NHS annual meeting is Tuesday

Published 12:03 am Sunday, January 20, 2019

If the title of a new book “Heroes, Rascals, and the Law — Constitutional Encounters in Mississippi History,” intrigues you, please mark your calendar for the annual meeting and banquet of the Natchez Historical Society on Tuesday.

Our speaker will be the author the Honorable James L. Robertson, who will speak specifically about a 200-year-old case having historical significance for Natchez as well as other Mississippi constitutional encounters from statehood to the 1940s.

Harry and Others vs. Decker & Hopkins (1818) is one of the earliest known opinions of the Supreme Court of Mississippi.

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It is remarkable in many ways. Freedom-by-residence cases brought by slaves seeking freedom were not uncommon in the years leading into the 1850s.

However, Harry was the first known case where at the end of the day, the court of last resort in a Southern slave state had ruled that the slaves were free.

Lyman Harding and Tully Robinson were the lawyers for the case that was tried in Adams County and was referenced in the Dred Scott Case of 1857, which reached an opposite decision almost a half century later.

James “Jimmy” Robertson, a native of Greenville, graduated from Ole Miss and Harvard Law School.

He taught at the University School of Law and served on the Mississippi Supreme Court from 1983-1992. He currently practices in Jackson.

In a review of “Heroes, Rascals and the Law,” author John Grisham wrote, “As a law student at Ole Miss, I was easily bored with the study of constitutional law. However, I did not have the benefit of studying under a gifted storyteller like Jimmy Robertson (he taught me federal procedure). This collection is a delightful romp through the highs and lows of Mississippi’s struggle to govern itself.”

The University Press review ends its description of the book by writing, “Tales of understanding and humanity covering 130 years of heroes, rascals, and ordinary folk — with a bundle of engaging surprises — leave the reader pretty sure there’s nothing quite like Mississippi history told by a sage observer.”

The winner of the Historic Preservation Award will be announced at the meeting as well as the new officers of the NHS Board.

The speech will be preceded by the annual membership event and banquet at Stanton Hall.

Social hour (cash bar) and registration begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, followed by dinner and program at 7 p.m.

Cost of the banquet is $30, payable at the door. Reservations are strongly advised.

Call Page Ogden (601-442-6151) or Maria Bowser (601-445-2153). If leaving a message, please leave your name, phone number and number attending.

Everyone is invited to share in the history of our local area by becoming a member of the Natchez Historical Society in 2019.

Dues are $15 yearly and may also be paid the evening of the program.

MARIA BOWSER is publicity chair of Natchez Historical Society.