Prior to Europeans arriving in the Mississippi area Native American tribes inhabited the area including the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Natchez, Yazoo, and the Biloxi.
The first European explorer, Hernando de Soto, led an expedition into the Mississippi territory in 1540. Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville established the first European settlement, Ocean Springs (Old Biloxi) in 1699. In 1716, The major town and trading post, Fort Rosalie (later renamed Natchez) was founded on the Mississippi River in 1716. The area passed through the control of may countries including Spain, Great Britain, and France until the Mississippi area was ceded to the British following the French and Indian War by the Treaty of Paris.
On April 7, 1798 the Mississippi Territory was organized from territory ceded by Georgia and South Carolina. The territory was expanded twice to include disputed territory that was claimed by both the United States and Spain. In 1800-1830, land was also purchased from Native American tribes.
On December 10, 1817, Mississippi became the 20th state admitted to the Union.
In the 1850s, Mississippi cotton plantation owners of the Delta and Black Belt regions-became increasingly wealthy due to the high international price of cotton and the highly fertile soil in the region. The high disparity of wealth and the use of large populations of slaves needed to sustain such income played a great role in state politics and in the support for secession from the Union.
On January 9, 1861, Mississippi became the second state to secede from the Union to join the Confederate States of America. Under the terms of Reconstruction, Mississippi was readmitted to the Union on February 23, 1870 after the Confederate States were defeated in the American Civil War.
In the 1940s, a series of restrictive racial segregation laws put in place during the early 20th century resulted in the emigration of almost half a million people, three-quarters of them black. At the same time Mississippi became the center American music traditions in the Deep South such as gospel music, country music, jazz music, blues, and rock and roll. Mississippi is also noted for its early twentieth century authors such as Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner.
Mississippi became a major focus of the American Civil Rights Movement. Through the actions of many white politicians, the involvement of many Mississippians in the White Citizens' Council movement, and the violent tactics of the Ku Klux Klan, Mississippi gained a negative reputation in the 1960s as a reactionary state.
In 1966, Mississippi became the last state to repeal prohibition. In 1995 Mississippi symbolically adopted the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery.
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