Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



In assessing the problems of race and debtor relief in Mississippi during Reconstruction, it is clear that, on the local level, the Lafayette County court system, as represented by the Lafayette county court, effectively carried out an institutional framework established by the Mississippi legislature and the Mississippi Supreme Court in which the freedman was denied any meaningful role and/or opportunity in the economic environment of the community.In doing so, the county court system, by allegedly protecting the rights of private property, helped stifle the economic recovery of Lafayette County and, inferentially, the State as a whole. Moreover, by quickly acting in accordance with the Mississippi legislature's and Mississippi Supreme Court's initial actions regarding private debtor relief, the county court system in Lafayette actively contributed to sustaining an economic environment which not only slowed the pace of economic recovery, but also assured that the economic elite or private property owners of the local community sustained their power and influence over the course of future developments. In general, the Lafayette county court demonstrated that,on the local level, the judicial system could and did adjust to the demands of the national and state government while simultaneously satisfying and promoting its own constituency's interests.