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|How tobacco shaped politics in Natchez country|
Tobacco created two political factions in Natchez country in the 1790s and that split remained for years.
When Natchez became an American possession in 1798, the division determined which faction sided with the President and which side didn't. The merchants in town went one way. The farmers in the country went the other.
When Fortesque Cuming journeyed through Natchez country in August 1808, he wrote about this split and made a particular note of it shortly after riding his horse across the estate of Gov. Winthrop Sargent, whose fine antebellum mansion Gloucester still stands in Natchez today, located on Lower Woodville Road.
Cuming opened a gate, rode through a "spacious lawn" on the Sargent place, and then existed another gate. He then traveled a quarter mile through an "open wood" before arriving at the home of Col. William Scott. Cuming kept a journal of his Natchez country travels and wrote about the people he met.
Col. Scott welcomed Cuming "according to his usual custom with kindness and hospitality, and presented me to his lady and to governour (Robert) Williams, with whom he had been sitting at breakfast. I was invited to join the breakfast party, and I spent an hour very agreeably.
"The colonel had been a captain in the United States' army under General Wayne, and on his arrival in this country, he married a lively, genteel French woman with a handsome fortune. He quitted the army, and joining the militia, he is now adjutant general of the territory. He is a fine, dashing, spirited and friendly Irishman, and has only to be known to be esteemed."
Robert Williams lived in nearby Washington and was the third territorial governor of the Mississippi Territory. Sargent was the first governor and William Charles Cole Claiborne was the second before moving on to the governorship of Louisiana in the Territory of Orleans following the Louisiana Purchase.
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