Ross Robert Barnett: Fifty-third Governor of Mississippi: 1960-1964
The office of governor is the only public office Ross Barnett ever held and the only political office for which he ever campaigned. He is also one of only two Mississippians who ran for the office four times. He ran and lost in 1951 and 1955, he was elected in 1959, and he ran again unsuccessfully in 1967. Governor Barnett was also the last governor who was born in the century in which Mississippi was admitted to statehood.
Born at Standing Pine in Leake County, Mississippi, on January 22, 1898,
Barnett was one of Mississippi’s most successful trial lawyers.
After graduating from Mississippi College in 1922, Barnett earned a law
degree at the University of Mississippi in 1926 and opened a law practice
Although Governor Barnett is most remembered for the Meredith crisis
at Ole Miss, there were several significant economic developments during
his administration. A series of amendments to the state’s workmen’s
compensation law and the enactment of a “right to work law,”
made Mississippi more attractive to outside industry. More than 40,000
new jobs were created during his four years in office. Governor Barnett's
industrial development program also included the construction of industrial
parks throughout the state and the establishment of a Youth Affairs Department
under the Agricultural and Industrial Board.
David Sansing, Ph.D., is history professor emeritus, University of Mississippi.
Posted January 2004
Ross Barnett Subject File, Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Sansing, David. The University of Mississippi, A Sesquicentennial History, 281-313
Johnston, Erle. I Rolled With Ross! (Baton Rouge, 1980).
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