212 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI PHOTO COURTESY OF MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY real for white residents in Madison County. Rumors spread of a possible rebellion set for December 25, 1835, at Beattie’s Bluff, a town on the Big Black River that was a cotton transport point. An investigation ensued to find the conspirators and to punish anyone connected to the plan. It would later turn out that the rebellion plot was an elaborate scheme by the outlaw John Murrell to create havoc and set up a distraction while his henchmen robbed and looted communities in Madison County. The paranoia and terror engendered by Murrell set off a furious reaction among local whites, a Salem-style frenzy that resulted in the hanging of ten slaves on July 2, 1836. In addition to the ten slaves, five white men were hanged as conspirators in Livingston. John Murrell, the architect of the plot, was jailed for ten years, and he eventually succumbed to tuberculosis. Thus, anxiety about the future of slavery coexisted with fears of slave rebellion. Small farmers and planter elites held similar fears about expansion and what they perceived as a growing chorus of abolitionist sentiment in the North. Mississippi was a major participant in the Mexican War and expected their participation to be rewarded with admission of more slaveholding states. This did not happen, and the 1850s became a decade of political unrest in the state. The Whig Party, which had held power in certain areas of the state, disintegrated as resentment toward northern members of the party grew. MISSISSIPPI STATE SENATORS Mississippi’s territorial government instituted and enforced laws from 1798 until Mississippi became a state in 1817. The current state constitution was adopted in 1890, though it has been amended over time. The Mississippi legislature consists of two houses, a House of Representatives and a Senate. There are fifty-two senators and 122 representatives representing Mississippians during the annual legislative session that usually lasts from January until March or April unless a special session is required at another time during the year. In its place, the states’ rights faction of the Democratic Party expanded its influence. At its helm sat Copiah County resident, Albert Gallatin Brown. A native of South Carolina, he migrated into the Capital Area frontier in 1823 at the age of ten. He attended Mississippi College and while practicing law in Copiah County, he won election first to the state legislature, and then to the U.S. House of Representatives at the age of 25 in 1838. In 1844, Brown became the youngest governor in Mississippi’s history. Albert Gallatin Brown’s ability to win the support of a collection of small landholders who held few, if any, slaves distinguished him from his peers. Previous political enmities centered on divisions between planters along the river bottomlands and small farmers in the pine forests that covered most of the state. Brown’s campaigns focused on preserving slavery as a necessity, popular with the planters, and his race-baiting tactics which were successful with poor white voters. Brown, as a resident of Copiah County, understood that although the slave population in the Capital Area outnumbered the white population, most of those slaves were held by a minority of white residents. His recognition of that fact and his ability to speak to the racial fears of non-elite whites secured his political success. The expansion of the Vicksburg rail line through the Capital Area east of Brandon in Rankin County also