Franklin E. Plummer, a Democratic Party leader in the 1830s, was born in Richmond, Massachusetts, around 1795, the son of Edward Plummer and Esther Raymond Plummer. Earning his passage as a deck hand, Plummer arrived in New Orleans in 1821 or 1822. After a brief stay there and in Pearlington, Mississippi, Plummer settled on land recently ceded to the United States by the Choctaw Indians. He liked to boast that he had delivered the wagonload of logs used to build the first cabin in Jackson, Mississippi.
His connections in the new capital led to his appointment as postmaster at Westville in Copiah County (later Simpson County). Plummer briefly taught school and studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1825. In 1826 Simpson County elected Plummer to the State House of Representatives, where he served three terms. An effective parliamentarian and orator, Plummer established his credentials as an advocate for the common people by favoring public schools, fair taxation, and internal improvements while opposing the chancery court system and property restrictions for office. His special targets in the House and on the campaign trail were the “swell-heads,” the plantation elite from the Mississippi River counties.
Having earned the backing of the settlers of the newly opened territory and the Piney Woods, Plummer won election to the US House of Representatives in 1830 with the campaign slogan, “Plummer for the People, and the People for Plummer.” He served two terms in the House. In Washington, Plummer followed an unconventional path in that era of political party formation. He opposed Andrew Jackson’s Force Bill against South Carolina and spoke against Martin Van Buren’s ambitions to succeed Jackson. But Plummer also tenaciously defended Jackson in his fight with the Bank of the United States. And he continued to articulate a sincere but undeveloped concern for common working men against the wealthy who would deny them their freedom of opportunity.
In 1836 Plummer sought to succeed George Poindexter in the US Senate. Angry that Robert J. Walker had received the Democratic Party’s approval, Plummer made a deal with the anti-Jackson Whig forces even though the Democrats incorporated many of his political stances. Whig legislators subsequently betrayed Plummer and supported Poindexter’s reelection. Albert Gallatin Brown and other rising politicians proved more effective in representing the developing counties within the Democratic Party and the legislature.
Plummer quickly faded from public view. He relocated to Yalobusha County, practiced law, and became president of a small bank that failed. Plummer died in Jackson on 21 September 1847, according the Natchez Courier, “in great destitution.”
- Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (1950)
- J. F. H. Claiborne, Mississippi as a Province, Territory, and State (1880)
- Edwin A. Miles, Journal of Mississippi History (January 1952)