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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/448

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MISSISSIPPI


396


MISSISSIPPI


part of the state, sub-tropical and several varieties of tropical fruits are succcsstully cullivatcil. The Yazoo- Mississippi Delta is the most reinarkalilo afiricultural section of the state. Its area is OlsO si|uaro miles, or 4,147,200 acres. With an alluvial soil that is practically inexhaustible, its cotton production ex- ceeds that of any other land in the world. Its land produces from three quarters to a bale and a half an acre, and with careful tillage and in a good cotton year as much as a bale and three c)uarters to two bales to the acre. The increase in the value of the lands in the Delta, both timber and cultivated, is remark- able. In ISSl the state sold 1,.^00,000 acres of timber lands, by levee tax titles, which have been held valid, for six and one half cents per acre. These lands are now worth, on an average, .?J0 per acre. Twenty years ago, cotton lands could be bought for from $15 to $25 an acre t hat are now worth from .$50 to .?75 per acre. The population of the delta is 195,346; of this number 24,137 are whites and 171,209 are negroes. The negroes generally cultivate the cotton farms and the large cotton plantations of the state, while the small farms are cultivated by white labour.

Pojiiihtlion. — The population of the state, as shown by the census of 1900, is 1,551,270, of which 641,200 are white and 907,630 are negroes, with 2203 Indians and 237 Chinese. \ small percentage of the popula- tion is foreign born. There are 5345 males and 2536 females foreign born; total, 79S1. Of these 7625 are white. The total number of males of voting age is 349,179. Of these 150,530 are whites and 197,936 are negroes. There are 118,057 illiterate males of voting age, and of these 105,331 are negroes and 12,293 are whites. Illiteracy in the total population amounts to 32*^. The illiteracy of the entire white population is 8*^ and of the total negro population. 49.1; . Under the influence of the extensive school facilities provided at the expense of the state, the percentage of illiteracy is steadily decreasing.

Adminixtriilion. — The civil government of the state is structurally similar to th.at of the other states. There are three departments — executive, legislative, and judicial. The state officers and members of the legislature are elected by the people every four years. There are three supreme court judges, thir- teen circuit court judges and eight chancellors, all appointed by the governor with the approval of the senate. The elective franchise contains the following conditions, viz: a voter must be twenty-one years old, he must be able to read or to understand the state Con.stitut ion when read to him (that is, a layman's and not an academician's understanding of the Constitu- tion); he must have resided in the state two years and in the precinct one year, and have paid all taxes, in- cluding an aimual poll tax of $2 for two years preced- ing the election. Conviction of certain crimes against honesty entails the disfranchisement of a voter. This qualified suffrage has given the state a large white majority in its electoral liody. The validity of these suffrage qualifications has been sustained by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Williams i.s. The State of Mississippi, decided by a unanimous court in 1896. The state maintains insti- tutions for the insane, the lilind, and the deaf and dumb, affording ample facilities for both races. There Ls also a state hospital at Natchez and one at Vicks- burg.

Educalion. — The public educational system of the state consists of a common school system in which each county is a school-district, and in which many of the municipalities constilutt^ separate .school-districts. This system is maintained at the public expense, by state, county, and school district; and separate educational facilities are extended to all of the educable children of both races in the state. In addition, the state maintains the Industrial Insti- tute and College for girls, at Columbus, and maintains,


in large part, the University at Oxford, the .Agricul- tural and Mechanical College at Starkville. For col- oured stiulciils I he slate maintains the .Mcorn Agri- cullural and .McclKiiiical t'ollcge near Hrunisburg and and Kodiiey Colh'gc near Rodney, both in Claiborne County. The total miinbcr of children enrolled during 1906-1907 was ■1S2.20S, and the average attendance for the same pcrind was 285,047. The total average altfiiihiiicc in I'.lll.'i HH)() was 267,898, showing an in- cic.iseiii l!i0(i 19117 cif 17.149. There are 7241 schools in the scluKil districts, and 117 schools in the separate school districts. In the session of I'.tiKi 1907, there was a larger at tendance of negro pupils t lian white pupils by 15,:i:;5. For the ses.sion of 1906-1907, $2,631,790.35 of public money went to the support of schools, as compared with $2,432,426.33 for 1905-1906. There are the following private institutions for white stu- dents: Jefferson College, near Natchez; Rust Univer- sity, Holly Springs; Millsaps College and Bellehaven College, Jackson; Blue Mountain College, Blue Moun- tain; Mississippi College, Clinton; East Mississippi College, Meridian; Stanton College, Natchez. There are other private schools of lesser prominence.

Penitentiary System. — During the period of military government in the South, a prison system kno^vn as convict leasing was established in this and other southern states, and was continued in Mississippi imtil 1890, when it was abolished and the present sys- tem Avas adopted of working the prisoners on state lands at agricultural pursuits for the exclusive benefit of the state, and under exclusive official control. The state 0W11S 20,900 acres of cotton and farm lands upon which the entire prison population of about 1200 pris- oners are worked. The penitentiary lands cost origi- nally $145,600 and are now worth "at least $600,000. The annual cash income to the state from the labour of the prisoners is not less than $150,000. In addition to this, valuable improvements are constantly being made on the property by the prisoners. The present system is a satisfactory solution of the convict prob- lem, in which all conditions, moral and sanitary, are obtained. Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana have adopted this system.

Trmisportation. — The railroad mileage in the state amounts to 3759 miles, according to the Report of the State Railroad Commission of 1908. The state is well supplied with water transportation, having the follow- ing navigable rivers: Mississippi, Yazoo, Tallahatchie, Simflower, Pearl, Pascagoula, Big Black, Tombigbee, and some minor streams that are navigable during a portion of the year. There are deep-water harbours on the gulf coast at Horn Island opposite Pascagoula, and Ship Island opposite Gulf Port. There is a depth of water at the pier of the Gulf and Ship Island Rail- road at Gulf Port of 23 feet at low tide, and 30 feet in the protected roadstead inside of Ship Island, which is accessible by tugs and lighters through a deep-water channel. There are also harbours at Bay of St. Louis and Biloxi.

History. — In 1540 Hernando De Soto, one of the most adventurous of the Spanish explorers, discovered the Mississippi River, and his expedition reached the present limits of this state, and remained until his death in 1542. The expedition, under the leadership of Moscoes, was withdrawn in 1543, descending the river to the sea and thence along the coast to Mexico. It is difficult to trace the exact route of De Soto. It is known , however, that he passed through Florida and Georgia as high as 35° N. lat., then went to the vicinity of Mobile and then north-west to the Missis- sippi River. In 1682 La Salle and Fonti descended to the mouth of the Mississippi River and claimed the entire region for the King of France. In 1698 D'lber- ville came to Mississippi, authorized by the French king to colonize the lower Mississippi. He wern to Ship Island and Cat Island, to the mainland on Biloxi Bay, to Bay of St. Louis, and to Mobile. The