Washington, in Adams County, was important in the earlier history of Mississippi. “The town of Washington, six miles east of Natchez, in a rich, elevated and picturesque country, was then the seat of government,” wrote Colonel Claiborne. “The land office, the surveyor-general’s office, the office of the commissioner of claims, and the courts of the United States, were all there.
In the immediate vicinity was Fort Dearborn, and a permanent cantonment of United States troops. The high officials of the territory made it their residence, and many gentlemen of fortune, attracted by its advantages, went there to reside. There were three large hotels, and the academical department of Jefferson College, established during the administration of Governor Claiborne, was in successful operation. The society was highly cultivated and refined. The conflicting land titles had drawn there a large crowd of lawyers, generally young men of fine attainments and brilliant talents.
The medical profession was equally well represented, at the head of which was Dr. Daniel Rawlings, a native of Calvert County, Md., a man of high moral character and exalted patriotism, eminent in his profession and who, as a vigorous writer and acute reasoner, had no superior and few equals. The emigration from Maryland, chiefly from Calvert, Prince George and Montgomery counties, consisted, for the most part, of educated and wealthy planters, the Covingtons, Chews, Calvits, Wilkinsons, Graysons, Freelands, Wailes, Bowies and Magruders; and the Winstons, Dangerfields and others from Virginia, who for a long time gave tone to the society of the territorial capital. It was a gay and fashionable place, compactly built for a mile or more from east to west, every hill in the neighborhood occupied by some gentleman’s chateau.
The presence of the military had its influence on society; punctilio and ceremony, parades and public entertainments were the features of the place. It was, of course, the haunt of politicians and office hunters; the center of political intrigue; the point to which all persons in the pursuit of land or occupation first came. It was famous for its wine parties and its dinners, not unfrequently enlivened by one or more duels directly afterward. Such was this now deserted and forlorn looking little village during the territorial organization. In its forums there was more oratory, in the salons more wit and beauty than we have ever witnessed since, all now moldering, neglected and forgotten in the desolate graveyard of the ancient capital of Mississippi.”
Back to: Mississippi Counties, Cities and Towns, 1891
Source: Biographical and Historical Memories of Mississippi, Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1891