Mississippi Unbuilt: A Capitol at Vicksburg

JacksonIllustrated1887--State CapitolIn the banner of the Vicksburg Weekly Whig appear the names of Marmaduke Shannon, Publisher and Proprietor, and James K. Carnes, Editor. I’m not sure which one of them is responsible for this zinger of an editorial, but it deserves an award in the genre of “Jackson Bashing (Antebellum).” It was a follow-up to an article in the Feb. 7, 1850 issue which discussed the idea then making the rounds to remove the state capitol to Vicksburg due to the lackluster growth of Jackson, the impending need for repair on the 1839 William Nichols-designed statehouse, and the city’s uncomfortable accomodations for visitors. That earlier article takes a conciliatory approach at first, calling Jackson “a beautiful and healthful place” and noting that “a State house is already erected there within sight of the broad and majestic Pearl;” but it concludes poetically with a plea to move everyone to Vicksburg: “Everything that members can desire for their comfort can here be obtained, and here, upon the banks of the great business channel of a half hemisphere they can legislate Lycurgus, Solon, the British Parliament, and the United States Congress into obscurity.”

And then, this being Mississippi, words started flying . . .

Removal of the Capital

An article in the Mississippian inveighs at once plaintively and dictatorially against the removal of the Capital to Vicksburg. The reasons which the writer condescends to give for this advice may be stated as follows:

There is a costly capitol at Jackson–Vicksburg is an “extreme border town”–the name of Jackson is “immortal”–if the Capitol be removed at all it should be taken nearer the centre of the State–the people of Jackson are “moral and exemplary”–they are (probably) going to build a fine hotel, etc., etc.

To the first of these arguments it may be replied that it has in reality nothing whatever to do in the matter, but if it must be brought in it ought to be placed on the right side of the question. The costly capitol at Jackson will soon require a costly amount of repairing–and it must, therefore, be cheaper for the State to permit Vicksburg to build a new and substantial one than to spend a large sum of money in making the present edifice safe and comfortable. This much is all that the capitol at Jackson is entitled to in the deliberations concerning removal; its mere existence is nothing when one of the claimants for the seat of Government proposes to erect another and a better one without asking the State for a single dime in the way of assistance.

That Vicksburg is on the border of the State is most true; but it is also true that our city is almost as near the geographical centre of the State as Jackson, and much nearer the only centre which ought to be regarded in the location of a capital–the point, of course, which can be most easily reached from a majority of counties. It requires no formal statement to concince the Legislature that Vicksburg is that point: — very nearly three-fourths of them give practical evidence of the fact by taking this place on their route to Jackson.

We shall certainly not dispute the immortality of the name of the present seat of Government, but we may surmise that the august shade of “Old Hickory,” whereso’er it abideth, would prefer an apology to a compliment upon the association. Nor shall we deny the exemplary piety of the citizens of Jackson; they are certainly a very religious people, as much better than the Vicksburgers, perhaps, as the Pharisee was better than the publican. Therefore, sinners that we are, we have but little to urge against this moral opposition to the removal of the capital. Our sinful institutions are no doubt much more attractive than those of Jackson, and might in the opinion of some, exercise a more corrupting influence upon the Legislature; but we cannot think that the members of that honorable body have so little confidence in the soundness of their principles as to be moved (or rather to be kept from moving) by such considerations. We are sure that they may come hither without mixing with and becoming any Sodomites in Vicksburg, to tempt the Divine judgments.

But the new Hotel argument is a clincher. We are dumb before it, and can only wish that we could congratulate the Legislature upon the certainty of a consummation so devoutly to be wished, in case the seat of Government shall not be removed.

Vicksburg Weekly Whig
March 6, 1850, p. 1

Categories: Antebellum, Capitols Old & New, Jackson, Vicksburg


1 reply

  1. Were they already planning that new convention center hotel in 1850?

    Liked by 1 person

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