Address at Natchez, August 16, 1798, of
Governor Winthrop Sargent
to the people of the Mississippi Territory,
on the occasion of the Territory coming under
the control of the United States.
"From the communications made unto you at this time, you will observe the beneficent intention of Congress to extend immediately to the people of the territory, the immunities and blessings of their civil government, and the provisions for your being admitted into the Union, in equal sovereignty and independence with the original states, so soon as your population may enable you to form and carry into effect a system for the permanent government of a country so extensive, and of so much national importance, as hereafter (and at no distant period) must probably be the Mississippi Territory.

For you immediate and temporary government, the honorable Congress has been pleased to apply their Ordinance of 1787 - which experience in their Northwest territory has determined is best applied for your happiness and the interest of your nation - so accommodating the same, however, (in special indulgence to the people of the territory,) that property in slaves will be continued to the present owners, with permission of future importation from any country not out of the dominion of the United States.

By this order it is provided that the governor and judges shall adopt laws for your government;  and such an important duty, it is presumed, will no longer be delayed, than the arrival of another judge.  A concise and clear code of laws, intelligible to the most common capacity, void of partiality to sect or class, and breathing that genuine spirit of divine clemency which is so honorable in legislation, it may reasonably be presumed will be the result of their labors.  Such a code would demand and insure the fullest respect of all ranks of men, and the uniform administration thereof produce you more than a common share of felicity.

Should, however, at any time, from a misconception of your interest, or any other case, laws be adopted not suited to your circumstances, I trust you will find a remedy within the territory;  but in any event, you may repose in perfect security upon the sovereignty of the United States.  For there (and it is an affectionate proof of wise and watchful care) is reserved the power of disapproving of the laws which may have been adopted by your government, and upon this provision I most cordially felicitate you , as it contributes to your territorial legislation the aid of national wisdom.

To cause due execution of the laws which shall be adopted, will specially be the province of the governor;  and I wish it to be therefore remembered, that the exercise of that clemency, which in the legislator might beam most effulgent honor on his character, con not be admitted in the executive department but at extreme hazard to the territory.  For every remission, a pardon for a violation of the laws is not only a tacit reflection upon the Legislature, but by encouraging a hope of impunity, produces and multiples crimes extremely dangerous to individuals and governments.  Firmness and uniformity of character, ten, should strongly mark the executive;  and all persons commissioned to office by the governor, must make it a point of honor, by the most faithful administration of law and justice, (according to their respective duties,) to second his best endeavors for the public weal.  All appointments in the territory, not specially provided for by the ordinance of the honorable Congress, are with the governor, and merit only can entitle a man to office.

Strong and evident marks of attachment to the United States and good government;  a disposition to preserve the peace and order of society, and harmonize contending sentiments, (if any such have unfortunately existed,) will be held by government in very honorable estimation, and duly noticed by the executive.  For this and the unremitted efforts of the governor, to promote your and the national interest and dignity, I am most fully authorized to pledge myself.  The important duties of that office having been committed to me, I feel the full force and obligation of my trust;  and believing that upon the faithful discharge thereof, must depend very much your future welfare, I am not without the most anxious and tender solicitude.  Relying, however, on your established reputation for good sense and cultivated minds, that a due estimation of so amply enjoyment of the elegance's and refined pleasures of social life, and which can only be continued under a government  duly appreciating individual as well as national rights, will powerfully aid the most zealous exertions on my part, I enter on my duties with cheerfulness.  Fervently supplicating the august Author of our being so to enable me at all times to administer my various functions, as well as best merit the continuance of confidence from the sovereignty of the United States, and be most conducive to your happiness.

Imperious circumstances will demand that I shall lose no time to array, in a well appointed and well ordered militia, the effective force of the territory;  and I postpone the same only for due information of characters suitable to commission, and your probable strength I hope speedily to obtain from an acquaintance with you, which will be much my pleasure to cultivate, and of those best informed of the military regulations heretofore in observance.  I have to request such communications as to enable me to determine, with as much accuracy as possible, the number of men enrolled in the militia heretofore, with the state of their arms and accouterments.

I shall, as soon as possible, divide the territory into districts, and make the appointment of magistrates and other officers necessary  to the execution of process, civil and criminal, and the preservation of quiet and good order, so essential to the very being of society.

I am aware, however, that in the meantime, attempts of nefarious men might, for a moment, disturb your repose.  Indeed, the anxieties of some amongst you thereupon have been suggested to me;  but fear not; our ability is proportioned to the occasion, and the arm of the United States is mighty.

As good citizens, void of jealousy of each other, and emulous of public good, you will keep your eye on men of no country, whose pursuits here, (under the most favorable construction thereof,) are quite problematical, and whose smallest interference with your police must be considered as vile usurpation;  any kind of disrespect upon their part to the general or territorial government, will naturally lead you to suspect them as foes to our peace and quite, and the most prompt and energetic measure should follow the first notice of their characters."

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