The Free State of Jones
Ingrid Leverett responds to Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer’s book, State of Jones.
I received the following email message on Sunday from Ingrid Leverett, the daughter of historian Rudy Leverett, author of The Legend of the Free State of Jones (University of Mississippi Press, 1984). Rudy’s book demolished once and for all the myth that Jones County seceded from the Confederacy. While he and I differed in our opinion of whether or not Newt Knight was an outlaw or a Unionist, we engaged in a mutually-respectful dialogue in which we shared materials and ideas.
Vikki Bynum, Moderator
Thank you very much for your defense of serious and careful scholarship in connection with the history of Jones County, Mississippi. As a daughter of Rudy Leverett, I was dismayed to read of the distorted and ahistorical treatment of the subject by Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer and of the publicity their work seems to be receiving. My father would have endorsed your superb rebuttal of their unsubstantiated claims for Newt Knight which, as you explained, make for colorful drama but poor history. Indeed, the purpose of my father’s book, Legend of the Free State of Jones — ten years or more in the researching and writing — was precisely to lay to rest, once and for all, perpetuation of the myths about Jones County and Newt Knight advanced by Jenkins and Stauffer.