32 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI PRESIDENT JAMES MONROE President James Monroe, fifth president of the United States, served in the White House from 1817 to 1825. President Monroe signed the resolution of admission for Mississippi to become the nation’s twentieth state on December 10, 1817. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, POPULAR GRAPHIC ARTS COLLECTION DAVID HOLMES David Holmes, initially a congressman from Virginia, was the fourth governor of Mississippi Territory and first governor for the state of Mississippi. He serviced as governor from 1817 to 1820 and then became a U.S. Senator until 1825. Current day Holmes County is named for David Holmes. Kemper, an adventurer from Pinckneyville in Wilkinson County, went to Mobile in late 1810 and organized a coalition to forcibly take over the eastern half of West Florida, the boot heel that was still in Spanish hands. This attempt was thwarted by the federal government, still seeking to avoid war with Spain. The movement of Mississippians to expel Spain came to a head when the United States declared war on Great Britain in June 1812. President Madison sent troops “ostensibly to defend the southwest against possible British invasion but actually to invade Florida.” Congress would not allow an invasion of the peninsula to the east, but did approve the occupation of then territory west of the Perdido, claiming that it had come with the Louisiana Purchase. This was accomplished when General James Wilkinson and his regular United States army troops took Mobile, now deserted by the Spanish, without firing a shot on April 15, 1813. While the attention of the territorial authorities had been focused on the acquisition of Florida, a storm was brewing in the northern section. There were reported signs of extreme agitation among the Native Americans, especially the Creeks of central and northern Alabama. The veracity of these reports was questionable, and they were denied by the Native American agent, but the settlers were on guard against British intrigues, so many people believed them. By 1813, even the unflappable Governor Holmes was convinced that the Creeks, “enticed by British promises and Spanish assistance...were intent upon open warfare against eastern settlers.” However, his military commander Flournoy downplayed the danger and concentrated his forces in Mobile anticipating a counter-attack by Spain. The nervous settlers took matters into their own hands. A group of settlers got wind of a visit in July 1813, by a group of militant Creeks to Pensacola, and the rumor was they were seeking Spanish arms. The settlers attacked these Creeks at Burnt Corn Creek as the Native Americans were returning home. The Creeks beat back the attack and turned it into “a rout, forcing the Americans to scatter.” In retaliation, the Creeks attacked Fort Mims in lower Alabama on July 27, 1813, and slaughtered some 500 civilians who, terrified by tales of Creek hostilities, had abandoned their scattered farms and taken refuge there. The massacre sparked a full-fledged war between the Creeks and the Americans, a war in which the Creeks were pitted against the forces of the Tennessean Andrew Jackson. The war became a series of battles that culminated with the defeat of the Creeks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (March 27, 1813). The Creeks were then forced to cede half their lands (in the eastern part of the unorganized. These backwoodsmen realized that Natchez would always be the focus of territorial officials, and their resentment was growing as was their sense of being a distinct region. The insurgents who had taken West Florida had hoped for an immediate annexation by the United States, and when it was not forthcoming, they took things into their own hands. First, they wanted to expand eastward. Reuben