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Native Dominion

Upon the first arrival of Europeans, the region now included in the State of Mississippi was inhabited by three powerful Indian tribes: the Choctaws, the Chickasaws and the Natchez. The Choctaws occupied the central and southern portions of the present state; the Chickasaws lived in the northern part, and the Natchez inhabited the land along the Mississippi River in the counties of Adams, Claiborne, Jefferson and Wilkinson. Among the smaller tribes which also lived in Mississippi were the Biloxi and the Pascagoulas in the Gulf Coast section and the Tunicas, Chocchumas and Yazoos along the Yazoo River.

Spanish Dominion, 1540-1699

1540-1541 Hernando De Soto, Spanish explorer, becomes the first known European to enter Mississippi. He winters with the Chickasaws and discovers the Mississippi River in the spring.

1673 Father Jacques Marquette, a French missionary, and fur trapper 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.

1682 Robert Cavalier de La Salle navigates the Mississippi River to its mouth and claims for France all lands drained by the river.

1699 Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur D'Iberville, and his brother Jean Baptiste, Sieur D'Bienville, landed in what is now Ocean Springs. They built Fort Maurepas and established the first capital of the vast French colony on the North American continent.

French Dominion, 1699-1763

1716 Fort Rosalie, the beginning of the town of Natchez, is established.

1729 French settlers at Fort Rosalie are massacred by Natchez Indians in an effort to drive Europeans from Mississippi.

1732 The French retaliate for the massacre at Fort Rosalie. The Natchez Indians cease to exist as a tribe.

1736 Bienville battles Chickasaw Indians in present day Lee County. He is defeated at the battle of Ackia.

English Dominion, 1763-1779

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.

Spanish Dominion, 1779-1798

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.

1797 Spain yields to America all land in Mississippi north of the 31st parallel, giving America control of Natchez.

Mississippi Territory, 1798-1817

1798 The Spanish withdrawal from Mississippi is completed. Mississippi is organized as an American territory, and the first territorial governor, Winthrop Sargent, is appointed by President Thomas Jefferson.

1801 Mississippi advances to the second stage of territorial government.

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.

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 U.S. government. The area includes the Piney Woods region of the state.

1810 West Florida rebellion gives the United States control of Spanish West Florida.

1812 The War of 1812 begins. Mississippi gains West Florida territory east of the Pearl River and south to the Gulf of Mexico.

1814-1815 The War of 1812 ends.

1816 The Treaty of Fort Stephens with the Choctaws opens for settlement the area around the Tombigbee Prairie.

State of Mississippi, 1817

1817 An Act of Congress on December 10 admitted Mississippi to the Union as the twentieth state. Indian lands in Mississippi were opened to white settlement after six major treaties with the Choctaws and the Chickasaws between 1805 and 1834. On January 9, 1861, Mississippi became the second state to secede from the Union. More than 80,000 Mississippians served in the Confederate States Army. After the fall of the Confederacy and a period of reconstruction, Mississippi was readmitted to the Union in 1870.

The Mississippi territory is divided. The western half becomes the twentieth state, Mississippi.

1818 Elizabeth Female Academy is founded in Washington, the first girls' school chartered by the state and one of America's first women's colleges.

1820 The Treaty of Doak's Stand, the second Choctaw cession.

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.

1826 Mississippi College, then Hampstead Academy, is established.

1830 The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek cedes all Choctaw territory east of the Mississippi River to the U.S. Government. Most of the Choctaws leave the state. The Treaty of Pontotoc Creek cedes north Mississippi Indian territory to the U.S. 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.

1848 State government assumes operation of a private school for the blind. It becomes the Mississippi School for the Blind, the nation's first state-supported institution for the handicapped.

1850 The U.S. 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.

1854 Mississippi Institute for the Deaf and Dumb opens in Jackson.

Henry Hughes of Port Gibson publishes Treatise on Sociology, which later earns him the title "first American sociologist."

1861 Mississippi secedes from the Union on January 9. In July, Ship Island is captured by Union forces. The fall of Ship Island gives Union forces control of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

1862 In late April, the Battle of Shiloh gives Union forces control of the Tennessee River and opens the way to attack Corinth, a railroad center vital to the South. Corinth falls in May.

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 U.S. 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 on February 23. Civil government is gradually restored under Governor Alcorn. The state's first system of public education is established.

Senator Hiram R. Revels, a minister from Natchez, becomes the first black senator in U.S. history, and serves as Mississippi's U.S. Senator from January 1870 to March 1871.

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.

1878 Agricultural and Technical School is established. In 1935, it becomes Mississippi State College and in 1958, 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.

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, 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.

1929 The Depression begins.

1932 The state's first sales tax becomes effective.

The Natchez Pilgrimage, a nationally-famous tour of that area's antebellum homes, becomes an annual event.

1936 The State Legislature passes an amendment to balance agriculture with industry (BAWI Program). The Industrial Commission and the Advertising Commission are created to implement the program, which includes adoption of the nation's first industrial revenue bond.

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.

1941-1945 World War II promotes an industrial boom in the state.

1946 Mississippi Vocational College, now Mississippi Valley State University, is established.

1954 Brown vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court's landmark ruling, lays groundwork for desegregation.

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.

1965 Governor Paul B. Johnson, Jr., announces that the BAWI Program has achieved its goal.

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.

Governor William Waller's administration aggressively involves blacks and women in government through key Cabinet, Board and judicial appointments.

1976 Governor Cliff Finch calls a special session of the Legislature to restructure the states savings and loan associations, averting a financial crisis.

Governor Finch succeeds in reuniting the long- separated Loyalist and Regular factions of the Mississippi Democratic Party.

1978 After 36 years of service, U.S. Senator James 0. Eastland retires.

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 Mattie T. Consent Decree initiates procedures providing equal education for handicapped children in the states public schools.

Devastating flood inundates the city of Jackson and many towns south along the Pearl River.

1982 Governor William F. Winter calls a special legislative session, resulting in adoption of the historic Education Reform Act, pioneering nationwide school reform.

Jackson hosts the International Ballet Competition.

1983 Judge Lenore Prather becomes Mississippi's first woman Supreme Court justice.

1984 Public Radio in Mississippi goes on the air.

Governor Bill Allain implements a massive program of governmental reorganization.

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 U.S. House, the first black congressman from Mississippi since Reconstruction.

1987 Senator John C. Stennis, dean of U.S. Senators serving 40 years, announces he will not seek reelection.  Ray Mabus is elected governor, the nation's youngest at 39.

1988 A voluntary county unit system law is signed by Governor Mabus.

1989 Fifth District congressman Larkin Smith dies in a plane crash near Hattiesburg. State Senator Gene Taylor of Bay St. Louis wins a spirited special election to succeed him.

1990 Mississippi National Guard men and women play important roles in Operation Desert Storm for America in the Middle East.

1991 Mississippi becomes the nation's 21st state to allow its citizens to register to vote by mail. Kirk Fordice becomes Mississippi's first Republican governor since Reconstruction.

1994 One of the nation's strongest lobbying reform laws is passed by the Mississippi Legislature.

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