The Making of the 50 States: Mississippi

• Part 2: The Rest of the Story

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The Making of the 50 States
The 13 American Colonies
Clickable map of the 13 Colonies with descriptions of each colony
American History Glossary
The First European Settlements in America
Colonial Times

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Part 1: In the Beginning

The Mound Builders and the Mississippi cultures were the first people to live in what is now the State of Mississippi. Native American tribes who lived there included Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Natchez.


The first European explorer to visit modern-day Mississippi was Spain's Hernando de Soto, who arrived in 1540 and claimed the land for his home country. He wasn't followed by hordes of Spanish explorers and settlers. The next European explorers of any note to arrive were the famed pair of Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet, who arrived on the scene in 1673. Not long after, René-Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle sailed down the Mississippi River to its mouth, claiming all land drained by the Mississippi settlement river for France. The French it was who started building settlements and trading posts, starting with Pierre Le Moyne d'Ilberville's establishment of Fort Maurepas, near what is now Ocean Springs, in 1699. One of those settlements was the genesis of today's capital city, Jackson.

One of the Mississippi area's first big businessmen was Antoine Crozat, a trader whom King Louis XIV granted a monopoly on trade in the colony in 1712. Crozat gave way to another businessman, John Law, who lost a lot of money in a stock scheme in 1720.

Settlements continued, with many traveling the famous Natchez Trace in search of a new home. One of these villages was LeFleur's Bluff, which later became Jackson. Fort Rosalie, the site of which is now the town of Natchez, was built in 1716. Three years later, the first shipment of slaves, from the Caribbean, arrived.

Members of the Natchez eventually tired of French encroachment and killed a number of French settlers at Fort Rosalie, in 1729. The French retaliation three years later decimated the Natchez tribe.

Great Britain gained control of the Mississippi area after winning the French and Indian War in 1763. The British turned what is now Biloxi and Natchez into the Province of West Florida and imported large number of slaves into the area.

Spanish settlers had started to populate what is now Florida and Louisiana, and a Spanish contingent captured Natchez in 1779.

When the Treaty of Paris officially ended the Revolutionary War, most of Mississippi became a territory of the United States. Spain took possession of West Florida and kept it until 1810.

Next page > The Rest of the Story > Page 1, 2

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