30 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI family, and he used this base to sabotage Williams. In addition to his marriage to a Green, Cowles Mead assembled a cadre of friends, mostly outsiders looking for their chances. Williams was politically tone deaf and soon “perform(ed) the political miracle of converting a small clique of dissidents into a strong majority faction.” He began to reward his friends and punish his enemies, and a backlash began to rise. In the next elections, George CONSTITUTION On July 7, 1817, forty-eight elected constitutional convention delegates met in Washington, Mississippi. James Madison had recently signed legislation that allowed residents in the western portion of the Mississippi Territory to form a state government and constitution. The first state constitution was approved on August 15, 1817, after thirty-eight days of deliberation. Only forty-five delegates signed the constitution because one was not present because of illness, one refused to sign, and one died during the convention. There was no popular referendum to ratify the 1817 Constitution. The cession of Choctaw and Chickasaw lands made the northern two-thirds of Mississippi available. The new settlers wanted a new constitution that mandated shorter terms for government officials, elective judgeships, frequent elections, and other conditions that brought the government and people closer. The changes made in the 1832 Constitution also outlawed dueling and removed the requirement of owning land in order to vote or to seek elective office. The legislature was also banned from passing laws that freed slaves. The 1868 Constitution was ratified during Reconstruction. It gave African- American males voting rights, created the state’s public school framework, and protected property rights of married women. The constitution also lengthened the governor’s term to four years, changed to appointed judgeships, and based legislative appointments on the number of eligible voters. PHOTO COURTESY OF MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY Poindexter, a Mead ally, was elected territorial representative to the national congress, and Cowles Mead and Fernando Claiborne, the ex-governor’s brother, were elected to the territorial legislature where they joined forces. They sponsored several anti-Williams bills, all of which he vetoed. Then they tried to discredit Williams by campaigning hard to win the territorial House of Representatives to show that Williams was unpopular. They did by setting up a “city versus country” contest,