Sixty years ago, one historian described state legal history as a “wasteland,” a neglected but vitally important part of American history. Legal histories of individual states are now beginning to appear. With this book, Mississippi joins their ranks. The book describes the evolution of Mississippi’s legal system and analyses the changes in that system during the state’s first 200 years. The book examines the interaction of law and society during six key periods of change: (1) Mississippi’s colonial and territorial eras and early years of statehood, when the foundations for its legal system were laid; (2) the evolution of Mississippi slavery and slave law during the early nineteenth century; (3) the state’s role as a leader of legal reform during the age of Andrew Jackson; (4) the unfolding of the Mississippi’s legal response to emancipation and wartime economic devastation during the Reconstruction and early Jim Crow eras; (5) Mississippi’s legal evolution during the Progressive Era and its response to the crisis of the Great Depression; and (6) the state’s legal response to the civil rights and cultural revolutions that have unfolded since 1950.