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Steven J. Niven

lawyer and fraternal leader, was born Willis Elbert Mollison to Robert Mollison and Martha Gibson slaves in Mayersville the county seat of Issaquena County in the Mississippi Delta According to the federal census taken when Mollison was in his first year he was born in the second wealthiest county in the entire United States Practically all of that wealth was divided among the county s 587 white citizens whose total wealth averaged more than eighteen thousand dollars per white freeman The primary source of their wealth was Issaquena County s 7 244 slaves including young Willis whom they owned and whom they had purchased primarily to pick cotton on what one contemporary observer called the best land which our globe is able to produce One estimate suggests that as much as 75 percent of the slave children born on Delta plantations at that time died before reaching infancy ...

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Steven J. Niven

politician, lawyer, and fraternal leader, was born in Edgefield County, South Carolina, the son of Charlotte Simkins, a slave, and her owner Arthur Augustus Simkins, a newspaper publisher and scion of the local planter aristocracy. In the early 1850s Paris's father was prominent in organizing the Democratic Party in South Carolina, assisted by Preston Brooks, Edgefield's U.S. congressman, who in 1856 famously beat the Massachusetts Republican Charles Sumner with a cane on the Senate floor. Sumner had apparently insulted Brooks's kinsman. It is unclear how Arthur Simkins viewed his son Paris, though he most likely opposed the actions of another of his slaves, a coachman, who hid with the boy in the woods to secretly and illegally teach him to read and write. Paris's education was briefly interrupted at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 when he was sent with ...