Know all men by these presents: bonds, localism and politics in early Republican Mississippi

Erik Mathisen

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Abstract

In November 1840, Joseph Ryals was elected to the position of local constable in Attala County. Carved out of Choctaw lands only seven years before, Attala was relatively poor, dominated by hill country farmers. Over the span of only a few years, the county had become a base for the state’s Democratic Party and by 1840, as part of a hotly contested election across the country, Whigs and Democrats in Attala took part in a raucous campaign. The character of the election—the impassioned speeches, the public party meetings, the barbecues—would come to dominate mass American politics by the middle of the nineteenth century. When the ballots were counted, Democrats hung onto Attala, though they would lose ground in the state overall. Once the bruising campaign was over, however, Joseph Ryals faced a serious challenge. Having won his position in local government, he still was required to post a bond of $1,000 to hold elected office.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-750
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Early Republic
Volume33
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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