Taken from Publication
of the Mississippi Historical Society, By the
Mississippi Historical Society, Edited by Franklin L. Riley,
Secretary, Volume V, Oxford, Mississippi, 1902, pgs 311-312,
originally taken from Claiborne’s Mississippi
as a Province Territory, and State, pgs
258-260, describing Washington as it was in 1805.
Submitted by Debora Reese
The town of Washington, six miles east of Natchez, in a rich, elevated picturesque county, was then the seat of government. The land office, the Surveyor-General’s office, the office of the Commissioners of Claim, the Courts of the United States, were all there. In the immediate vicinity was Fort Dearborn and a permanent cantonment of the United State 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 (sic) department of Jefferson College, inaugurated by Governor Claiborne, was in successful operation. The society was highly cultured and refined. The conflicting land titles had drawn a 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, Maryland – chiefly from Calvert, Prince George and Montgomery counties – consisted from the most part, of educated and wealthy planters – the Covingtons, Graysons, Chews, Calvits, Wilkinsons, 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 pursuit of land or occupation first came. Was famous for its wine parties and dinners, usually enlivened by one or more duels directly afterwards. Such was this now deserted and forlorn looking village, during Territorial organization. In its forums there was more oratory, in its saloons more wit and beauty than we have ever witnessed since – all now mouldering (sic), neglected and forgotten, in the desolate graveyard of the ancient capital.