Promise and Peril, 1903–1927

Hubert D. Stephens: Mississippi’s “Quiet Man” in the Senate

Theme and Time Period

During his twenty-eight-year public career, Hubert Durrett Stephens was a Mississippi district attorney, a United States congressman and senator, and a member of the board of directors of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. Nonetheless, he is little known due to his desire for privacy and his reluctance to match political adversaries in their clamor for public attention. At retirement he directed the burning of his papers. Without access to the kind of material by which a public official’s influence can best be evaluated, historians have relegated him to the sidelines.

Jefferson College in Washington, Mississippi

Theme and Time Period

Washington, Mississippi, provided the stage in the early 19th century for extraordinary historical events: In 1801 it became the capital of the Mississippi Territory; in 1811, Jefferson College, the only chartered educational institution prior to the statehood of Mississippi opened there; and in 1817, Mississippi’s state constitution was drafted there in a small Methodist Church, which later became part of Jefferson College.

Jefferson College in Washington, Mississippi Lesson Plan


Jefferson College, Mississippi’s first institute of higher learning, opened in 1811. The site chosen for the establishment of this now historic school was Washington, the capital of the Mississippi Territory. Over its one-hundred-and-fifty-three-year history as an institute of learning, Jefferson College struggled with lack of financial support and student enrollment. Even though the school was forced to close in 1964, Jefferson College continues its legacy of learning through its museum, buildings, and grounds.

Fannye A. Cook, Pioneer Conservationist and Scientist, 1889-1964

Theme and Time Period

Fannye A. Cook, the force behind the creation of the Mississippi agency known as the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, and its educational and research arm, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, was the first person to collect and catalog Mississippi wildlife, and to lead the effort to protect and restore the state’s natural environment.

Fannye A. Cook, Pioneer Conservationist and Scientist Lesson Plan


Mississippi has many natural resources, and good stewardship practices can protect them. This lesson introduces students to Fannye Cook, the person responsible for many acts of wildlife conservation in Mississippi. As a pioneer conservationist and scientist in the early 20th century, Cook recognized serious conservation deficiencies in the state, formulated plans to correct the problem, clearly articulated a vision to raise the public consciousness, and worked tirelessly to establish a comprehensive state conservation program.

Paving the Trace

Theme and Time Period

The scenic Natchez Trace Parkway, a unit of the National Park Service since 1938, extends from the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, south to Natchez, Mississippi.  The Parkway, according to promotional literature, “commemorates” or “memorializes” the historic Natchez Trace, a road that connected Natchez and Nashville during the early 19th century.

Paving the Trace Lesson Plan


At one time in Mississippi’s history, the Natchez Trace was a series of roads and trails that connected the region to areas far beyond the boundaries of Mississippi. It is a road that has always been drenched in myth and folklore. Today, the Natchez Trace Parkway is a scenic route that extends from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi.


Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 3, 4

Newton Knight and the Legend of the Free State of Jones

Theme and Time Period

“We Stood firm to the union when secession Swept as an avalanche over the state. For this cause alone we have been treated as savages instead of freeman by the rebel authorities.”

Newton Knight, Petition to Governor William Sharkey, July 15, 1865

Newton Knight was born in 1837 near the Leaf River in Jones County, Mississippi, a region romantically described in 1841 by the historian J.F.H. Claiborne as a “land of milk and honey.” The landscape was dominated by virgin longleaf pines. Wolves and panthers still roamed the land.

Newton Knight and the Legend of the Free State of Jones Lesson Plan


Mississippi’s heritage is rich in folklore that few regions throughout the country can rival, and the story of Newton Knight and the Free State of Jones is no exception. During the American Civil War many Mississippians of Jones County defied the state’s secession from the Union and, under the leadership of Newton Knight, made guerrilla warfare against the Confederacy. The tale of the “Free State of Jones” and Newton Knight is one of courage, conviction, and … legend.