1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mississippi
MISSISSIPPI (see 18.599).—The pop. in 1920 was 1,790,618, a decrease of 6,496, or 0.4%, from the 1,797,114 of 1910, as against an increase of 15.8% in the preceding decade. The negro pop. was 853,962, or 52.2% of the total as compared with 1,009,487, or 56.2% of the total in 1910. The foreign-born whites in 1920 numbered 8,019, or 0.4% of the total pop. The density was 38.6 per sq. m., as against 38.8 in 1910. The urban pop. (in places of over 2,500) was 13.4%; in 1910, 11.5%. The six cities having in 1920 a pop. of over 12,000 were:—
Agriculture.—In 1920 61.3% of the land area of the state was in farms, and 51.2% of the farm land was improved. The number of farms was 272,101, a decrease of 0.8% since 1910. These farms contained 18,196,979 ac., of which 9,325,677 ac. were improved land. The improved acreage increased 3.5% from 1910 to 1920. Of the total number of farms in 1920, 91,400, or 33.5%, were worked by owners, or part-owners (68,131 by whites and 23,179 by negroes). The number of white owners increased 12.4% from 1900 to 1920 and the number of negro owners 11%. The average size of the farms decreased from 67.6 ac. in 1910 to 66.9 ac. in 1920. The average value increased from $13.69 per ac. in 1910 to $35.27 in 1920. Cotton continues the most important crop. The acreage of cotton decreased from 3,220,000 in 1907 to 3,100,000 in 1920. The number of acres planted in market-garden produce, peanuts, potatoes, sorghum-cane and corn is increasing. The live-stock industry, pure-bred hogs and cattle, made the greatest relative advance of any branch of agriculture from 1910 to 1920.
Manufactures.—The value of the total output from factories increased from $57,451,445 in 1905 to $79,550,095 in 1914. Mississippi ranked 39th among the states in the value of manufactured products and 31st in number of wage-earners. The capital invested in manufactures increased from $50,256,309 in 1904 to $81,005,484 in 1914, or 62%. The chief manufactured products are lumber, cotton-seed oil and cake, cotton goods (thread, drills, sheetings, muslins, etc.), turpentine and rosin. The leading manufacturing centres are: Meridian, Jackson, Greenville, Columbus, Laurel, Hattiesburg, Natchez and Vicksburg.
Education and Charities.—The most important development in education has been the establishment of county agricultural high schools (1908). Every county may establish one for white children and one for negroes, or two counties may combine and create one set of schools for the two counties. These schools receive state aid on the basis of the number of boarding pupils. They receive also Federal aid. To equalize the term in the grade schools between the delta and hill counties the distribution of the state school fund is based on the number of educable children in each county (1920). A compulsory school attendance law passed in 1920 applies to all children between the ages of seven and fourteen. The state has a normal college for the training of teachers, at Hattiesburg (established 1910). A five-million-dollar bond issue was authorized (1920) to provide buildings for the state's charitable institutions and institutions of higher learning. Greek letter and similar secret fraternities are forbidden by law (1912) in all schools supported in whole or in part by the state. An industrial training school for delinquent and abandoned children is at Columbia (1916), and a tuberculosis sanatorium at Magee (1916).
Administration and Legislation.—In the decade 1910-20 Mississippi enacted much constructive legislation, covering a wide range. The constitution of 1890, enacted to ensure white supremacy, and still in force, has been amended with the view of putting the Government more in the direct control of the people. The initiative and referendum were embodied in the constitution by amendment (1916). An initiative petition must be supported by 7, 500 qualified electors, and to refer a law to the people requires 6,000. Any “law, bill, resolution, constitutional amendment, or any other legislative measure” is a proper subject for such petitions. The state also has the recall, but does not apply it to all executive offices. The judiciary is entirely elective circuit and chancery judges since 1912, Supreme Court judges since 1916. By a constitutional amendment (1916) the Supreme Court consists of six judges and is permitted to sit in two divisions for the consideration of cases. The term of Supreme Court judges is eight years; that of circuit and chancery judges four years. Nine or more jurors may return a verdict in all civil cases in the circuit and chancery courts (1916). The Legislature is elected for four years and meets in regular session biennially (1910). Extra sessions may be called by the governor. All appropriations are made for two years. The fee system for the pay of county officials was abandoned in 1920 and salaries paid according to the assessed valuation of the property of the counties. For this purpose the counties of the state are divided into five classes. The Torrens system for perfecting land titles has been in effect since 1915 and a uniform negotiable-instruments law was enacted in 1916. The state collects a tax of five mills on the dollar on all incomes over $2,500 (1912). A state department of banking was created in 1914 and a board of bank examiners of three is elected for four years. Bank deposits are guaranteed by state law (1916). A bureau of vital statistics was established in 1912, and the Board of Health has done much to reduce malaria, hook-worm and tuberculosis.
The state has a comprehensive child labour law, passed in 1912. No child under 12 may be employed in any mill or factory; and no child under 16 may be employed for more than eight hours per day. No employee is permitted to work in any mill or factory more than 10 hours per day. The county health officer, working under the state factory inspector, is responsible for the enforcement of the law. A pardon board of five members, appointed by the governor for four years, passes on all petitions for pardons (1916). Petitions must be published for 30 days in the county where the crime was committed. The board acts only in an advisory capacity to the governor. A state highway commission was created in 1916.
Mississippi during the World War supplied to the U.S. army 43,362 drafted men (of whom 19,296 were whites and 24,066 negroes), as well as 9,044 volunteers. To the navy 4,069 men were supplied, and to the marine corps 265.
In 1921 the state was represented in the U.S. Senate by John Sharpe Williams and Pat Harrison. The latter defeated James K. Vardaman^in 1918 in a hotly contested election, turning largely on Vardaman's opposition to President Wilson's war policies. The following have been governors since 1910: Edmund F. Noel (Dem.), 1908-12; Earl Leroy Brewer (Dem.), 1912-6; Theodore G. Bilbo (Dem.), 1916-20; Lee M. Russell (Dem.), 1920-. (W. C. M.*)