World History

Mississippi State History – War, Explorers, Population, Facts

The land that is now Mississippi was once 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.

Information about Mississippi State:

Capital Jackson
Population 2,940,057 (Source: 2022 U.S. Census)
Major Cities Jackson, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Southaven, Biloxi
Borders Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and the Gulf of Mexico
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) $138,739.7 million (2022 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)
Key Industries Agriculture including cotton, soybeans, corn, milk, and catfish
Oil, textiles, and transportation equipment

Flag of Mississippi State:

Native Americans

When Europeans arrived in Mississippi, they discovered several Native American tribes there. The three main tribes were the Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Natchez. The Chickasaw and Choctaw were closely related. They both spoke Muskogee and were later considered part of the “Civilized Five Tribes”. The Natchez family lived in southwestern Mississippi. They were mainly fishermen and farmers.

Europeans Arrive

The first European settlement was Fort Maurepas. Founded in 1699 by Frenchman Pierre d’Iberville. The French continued to build trading posts and forts in the area in his early 18th century. This included Lefleur’s Bluff, which later became the town of Jackson.

Mississippi State Symbols

  • Mississippi State Nickname: Magnolia State
  • Mississippi State Slogan: Feels Like Coming Home, ‘The South’s Warmest Welcome’
  • Mississippi State Motto: Virtute et armis (By valor and arms)
  • Mississippi State flower: Magnolia
  • Mississippi State bird: Mockingbird
  • Mississippi State fish: Largemouth bass
  • Mississippi State tree: Magnolia
  • Mississippi State mammal: Red fox, White-tailed deer
  • Mississippi State foods: Milk

Early Settlers

The first European settlement was Fort Maurepas. Founded in 1699 by Frenchman Pierre d’Iberville. The French continued to build trading posts and forts in the area in his early 18th century. This included Lefleur’s Bluff, which later became the town of Jackson.

Becoming a State

Mississippi fell into British hands after the French and Indian War. It was returned to the United States after the Revolutionary War. In 1798, Mississippi became a territory of the United States with Natchez as its capital. The territory continued to expand and played an important role in the War of 1812. On December 10, 1817, the United States Congress declared Mississippi her twentieth state. The original capital was Natchez, but the capital moved several times in the early years until Jackson became the capital in 1822.

The Geography of Mississippi State:

  • Total Size of Mississippi: 46,907 sq. miles (source: 2003 Census)
  • Geographical Low Point of Mississippi: Gulf of Mexico at Sea Level (source: U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Geographical High Point of Mississippi: Woodall Mtn. at 806 feet, located in the county/subdivision of Tishomingo (source: U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Central Point of Mississippi: Located in Leake County approx. 9 miles west-northwest of Carthage (source: U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Counties of Mississippi: 82 (source: National Association of Counties)
  • Bodies of Water of Mississippi: Yazoo River, Mississippi River, Pearl River, Gulf of Mexico, Sardis Lake, Grenada Lake, and the Ross Barnett Reservoir.


Mississippi’s economy in the 19th century was based on large cotton plantations. To obtain labor for the field work, plantation owners bought slaves from Africa. Soon there were more slaves than free people in the state. Just before the start of the Civil War in 1860, Mississippi was home to 791,305 of her people, and about 55% of the population (436,631) were slaves.

Civil War

Plantation owners in Mississippi began to worry about their businesses when northern states began to outlaw slavery. They felt they needed slaves to make money. In 1861 Abraham Lincoln became president and the Civil War broke out. Mississippi separated from the United States and joined the Confederate States of America. They were the second state to secede from the Confederacy and one of the first to join.

Soldiers from Mississippi participated in the fighting in the South. The most important battle that took place in Mississippi was the Battle of Vicksburg. In this battle, Union forces under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant defeated the Confederates and captured the Mississippi River. By 1865 the war was over and the Confederates were defeated. Mississippi was allowed to rejoin the Union in 1870 after the state’s constitution was changed to allow former slaves the right to vote.

Famous People of Mississippi State:

Oprah Winfrey Talk show host
Ida B. Wells Journalist and civil rights activist
Tennessee Williams Playwright who wrote A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Hiram Revels Mississippi representative who was the first African-American U.S. Senator
Elvis Presley Singer called the ‘King of Rock and Roll’
Walter Payton Pro football running back
B.B. King Singer, songwriter, and guitarist
Faith Hill Country music singer
James Earl Jones Actor
Jimmy Buffett Singer and songwriter
Bo Diddley Singer, songwriter, and guitarist
William Faulkner Nobel Prize winning author who wrote The Sound and the Fury
Brett Favre Pro football quarterback
Jim Henson Filmmaker and creator of the Muppets

Interesting Facts of Mississippi State:

Mississippi means “big river” in the Algonquin language.

Square dancing is the state dance of Mississippi.

The first federal judge was Vernita Matthews of Mississippi.

You can visit Elvis Presley’s birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Schoolchildren voted magnolia the state flower in 1900 and the state tree in 1935. Root beer was invented in Biloxi in 1898.

The first human lung and heart transplants were performed at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

The cotton capital of the world is Greenwood, Mississippi.

There are more plantations here than in any other state. It also has more churches per capita than any other state.

The world’s longest man-made beach is located on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.

Timeline Overview:

1540 – Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto is the first European to visit the area.
1682 – Mississippi becomes part of Louisiana and comes under French rule.
1699 – Frenchman Pierre d’Iberville builds Fort Maurepa, Mississippi’s first permanent settlement.
1798 – Mississippi Territory is established with Natchez as its capital.
1817 – Congress makes Mississippi the 20th state.
1822 – Jackson becomes the capital.
1830 – Choctaw vacate land in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. They will be forced to migrate to Indian territory within a few years.
1861 – Mississippi leaves the Union and joins the Confederate States of America. A civil war begins.
1863 – Battle of Vicksburg takes place. Union wins and gains control of the Mississippi River.
1870 – Mississippi is allowed back into the Union.
1907 – Weevils emerge and destroy much of the cotton crop
1969 – Racial discrimination in public schools is abolished.
2005 – Hurricane Her Katrina hits the coast, causing severe damage.