40 miles north-northwest of Jackson on the Yazoo River is Yazoo City. Cotton is the main agricultural crop of the area, which also produces beef cattle, soybeans, corn, oats, and wheat. Lumbering is an important industry. Yazoo City manufactures cottonseed oil, lumber products, fertilizers, and clothing. An oilfield, discovered in 1939, is worked nearby, and the city has an oil refinery. Founded in 1824 as Hanan's Bluff, the town prospered as a river port and in 1830 was incorporated as Manchester; the name was changed to Yazoo City in 1839. During the Civil War it was the site of a Confederate navy yard, where the ironclad Arkansas was built, and was twice burned but not held by Union forces in 1863.
The Yazoo River
Formed by the junction of the Tallahatchie and Yalobusha rivers near Greenwood in the west central part of the state. It flows 189 miles in a south-southwesterly direction into the Mississippi River at Vicksburg and is navigable. The area between the Mississippi on the west and the Yazoo and its northern tributaries on the east- about 65 miles wide and 200 miles long from Memphis, Tenn., to Vicksburg is known as the Yazoo Delta. Subject to periodic floods, it is famous for its long-staple cotton.
The Yazoo Fraud
In 1795 the Georgia legislature sold approximately 35 million acres of land, situated in what are now the states of Mississippi and Alabama, to five land companies for $500,000. The transaction became a national scandal when it was learned that the sale had been procured by wholesale bribery of the legislators. A new legislature passed an act in 1796 rescinding the sale and ceremoniously burned the 1795 act. In litigation concerning the validity of titles purchased from others who had taken title from the original grantees, the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1810, in the historic case of Fletcher v. Peck, Chief Justice John Marshall writing the opinion, that the act of 1796 rescinding the 1795 grant was unconstitutional. The case was a constitutional landmark for the following reasons: (1) it was the first instance in which the United States Supreme Court held a state statute invalid because of conflict with the United States Constitution; (2) it established that a public grant is a contract subject to the provision in the federal Constitution prohibiting states from impairing the obligation of contracts; and (3) in connection with a question as to the validity of the 1795 act, it rejected the principle that a legislative act can be declared invalid because of corrupt motives of legislators who enacted it. Georgia meanwhile had ceded its interest in the Yazoo lands to the United States in 1802. The controversy was finally resolved by an appropriation of $5 million by Congress in 1814 to indemnify parties claiming lands pursuant to the Georgia act of 1795.
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