Reconstruction in Mississippi ended in 1875, and many White Mississippians were determined to remove Black Mississippians from politics. In the summer of 1890, specially elected delegates to a constitutional convention gathered in Jackson in today's Old Capitol. All but one of the delegates were White.
The topics at the convention were the regulation of railroads and levee construction in the flood-prone Delta region. But the hottest debates at the convention were literacy tests and poll taxes as requirements for voting. The tests, usually unfair, kept almost all Black voters from the polls. The poll tax also kept large numbers of Black Mississippians, as well as White ones, from voting. The 1890 Constitution was not sent to the people for ratification.
The Constitution of 1890 is the constitution that governs Mississippi today. Over more than 100 years of its existence, however, changes have been made by adding amendments. The Constitution has been amended so frequently that it bears little resemblance to its original forms and purposes.
Click here to read the original text of the Constitution of 1890.
Click here to read the 1890 Constitution with subsequent amendments.
For more information about the 1890 Constitution, go here.
John Ray Skates, Ph.D., professor emeritus of history, University of Southern Mississippi.