Cultural Crossroads, 1519–1798

John Law and the Mississippi Bubble: 1718-1720 Lesson Plan


History has provided evidence that economic prosperity and stability is essential to the social stability of any nation or civilization. John Law was able to rally support for his own economic adventure, with the promise that France would become an economic powerhouse at a time when the country’s economy need rejuvenation. Unfortunately, the world of business has many unpredictable factors that can influence the outcome of events that appear to be a “sure thing.” John Law's Mississippi Company was an economic dream that was brought to an end by unpredictable factors.

A Failed Enterprise: The French Colonial Period in Mississippi

Theme and Time Period

From 1699 to 1763, the future state of Mississippi was a part of the French colony of Louisiana. During these years, the French explored the region, established settlements and military outposts, engaged in political and economic relations with the area’s Native American people, and sought to establish a profitable economy. Though France was ultimately unable to achieve its goals in the region, the years of French control of the area have left a lasting impression on Mississippi and form a crucial part of its unique cultural heritage.

The Natchez Indians

Theme and Time Period

The Natchez Indians were among the last American Indian groups to inhabit the area now known as southwestern Mississippi.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Natchez Indian culture began as early as A.D. 700 and lasted until the 1730s when the tribe was dispersed in a war with the French. Their language is now considered to have been a language isolate, not closely related to the other Indian languages of the region.

The Natchez Indians were successful farmers, growing corn, beans, and squash. They also hunted, fished, and gathered wild plant foods. (Figure 1)

Flags Over Mississippi

Theme and Time Period

Emblems, banners, standards, and flags are an ancient tradition that date from the early Roman Empire.

Flags are powerful symbols that signify dominion and sovereignty and express personal and political allegiance to a state or nation. Mississippi did not officially adopt a state flag until 1861, when it seceded from the United States and joined the Confederate States of America. Prior to that time, several flags had flown over the territory that would become the state of Mississippi on December 10, 1817.1

Religion in Mississippi

Theme and Time Period

In the 1600s, Colonial French settlers brought Christianity into the lands that are now the state of Mississippi. Throughout the period of French rule and the period of Spanish dominion that followed, Roman Catholicism was the principal religion.

Gideon Lincecum (1793-1874): Mississippi Pioneer and Man of Many Talents

Theme and Time Period

Gideon Lincecum moved to Mississippi in 1818. He brought his family, which included his wife Sarah Bryan, two small children, his parents, some siblings, and a few enslaved African-Americans. They settled initially along the Tombigbee River and helped establish the town of Columbus, Mississippi.

The Lincecums were part of the hundreds of other new settlers traveling west from the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama during the first two decades of the 19th century. The number of Americans moving west then was so great that historians refer to the movement as the Great Migration.

Archaeology and Prehistoric Mississippi

Theme and Time Period

Virtually all that is known about the North American indigenous peoples before European contact comes from the discipline of archaeology. Archaeology is that branch of anthropology that investigates people's past by studying their material remains. Lacking written records, archaeologists could not give most of the prehistoric groups specific names. Therefore, archaeologists created names such as Paleo-Indian, Middle Woodland, Mississippian, Marksville, and Plaquemine to identify distinctive pre-contact Native American groups by culture and time of existence.

John Law and the Mississippi Bubble: 1718-1720

Theme and Time Period

John Law Glossary

In the early 18th century the economy of France was depressed. The government was deeply in debt and taxes were high. In addition, the French controlled the colony of Louisiana, a vast settlement in the interior of North America. The Louisiana Colony included the Natchez district and the area along the Mississippi Gulf Coast in present-day Mississippi. France was the first European country to settle this area of North America (1699-1763). 

Resistance by Enslaved People in Natchez, Mississippi (1719-1861)

Theme and Time Period

From the time of their first arrival in Natchez, enslaved people resisted bondage. Slavery existed in Natchez beginning in 1719 and continued through French, British, Spanish, and finally American rule. Then, in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War, U. S. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and in 1865 the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery.