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A Legal History of MississippiRace, Class, and the Struggle for Opportunity$
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Joseph A. Ranney

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781496822574

Published to University Press of Mississippi: January 2020

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496822574.001.0001

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“A Refractory and Turbulent Spirit”: Origins of Mississippi Law

“A Refractory and Turbulent Spirit”: Origins of Mississippi Law

Chapter:
(p.10) Chapter One “A Refractory and Turbulent Spirit”: Origins of Mississippi Law
Source:
A Legal History of Mississippi
Author(s):

Joseph A. Ranney

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496822574.003.0002

Mississippi operated under a civil-law system for more than a century as a French and Spanish colony, a system very different from the common-law system that replaced it after the United States acquired Mississippi. Important elements of civil law were preserved in the new territory’s law and in its first legal code, created by governor Winthrop Sargent (1798-99). After statehood (1817) political power shifted away from Natchez planters and merchants to the small planters and farmers who settled the rest of the state. Mississippi’s legal system likewise evolved from one that favored the Natchez aristocracy to one based on popular democracy and the promotion of economic opportunity. The state’s second constitution (1832) vividly expressed these ideals.

Keywords:   Mississippi, Territory, Winthrop Sargent, Civil law, Common law

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