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Ole Miss Musings: The Year 1848 And The Environment In Which Ole Miss Was Founded


The first, seven-member law class of the University of Mississippi assembled in autumn 1854 outside the Lyceum. Courtesy of UM School of Law.

 
 

We have all seen the year (1848) reflected everywhere in Ole Miss publications; however, I have never taken the time to explore that year to discover what was going on in the nation and state to determine what the environment was like the year Ole Miss was born.

Starting with the federal government, James K. Polk (D, TN) was president and George M. Dallas (D, PA) was vice president. The 30th congress met with the American flag featuring 30 stars (on May 29, Wisconsin was admitted as the 30th state).
The United States in 1848 was still occupied with its Western expansion mindset. This was highlighted by two major events. On February 2, The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, ending the Mexican- American War and ceding, practically, the entire Southwestern part of the United States (that exists today) to the winner. The California Gold Rush was influencing many adventurers when James W. Marshall found gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California.
Other notable national and international events in 1848 included the following: The Washington Monument was established. In July, the inaugural Women’s Rights Convention was held. On November 7, which was the first time the presidential election was held in every state on the same day, Whig Zachary Taylor (LA) defeated Lewis Cass (D, MI). On February 23, the sixth president, John Q. Adams, passed away at age 81. And in Switzerland, a federal constitution was adopted for the democratic state patterned after the United States.
Closer to home, Joseph W. Matthews (D) became governor on January 10 having defeated a fellow Marshall County resident representing the Whig Party. In 1848, telegraph service came to Jackson as well as other parts of the state. Matthews (a planter) died in 1862 while in transit to Palmetto, Georgia, having accepted a commission in the Confederacy.
*Ole Miss Musings: Next week, we’ll return to more current events, looking at the University of Mississippi 169 years later in the year 2017. The aforementioned will provide some insights into the year that launched our beloved university and started the traditions and academic atmosphere that we treasure today.
(Special thanks to Wikipedia for the historical references.)


Steve VassalloSteve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.
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