Newton Knight

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Jones County,
Birth Sign
Jones County,

Newton Knight was a farmer in Mississippi, a southern Unionist, and the commander of the “Knight Company,” a unit of Civil War soldiers that fought against the “Confederate” government. The “Knight Company” was made up of supporters of Lincoln. They established the “Free State of Jones,” which broke with federal regulations, in their native Mississippi because they opposed slavery. However, there is no precise historical record that demonstrates Newton’s exact level of opposition to slavery. Newton joined the liberal “Republican Party” after the war and worked as a US marshal in Mississippi. Due to his dubious motivations and propensity to switch sides during the Civil War, Newton split his admirers and detractors into numerous factions over the years, despite the fact that he may have been an iconic figure in America. After the war, his marriage to a freed slave also sparked a lot of questions regarding his precise motivations. Mississippi state law deemed the marriage to be against the law. Many debates were sparked by Newton’s creation of a community where black and white Americans might live side by side in peace.

Early Childhood & Life

On November 10, 1829, in Jones County, Mississippi, Stuart Newton Knight was born. He was the son of Albert Knight and his wife. They were farmers who came from modest households. There has been constant controversy about some sources that claim Newton was actually born in 1837. He belonged to the “yeomen,” a backward class of people who were prohibited from attending school. But it’s thought that his mother gave him his education.

John “Jackie” Knight, his grandfather, was extremely well-known. Before the Civil War broke out, he was regarded as one of the largest slave owners in the Mississippi region. Newton’s father, Albert, was entirely different from him in terms of social standing and financial resources. The sizable estate of Albert’s father was not his. He also didn’t own any slaves. To make ends meet, he was dependent on farming.

Following his father’s example, Newton never owned any slaves. Newton, a fervent Baptist, declared that slavery went against his spiritual principles. He lived a life without ever drinking. On his modest farm, he kept livestock and relied on farming as a source of income.

A significant portion of Americans, particularly those from the northern states, fought slavery vehemently in the early 1860s under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln. After seeming inevitable, the war ultimately started in 1861. Three years before the war, Newton wed Serena Turner; together, they had nine kids.

A Civil War

In favor of the group of states that upheld slavery, Newton Knight enlisted in the “Confederate Army” when the American Civil War began in April 1861. Everyone was startled by his choice. What prompted a man who opposed slavery to join the “Confederate” forces is still a mystery. According to some reports, he wished to fight for his country, while according to others, his choice allowed him to realize a lifelong ambition of becoming a soldier.

For not very long, Newton fought for the pro-slavery philosophy before deserting the army the very next year. When he got back home, he saw how badly his farming had been affected. There weren’t enough people to work on the crops because so many guys joined the war. The ‘Confederate Army’ had further complicated matters by stating that any soldier from their army could obtain everything they wished and that it was the responsibility of farmers to assist them.

Knight was captured by the “Confederate Army” in 1863 together with a number of other deserters. He quickly returned to Jones County, though. In an attempt to apprehend Knight and the other deserters later that year, the army dispatched Major Amos McLemore to Jones County, but Amos was fatally shot. Despite the widespread belief that Knight was responsible for his death, no conclusive proof was discovered.

State of Jones, Free

Newton Knight quickly grew irate with the ‘Confederate’ forces for trying to disrupt the tranquil life he and the other Jones County deserters planned to enjoy. He organized 125 deserters into the “Knight Company,” who promised to defend the locals from the brutality of the soldiers.

They quickly began taking efforts to overthrow the “Confederates.” They avoided the tax collectors, assassinated “Confederate Army” followers, and indulged in giving out army equipment to the villagers. Ellisville flew an American flag at the beginning of 1864, although it’s unclear if the ‘Free State of Jones’ was a recognized name at the time.

Soon after learning of the “Knight Company,” the “Confederate Army” dispatched men to destroy them. When they could, Knight and his group boldly engaged them in combat; otherwise, they hid in the swamps. Soon, there was a lot of killing, and Knight lost a large portion of his troops. Knight, however, persisted in his fight against the “Confederates” until the war’s end in 1865, proving that this was insufficient to deter him.

By the spring of 1864, Knight’s men had deposed the “Confederate Army,” and after the war was finished, Jones County was ruled by the “Union Army.” After that, Knight was given the responsibility of giving the needy the food that had earlier been taken away by the “Confederate Army.” Additionally, he started a number of missions to free the local counties’ slave children. When conditions in the country returned to normal, he started farming again and declared support for the “Republican Party.”

Knight submitted a petition in 1870 to recognize a number of the “Knight Company” soldiers who had risked their lives fighting the “Confederates.” He embarked on a mission in 1875 to ensure that the slaves received sufficient rights, including the ability to vote. It ended up being a fight that lasted a little bit longer, though.

Future and Legacy

Newton Rachel, a former slave girl, and Knight got married after falling in love. The couple has five kids together. Serena, his first wife, and their kids resided nearby. Serena reportedly gave birth to one of his children after his second marriage, though it is unknown whether she approved of her husband’s union with a black woman. This could be interpreted as a sign that she approved of Knight’s second marriage.

Mississippi law refused to recognize Newton’s second marriage. He didn’t give a damn, though, and spent the remainder of his life with his second wife. The fact that many of his later marriages involved his children from both of his spouses was a contentious feature of his life.

On February 16, 1922, Newton passed away at the age of 92. His final burial site couldn’t be close to Rachel, his black wife, according to Mississippi law. Despite this, he insisted on having a grave at the current “Knight Family Cemetery,” which is located in the same cemetery. He lived for others is the epitaph on Newton’s headstone.

One of the American national heroes is Newton Knight. In his life, numerous books and movies have been based. Newton was portrayed by Matthew McConaughey in the 2016 movie “Free State of Jones,” which was helmed by Gary Ross. The movie was a critical and financial disaster. However, it was praised for its admirable goals of presenting an American hero in all its splendor.

Estimated net worth

The estimated net worth of Newton Knight is unknown.