36 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI Creek; thence by a direct line to the northwest corner of the county of Washington; thence due south to the Gulf of Mexico,” thus leaving Mobile in Alabama. The territorial surveys of the day were in need of refinement and were constantly being tweaked. Therefore, Congress noted that this eastern boundary as described may need some adjustment if it was found that it “encroached on the counties of Wayne, etc. in Mississippi.” (The territorial legislature had already created the counties of Wayne (1809), Greene (1811), and Jackson (1812), and Congress thus chose to respect their boundaries.) There was much grumbling among the westerners about the loss of Mobile, and the easterners resented the admission of a less-populous Mississippi as a state while Alabama remained a territory, but that line was adopted. The newly-minted Mississippians went right to work and forty-eight delegates to a constitutional convention were elected in June. The convention was held in July and August. The Mississippi Territory comprised fourteen counties, with the five counties along the Mississippi containing almost half the population. These five teamed up with the adjoining counties of Franklin and Amite to write a document that “reflected their political views and protected their economic interests.” Even the delegates from the Piney Woods (Lawrence, Marion, Wayne, Greene, and Jackson counties) were landowners, so the moneyed interests were well represented. The new constitution was adopted on August 17, 1817. It called for a weak executive, no doubt because they remembered the bitter feuds between Robert Williams and Winthrop Sargent twenty years earlier. But the two-thirds requirement to override a gubernatorial veto showed that they wanted the governor to be more than a mere figurehead. Similarly, experience made the delegates wary of abuses of judicial power. During territorial days, at least three attempts had been made to impeach judges, and when Sargent first arrived, he had teamed up with two of the territorial judges in adopting the hated “Sargent’s Code.” So although judges were to be appointed by the legislature, once appointed they would serve for a term of good behavior or until they reached sixty-five. Again, there had been some problems with “incompetent elderly judges.” With those restrictions on the executive and the judiciary, the legislature was clearly the dominant branch, so apportionment of representation became the central issue of the convention. The residents of the Piney Woods wanted the senate apportioned equally among the counties with the house to be apportioned according to “free white population.” The river counties tended to favor the counting of slaves and a property qualification. This issue brought proceedings to a halt until a compromised was reached. The house of representatives was to be based on free white population with each county guaranteed at least one seat. The senate was to be based on “free white taxable inhabitants.” So instead of calling for property ownership, the basis became whether one was subject to taxation, property owner or not. In September 1817, the voters elected David Holmes, the popular territorial chief executive, as Mississippi’s first governor. Duncan Stewart was chosen as lieutenant governor, and George Poindexter was unopposed for U.S. representative. The first senators were Walter Leake and Thomas H. Williams. In early December, Congress approved the state’s new constitution and passed a resolution of admission. The document was presented to President James Monroe in White House (which had only months earlier been rebuilt following its burning by the British in the War of 1812) and when he signed it on December 10, 1817, Mississippi became the nation’s twentieth state. And that is the circuitous story of how Mississippi was formed, how the borders that give the state its distinctive shape came to be. Based on La Salle’s exploration in 1682 and D’Iberville’s settlement in 1699, France claimed all of present-day Mississippi. The French owned it until England took it from them in 1763 after the French and Indian War. The English then divided it in half, the south half being British West Florida and the north half being declared Native American lands. While England was tied up fighting the American Revolution along the Atlantic, Spain (which had gained Louisiana from France following the French and Indian War) sent troops from New Orleans and plucked this southern half from the British in 1779. Next, the United States won the Revolutionary War in 1783 and claimed the northern part of the state while Spain kept the south. A dozen years later, in 1795, in an attempt to avoid war with America over free trade on the Mississippi River, Spain gave the central part of present-day Mississippi (above the thirty-first parallel) to the United States, but they kept the boot heel. This central part was declared to be a U.S. territory in 1798. The United States soon expanded the territory with the addition of the northern half of present- day Mississippi through the Georgia Cession of 1802. Then the United States took the boot heel from a weakened Spain All the cobbling together of the various tracts of land created a huge region that comprised present- day Mississippi and present-day Alabama, set back- to-back as a single territory.