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Mississippi’s Federal Courts - A History

Mississippi’s Federal Courts

A History

By David M. Hargrove
Hardcover : 9781496819482, 340 pages, 69 b&w illustrations, January 2019

An incomparable resource to understand the historical role of the federal judiciary in a Deep South state


This resource produces the first comprehensive history of the state’s federal courts from the inception of the Mississippi Territory to the late twentieth century. Using archival material and legal documents, David M. Hargrove untangles the state’s complex legal history, which includes slavery and secession, the Civil War and Reconstruction, Jim Crow and civil rights.

In this important overview of the United States courts in Mississippi, Hargrove surveys the state’s federal judiciary as it rules on key issues in Mississippi’s past. He examines the court as it mediates conflict between regional and national agendas as well as protects constitutional rights of the state’s African American citizens during the Reconstruction and civil rights eras.

Hargrove traces how political activities of the state’s federal judges affected public perceptions of an independent judiciary. Growing demands for federal judicial and law enforcement infrastructure, he notes, called for courthouses that remain iconic presences in the state’s largest cities.

Hargrove presents detailed judicial biographies of judges who shaped Mississippi’s federal bench. Commissioned by the state’s federal judiciary to write the book, he offers balanced perspectives on jurists whose reputations have suffered in hindsight, while illuminating the achievements of those who have received little public recognition.


David M. Hargrove offers a sweeping history of the federal courts and judges who have served Mississippi. Subtly and gracefully, he also tells a story about the state and the nation.

- Bradley G. Bond, dean of graduate school at Northern Illinois University and author of Mississippi: A Documentary History