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Constitution of the State of Mississippi - Bruce Frohnen, The American Nation: Primary Sources 
The American Nation: Primary Sources, ed. Bruce Frohnen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008).
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Constitution of the State of Mississippi
November 1, 1890
We, the people of Mississippi, in Convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking his blessing on our work, do ordain and establish this Constitution.
Sec. 183. No county, city, town or other municipal corporation shall hereafter become a subscriber to the capital stock of any railroad or other corporation or association, or make appropriation, or loan its credit in aid of such corporation or association. All authority heretofore conferred for any of the purposes aforesaid by the Legislature or by the charter of any corporation, is hereby repealed. Nothing in this section contained shall affect the right of any such corporation, municipality or county to make such subscription where the same has been authorized under laws existing at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, and by a vote of the people thereof, had prior to its adoption, and where the terms of submission and subscription have been or shall be complied with, or to prevent the issue of renewal bonds, or the use of such other means as are or may be prescribed by law for the payment or liquidation of such subscription, or of any existing indebtedness.
Sec. 184. All railroads which carry persons or property for hire, shall be public highways, and all railroad companies so engaged shall be common carriers. Any company organized for that purpose under the laws of the State, shall have the right to construct and operate a railroad between any points within this State, and to connect at the State line with roads of other States. Every railroad company shall have the right with its road to intersect, connect with, or cross any other railroad; and all railroad companies shall receive and transport each other’s passengers, tonnage and cars, loaded or empty, without unnecessary delay or discrimination.
Sec. 185. The rolling stock, belonging to any railroad company or corporation in this State, shall be considered personal property and shall be liable to execution and sale as such.
Sec. 186. The Legislature shall pass laws to prevent abuses, unjust discrimination and extortion in all charges of express, telephone, sleeping car, telegraph and railroad companies, and shall enact laws for the supervision of railroads, express, telephone, telegraph, sleeping car companies and other common carriers in this State, by commission or otherwise, and shall provide adequate penalties, to the extent, if necessary for that purpose, of forfeiture of their franchises.
Sec. 187. No railroad hereafter constructed in this State, shall pass within three miles of any county seat without passing through the same, and establishing and maintaining a depot therein, unless prevented by natural obstacles; Provided, Such town or its citizens shall grant the right-of-way through its limits, and sufficient ground for ordinary depot purposes.
Sec. 188. No railroad or other transportation company shall grant free passes or tickets, or passes or tickets at a discount, to members of the Legislature, or any State, district, county or municipal officers, except Railroad Commissioners. The Legislature shall enact suitable laws for the detection, prevention and punishment of violations of this provision. . . .
Sec. 190. The exercise of the right of eminent domain shall never be abridged, or so construed as to prevent the Legislature from taking the property and franchises of incorporated companies, and subjecting them to public use; and the exercise of the police powers of the State shall never be abridged, or so construed as to permit corporations to conduct their business in such manner as to infringe upon the rights of individuals, or the general well-being of the State.
Sec. 191. The Legislature shall provide for the protection of the employees of all corporations doing business in this State from interference with their social, civil, or political rights by said corporations, their agents or employees.
Sec. 192. Provision shall be made by general laws whereby cities and towns may be authorized to aid and encourage the establishment of manufactories, gas-works, water-works, and other enterprises of public utility other than railroads, within the limits of said cities or towns, by exempting all property used for such purposes, from municipal taxation for a period not longer than ten years.
Sec. 193. Every employee of any railroad corporation shall have the same right and remedies for any injury suffered by him from the act or omission of said corporation or its employees, as are allowed by law to other persons not employees, where the injury results from the negligence of a superior agent or officer, or of a person having the right to control or direct the services of the party injured, and also when the injury results from the negligence of a fellow-servant engaged in another department of labor from that of the party injured, or of a fellow servant on another train of cars, or one engaged about a different piece of work. Knowledge by any employee injured, of the defective or unsafe character or condition of any machinery, ways or appliances, shall be no defense to an action for injury caused thereby, except as to conductors or engineers in charge of dangerous or unsafe cars, or engines voluntarily operated by them. Where death ensues from any injury to employees, the legal or personal representatives of the person injured shall have the same right and remedies as are allowed by law to such representatives of other persons. Any contract or agreement, express or implied, made by any employee to waive the benefit of this section shall be null and void; and this section shall not be construed to deprive any employee of a corporation or his legal or personal representative, of any right or remedy that he now has by the law of the land. The Legislature may extend the remedies herein provided for to any other class of employees.
Sec. 194. The Legislature shall provide by law, that in all elections for directors or managers of incorporated companies, every stockholder shall have the right to vote in person or by proxy, for the number of shares of stock owned by him, for as many persons as there are directors or managers to be elected, or to cumulate said shares, so as to give one candidate as many votes as the number of directors multiplied by the number of his shares of stock shall equal, or to distribute them on the same principle among as many candidates as he shall see fit; and such directors or managers shall not be elected in any other manner; but no person who is engaged or interested in a competing business, either individually or as employee, or stockholder, shall serve on any board of directors of any corporation without the consent of a majority in interest of the stockholders thereof.
Sec. 195. Express, telegraph, telephone and sleeping car companies are declared common carriers in their respective lines of business and subject to liability as such.
Sec. 196. No transportation corporation shall issue stocks or bonds except for money, labor done, or in good faith agreed to be done, or money or property actually received; and all fictitious increase of stock or indebtedness shall be void.
Sec. 197. The Legislature shall not grant to any foreign corporation or association, a license to build, operate or lease any railroad in this State; but in all cases where a railroad is to be built or operated, and the same shall be partly in this State and partly in another State, or in other States, the owners or projectors thereof shall first become incorporated under the laws of this State; nor shall any foreign corporation or association lease or operate any railroad in this State or purchase the same, or any interest therein; consolidation of any railroad lines and corporations in this State with others shall be allowed only where the consolidated company shall become a domestic corporation of this State. No general or special law shall ever be passed for the benefit of any foreign corporation operating a railroad under an existing license from this State, or under an existing lease; and no grant of any right or privilege, and no exemption from any burden, shall be made to any such foreign corporation except upon the condition that the owners or stockholders thereof shall first organize a corporation in this State under the laws thereof, and shall thereafter operate and manage the same, and the business thereof under said domestic charter.
Sec. 198. The Legislature shall enact laws to prevent all trusts, combinations, contracts and agreements inimical to the public welfare.
Sec. 199. The term corporation used in this article shall include all associations and all joint stock companies for pecuniary gain, having privileges not possessed by individuals or partnerships.
Sec. 200. The Legislature shall enforce the provisions of this article by appropriate legislation.
Sec. 201. It shall be the duty of the Legislature to encourage by all suitable means, the promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral and agricultural improvement, by establishing a uniform system of free public schools, by taxation, or otherwise, for all children between the ages of five and twenty-one years, and, as soon as practicable, to establish schools of higher grade.
Sec. 202. There shall be a Superintendent of Public Education elected at the same time and in the same manner as the Governor, who shall have the qualifications required of the Secretary of State, and hold his office for four years and until his successor shall be elected and qualified, who shall have the general supervision of the common schools, and of the educational interests of the State, and who shall perform such other duties and receive such compensation as shall be prescribed by law.
Sec. 203. There shall be a Board of Education, consisting of the Secretary of State, the Attorney-General, and the Superintendent of Public Education, for the management and investment of the school funds, according to law, and for the performance of such other duties as may be prescribed. The Superintendent and one other of said board shall constitute a quorum.
Sec. 204. There shall be a Superintendent of Public Education in each county, who shall be appointed by the Board of Education by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, whose term of office shall be four years, and whose qualifications, compensation and duties, shall be prescribed by law; Provided, That the Legislature shall have power to make the office of County School Superintendent of the several counties elective, or may otherwise provide for the discharge of the duties of County Superintendent, or abolish said office.
Sec. 205. A public school shall be maintained in each school district in the county at least four months during each scholastic year. A school district neglecting to maintain its school four months, shall be entitled to only such part of the free school fund as may be required to pay the teacher for the time actually taught.
Sec. 206. There shall be a common school fund which shall consist of the poll tax (to be retained in the counties where the same is collected) and an additional sum from the general fund in the State treasury which together shall be sufficient to maintain the common schools for the term of four months in each scholastic year. But any county or separate school district may levy an additional tax to maintain its schools for a longer time than the term of four months. The common school fund shall be distributed among the several counties and separate school districts, in proportion to the number of educable children in each, to be determined from data collected through the office of the State Superintendent of Education, in the manner to be prescribed by law.
Sec. 207. Separate schools shall be maintained for children of the white and colored races.
Sec. 208. No religious or other sect, or sects, shall ever control any part of the school or other educational funds of this State; nor shall any funds be appropriated towards the support of any sectarian school; or to any school that at the time of receiving such appropriation is not conducted as a free school. . . .
Sec. 240. All elections by the people shall be by ballot.
Sec. 241. Every male inhabitant of this State, except idiots, insane persons and Indians not taxed, who is a citizen of the United States, twenty-one years old and upwards, who has resided in this State two years, and one year in the election district, or in the incorporated city or town, in which he offers to vote, and who is duly registered as provided in this article, and who has never been convicted of bribery, burglary, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretenses, perjury, forgery, embezzlement or bigamy, and who has paid, on or before the first day of February of the year in which he shall offer to vote, all taxes which may have been legally required of him, and which he has had an opportunity of paying according to law, for the two preceding years, and who shall produce to the officers holding the election satisfactory evidence that he has paid said taxes, is declared to be a qualified elector; but any minister of the gospel in charge of an organized church shall be entitled to vote after six months residence in the election district, if otherwise qualified.
Sec. 242. The Legislature shall provide by law for the registration of all persons entitled to vote at any election, and all persons offering to register shall take the following oath or affirmation: “I —— ——, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I am twenty-one years old, (or I will be before the next election in this county) and that I will have resided in this State two years, and——election district of——county one year next preceding the ensuing election or (if it be stated in the oath that the person proposing to register is a minister of the gospel in charge of an organized church, then it will be sufficient to aver therein, two years residence in the State and six months in said election district), and am now in good faith a resident of the same, and that I am not disqualified from voting by reason of having been convicted of any crime named in the Constitution of this State as a disqualification to be an elector; that I will truly answer all questions propounded to me concerning my antecedents so far as they relate to my right to vote, and also as to my residence before my citizenship in this district; that I will faithfully support the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Mississippi, and will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. So help me God.” In registering voters in cities and towns, not wholly in one election district, the name of such city or town may be substituted in the oath for the election district. Any wilful and corrupt false statement in said affidavit, or in answer to any material question propounded as herein authorized, shall be perjury.
Sec. 243. A uniform poll tax of two dollars, to be used in aid of the common schools, and for no other purpose, is hereby imposed on every male inhabitant of this State between the ages of twenty-one and sixty years, except persons who are deaf and dumb or blind, or who are maimed by loss of hand or foot; said tax to be a lien only upon taxable property. The Board of Supervisors of any county may, for the purpose of aiding the common schools in that county, increase the poll tax in said county, but in no case shall the entire poll tax exceed in any one year three dollars on each poll. No criminal proceedings shall be allowed to enforce the collection of the poll tax.
Sec. 244. On and after the first day of January, ad, 1892, every elector shall, in addition to the foregoing qualifications, be able to read any section of the Constitution of this State; or he shall be able to understand the same when read to him, or give a reasonable interpretation thereof. A new registration shall be made before the next ensuing election after January the first, ad, 1892.
Sec. 245. Electors in municipal elections shall possess all the qualifications herein prescribed, and such additional qualifications as may be provided by law.
Sec. 246. Prior to the first day of January, ad, 1896, the elections by the people in this State shall be regulated by an ordinance of this Convention.
Sec. 247. The Legislature shall enact laws to secure fairness in party primary elections, conventions or other methods of naming party candidates.
Sec. 248. Suitable remedies by appeal or otherwise shall be provided by law, to correct illegal or improper registration and to secure the elective franchise to those who may be illegally or improperly denied the same.
Sec. 249. No one shall be allowed to vote for members of the Legislature or other officers who has not been duly registered under the Constitution and laws of this State, by an officer of this State, legally authorized to register the voters thereof. And registration under the Constitution and laws of this State by the proper officers of this State is hereby declared to be an essential and necessary qualification to vote at any and all elections.
Sec. 250. All qualified electors and no others shall be eligible to office except as otherwise provided in this Constitution. . . .
Sec. 263. The marriage of a white person with a negro or mulatto, or person who shall have one-eighth or more of negro blood, shall be unlawful and void.
Sec. 264. No person shall be a Grand or Petit Juror unless a qualified elector and able to read and write; but the want of any such qualification in any juror shall not vitiate any indictment or verdict. The Legislature shall provide by law for procuring a list of persons so qualified, and the drawing therefrom of Grand and Petit Jurors for each term of the Circuit Court. . . .
Sec. 269. Every devise or bequest of lands, tenements or hereditaments, or any interest therein, of freehold, or less than freehold, either present or future, vested or contingent, or of any money directed to be raised by the sale thereof, contained in any last will and testament, or codicil, or other testamentary writing, in favor of any religious or ecclesiastical corporation, sole or aggregate, or any religious or ecclesiastical society, or to any religious denomination, or association of persons, or to any person or body politic, in trust, either express or implied, secret or resulting, either for the use and benefit of such religious corporation, society, denomination or association, or for the purpose of being given or appropriated to charitable uses or purposes, shall be null and void, and the heir-at-law shall take the same property so devised or bequeathed, as though no testamentary disposition had been made.
Sec. 270. Every legacy, gift or bequest, of money or personal property, or of any interest, benefit or use therein, either direct, implied or otherwise, contained in any last will and testament or codocil, in favor of any religious or ecclesiastical corporation, sole or aggregate, or any religious or ecclesiastical society, or to any religious denomination or association, either for its own use or benefit, or for the purpose of being given or appropriated to charitable uses, shall be null and void, and the distributees shall take the same as though no such testamentary disposition had been made.
The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were periods of vast expansion in the United States—from the extent of its borders, to the size of its population, to the size and wealth of its economy. But the settling of the United States’ vast continental frontier, whether or not dictated by any manifest destiny, and the building of its industrial economy entailed great efforts, including on the part of government. These efforts, aimed at encouraging settlement, commerce, and domestic manufactures, were influenced by, even as they themselves influenced, conflicts among varying interests, cultural and occupational groups, and worldviews. The result would be a larger, richer America, and also one that was qualitatively different from what it had been before.
The disposition of unsettled public lands had been a political issue in America since before the War for Independence, as settlers looked for free land and the opportunities it could provide. These lands also played a significant role in arguments over slavery as Free Soil Party adherents called for homesteading to promote small farming and keep slavery out of the West. In 1862, after the Southern states had seceded, Congress passed the Homestead Act allowing Americans, including recent immigrants, to file for ownership of up to 160 acres of land and acquire title to it upon showing that they had farmed it, built a house on it, and lived on it for five years. Fraud and abuse were common problems as railroad companies and large ranchers misused the filing system to gain control of land and natural resources—especially water. Nonetheless, by 1900, six hundred thousand homestead claims had been filed, covering eighty million acres. The act remained in effect until 1976, with provisions allowing for homesteading in Alaska until 1986.