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History >> US Geography >> US State History

Mississippi

State History

The land that is today the state of Mississippi was once the home to ancient cultures such as the Mound Builders and the Mississippian culture. Over time these cultures disappeared and were replaced by Native American tribes.

Native Americans

When the Europeans arrived in Mississippi they found several Native American tribes in the land. The three most dominant tribes were the Chickasaw, Choctaw, and the Natchez. The Chickasaw and the Choctaw were closely related. They both spoke the Muskogean language and were later considered part of the "Five Civilized Tribes." The Natchez lived in the southwest region of Mississippi. They were mostly fisherman and farmers.


A plantation house in Mississippi
D'Evereux Plantation by Ralph Clynne

Europeans Arrive

The first European to visit Mississippi was Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540. He claimed the land for Spain, but it was over 100 years later that French explorer La Salle again explored the area and claimed the land for France. At the time, Mississippi was considered part of a larger region called Louisiana.

Early Settlers

The first permanent European settlement was Fort Maurepas. It was established by Frenchman Pierre d'Iberville in 1699. The French continued to build trading posts and forts in the region throughout the early 1700s. This included LeFleur's Bluff which would eventually become the city of Jackson.

Becoming a State

The Mississippi region changed hands to the British after the French and Indian War. It then changed hands again to the United States after the Revolutionary War. In 1798, Mississippi became a U.S. territory with the city of Natchez as the capital. The territory continued to grow and it played a vital role in the War of 1812. On December 10, 1817, the U.S. Congress made Mississippi the 20th state. The original capital was Natchez, but the capital moved several times over the first few years until Jackson became the capital in 1822.

Slavery

The economy in Mississippi in the 1800s was based around large cotton plantations. In order to have labor to work the fields, plantation owners purchased slaves from Africa. Soon there were more slaves than free people in the state. Right before the beginning of the Civil War, in 1860, there were 791,305 people living in Mississippi and slaves made up around 55% of the population (436,631).

Civil War

The plantation owners in Mississippi began to worry about their business when northern states started to make slavery illegal. They felt they needed slaves to make money. In 1861, Abraham Lincoln became president and the Civil War broke out. Mississippi seceded from the United States and joined the Confederacy. They were the second state to leave and one of the first members of the Confederacy.


Battle of Vicksburg
Siege of Vicksburg by Kurz and Allison

Mississippi soldiers took part in battles across the south. The most important battle that took place in Mississippi was the Battle of Vicksburg. At this battle the Union Army under General Ulysses S. Grant defeated the Confederates and took control of the Mississippi River. In 1865, the war was over and the Confederacy had lost. Mississippi was allowed to rejoin the Union in 1870 after changing the state constitution to allow former slaves to vote.


Elvis Presley was born in Mississippi
Elvis Presley from the Library of Congress

Timeline More US State History:

Alabama
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Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
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Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
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Nebraska
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Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
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Rhode Island
South Carolina
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Tennessee
Texas
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Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
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Works Cited

History >> US Geography >> US State History





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