery philosophers like Samuel Cartwright, a frequent contributor to the Natchez press. (3) In order to portray slavery as a legitimate, reasonable, logical and/or beneficial system, these writers utilized a number of perspectives: moral and political philosophy, political economy, social ethics, political science, international law, and the Bible. The justifications for slavery in Cotton is King did not exhaust all the possible methods and rationalizations, but they demonstrated that the field had a lot of room for innovation for creative southern propagandists.

The southern press played its role in southern society to support and justify the institution, and the Natchez newspapers did not shirk the duty of the press as a purveyor of proslavery propaganda. Proslavery arguments appeared in Natchez on a semi-regular basis within a few years of the beginning of the abolition movement. Less than a month after its first issue in August 1835, the Free Trader featured a proslavery article entitled “Injustice and Evils of Slavery” that admitted that slavery “is against the spirit of Christianity” at the same time it denied “that there is anything in the Old or New Testament, which would go to show that slavery when once introduced, ought at all events to be abrogated, or that the master commits any offense in holding slaves.” The author, Thomas R. Dew, cited examples of Biblical figures who owned slaves and carefully selected quotes from the New Testament, such as “Let every man abide in the same calling where he is called,” to present slavery as a Christian institution. (4)

A more “scientific” approach, taken from the work of Charles Caldwell, filled almost four columns in the Free Trader on December 4, 1835. Caldwell claimed that Africans were obviously inferior to white men, and this inferiority vindicated the popular pseudoscience known as phrenology because the brain of the black man was smaller and “also worse balanced, its animal component being much more preponderant over its intellectual and moral.” Caldwell went on to claim “that the Negro race has never produced a truly great man, either in the capacity of a moralist, an artist, a lawgiver or a sage.” Caldwell compared Central and Western Africa — “as barbarous and uncultivated now, as they were five hundred years ago” — to the accomplishments of the Caucasians, who “have revolutionized the face of a large portion of the globe … The cause is plain,” wrote Caldwell. “The Caucasians . . . have within themselves an ever-living and exhaustless fountain of improvement, which is denied to the other races.” (5)

In the 1840s, Samuel Cartwright wrote a series of letters justifying slavery to William Winans, who had been an active member of the state’s colonization society. These letters appeared in the Free Trader, and nine of them were printed sporadically between December 1841 and April 1842, defending slavery on Biblical, physiological and economic grounds. Whereas Dew’s argument begrudgingly allowed the possibility that slavery might be wrong, Cartwright embraced the developing idea that slaves benefited from slavery, that they experienced more full and productive lives under the care of the white southern elite. (6)

John Fletcher, of Concordia Parish, Louisiana, across the river from Natchez, advertised in the Courier and the Free Trader in 1851, publicizing his book Studies in Slavery for several weeks. The prospectus declared that “the object of the learned Author has been to show that the institution of slavery is of Divine appointment.” Concurrently appearing with the ad, the Free Trader published a long letter from Dr. Cartwright to a Mr. Warner, in which Cartwright praised the book: “It ought to be read by every intelligent person North as well as South.” (7)

Throughout the antebellum period, the newspapers also published material that dehumanized the slave and the free black, denigrating the intelligence and abilities of the race of Africans. As early as 1806, the Mississippi Herald carried a story about an indulgent master who allowed two feuding slave women to settle their differences with a fake duel. (8) Later articles claimed that: free blacks, unable to survive without white protection, suffered a higher rate of mortality than slaves; (9) manumitted blacks in Richmond, Virginia, had petitioned the state legislature, hoping to be enslaved again; (10) and an abolitionist had been captured by a slave who turned him over to authorities, highlighting the loyalty of the slaves and the efficiency of the system. (11)

A survey of the newspapers of Natchez during the slavery period reveals an atmosphere of tension and conflict, and elections heightened the conflicts that could end in violence. However, a more methodical study of the newspapers shows how the nature of these conflicts changed over a period of sixty years. Sectional tensions and the ideological battle over slavery replaced the local feuds of earlier years. By the 1850s, even local elections reflected the conflicts raised by the issue of slavery as the two Natchez newspapers took up sides on the issue of secession. The Democratic organ, the Free Trader, accused the opposition party (which changed from Whig to Know Nothing to Constitutional Union during this uncertain and tumultuous time) of being abolitionists or submissionists. The opposition party, represented by the Natchez Courier, characterized the Democrats as disunionists or rabid secessionists.

Another striking character of the press in the 1850s is the continuing nature of the tensions. The sectional crisis that led to the Civil War could be said to have started with the rise of the abolitionists in the early 1830s, but the acquisition of vast amounts of Mexican territory in 1848 touched off a series of events that followed one another in rapid succession: the Compromise of 1850, the secession crisis that lasted well into 1851, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and the resulting conflict over “Bleeding Kansas,” the collapse of the Whigs over slavery and the rise of the Republican Party, the Dred Scott case, Harper’s Ferry, and the election of Lincoln in 1860. State and national elections also triggered conflicts even when the nation did not face a national crisis (the 1855 election is a good example). At the same time, the southern newspapers definitely offered frequent coverage and criticism of abolitionist publications and activities. A good example is the 1852 publication in book form of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a work that the southern press definitely noted with scorn. (12)

What follows is a discussion of the Natchez press based upon a sampling of the months of August, September, and October every seven years from 1814 to 1842 and then every three years for the period from 1842 to 1860. The newspapers in 1814 and 1821 displayed very little of the sectional venom that wracked the nation in the 1850s. Marschalk’s attacks on Poindexter reflected a local conflict that had become very personal because of the volatile nature of the personalities involved. The newspapers of 1820 and 1821 turned out to be sedate when compared to the days of the Marschalk-Poindexter feud and the era that would follow. Perhaps Marschalk had mellowed quite a bit. Or maybe things had calmed down because the state capital had been moved to Jackson and Poindexter had moved from the Natchez area. The papers barely mentioned the presidential election of 1820. The newspapers of this period, the Era of Good Feelings, presented quite a contrast to the provocative journals of other times. The browser can leaf through several months’ worth of microfilm without seeing a single overtly political article.

The national election of 1828 presented a startling contrast. Strangely, the Aaron Burr Conspiracy, an affair of twenty years before, became a major issue, and all the scandals and the improprieties of Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay become the subject of nearly every issue in the months leading up to the election. (Henry Clay was not even the National Republican candidate!) The specter of slavery, and the dangers of manumission, surfaced in the controversy over Prince, and Marschalk condemned Adams and Clay for furthering Prince’s cause. The issue of slavery, and Marschalk’s dramatic warnings about Santo Domingo (Haiti), marked the election of 1828 as an anomaly. It had been a very nasty campaign and Marschalk had crossed the line, not by attacking Clay and Adams, but by using scare tactics and merely mentioning the Haiti revolt. Better to never mention Haiti, most southerners thought. The slaves would not revolt if they did not know that a successful revolt had taken place in Haiti.

Despite the issue of slavery, the Prince controversy can still be explained as a local issue. Jackson had passed through the area many times, and a number of Natchez residents had served with him during the War of 1812. The episode with Prince was known to many people. Jackson’s supporters only exploited the Prince issue in the Natchez area and in the parts of Louisiana close to Adams County. When slavery again became a major issue in national campaigns, it would primarily be an attack against party, whereas Marschalk’s criticism in the election of 1828 was an attack on individuals.

Natchez newspapers of the last three decades before the Civil War illustrated the growth and the triumph of a new party system, and a sectional divide that dominated national politics after the acquisition of California and the New Mexico Territory after the war with Mexico of 1846 to 1848. This sectional tension rose to the surface sporadically in the 1830s and the 1840s as the Natchez newspapers criticized the abolitionists. After 1848, the nation faced a series of crises, incidents provoked by the actions of slavery’s promoters and its critics. Almost every year, the Natchez newspapers latched onto a new outrage against their perceived right to own human beings as property. The Free Trader, a Democratic Party newspaper through the entire period, generally spoke with more venomous language than the Courier, aimed at abolitionists and, later in the decade, at Whigs and Know Nothings because of the northern sections of these parties.

The state election of 1835, as shown by Lorenzo Besançon’s experiences, certainly demonstrated the passions excited by party loyalty by the 1830s. A closer examination of the newspapers of the fall of 1835 revealed that the campaign for the presidency in 1836 started very early: the Free Trader advertised its endorsement of Martin Van Buren for president and Richard Johnson as vice president as early as the fall of 1835, more than a year before the election. (13) But the election rhetoric of the time, as devastating as it could get, displayed none of the animosity over slavery that would gradually develop in the succeeding decades. The Natchez press of 1835 defended slavery and insulted abolitionists, but it did not try to paint political opponents as abolitionists. Anti-slavery sentiment had not yet begun to creep into the politics of the major parties. Abolitionism as a movement had gained little acceptance among northerners, and anti-abolitionist mobs targeted prominent abolitionists in dozens of incidents, in the North as well as the South, in the 1830s.

Hotly contested elections remained the norm in Natchez through the late 1830s and the early 1840s and beyond. In the mid-1840s, editors continued to refrain from tarring their opponents in terms based on the conflicting viewpoints about slavery. The use of abolitionist imagery began to appear in the 1840s at election time, and intensified after that as the South focused on their interests in the New Mexico Territory after 1848. As early as 1843, the Free Trader published an article titled “Whiggery and Niggery” that attacked the Whig Party as a whole because northern abolitionists voted Whig more often than they voted Democrat. (14) This trend, still very rare in 1843, would intensify later. The fall of 1845, for example, contains very little material that explicitly evokes abolition in relation to the state election. A survey of the Free Trader for August, September and October yields the expected defenses of slavery and a few attacks on the abolitionists, including an attack on Kentucky abolitionist Cassius Clay and a report that one in 24 free blacks in Massachusetts ended up in jail. The Free Trader devoted more space to the annexation of Texas than to any other story during this period.

With the acquisition of California and the New Mexico Territory in 1848, the nature of Natchez newspapers changed abruptly. The opposing charges of abolitionist and disunionist flew back and forth between the two party newspapers of Natchez on a regular basis, almost continuously, even when campaign season had ended. The nation swerved unsteadily from crisis to crisis, and the Natchez press reflected this state of affairs. It is likely that the press played a vital role in influencing the sectional tensions that would eventually lead to civil war.

In the fall of 1848, the Free Trader devoted close to seventy-five percent of every issue to the election, and the presidential contest between Zachary Taylor and Lewis Cass generated many slavery-related controversies. Between August and November, the Free Trader published an 84-line poem titled “The War Cry of the Democrats;” (15) several refutations of alleged Whig lies about Cass; (16) a “Patriotic Letter from Gen. Quitman” that took up three and a half columns; (17) an attack on Whig vice presidential candidate Millard Fillmore for his “vote on establishing diplomatic relations with the niggers of San Domingo;” (18) and several articles that claimed that Fillmore was an abolitionist because he voted with John Quincy Adams on many occasions. (19) A September 6, 1848, article stated that “to gain its ends by deception is characteristic of the Whig Party” and a more explicit attack on the Whigs, titled “In Detroit — Whigs join with Abolitionists,” appeared in the Free Trader on October 18:

Will not the South be convinced by the unmistakable signs of the times, that the Northern Whigs are their natural enemies, as well as that the Northern Democrats are their natural allies?

Taylor got more than his share of outrageous criticism, much of it pertaining to his views on slavery and its expansion into the territories:

He was not in favor of receiving Texas into our Union, nor in favor of the recent war with Mexico. The only evidence of his being in favor of slavery, that I ever heard of, was the fact that he did what every man at the south must do, if he would have servants, viz: either own or hire slaves. I do well remember that a part at least of the colored people living in his family could read well, and were very pious. I never heard a word from the General in favor of the slave system, but on the contrary, his decided preference for the institutions and customs of the North. (20)

The Free Trader published a series of political letters under the pseudonym “Pushmata,” and the thirteenth letter said that Taylor’s “opinions are too fluctuating” and stated that Taylor “has voluntarily surrendered, or expressed a willingness to surrender, to the will of a majority of Congress, the only constitutional barrier to the abolition of slavery.” Taylor “openly concedes a point, which is the centering wedge of abolition, viz: that ‘slavery is an evil, and blighting in its effects upon the agricultural and commercial prosperity of the South.’” “Pushmata” also raked Taylor over the coals because he “considers that slave labor has had a fatal influence on the prosperity of Virginia, and that it is injurious to all the states where it exists. These are dangerous sentiments …. Whenever we conclude that slavery, as it exists with us, is an evil, we surrender all that our adversaries desire.” (21)

For the next twelve years, the nation conducted its political business in this poisonous atmosphere. The question of the ultimate disposition of the new territory provoked the secession crisis of 1850. A further examination of the Natchez press shows that the crisis did not end with the Compromise of 1850, as the Free Trader continued to advocate and promote a secession convention long after public sentiment had turned against the idea.

A look at the Free Trader and Hillyer’s Natchez Courier in the fall of 1851 shows that both papers retained the heated rhetoric of the year before. The Courier criticized The Mississippian, the secessionist paper of Jackson, for threatening abolitionists with this statement: “This is all we have to say to the abolitionists. If we catch you stealing our slaves we will hang you — legally, and not by a mob, and without excitement or commiseration.” (22) The Courier also attacked perceived hypocrisy on the part of South Carolina’s Robert Barnwell Rhett, “the leader of the disunionists of the South,” for his anti-secession speech in 1812, when the New England states threatened to leave the Union on the eve of the War of 1812. (23)

In a most revealing editorial, the Courier reviled “The New Tactics” and again castigated perceived hypocrisy on the part of the opposition:

”It is somewhat amusing to notice the very same papers which beg so piteously not to be named “disunionists,” and who have been for months stirring up rebellion against laws passed by their accredited Representatives in Congress — we say it is quite amusing to notice that these same journals that contain the bitter complaints, are denouncing those who are silencing their political heresies as “Abolitionists and Whigs”!” (24)

The Free Trader supported the secession convention and contributed to the invective by referring to the Whig candidate for governor as “the traitor Foote” and calling the Whig newspapers “Submission papers.” (25) Publicizing more dearly-held beliefs of the secessionists, the Free Trader featured a letter that claimed that “the northern federalists and abolitionists had subsidized the press and print shops for the purpose of preparing the public mind for the abolition of slavery in the United States in aid of the views of the monarchical interests of Europe . . . These submissionists have witnessed for more than twenty years the untiring efforts of English abolition societies, of the press of that country and of the most prominent divines and statesmen, to urge and recommend the abolition of slavery in the United States.” (26) In October, the Free Trader attributed the success of the Whigs to “the vast amount of wealth and of influence possessed by” the Whig Party and its members, and characterized Democratic success as “proof of the moral strength of Democracy . . . when we see how nobly it has ‘held its own.’” (27)

The Natchez press in 1854 did not devote quite as much space to politics, largely because it was not a presidential election year, nor was it a year for a major state election. However, the Free Trader and the Courier suffered no dearth of controversial political material because of the rise of the Know Nothings. Hillyer supported the Know Nothings in 1855, and the Free Trader verbally assaulted the Courier on a regular basis. Hillyer’s support for the Know Nothings in 1854 amounted to a more neutral position. While the Free Trader harangued the Know Nothing movement with articles with titles like “The Do-Nothings,” (28) and “Ignorance, Intolerance and Fanaticism,” (29) the Courier defended the movement, refuting alleged falsehoods printed in other papers and publishing a claim that “Know-Nothingism does not evidence mush attachment to demagogues of any description.” (30)

These articles about Know Nothingism offered few attempts to identify the movement with abolitionism, but both of the Natchez newspapers published sectional complaints about the abolitionists. The Free Trader, for example, castigated northern magazines in an article titled “Northern Periodicals and Slavery,” claiming that, in the August issue of Harper’s Weekly, “the South was fiercely assailed, and the so-called aggressive spirit of slavery made the scapegoat for all our national sins and domestic discords.” (31) A week later, the Free Trader reported that Chicago abolitionists had rioted at a scheduled speech by Senator Stephen Douglas and caused the cancellation of the event. The sub-heads told the story: “Abolition Rioters Victorious — The Senator Refused Hearing — Free Speech Repudiated in a Free City — Anarchy in Chicago.” (32)

The Courier also recorded northern perfidy, but not as often as the Free Trader. The August 12, 1854, issue featured an item titled “The Effect of Fanaticism,” which described a southerner visiting New York who got drunk and accidentally killed a man who attacked him. “Instantly the New York Tribune throws its eyes to Heaven, and exclaims, ‘Behold the effect of the social institutions of the South!’ All the crime of the act, (and terribly does it paint the murder,) it lays on the system of slavery. To that it attributes the hot blood, the weapon, the deed.” The Courier indignantly responded to the charge and harangued the Tribune for its hypocrisy, pointing out that the New York newspaper often reported on murders and poisonings committed by northerners and did not try to affix blame to the culture of the North.

The Natchez press of 1854 reported a short era of peace, despite the editorials attacking abolitionists. The next few years, however, would see the nation jostled and agitated by one crisis after another. We have already examined 1855 and the acrimony generated by the state election in which the Democrats beat the Know-Nothings. The conflict over “popular sovereignty” would divide the nation and wreck national parties. By the time of the state elections of 1857, the two Natchez newspapers reflected a time of tension and conflict. The Free Trader of August 18 attacked Know Nothingism (in its death throes) and featured a front page article that asked “Shall the Majority of the Democratic Party Control the Policy of the Democratic Party!” in which the anonymous author explained to the reader the reality of 1857 America: the waning influence of the South would soon hamper the ability of southern politicians to protect southern interests. The South “has been growing more and more Democratic, while the changes at the North have been the other way, and the Democratic Party there becomes weaker and weaker.” The same issue overflowed with articles that showed a burning interest in the topics directly affecting southern interests: “The South Betrayed,” “Where Do We Stand,” “The Submissionists,” “Slavery in Kansas.” The first of these articles contained the following passage, underlining southern discontent with the Buchanan administration they helped to elect: “That the South has been betrayed there can be no doubt. Let the reader examine the facts in the case. The Democratic party fought the last battle upon the Kansas-Nebraska bill; Mr. Buchanan endorsed and stood upon that platform; do the provisions of that bill justify the Walker policy in Kansas? If so, the Southern Democracy are dupes and fools.”

The following week, in an article titled “Virginia and the Black Republicans,” the Free Trader attacked some Virginia newspapers for an alleged lack of suitable concern over the question of the Kansas constitution: “If we encourage or even tolerate Freesoilism now, we are leading the way to Black Republicanism in 1860 . . . The Richmond Whig, taking a calm view of the Freesoil movement of the day, sees them likely to rise in the ascendancy, and coolly announces that it will then be ready to co-operate with the Black Republicans against the Democrats.” (33) Every issue from the fall of 1857 displayed similar concerns about the future of the South. Several times a month, the Free Trader would devote most of a page to the issues of slavery, expansion, abolition, and the reality of sectional politics. The Free Trader of August 28, 1857, printed a page with the following headlines: “Sectional Agitation must be Terminated,” “Kansas,” “Perversions, Errors and Duties Pertaining to the Kansas Controversy,” and “Southern Elections.” An attack on the submissionist Woodville Republican appeared on the same page. (34) On the front page of the same issue, the Free Trader published an article on the “Consequences of Slavery Agitation.”

In October, the Free Trader mused about “The Next Presidential Election” and “A Dissolution of the Union.” (35) The latter article speculated: “War between the States in the first period of their separate existence would be accompanied with much greater distresses than it commonly is in those countries where regular military establishments have long been sustained . . . The want of fortifications, leaving the frontier of one State open to another, would facilitate inroads. The populous States would with little difficulty overrun their less populous neighbors. Conquests would be as easy to be made as difficult to be retained. War, therefore, would be desultory and predatory. Plunder and devastation ever march in the train of irregulars.” (36)

Tensions did not subside in the years after 1857, and the South became more defensive of their “peculiar institution.” A Free Trader article from October 11, 1858, predicted the potential disaster waiting in the future. Titled “The Next President,” it discussed the dangers for the Democratic Party if the northern leadership did not recognize southern demands at the national convention scheduled in Charleston in the spring of 1860. “We will abide by the decision of the convention if it nominates the right sort of man.” The front-runner, Stephen Douglas, was not the right sort of man. The South would not be content with Douglas, the article implied, foreshadowing the Democratic split at Charleston by eighteen months or so.

Between the Free Trader editorial of 1858 and the summer of 1860, the sectional tension worsened and the nation was falling apart at the seams. John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry dominated the nation’s press in the fall of 1859, but many other smaller infractions, such as the distribution of Hinton Rowan Helper’s The Impending Crisis, helped to fan the flames. As predicted, the Charleston convention split the Democratic Party: northern Democrats had chosen Douglas, and southern Democrats had chosen Buchanan’s vice president, John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, as their presidential candidate. John Bell of Tennessee joined Lincoln, Breckinridge and Douglas as the Union candidate. The Free Trader joined with most of Mississippi’s major newspapers to support Breckinridge. The Courier supported Bell.

In the months leading up to the election, the Free Trader often devoted eighty percent of its space to the election, praising Breckinridge, undercutting Douglas, criticizing Bell, and vilifying Lincoln. An August 6 editorial looked back to the 1830s to attack Bell for being the only southern congressman to vote in favor of accepting anti-slavery petitions. Later in the campaign, the Free Trader printed articles making fun of Hillyer’s Courier for predicting a Bell victory in Mississippi, and called Bell a disunionist, a Know-Nothing, and a proscriptionist. (37) A September 17 article claimed that Douglas really had no intention of winning the election: he hoped that the split Democratic vote would throw the election to Lincoln, and the two had made an arrangement that Douglas would be Lincoln’s successor.

The Free Trader reported on abolitionist activity in Virginia and Texas and attributed it to Lincoln’s influence. In August, under the title “Let it be Understood,” the Free Trader proclaimed “that no Southerner, no Union-loving man, no patriot can vote for ABRAM LINCOLN, with honor!” (38)

In the sixty-year period from the origins of the Mississippi press to the start of the Civil War, the Natchez newspapers experienced a number of transformations because of changes in technology, society, culture, economics and politics. Before 1830, the attempt to put a finger on a single factor as the most important influence proves to be a difficult and largely subjective challenge simply because of the number of potential subjects. Andrew Marschalk’s personality and quirks appears to have had as much influence on the tone of political debates as any national policy. Public interest in the War of 1812 may have been the necessary spark to revive the newspapers in Natchez at a time when the Mississippi press suffered a low point. A changing economy, often referred to as the Market Revolution, probably affected the Natchez area as much as it transformed any region of the United States. (39) Innovations such as the steam boat and the telegraph certainly played a part in the development and role of the press. Many of these causes are inter-related, and quantifying their respective influences would be a difficult and perhaps impossible task.

After 1830, however, the task becomes easier. Many factors influenced the press, but Natchez newspapers were obsessed with defending slavery, demonizing abolitionists, and identifying political foes with the abolitionists, the slave status of Kansas, and the New Mexico Territory. By the 1850s, slavery could only be described as a positive good, ordained by God. Abolitionists accepted payment from foreign agitators, practiced fanaticism and acted on their irrational hatred of the South. The two Natchez newspapers, the Courier and the Free Trader, adopted different strategies to protect southern interests: the Whig Courier advocated a moderate reaction to perceived northern interference; the Democratic Free Trader preached a more extreme philosophy that made secession seem the only realistic target. But the moderate stance seemed more and more like dishonorable submission as the 1850s wore on. After the series of crises popularized and propagandized by the southern leadership, aided and abetted by the Natchez press and other newspapers throughout the South, secession and civil war seemed a natural alternative to many Americans, including enough non-slaveholding southerners to create a Confederate army effective for four years of war.


(1) Thomas Jefferson to John Holmes, April 22, 1820, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

(2) For a variety of proslavery arguments, see E.N. Elliot, editor, Cotton Is King (Augusta, GA: Pritchard, Abbot, & Loomis, 1860), especially “Liberty and Slavery: Or, Slavery in the Context of Moral and Political Philosophy,” pp. 273-289 and pp. 337-380; “The Bible Argument: Or, Slavery in the Light of Divine Revelation, pp. 461-521; and “The Bible Argument of Slavery,” pp. 841-877.

(3) Samuel Cartwright practiced as a physician in the Natchez area and was also one of the editors of the Statesman for a short time. He frequently wrote essays defending slavery and one of his essays, titled “The Education, Labor, and Wealth of the South,” was included in Cotton Is King, pp. 879-896.

(4) Mississippi Free Trader, August 25, 1835.

(5) Mississippi Free Trader, December 4, 1835.

(6) In 1843, Cartwright’s letters to Winans were collected in a book with the unwieldy title Essays, Being Inductions Drawn from the Baconian Philosophy Proving the Truth of the Bible and . . . of the Decree Dooming Canaan to Be the Servants of Servants . . . in a Series of Letters to the Rev. William Winans, (Vidalia, LA: s.n., 1843).

(7) Mississippi Free Trader, September 10, 1851.

(8) Mississippi Herald, September 2, 1806.

(9) Natchez Courier, March 15, 1843.

(10) Mississippi Free Trader, April 2, 1856.

(11) Mississippi Free Trader, January 26, 1860.

(12) For an example, see the Concordia Intelligencer, April 16, 1853.

(13) The Democratic Party held its controversial caucus in May 1835 to anoint Jackson’s chosen successor.

(14) Mississippi Free Trader, October 25, 1843.

(15) Mississippi Free Trader, August 2, 1848.

(16) Mississippi Free Trader, August 2, August 16, and August 23, 1848.

(17) Mississippi Free Trader, August 9, 1848.

(18) Mississippi Free Trader, August 30, 1848.

(19) Mississippi Free Trader, September 6, 1848.

(20) Mississippi Free Trader, August 30, 1848.

(21) Mississippi Free Trader, September 27, 1848.

(22) Natchez Courier, August 12, 1851.

(23) Natchez Courier, August 22, 1851.

(24) Natchez Courier, September 16, 1851.

(25) Mississippi Free Trader, August 2, 1851.

(26) Mississippi Free Trader, August 13, 1851.

(27) Mississippi Free Trader, October 11, 1851.

(28) Mississippi Free Trader, August 15, 1854.

(29) Mississippi Free Trader, August 22, 1854.

(30) Natchez Courier, September 12, 1854.

(31) Mississippi Free Trader, September 13, 1854.

(32) Mississippi Free Trader, September 20, 1854.

(33) Mississippi Free Trader, August 21, 1857.

(34) The Woodville Republican had published this sentence: “Rather than have a family quarrel in the Democratic party, let Kansas go.”

(35) Mississippi Free Trader, October 13, 1857. The first article was reprinted from the New York Day Book.

(36) Mississippi Free Trader, October 6, 1857.

(37) Mississippi Free Trader, August 27, September 3, and September 17, 1860.

(38) Mississippi Free Trader, August 27, 1860. Lincoln’s first name was often incorrectly printed as Abram.

(39) In the first half of the 19th century, technological advances in transportation and communications transformed the North American economy. Before the War of 1812, most rural Americans, remote and isolated from the ocean, rivers and large cities, lived in self-sufficient communities with little incentive to produce surplus agricultural products because of the high cost of transportation. Between 1810 and 1850, canals, improved roads, railroads and the steam boat improved accessibility to local and national markets, increasing the incentive for more small farmers to participate in the market economy. This change radically altered the way that Americans viewed markets, labor and land. See Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846 (New York, Oxford University Press, 1990), especially pp. 3-30.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


"But for the Sir Walter disease, the character of the Southerner — or Southron, according to Sir Walter's starchier way of phrasing it — it would be wholly modern, in place of modern and mediæval mixed, and the South would be fully a generation further advanced than it is . . . Sir Walter had so large a hand in making Southern character, as it existed before the war, that he is in great measure responsible for the war." - Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, 1883

"Looked through Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Mrs. Beecher Stowe. That book is womanish & I am afraid absurdly unprincipled; written by a woman clearly. I feel like I am the man for times coming." - Henry Hughes, The Diary of Henry Hughes of Port Gibson, 1852

"I consider that you have impeached my character. I demand satisfaction." - Courier editor Milford Prewett, to Free Trader editor T.A.S. Doniphan, published in the Courier on October 18, 1843

"[T]he very things necessary to the overthrow of American slavery, were left undone, while those essential to its prosperity were continued in the most active operation; so that, now, after more than a thirty years' war, we may say, emphatically, COTTON IS KING, and his enemies are vanquished." - David Christy, Slavery in the Light of Political Economy, 1860

The newspapers of Natchez served a number of purposes beyond the political, and at times, the political functions of the newspapers played a very minor role. Any attempt to document or analyze all of the purposes of the antebellum press would require a much larger work than this paper. However, the material in the Natchez newspapers covered a variety of subjects and served a number of purposes beyond those that have been examined in previous chapters. Two of the topics chosen for further examination, values and economics, display distinct characteristics of the southern way of life. The stringent demands of southern honor burrowed into every aspect of southern life. The subject of values permeates almost every other topic under discussion. Every attitude and opinion became a personal badge of honor, disagreements led to insults, and affairs of honor resulted, in which southern gentlemen defended their honor on a dueling field. The southerner considered any attack on slavery as an attack on his way of life. Slavery had to be justified and defended by any and every rationalization possible. Slavery, culture, economics, politics and values became inextricably mixed, and this mix shows up in the Mississippi press in a number of ways.

However, to be clear, it should be pointed out that southerners had interests beyond honor, slavery and cotton. The southern press, to reach as many readers as possible, had to appeal to other interests beyond politics and economics. More than a frontier, party or slave press, southern newspapers also included a wide range of material on oddities, entertainment, and culture that did not reflect a particularly southern orientation. For example, the following story, taken from a New England newspaper, appeared in the Daily Courier in the summer of 1854:

An Elephant at Large

"We learn from the Providence (R.I.) Journal, of the 6th inst., that the large elephant attached to the Broadway menagerie got loose from his keeper on the way from Pawtucket to Fall River, early yesterday morning. Before starting, his keeper made him lift the binder part of a wagon, loaded with 3500 pounds for the purpose of getting it into line. It is supposed that this, although not unusual, might have suggested to him the mode of attack which he adopted afterwards. When about seven miles from Pawtucket, he got free from the control of his keeper, and meeting a horse and wagon, belonging to Mr. Stafford Short, he thrust his tusk into the horse and lifted horse, wagon and rider into the air. He mangled the horse terribly and carried him about fifty feet, and threw the dead body into a pond. The wagon was broken to pieces, and Mr. Short considerably hurt. The elephant broke one of his enormous tusks in this encounter. A mile further the elephant, now grown more furious, attacked in the same manner a horse and wagon and wounded the horse, with Mr. Thomas W. Peck and his son. He broke the wagon and wounded the horse, which ran away. Mr. Peck was pretty badly hurt in the hip.

While the keepers were engaged in securing the smaller elephant, who had not, however, manifested any signs of insubordination, the larger one got off from them, and went on through Barneyville, when Mr. Mason Barney and another man mounted their horses and kept on the track as near to him as was prudent, giving warning of the danger to the passengers whom they met on the way. The elephant would occasionally turn to look at them, but did not attempt to molest them.

The next man in the path was Mr. Pearce, who was riding with his little son in a one-horse wagon. He was coming towards the elephant, and being warned by Mr. Barney, turned around and put the horse to his speed, but the elephant overtook him and seizing the wagon, threw it into the air, dashing it to pieces and breaking the collar bone and arm of Mr. Pearce. The horse, disengaged from the wagon, escaped with the fore wheels, and the elephant gave chase for eight miles, but did not catch him. The elephant came back from his unsuccessful pursuit and took up his march again on the main road, where he next encountered Mr. Jabez Eddy, with a horse and wagon. He threw up the whole establishment in the same way as before, smashing the wagon, killed the horse and wounded Mr. Eddy. He threw the horse twenty feet over a fence into the adjoining lot, then broke down the fence, went over and picked up the dead horse and deposited him in the road, where he had first met him.

He had killed one other horse and pursued another, who fled to a barn. The elephant followed, but at the door was met by a fierce bull dog, which bit his leg and drove him off.

Once on the route, the keeper being ahead of him, saw him plunge over a wall and make for a house. The keeper got into the house first, hurried the frightened people within to the upper story, and providing himself with an axe, succeeded in driving off the furious beast.

The elephant finally exhausted his strength, and laid himself down in the bushes, about two miles from Slade’s Ferry. Here he was secured with chains and carried over the ferry to Fall River. A part of the time he ran at the rate of a mile in three minutes."

This story fascinates modern audiences as it must have sparked the interest of the Rhode Island editor who originally included it in his paper and, later, the Natchez editor who reprinted it. Nothing particularly southern characterizes this story, and many other items from this period simply convey interesting tales of other nations, extraordinary people and exotic animals. Throughout the period being studied, newspaper editors often included unusual stories, such as the "Monstrous Negro" mentioned in the Weekly Courier and Journal in 1843. This four-year-old male slave had died in Louisville. The article claimed that the boy had achieved a height of four feet, one inch. At the age of one year, "he began developing in a manner that excited the astonishment of all who saw him. His hair grew with surprising rapidity over his entire body and face, giving him whiskers and beard, as luxuriant as an adult." He could lift 200 pounds. (2) Another oddity rated several articles in the fall of 1817 when the Washington Republican reported a sea serpent had been sighted near Boston, and the paper even reprinted a poem dedicated to the creature in a Boston paper. (3)

Another story that reads like it came from a modern supermarket tabloid claims that mammoths may have lived in North America until the middle of the 1700s. Titled "MAMMOTH," the 1818 article claimed to be from a letter written by an Indian agent at Fort Wayne in Indiana. "This country affords more recent remains of the Mammoth than any other . . . If any reliance can be placed upon the reports or traditions of the Indians, it is not more than 70 or 80 years since they last existed." The author claimed that Indians had brought molars to him with food still on them, and they offered to take him to the rest of the skeleton. The Indians claimed to know the habits of the creature: ". . . he did not lie down . . . he rested leaning against a tree. His food soft wood, of which he eats the whole tree." (4)

The general newspaper-reading public must have been interested in less lurid accounts of the world, as newspaper editors certainly devoted space to science and history. On January 5, 1838, the Free Trader printed a lecture on the "Great Superiority of the Ancients" about Pompeii. In the 1840s, Natchez newspapers published many short articles about the exploration of the Arctic, including many articles about the tragic Franklin expedition of 1845 and the long and dramatic search for survivors. (5)

In June 1843, the Free Trader devoted two full columns to John Lloyd Stephens's Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, discussing some of Stephens's conclusions about the history of the many ancient and ruined Mayan cities he visited in southeastern Mexico: "They were the creation of the races who inhabited the country at the time of the Spanish conquest or of their not very remote progenitors." (6) The article then expanded on this theme, explaining Stephens's evidence: writings of the Spaniards; wooden artifacts that remained in good shape, indicating a comparatively recent date for the civilizations; the indigenous people identified the cities as the homes of their ancestors; and the use of symbols associated with the ruins all across North America. "Passing by all the other evidences of the identity of the race of those who built these wonderful cities . . . with the wandering and degraded beings who now serve the Spaniards as menials, we come to one which is certainly sufficient of itself to convince the most skeptical. It is the print of the red hand upon the wall of almost every house or palace in every town, city or village explored. This the Indians said was the hand of the master of the house." The article claimed that Stephens confirmed that the red hand symbol could be found among many of the tribes of North America "and the red hand is seen constantly upon the buffalo robes and skins of wild animals brought in from the rocky mountains, and, in fact, it is a symbol recognized and in common use among the North American Indians of the present day." The author of the Free Trader analysis concluded that Stephens had successfully presented his case "that the builders of these cities were the immediate progenitors of the inhabitants of the country at the time of the Spanish conquest, and the forefathers of the present degraded race that now inhabits that country." (7)

Advertising in Natchez newspapers also provides clues to some of the diversions and entertainments of the people of the area. The newspapers distributed information about plays, races and clubs, as well as other uncommon entertainment. The Mississippi Herald of 1806 advertised Mr. Rannie, a ventriloquist from Europe who "will give a display of his various and unparalleled performances of extraordinary powers of ventriloquism . . . Mr. Rannie will imitate almost every kind of Birds and Beasts, in a manner that words cannot express." Mr. Rannie performed at the City Tavern and admittance cost one dollar. (8)

The same issue advertised an African lion, which could be viewed on a boat at Natchez-Under-the-Hill. The animal could not be viewed in Natchez proper because "the Den of the Lion is so particularly constructed that it would be absolutely necessary to take the boat entirely to pieces to remove him." Within a few years, the newspapers advertised whole menageries and circuses to entertain the people of Natchez. In 1837, the Free Trader printed a large ad with tempting graphics, promising elephants, hyenas, zebras, camels, llamas, quaggas, buffaloes and "THE UNICORN, OR ONE HORNED RHINOCEROS." In December the following year, the Free Trader announced the imminent arrival of H. Ludington's circus, which included the 12-piece Lafayette Band in addition to bears, camels, panthers, jaguars, lions, badgers, a Bengal tiger and an elephant. An ad page from November 1851 announced two circuses, Dan Rice's Circus and Spalding, Rogers & Orden's People's Circus, "Equestrian, Dramatic and Zoological, Circus, Theatre and Menagerie!"

The Natchez newspapers also kept readers informed of the latest developments in literature, and frequently printed poems and fiction. Local poetry appeared occasionally. Motivated by patriotism as well as literary interest, the Washington Republican published the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner" on October 26, 1814, a few weeks after Francis Scott Key composed it. The editors of these newspapers also printed the latest news on the most recent works of writers such as Washington Irving, Charles Dickens and Sir Walter Scott. (9) Editors sometimes published selections from prominent writers. The Mississippi Republican printed Irving's "Tale of Rip Van Winkle" in two parts in the winter of 1820, and the Free Trader printed selections from The Pickwick Papers in January 1838.

Discussions of literature could assume an unfavorable or political tone. An article in the Courier of August 9, 1843, expressed anger at Charles Dickens for sections of Martin Chuzzlewit, which portrayed Americans as loud, ignorant and vulgar. Southern commentators subjected Uncle Tom's Cabin to scathing criticism. The Concordia Intelligencer of Vidalia, Louisiana, across the river from Natchez, wrote an unfavorable review in 1853, ridiculing Harriet Beecher Stowe's situations as unrealistic and accusing her of advocating miscegenation. (10) The Free Trader objected to a version of the book written for children, titled Pictures and Stories from Uncle Tom's Cabin. The article characterized abolitionism as "crafty, false and base . . . casting its firebrands into the community to create a political conflagration" as it "denounces the Constitution, libels Washington, desecrates the flag of our country and threatens to apply the torch of the incendiary to the national capitol." The Free Trader argued that the juvenile version of Uncle Tom's Cabin, was "calculated to produce a lasting impression on the minds of children too young to reason . . . and it would be perhaps impossible to impress in maturer years, a true view of negro slavery on the mind of one who in his earliest years had been taught abolitionism, with all the fascinating charms of fanciful poetry and pictures adapted to the capacity and appealing to the sensibilities of a child." (11)

The newspapers reflected southern values, influencing and reinforcing attitudes towards slavery, women and honor. Just as the Natchez press defended slavery and trivialized blacks through pseudo-scientific jargon, Biblical justifications and ridicule, it also revealed condescending and dismissive attitudes about gender, when gender issues received any attention at all. Demure, timid women like those of the South were obediently enacting God's intended role for women. Loud, opinionated women like the females who seemed to fill the abolitionist ranks were defiant in the eyes of God and disrupting the peace of the nation.

Natchez readers occasionally found articles that claimed to examine women's attitudes across the nation, such as an item titled "Kissing Customs" in an 1837 issue of the Free Trader. For example, a girl from Alabama, the recipient of an impudent kiss, reportedly remarked, "'I reckon it is my turn now,' and gives him a box on the ear that he didn't forget until next week!" (12) A similar article, titled "How the Girls of the U.S. Kiss — By Region," appeared a decade later in the Courier.

A glance at the titles of articles pertaining to women and male-female relationships confirms that an omnipresent paternalism clouds the attitudes of the southern readership: "Woman's Ample Temper," (13) "How to Wed a Woman," (14) and "Can't Please Old Maids." (15) In October 1829, the Southern Galaxy printed a number of articles that offered advice on "Courtship," "Rules for Husbands," "Rules for Wives," and even a number of "Reasons for Not Marrying." (16) A Free Trader article of 1858 discussed "When Ladies Should Be Looked At":

"Nature and custom would no doubt agree in conceding to all males the right of at least two distinct looks at every comely female countenance, without any infraction of the rules of courtesy or the sentiment of respect . . . It is astonishing how morbidly sensitive some vulgar beauties are to the slightest demonstration of this kind. When a lady walks the streets she leaves her virtuous indignation countenance at home; she knows well enough that the street is a picture gallery, where pretty faces framed in pretty bonnets [are] meant to be seen, and everybody has a right to see them." (17)

The newspapers seldom mentioned women involved in politics except, occasionally, to ridicule the idea in general or to launch a specific attack on abolitionists because of the prominent role of northern women in the movement. An 1838 item mentioned women while complaining of 500 anti-slavery petitions hindering the real business of the House of Representatives: "It is worthy to note that more than half of the petitions of this character are from the female sex. They were all laid upon the table without further discussion. No other business of importance was attended to. Thus it is that the time of congress is worse than wasted by the infatuated policy of fanatics and knaves." (18)

Southern values, founded on exaggerated ideas of honor and class, demanded a very rigid view of the world, a perspective that had to be defended with guns, if necessary. This inflated attachment to the idea of personal honor gradually transformed slavery the necessary evil to slavery the positive good. This sense of honor also created a class of gentlemen who felt it necessary to defend every perceived slight and insult on a field of honor. (19) Dueling is included as a topic because of several incidents carefully recorded in the newspapers that supplied sufficient material for analysis and comment. By the time of the Besançon-Armat unpleasantness of 1837, dueling had died out in the North, but its appeal still attracted self-styled southern gentlemen to the dueling grounds of the South, even New York natives like Besançon. As late as 1857, James W. McDonald staunchly defended his decision to duel on the Sabbath. The cult of the duel and its worship of southern honor remained a particularly southern phenomenon all through the period under consideration, and the press illustrates the importance of southern honor and provides many examples of how it operated.

The newspapers provide some interesting and not entirely unexpected insight into the importance of dueling, the manner in which duels came about, and changing attitudes towards dueling. Natchez newspapers documented many duels. Commodore Stephen Decatur, the naval hero of the war against the Barbary States of Tripoli and the War of 1812, died after a duel with another naval officer in 1820. The Mississippi Republican, knowing what interested its readers, devoted three columns to the correspondence between Decatur, Commodore James Barron and their friends as they unsuccessfully sought to find a way to avert the duel. (20)

Newspaper editors, publishing political views in such a public manner on a weekly basis, found themselves the target of many challenges. Some of the editors issued these challenges themselves. And newspaper editors sometimes printed these challenges and the ensuing correspondence to counteract "much misapprehension," as one editor explained in 1837, when the Free Trader devoted more than half a page to the correspondence that passed between Lorenzo Besançon, Thomas Armat, and ten other Natchez residents as they successfully clarified that the alleged insult resulted from a misunderstanding, negating the need for an exchange of fire.

The Free Trader had mistakenly identified Natchez lawyer and politician Thomas Armat as the author of an article titled "Rules" that appeared in the Courier on May 25, 1837. The article listed seven rules that explained how "the most insignificant man may bring himself into pretty considerable notice" by pretending to be "'undecided as to whether he is an administration man or a whig' until interest regulates his 'principles.'" The article also noted that a man could be appointed a commissioner just by hanging around and pestering the legislature. Besançon interpreted the "Rules" article as a personal attack against himself — and not without reason. The New Yorker had arrived in Natchez two years previously and started his career in the city by working for the Courier, the Whig newspaper. By the end of 1835, Besançon started a Democratic newspaper, the Free Trader. He had also been appointed to the position of state bank commissioner. These and other hints convinced Besançon that the article targeted him.

Besançon suspected Armat and published a snide reference to the article in the Free Trader on May 27, identifying the author as someone who "lately got into the legislature to fill a vacancy." Armat, knowing he had been identified as the author of "Rules," wrote to Besançon the same day and asked "whether or not you alluded, or intended to allude to me." Besançon dashed off a note to Armat, asking point blank if he had written the article. Armat eventually denied he had written "Rules," but he refused to answer the question directly in his earliest communications with Besançon. Several letters passed, and the tone became more severe and unyielding. Before the end of May 28, Armat claimed that Besançon's "evasive note" added "insult to injury" and left him "no other alternative than a meeting."

Both parties designated friends to arrange a meeting, and a series of notes passed between Besançon, Armat, A.S. Thurston, Thomas Johnston, James Edward, J.M. Duffield, G.S. Cook, John Quitman, R.M. Gaines, E. Garnett Howell, C. Rawlings, A.E. Addison and Samuel H.B. Black. Nearly 20 letters circulated before the principals decided on "Rules to govern the meeting to take place between Thos. Armat and L.A. Besançon." The duel would take place on June 1, 1837, across the river in Louisiana "on the levee opposite Natchez." A surgeon and two friends would attend both duelists. Separated by thirty paces, each duelist would have four pistols, one in each hand and two "fastened to the body by an ordinary belt not exceeding three inches in breadth, and to be made of material not to obstruct the entrance of a ball." They did not just start blasting away at each other. The letter lists thirteen rules for this engagement, written by Col. G.S. Cook for his friend Besançon and approved by Mr. Duffield on behalf of Armat. The duelists could advance on each other after the order to "Fire" was given, but they had to advance in a straight line; zigzagging was not allowed. The final article shows the seriousness of this duel: "The fight to close after either or both parties shall have been killed, or so badly wounded as to be unable to proceed in the fight, and not before."

Since Armat had not written the offending article, friends of the two men interceded and, after a further flurry of notes and letters, both men were satisfied that their honor could be preserved without a duel. Word had gotten around that Armat and Besançon might engage in a battle, so Besançon, on June 1, published a notice that the difficulty between himself and Armat had been resolved but he would continue to seek the name of the author of "Rules" from the Courier editor. (21) On June 3, the Free Trader published all the correspondence, as well as the original Courier article.

In the fall of 1843, the opposing editors of the two Natchez newspapers exchanged notes, but the matter did not end in a duel. The editor of the Free Trader, T.A.S. Doniphan, claimed that he was morally opposed to dueling. Courier editor Milford Prewett objected to an article in the Free Trader that claimed that the unnamed editor of the Courier had "repudiated his own honest debts" and fled Texas "to escape the gallows on which his companions had expiated their crimes." Letters passed between Doniphan and Prewett, but the Free Trader editor's answers did not satisfy Prewett, who issued this challenge on October 7, 1843: "SIR — I consider that you have impeached my character. I demand satisfaction."

Doniphan responded the same day: "I have received your call for satisfaction. It is well known that I am principled against dueling — being an invasion of the laws both of my country and my god, all of which I wish to obey and respect as a good citizen. I cannot therefore accept your polite invitation."

Prewett printed all of the preceding notes in the Courier on October 18 and attacked Doniphan's character for refusing the challenge:

"So it seems Mr. Doniphan is willing to 'damn by insinuation,' to stab the character of a fellow being without making any reparation, whatever. He would vilify and abuse in the most outrageous and scurrilous manner, and then seek refuge, not behind 'the laws of my country and my God,' for which he hypocritically intimates that he entertains the most Christian-like reverence; but by pitifully sneaking out of responsibility for his own deliberate and malicious acts."

Whatever public disapproval Doniphan may have suffered for refusing to duel did not affect his ability to run a newspaper as he continued as editor of the Free Trader until 1848.

The case came to the attention of the authorities and Prewett was charged with issuing a challenge to a duel. Court documents characterized Prewett as "a person of a turbulent and quarrelsome temper and disposition and contriving and intending only to vex, infuse and disquiet" Doniphan. The case was thrown out of court and Prewett was never tried. (22)

Two Mississippi editors fought a duel in 1857 but, in contrast to Besançon's penchant for full disclosure, the court documents and the scant coverage in the newspapers provide few details. James W. McDonald, editor of the Mississippi Free Trader, fought a duel with R.H. Purdom of the Port Gibson Herald on April 10, 1857, for causes undetermined. McDonald was arrested in December and charged with "leaving the state to fight a duel and fighting a duel out of this state." Purdom issued the challenge on a Saturday, and McDonald chose the next morning as the date for the duel. The participants crossed the river at Grand Gulf and fought the duel in Louisiana. The proceedings culminated in further violence the same day among members of the dueling party as one of the seconds, William H. Wood, was charged with trying to kill John W. Inge.

McDonald's case was dismissed in May 1858, and Wood's case attracted the attention of Governor John McRae who, in a letter from September 1857, suggested that Wood should not be prosecuted if the prosecutor was of the opinion that "Wood acted in self-defense or ... a conviction is doubtful." The governor suggested that Wood should be able "to prosecute his intention of going out in the Nicaragua Expedition." (23)

McDonald shed a little light on this murky affair in the Free Trader while responding to a critical notice in the True Witness, a Presbyterian newspaper, which attacked McDonald because he fought a duel on a Sunday. McDonald defended the Sabbath duel by saying he wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. He "wanted to give [satisfaction] at the earliest moment; he therefore named the next morning, without in fact, thinking that it was Sunday." McDonald wrote at length, attacking the True Witness and its "ungentlemanly notice." McDonald felt particularly insulted at the characterization of the practice of dueling as "cowardly." He also criticized the True Witness as a supporter of Know Nothing politics, asking "whether a man professing christian is worthy of confidence who will stealthily slip into a Know Nothing den, for the purpose of assisting in putting into power a political party whose object and inevitable result would have been the establishment of a religious test in this land of religious freedom?" (24)

Dueling remained popular in the South until the Civil War, long after it had died out in the North. (25) Public sentiment against dueling developed in the later decades of this period, and Doniphan displayed no unusual views with his antipathy to dueling. (26) Natchez newspapers advertised anti-dueling societies and occasionally reported the tragedy of dueling, such as an article from Doniphan's Free Trader titled "Another Duel and Another Editor Killed." Two editors of Vicksburg exchanged four rounds and a Mr. Ryan fell dead. "We know nothing of the circumstances that led to the meeting, and only regret, that in what is called a Christian country, persons should be misled to settle difficulties in this summary monstrous manner." (27)

Economic information, a consistently important feature of newspapers, always took up a large amount of space in the Natchez newspapers. Southern businessmen needed information on advertising, domestic and international markets, prices on commodities, especially cotton, and economic news on a regular basis, as quickly as possible. Through the antebellum period, newspaper editors regularly checked other newspapers, the mail and almanacs for the latest economic information. As transportation and communication technology improved, news arrived from steamboats, the telegraph and the railroad, and Natchez editors had to compete with each other and with newspapers across the region to report economic news as quickly as possible. Representative of the kind of timely news presented by Natchez editors for interested businessmen, newspapers of the 1850s often published a "Telegraphic" section of very short news summaries. For example, the Free Trader devoted a whole column to single-line notices. Along with international news on a treaty with China, Queen Victoria's visit to Germany, and a fire on the steamer Agamemnon, the Free Trader also reported that, on the foreign markets, "Flour is quiet, Wheat steady. Coffee dull." Further, the European exchanges, particularly Paris, were "very firm." The telegraphic news reported on Liverpool markets, the New York Weekly Bank Statement, New York Markets, the New Orleans Cotton Market and the Cincinnati Market.

Aside from these timely reports of vital economic information, Natchez newspapers also analyzed economic trends, and editors often included editorials on new crops and techniques, warnings that the South needed to diversify its agriculture, commentary on banking and the railroad, and miscellaneous items of a commercial nature.

"Cotton is King," from an 1854 Free Trader, reprinted the statistics from a Philadelphia Enquirer article, showing the growth of cotton exports, expanding from 570,000 bales in 1824 to well over three million bales in 1853. Another Philadelphia newspaper added this commentary about the nature of the cotton trade: "It dictates the whole course of foreign and domestic policy, appoints men to office and dismisses them, teaches wisdom to Congressmen, and furnishes judges with learning and ingenuity to construe constitutions and laws. Cotton directs the movements of armies and navies, negotiates treaties, organizes Territories, and erects sovereign states. Yes, friend Enquirer, Cotton is King!" (28)

From time to time, the newspapers warned the Natchez planters of the dangers of the monoculture economy and the economic system that had developed around slavery and cotton. The Courier reprinted an article from the Vicksburg Whig that encouraged the southern business interests to develop manufacturing in the region. "We fear that the South will wait for the worst teachings of bitter experience, before she will make an attempt towards that diversification of industry which is known to be the great secret of success in every prosperous community …. When her planters have worn out noble lands and have broken up old associations in removing from these to others which must be reclaimed from the wilderness of nature at vast expense — when this has been done, we say, through a few more generations, then some voice crying in the wilderness may awake the South to the necessity of completing the circle of industry." (29)

The same issue featured an article from the New York Journal of Commerce, reporting on the efforts of Dr. Junius Smith, who had acquired seven cases of black and green tea plants and hoped to "proceed to the South, soon, with a view of forming a plantation." The article goes on to suggest that "we have now the means in hand of extending tea plantations throughout such sections of our country as may be found adapted to their culture."

In the summer of 1851, the Courier reprinted an article from the New Orleans Bulletin: "To the Cotton Planters of the United States." It took up two full columns and warned cotton growers about the dangers of glutting the market, picking the cotton too early just to get it to market first, and selling too low. Imprudent business practices on the part of southern planters enabled the cotton buyers in the North and in England to buy cotton cheaply every season. "Planters knowing how easily and to what extent prices are affected by an over supply, should … keep at home one-fourth or one-third of their respective crops, which would correct the evil. The better remedy, however, would be to plant less cotton, and raise more corn, oats, hay, peas, mules, sheep and hogs; make more of articles for home use and buy less …. So long as planters strive to make so much more cotton than is wanted, strive to hurry a few bales to market earlier than his neighbor, talk very loudly of their growing crop, and publish in the newspapers the first blossom on the first boll of cotton open, with a view to precedence of their neighbors …. they must expect ruinously low prices …. Will the cotton planters never learn to be wise, and only supply the demand." (30)

By the 1830s, railroads and canals transformed the Northeast, and a larger proportion of the upper Mississippi Valley's trade — that had formerly been transported down the Mississippi — turned to the east via northern railroads and the Erie Canal. At first Natchez leaders seemed to be dragging their heels in formulating a plan to take advantage of the new technology, but eventually some Natchez civic and political leaders considered the transportation revolution and wondered how to bring its benefits to the Lower Mississippi Valley and to Natchez. City leaders got serious when a railroad from Vicksburg to Jackson began to lure business away from Natchez, and a Louisiana consortium proposed a route between New Orleans and Nashville that bypassed Natchez and went through Jackson.

A group of investors formed The Mississippi Railroad Company to finance and build a line from Natchez to Jackson to connect with the longer route. However, the Panic of 1837 hindered all attempts to get financing or credit to finish building the line. John Quitman's trip to Europe to tap sources in England, France and Germany proved fruitless during the 1837 worldwide depression. Critics accused the directors of company of mismanagement, and by the early 1840s, the Mississippi Railroad Company declared bankruptcy. Only twenty-five miles of track had been constructed before the abandonment of the project. The newspapers participated in this drama, editorializing on the importance of the railroad, criticizing or praising civic leaders, reporting on the meetings of the board of directors, and repeating rumors of corruption. (31)

After the failure of the Mississippi Railroad Company, newspaper editors realized the potential economic calamity to the future of the region if the railroads bypassed Natchez. Both the Free Trader and the Courier advocated resumption of railroad construction to connect Natchez with Jackson, one of the few things both newspapers agreed on during their long rivalry. An 1843 Free Trader article referred to the pseudonymous Courier author of a pro-railroad article as "an able writer" and commended him for being "industriously engaged in remonstrating against the surrender of the railroad." The article argued that the expense to finish the line would be worth it in the long run: "Mississippi is not rich enough to throw away the hundreds of thousands of dollars already expended on the road. Works of this kind are always to be numbered among those which it is more economical to keep on good repair than to permit to go to ruin by neglect — or by the most foolish of all delays — waiting for better times. The only 'better times' which Mississippi, or any other agricultural State will ever know, must come from an energetic cultivation of its never-failing soil, and by affording every facility for the transportation and exchange of its staple productions for those of other parts of this country and foreign climes. The railway is the only great measure for this facilitation in southern Mississippi." (32)

A few weeks later, the Courier responded to "some wiseacres" who had asserted "that the railroad from Vicksburg to Jackson, had proved an injury to the trade of Vicksburg, and consequently a railroad from Natchez to the interior, would prove injurious to Natchez." The author disputed this assertion, differentiating between the economic possibilities experienced at a trading point and a shipping point. Vicksburg, a shipping point, enjoyed very little of the robust trade that characterized economic relations in Natchez. Vicksburg planters relied on New Orleans merchants for their goods and, when the Panic of 1837 destroyed credit relations, Vicksburg planters suffered more from the ensuing chaos than Natchez planters. "I therefore contend," continued the article in the Courier, "that Vicksburg never enjoyed a trade susceptible of being affected injuriously by the railroad . . . it was fondly hoped that the completion of the railroad to Jackson would concentrate the whole trade of the interior to Vicksburg. This hope, however, proved fallacious." The article espoused the differing circumstances of Natchez, and explained that these conditions exactly corresponded to all the elements that would benefit from a railroad to the interior of the state. "[T]he people of Vicksburg have now learned, that to create a home market, it requires not only the facilities of transportation to their city afforded by a railroad; but a healthy location, a cash capital sufficient to purchase the commodity offered by the planter, a supply of goods and merchandise commensurate with the trade, rendered cheap by direct importation and active competition, together with a command of shipping equal to the commerce of the place — a facility for exportation, essentially requisite to the merchant, to render trade mutually advantageous to both parties. But will any one affirm that these requisites are not possessed by Natchez? Is not this the most healthy location for a commercial mart in the whole southwest?" (33)

From these examples, it is clear that the economic role of the newspaper extended far beyond advertising and market reports. Raw data had to be analyzed and interpreted, and the best businessmen looked into the future, seeking visionary ideas for development and investment. Natchez newspapers supplemented specialized journals, such as DeBow’s Review, in providing information on trends and opportunities.

Newspaper readers of antebellum Natchez, like newspaper readers everywhere, wanted a variety of reading material and information. A large number of desired customers preferred economic information on a regular basis and political material almost as often. During elections, political material dominated, but the rest of the time, newspapers provided a greater variety to attract as many potential customers as possible. Natchez editors knew that the potential readership had interests beyond economics and politics. They included many items of general interest, poetry, international news, philosophical musings, literary criticisms, travel reports, lectures, club announcements and other subjects.

An attempt to record and analyze every important trend in the Natchez newspapers would require a work much larger than this one. This chapter documents a sampling of non-political roles of the press in Natchez. The existence of so much material and such a variety of items make it easy to find interesting topics to expand on but difficult to make choices and devote adequate attention to any single topic. It would be easy to write this chapter with completely different topics and completely different examples and still convey the same general idea.

Fitting some of the random items on popular culture into the framework of southern beliefs proved to be a largely pointless task in regards to most of the material. Southerners loved plays, books and circuses as much as northerners. But critics savaged books like Uncle Tom's Cabin, a major and glaring exception to any attempt to generalize about the South and popular culture as a whole. Attitudes expressed in the Natchez newspapers generally reflected popular opinions. Each particular newspaper advocated the policies and personalities of a specific party, but editors generally hoped to attract a larger readership by supporting, in general, the basic ideas and beliefs of the population.

Natchez newspapers also expressed economic attitudes unique to the Deep South. Whenever an editorial justified slavery, or characterized slavery as a positive good, it also defended an economic system, as well as political and cultural beliefs. I included several articles about cotton to show how completely this crop dominated the culture of the South, demanded the justifications of slavery, and dictated the rigid devotion to honor rampant in the South. By the 1850s, planters — set in their ways and dedicated to extracting as much profit out of their investment as possible — found it difficult to transform southern agriculture, despite warnings in the press. The Natchez press reflected southern culture, with its stubborn reliance on slavery, and unconsciously demonstrated the dangers of intolerance and isolationism that eventually led to the Civil War.


(1) Natchez Daily Courier , June 17, 1854.

(2) Natchez Weekly Courier and Journal, September 5, 1843.

(3) Washington Republican, September 20 and December 6, 1817.

(4) Mississippi Republican, April 9, 1818.

(5) John Franklin was the leader of a polar expedition to the Arctic planned by the Royal Navy. The expedition disappeared in the 1840s, prompting many expeditions to search for Franklin and his crew, including the efforts of several American expeditions. Remains of the ships, expedition equipment, and a few graves were found, but the real story of what happened to the Franklin expedition remains a mystery.

(6) The article in the Free Trader, mentions that Stephens had concluded in an earlier book that the cities of the Yucatan had been built by an ancient race of the Old World. By 1843, Stephens had done more research and changed his conclusions.

(7) Mississippi Free Trader, June 21, 1843.

(8) Mississippi Herald, several issues in January 1806.

(9) Scott wrote many of his novels anonymously until the mid-1820s when the secret got out, but his poetry was well-known in the South long before he was publicly identified as the author of the Waverly novels and Ivanhoe.

(10) Concordia Intelligencer, April 16, 1853.

(11) Mississippi Free Trader, September 15, 1854.

(12) Mississippi Free Trader, November 9, 1837.

(13) Natchez Cutter, May 18, 1841.

(14) Mississippi Free Trader, September 6, 1858.

(15) Mississippi Free Trader, September 6, 1858.

(16) Southern Galaxy, October 22, 1829.

(17) Mississippi Free Trader, September 6, 1858.

(18) Natchez Courier and Journal, January 5, 1838.

(19) Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor, pp. 25-114, 362-401.

(20) Mississippi Republican, May 9, 1820.

(21) William Johnson mentioned it in a diary entry for May 30, 1837. "Whilst I was Down at the Landing to day I was told that those Gentleman that had Crossed the River was then about to fight a Duel. It was thot to be Besancon and Armat that had gone across but it was a mistake for they had not gone over … Mr Besancon told me this morning that he had been very much abused by the other party, and that he would fight the whole Concern of them, but what, he would be Satisfied or Revenged He seemed to have a good Strong Disposition to whale Mr Mellen if he met him anywhere and said also that Mr Black would get a fall through the course of the day." William R. Hogan and Edwin A Davis, editors, William Johnson's Natchez: The Antebellum Diary of a Free Negro (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1951), p. 179.

(22) State of Mississippi v. Milford N. Prewett, 1843, Natchez Historical Foundation, Natchez, Mississippi.

(23) The Nicaragua Expedition refers to a filibustering mission then being organized by William Walker to invade and conquer Nicaragua. Walker led one expedition to take over northern Mexico and several expeditions to Central America before he was executed by the Honduran government in 1860.

(24) The State of Mississippi v. James W. McDonald, 1857; The State of Mississippi v. William H. Wood, 1857, Natchez Historical Foundation, Natchez, Mississippi; Mississippi Free Trader, April 28, 1857.

(25) For a comparison of northern and southern views on honor and how these views changed in the 19th century, see Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor, pp. 15-22 and 360-367.

(26) Doniphan did get into a few fights and scuffles that are mentioned in William Johnson's diary. He also turned down a challenge to a duel on at least one other occasion, chronicled by Johnson on April 20, 1841.

(27) Mississippi Free Trader, March 6, 1844.

(28) Mississippi Free Trader, September 15, 1854.

(29) Natchez Courier, November 28, 1848.

(30) Natchez Courier, August 15, 1851.

(31) See James, Antebellum Natchez, pp. 190-192 and 215-216, and May, John A. Quitman: Old South Crusader, pp. 99-106, for more information on the troubles of the Mississippi Railroad Company. These include many citations from a number of Mississippi newspaper articles commenting on the railroad.

(32) Mississippi Free Trader, August 2, 1843.

(33) Natchez Weekly Courier and Journal, September 6, 1843.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Natchez experienced great changes in the years between the American acquisition of the Mississippi Territory and the devastating years of the Civil War. Natchez, a small and isolated frontier town in 1800, grew into a thriving economic center by 1860. Though surpassed by Vicksburg and especially New Orleans, Natchez remained an important town on the Lower Mississippi throughout the antebellum period. With the addition of the Louisiana Territory in 1803, the annexation of Texas in 1845, and the cession of most of northern Mexico in 1848, Natchez lost its frontier status and became a growing and settled city in the center of a communication and transportation revolution. The steamboat and the railroad encouraged population and economic growth. In addition to the changes prompted by these general improvements, advances in printing technology also affected the newspapers, increasing circulation and transforming the way they looked. The transformation from territorial capital to cotton boom town took place in only sixty years. In the transition from frontier press to party press to slavery press, Natchez journalists knew that residents wanted the news, and the editors, eager and ambitious, strived to satisfy these customers.

The men who operated the presses, wrote the editorials, kept track of subscribers and collected articles came from many backgrounds and ran their newspapers with motives of generating a little profit and perhaps employing a little political influence. The lean days of the early decades of the 1800s — when Natchez was a newspaper graveyard — gave way to prosperous and more stable times in the 1820s and 1830s. Supported by the growing cotton economy, Natchez supported two newspapers for nearly thirty years, and the rivalry of the Democratic Free Trader and the Courier provides an informative record of the political rhetoric, the issues and the party conflicts of the decades before the Civil War. The Natchez Courier's uneasy transition from Whig to Know-Nothing to Union demonstrates the problems for moderate white southerners who shunned the extreme positions of the secessionists so firmly entrenched among southern Democrats.

Southern society paid a very high price for the prosperity derived from King Cotton. The growth of the profitable cotton business revived and transformed the slave system, dying in the North and declining in the South in 1800. By 1830, southern slaveholders raking in huge profits from slavery could no longer tolerate the disparagement of slavery, the growth of the abolitionist movement, and the challenges to their Christian view of themselves. If slaveholding was evil, then a society that tolerated, permitted and promoted slavery must be evil as well. Therefore, slavery was a positive good, the slaves must be happy and well-cared for, and southerners felt that the white man was the real victim of slavery, acting out God's plan by taking care of the helpless black man and providing him with useful work.

The story told is largely within the larger transformation of Natchez from territorial capital in 1800 to a center of the Cotton Kingdom in 1860, and the changing role of the press in the region. The press was the creation of a vibrant set of individuals who showed common traits. They were ambitious, literate men, seeking fame and fortune in the world of Natchez journalism. The nature of the profession attracted men who had little reason to challenge the existing slave system. (1) An editor who had his doubts about the peculiar institution either quit or kept his doubts to himself, especially after 1830 and an increasing number of incidents of violence against suspected abolitionists. Most Natchez journalists eagerly became part of the system, purchasing land and slaves as they embraced ideals of southern honor, white mastery, and black inferiority.

The journalists slanted the contents of their publications to support views of black inferiority and the paternal benefits of slavery. Slavery's defenders rationalized the superiority of southern culture by pointing out Biblical precedent for slavery, presenting pseudoscientific observations that claimed biological proof of mental and moral failing among Africans, attacking abolitionist extremism, and other dubious justifications. Even as competing Natchez newspapers sniped at each other over local and state issues, they joined together to condemn and sensationalize the actions of abolitionists, northerners and Republicans. Every national incident became a crisis as northerners sought to limit the extent of slavery and to minimize the power of the slave states. Slave state politicians, desperate to retain their power, exploited the gains of the Mexican War, the secession crisis of 1850, Bleeding Kansas, the Dred Scott case, Harper's Ferry and other events. The newspapers supported the slave power by printing inflammatory and often erroneous interpretations of events.

Although always political and always combative, the Natchez press was also entertaining and reflective of the values, culture, and economy of slavery. The newspapers reported on the events and motivations of duels, feuds and other conflicts, and have become a record of many details of southern honor and how it affected newspapers and the society at large. Southern reflections on national culture also provide many proofs of the southern devotion to their infallibility and they lengths they went to preserve their view of themselves. Economic information centered on cotton markets, although the newspapers did offer articles on other issues, such as transportation and crop diversification.

The Cotton Kingdom thrived on slavery, and southern leaders did not have the vision to face the real problems of slavery and the inequalities in Dixie. The southerner's view of himself and his society could not endure abolitionist attacks on the realistic excesses of the slave system and the basic moral arguments against the institution of slavery in any form. Southerners became defensive, sensitive and intolerant on the subject of slavery. The press played its role, supporting southern prejudices, distributing justifications for slavery and promoting white supremacy for the mollification of the southern planter. By the election of 1860, the rigors of southern honor demanded a capitulation so audacious and unreasonable that the North could not acquiesce. Secession and Civil War must have seemed inevitable, to any critical reader of the Natchez press, long before Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter.


(1) Abolitionist newspapers existed in slave states, but they were very rare and subject to life-threatening harassment. Cassius Clay, of Louisville, Kentucky, is probably the most famous of the southern abolitionist editors. Several attempts were made to drive Clay out of business or assassinate him.




Alexander K. Farrar Papers, Louisiana State University, Department of Archives and Manuscripts, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Andrew Marschalk Papers, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson, Mississippi.


Deed Records, Books A-LL, 1780-1860, Natchez Chancery Clerk’s Office, Adams County, Mississippi.

Chancery and Circuit Court Records, 1800-1860, Natchez Historic Foundation, Natchez, Mississippi.

U.S. Census, Adams Co., Mississippi, 1820-1860, Manuscript Schedules, Natchez Project Archives, California State University, Northridge, California.


Cartwright, Samuel. Essays, Being Inductions Drawn from the Baconian Philosophy Proving the Truth of the Bible and the Justice and Benevolence of the Decree Dooming Canaan to Be a Servant of Servants; And Answering the Question of Voltaire:"On demande quel droit des étangers tells que les juifs avaient sur le pays de Canaan?" In a series of letters to Rev. William Winans. Vidalia, LA: s.n., 1843.

Cross, J.C. The Purse; or, Benevolent Tar. Boston: W. Pelham, 1791. Music by William Reeve. (Musical Comedy.)

Elliott, E.N., editor. Cotton Is King, and Proslavery Arguments: Comprising the writings of Hammond, Harper, Christy, Stringfellow, Hodge, Bledsoe, and Cartwright, on this important subject. Augusta, GA: Pritchard, Abbot, & Loomis, 1860.

Hogan, William R, and Edwin A. Davis, editors. William Johnson's Natchez: The Antebellum Diary of Free Negro. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1951.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.


Natchez, Mississippi

Ariel, 1825-1829
Green's Impartial Observer, 1800-1801
Mississippi Free Trader, 1835-1861
Mississippi Herald, 1802-1808
Mississippi Messenger, 1805-1808
Mississippi Republican, 1812-1824
Mississippi State Gazette, 1818-1825
Natchez Courier, 1833-1871
Natchez Cutter, 1841
Natchez Democrat, 1865-1871
Natchez Gazette, 1825-1827, 1830-1832
Southern Galaxy, 1828-1830
Statesman and Gazette, 1827-1829
Weekly Chronicle, 1808-1811

Washington, Mississippi

Washington Republican, 1813-1817

Vidalia, Louisiana

Concordia Intelligencer, 1841-1858



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