How the state got its start

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Readers might have noticed that the topics of many of my columns are about important moments in history.

History has always been a passion of mine and I enjoy looking into the events that shaped the world.

This week my focus is on two events that shaped Mississippi, and have anniversaries in the month of April.

On April 9, 1682, French explorer Robert De La Salle claimed a part of the Mississippi River Valley, known as lower Mississippi for France.

The lower Mississippi River basin, which La Salle explored throughout the early part of 1682, would later become Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama.

For many years, lower Mississippi was ruled by several European powers, including France and Spain.

The United States Congress was finally able to gain control over the area and on April 7, 1798, Congress created the Mississippi Territory.

The original boundaries consisted of part of what is now Alabama and didn’t include the Gulf Coast until 1812.

The territory didn’t reach its current shape and size until the territory expanded north in 1804 and land along the Gulf of Mexico was annexed in 1812.

A few years after the annexation of land on the Gulf Coast, Mississippi became the 20th state to join the union in 1817.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Mississippi was still a young state, but in that short amount of time, it quickly grew to be one of the most important states in the union economically.

By 1860, Mississippi was the largest cotton-producing state in America.

It wasn’t an easy path for Mississippi to reach its economic height in 1860. There were issues with government, territory and tensions with Native Americans.

But despite it all, the Mississippi people overcame the obstacles to become the economic leader in the U.S. at that time.