Mississippi Territory and State History — 16th-21st Century


16th Century
1540-1541Hernando De Soto, Spanish explorer, becomes the first European to enter Mississippi. Wintering with the Chickasaws and discovers the Mississippi River in the spring.


17th Century
1673Father Jacques Marquette, a French missionary, and fur trapper and Louis Joliet begin exploration of the Mississippi River on May 17. They reach Mississippi in July and explore as far south as the mouth of the Arkansas River, near the present location of Rosedale, before turning back.
1699Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur D'Iberville and brother, Jean Baptiste, Sieur D'Bienville, landed in what is now Ocean Springs. They built Fort Maurepas and established the first capital of the French colony in North America.


18th Century
1716 — Fort Rosalie, the beginning of the town of Natchez, is established.
1718 — French officials establish rules to allow slave imports into the Biloxi area
1719 — First slave shipments arrive; most early slaves are Caribbean Creoles
1724 — Black Code is enacted and slavery is defined in the Mississippi territory
1729 — French settlers at Fort Rosalie are massacred by Natchez Indians in an effort to drive Europeans from Mississippi.
1732 — French retaliate for the massacre at Fort Rosalie. Natchez Indians cease to exist as a tribe.
1763 — Mississippi, along with all other French territory east of the Mississippi river, passes into English control at the end of the French and Indian War.
1763-1779 — English Dominion - British administer Natchez and Biloxi as the Province of West Florida; British slave traders bring large numbers of Jamaican-born African Caribbeans to the Natchez region
1779 — Bernardo Galvez, governor of Spanish Louisiana, captures Natchez.
1781-1783 — Under provisions of the Treaty of Paris, West Florida, which included the southern half of Mississippi, comes under Spanish control. America gains possession of Mississippi north of the 32 degree 28 minute parallel.
1795 — Pinckney Treaty with Spain transfers the territory along the eastern bank of the Mississippi River to the United States
1797 — Spain yields to America all land in Mississippi north of the 31st parallel, giving America control of Natchez.
1798 — Mississippi becomes United States Territory, and the first territorial governor, Winthrop Sargent, is appointed by President Thomas Jefferson.


19th Century
1801-1802 — A treaty with the Indians allows the Natchez Trace to be developed as a mail route and major road. Mississippi moves its territorial capital from Natchez to Washington, a small town near the Natchez Trace. Mississippi moves its territorial capital from Natchez to Washington, a small town near the Natchez Trace.
1803 — The Louisiana Purchase opens the Mississippi River for Commerce.
1805 — By the Treaty of Mount Dexter, the Choctaws sell 4.5 million acres of land to the US government. The area includes the Piney Woods region of the state.
1812 — The War of 1812 begins. Mississippi gains West Florida territory east of the Pearl River and south to the Gulf of Mexico.
1815 — The War of 1812 ends.
1816 — The Treaty of Fort Stephens with the Choctaws opens for settlement the area around the Tombigbee Prairie.
1817 — Act of Congress admitted Mississippi to the Union as the twentieth state. The Mississippi territory is divided. The western half becomes the twentieth state, Mississippi.
1820 — The Treaty of Doak's Stand, the second Choctaw cession. Washington County is opened up for development.
1821 — Mississippi's first public school is opened in Columbus.
1822 — The state capital is moved to Jackson. Built on the site of Lefleur's Bluff, Jackson was one of the first planned cities in the nation. It was named for Major General Andrew Jackson.
1830 — The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek cedes all Choctaw territory east of the Mississippi River to the US Government. Most of the Choctaws leave the state. The Treaty of Pontotoc Creek cedes north Mississippi Indian territory to the US Government. The Chickasaws leave the state for Oklahoma. The Mississippi Constitutional Convention produces the Constitution of 1832.
1842 — Governor Tilghman M. Tucker becomes the state's first chief executive to occupy the newly completed Governor's Mansion, still used today.
1844 — The University of Mississippi is established.
1850 — The US Congress gives the state title to more than 3 million acres of swamp and overflow land. By this time, 310 miles of levees have been built along the banks of the Mississippi River. The Delta is drained, cleared, and becomes available for cultivation. The Compromise of 1850 contains slavery to the South.
1861 — Mississippi became the second state to secede from the Union. Ship Island is captured by Union forces. The fall of Ship Island gives Union forces control of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
1862 — Corinth, a railroad center vital to the South, falls.
1863 — The Emancipation Proclamation abolishes slavery.
1865 — Robert E. Lee surrenders on April 9. The Civil War ends.
1867 — A military government is established in Mississippi after the reconstructed government of Mississippi is rejected by the US Congress.
1868 — Mississippi's first biracial constitutional convention, the Black and Tan Convention, drafts a constitution protecting the rights of freedmen (ex-slaves) and punishing ex-Confederates. It is rejected by the voters.
1869 — Under the leadership of James L. Alcorn, Mississippi ratifies a constitution which does not punish ex-Confederate soldiers
1870 — Mississippi is readmitted to the Union. The state's first system of public education is established. Senator Hiram R. Revels, a minister from Natchez, becomes the first black senator in US history.
1871 — Alcorn University, now Alcorn State University, is organized.
1877 — The Mississippi State Board of Health is created through the influence of the State Medical Association. Jackson College, a private college for blacks, is established at Natchez.
1877 — The Mississippi State Board of Health is created. Jackson College, a private college for blacks, is established at Natchez.
1878 — Agricultural and Technical School is established. It will become Mississippi State College and later, Mississippi State University.
1884 — The Industrial Institute and College, today's Mississippi University for Women, is established.
1890 — A new state constitution is adopted.
1892 — Millsaps College is opened.


20th Century
1903 — A new capitol building, constructed at a cost of $1 million, is dedicated in Jackson.
1907 — The boll weevil arrives in Mississippi, destroying most of the state's cotton crop. William H. Smith organizes the first of the state's "Com Clubs," which leads to the formation of the 4-H Clubs of America.
1908 — Mississippi adopts statewide prohibition.
1909 — Dr. Laurence C. Jones founds the Piney Woods Country Life School for the vocational and secondary education of black students.
1910 — Mississippi Normal College, now the University of Southern Mississippi, is organized.
1916 — The Mississippi State Sanatorium for Tuberculosis is established. Governor Theodore Bilbo establishes the state's first Highway Commission.
1922 — The State Legislature authorizes a system of junior colleges, the first in the nation.
1923 — Two women, Senator Belle Kearny and Representative Nellie Nugent Somerville, from Greenville, are elected to the State Legislature.
1924 — Delta State Teachers' College, now Delta State University, is established.
1927 — The Mississippi River floods 2,722,000 acres in the Delta. Thousands are left homeless.
1932 — The state's first sales tax becomes effective.
1939 — The state's first oil well is brought in near Tinsley, in Yazoo County.
1940 — Jackson College, having earlier moved from Natchez to Jackson, becomes a state institution. Lock and dam system completed
1941-1945 — World War II promotes an industrial boom in the state.
1946 — Mississippi Vocational College, now Mississippi Valley State University, is established.
1962 — James Meredith, the first black registrant, enters the University of Mississippi - the beginning of the end to segregation in public universities and colleges.
1963 — Medgar Evers, NAACP field secretary, is assassinated.
1964 — Congress passes the Civil Rights Act, outlawing segregation in public places. Three civil rights workers are murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi.
1966 — Mississippi repeals prohibition law; the last state to do so.
1968 — Circuit Court judge 0. H. Barnett rules that Choctaw Indians are subject to their tribal laws, a reversal of an 1830's ruling that abolished tribal government. Robert Clark begins serving his first term in the Mississippi House as its first modern-day black member.
1969 — Unitary system of public education is mandated by federal courts, ending segregation in public schools. Hurricane Camille wreaks havoc upon Mississippi's Gulf Coast and areas inland.
1970 — Mississippi Authority for Educational Television is established and begins broadcasting.
1972 — Work begins on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.
1976 — Governor Cliff Finch calls a special session of the Legislature to restructure the states savings and loan associations, averting a financial crisis.
1978 — Sixteenth Section Lands and Lieu Lands Act transfers control of Sixteenth Section Lands from county boards of supervisors to local boards of education and requires fair-market rental value on those lands.
1979 — Devastating flood inundates the city of Jackson and many towns south along the Pearl River.
1983 — Judge Lenore Prather becomes Mississippi's first woman Supreme Court justice.
1985 — Justice Reuben Anderson becomes Mississippi's first black Supreme Court Justice.
1986 — The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway is completed. Yazoo City lawyer Mike Espy is elected to the US House, the first black congressman from Mississippi since Reconstruction.
1987 — Ray Mabus is elected governor, the nation's youngest at 39.
1991 — Kirk Fordice becomes Mississippi's first Republican governor since Reconstruction.
1992 — Tornadoes hit Brandon and other parts of Mississippi killing fifteen and injuring hundreds.
1994 — One of the nation's strongest lobbying reform laws is passed by the Mississippi Legislature.


21st Century
2000 — David Ronald Musgrove becomes Mississippi's sixty-second Governor.
2004 — Voters banned same-sex marriage
2005 — Hurricane Katrina caused severe, catastrophic damage along coast; 238 people died, 67 missing and billions of dollars in damages. Ex-Klansman convicted of manslaughter in 1964 killing of three civil rights workers
2006 — Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated lowest per capita personal income of any state, also had nation's lowest living costs;
2010 — Tornado struck southeastern Mississippi, killed ten, state of emergency declared in 17 counties