26 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI method of forming citizen’s committees which sent petitions and remonstrances first to the governor, as a matter of formality, and later to the federal government. They also converted the grand jury presentment into a convenient political weapon. In June, 1799, grand juries of both Adams and Pickering counties adopted long lists of grievances against the territorial administration.” They protested the so-called “Sargent’s Code,” a series of executive orders that functioned as law in the new territory, saying some of the laws were both cruel and unnecessary, passed by a bunch of newcomers. They said that taxes passed by the administration constituted taxation without representation. Another grievance was the uncertainty of land titles that discouraged settlement and investment. The petitioners called for the removal of the present territorial officials and for a stronger voice in territorial affairs. The opposition also sought to undermine the local militia, knowing that a well-regulated militia was of extreme importance to Governor Sargent. The frontiersmen abhorred the concept of forced military service, and knowing this, the opposition agitated for selection of officers by the troops themselves, a move sure to weaken Sargent’s position. They also maintained a campaign of harassment to encourage militia officers to resign. Sargent reacted predictably by clamping down on insubordination in any form, and this further alienated the populace, especially those in service. In addition to sabotaging the militia, the opposition went after the courts as well. They filed lawsuits to block Sargent’s proposed building of a courthouse in Pickering County. They loudly protested the governor’s call for a delay in a court term because of bad weather. They encouraged a rash of resignations by sitting judges, thereby clogging court proceedings. As Holmes said, “By September 1800, both the militia and the courts of Pickering County were in shambles.” The opposition took their fight to Philadelphia (then the U.S. capital) where they found two young Congressmen, both Republicans and both from western states, to champion their causes. John Davis of Tennessee and William C.C. Claiborne of Tennessee steered a bill through Congress in May 1800 to (prematurely) move Mississippi into the second grade of territorial government under which the inhabitants selected their own legislature. The bill also repealed the criminal laws that the territorial government had passed. The Federalist Senate blocked this bill, but Claiborne and Davis did succeed in appointing a House committee to investigate the conduct of Winthrop Sargent. Back in Mississippi, the territorial legislative election was held immediately. The result was an overwhelming victory for the forces opposed to Sargent. Sargent contended with some justification that the election was fraught with irregularities, and the territory should have never been moved to second grade status in the first place since the population of free males had not reached the threshold of 5,000. Sargent’s protest of the election and of territorial status never got off the ground. The national elections were held that same year and Thomas Jefferson and the Republicans were swept into power. Jefferson removed the Federalist Sargent and rewarded the rising young Republican star W.C.C. Claiborne, twenty six years old, with an appointment as governor of the Mississippi Territory. Claiborne assumed his duties in Natchez in November 1801. He worked to settle land claims and got some help from the federal government which, when accepting the lands ceded by Georgia in 1802, recognized the existing claims based on British and Spanish grants as well as those lands that had been under cultivation before Pinckney’s Treaty with Spain in 1795. Claiborne also tried to maintain peace with the Native Americans. “In general,” wrote Holmes, “the governor displayed a degree of patience and understanding of Indian welfare which was rare among frontier politicians. While his methods did not remove all sources of friction between the red and white men, they at least were successful in preventing any serious outbreak of violence.” Important as they were, land claims and Native American pacification were minor problems compared to looming crisis over the Mississippi River. The issue of free navigation and right of deposit in New Orleans, seemingly settled by Pinckney’s Treaty of 1795, popped up again when the Spanish commandant at New Orleans revoked the right of deposit, prompting rumors that Spain had returned Louisiana to the French, rumors that turned out to be true. In France, the chaos of the 1789 revolution had been quieted by a coup in 1799 in which Napoleon assumed dictatorial powers. He quickly entered into a mutual defense treaty with Spain in which Spain gave Louisiana back to France. This treaty was not made public, likely for strategic reasons, but the secret did not last long. Important as they were, land claims and Native American pacification were minor problems compared to looming crisis over the Mississippi River.