Artifacts Portraits

Hall of Fame: Greenwood Leflore

Nominations are currently being sought for the 2011 class of the Mississippi Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors women and men who made noteworthy contributions to the state. Consideration for the Hall of Fame takes place only once every five years and any Mississippian—native or adopted—deceased at least five years may be nominated. The deadline for nominations is October 1, and elections will be held at a special meeting of the MDAH board of trustees in December. Click here for complete nomination guidelines.

This series recognizes members of the Hall of Fame, whose portraits hang in the Old Capitol Museum. Special thanks to Anna Todd, University of Southern Mississippi student and MDAH summer intern, for researching this post.

It is the responsibility of the nominating entity to fund the portraits, thus some members of the Hall of Fame, including Greenwood Leflore, do not have portraits.

Greenwood Leflore (1800-1865), son of a French trader and a Choctaw woman, was born in 1800. His mother was the niece of Choctaw chief Pushmataha. At age twelve, Leflore was sent to Nashville by his father to receive a formal education. Despite being generally disliked by the tribe’s full-blood men, he was elected chief of the Choctaw Nation while he was still in his twenties due to his maternal heritage. As chief, Leflore supported “civilization,” and he encouraged dramatic legal, religious, and educational reforms to the tribe. Leflore’s role in the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, which arranged for the sale of the remaining Choctaw lands in Mississippi to the United States, lost him support among the Choctaw.

Shortly after negotiating the treaty, Leflore settled in Carroll County, where he won election to the state House of Representatives and the state Senate. He was a prominent man in society, and close friend of Jefferson Davis. By the 1850s, he owned more than 15,000 acres of land and was one of the state’s wealthiest cotton planters. His mansion, Malmaison, was one of the most elaborately decorated in the state. Lefore occupied the mansion until his death in 1865, despite having lost his cotton crop, slaves, and other property during the Civil War. The city of Greenwood, Mississippi, and Leflore County are named in his honor. He was inducted into the Mississippi Hall of Fame in 1996.