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Early Settlers of Mississippi & Louisiana
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Defenders of Dixie
Because of cotton’s importance to Mississippi’s economy, farmers relied heavily on African American slave labor. The majority of white settlers were not slaveholders; however, they lived in a society that revolved around slavery and large plantations. Half of the millionaires in the United States at this time lived in Mississippi, and most had accumulated their wealth through the cotton trade. When abolitionists argued against the expansion of slavery, Mississippians pushed into Texas to shore up their culture against perceived Northern hostilities. This same sentiment led them to join the Confederacy during the Civil War.
“King Cotton” Rules in Mississippi
After the American Revolution, settlers in states along the eastern seaboard began migrating west looking for land and new opportunities. People of English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry moved in large numbers to territories with unclaimed land like Tennessee, Kentucky, and Louisiana. Mississippi became a favorite destination after it was organized as an official U.S. territory in 1798. Endowed with rich soil, a warm climate, and close proximity to a major river, Mississippi evolved into the heart of the “Cotton Kingdom” following the invention of the cotton gin and growing world demand for cotton.