The History of Mississippi

Mississippi is located in the south of the United States with a small portion of its border reaching the Gulf of Mexico. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Alabama to the east, and Arkansas and Louisiana to the west. The state covers an area of 48,000 square kilometres and has a population of almost 3 million people which makes it the 32nd most populated state in the country. Its capital is Jackson which lies right in the middle of the state. The first European settlers arrived from France in 1699 and created Fort Maurepas. Throughout the 18th century the region was occupied by the French, the British and the Spanish. The Europeans imported African slaves to work in the fields. Due to the lack of women among the colonists there were a lot of inter relationships with the result of many multi descendants being borne. Many colonists educated their children, giving them land and producing a third class of people. The colonialists, the slaves and the free people of colour.

The site of Fort Maurepas

After the Treaty of Paris in 1763 the control of Mississippi was handed over to the British who then handed the region over to the new United States in 1783. The country then purchased new areas from the Choctaw people and encouraged migration into the area to farm the land. Many of these new migrants brought new slaves into the area and it was estimated that in the early 19th a million slaves were transported into the Deep South of which nearly half of these were in Mississippi. During the 1850s meant cotton farmers in the state became very wealthy as a result of the rich soils, good climate and the availability of the slave labour.

Defeat for the state in the Civil War in 1863 resulted in many black churches being formed in the region. In the first Mississippi constitutional convention in 1868 there were 17 black members from the 100 members. These included some educated blacks who had come down from the north of the country. At this same time vast areas of the land had still not been cultivated. However there still continued to be violence against the blacks and in the elections of 1875 over 150 were killed in riots around the state. In 1890 the state implemented a new constitution where people could only vote by passing a literacy test and paying taxes. This disenfranchisement policy had the desired effect of keeping the poor whites, and nearly all blacks, away from the ballot box.

Protest against Mississippi’s apartheid policies

The Jim Crow Laws then were introduced into the state which promoted racial segregation in all public facilities. Much of this system of apartheid was in evidence until 1965 and with the African community kept away from the ballot boxes, the racist groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan were free to spread their reign of terror. After the Second World War Civil Rights activists worked tirelessly to overcome the problems of the Deep South and in 1965 the Voting Rights Act was passed. This act did away with all of the barriers that were imposed for all local, federal and state elections.

During the middle part of the 20th century period 400,000 rural black people migrated to places, such as California and Chicago, to take advantage of the fairer political policies and better economic opportunities. So many left that the black population for the first time became a minority in the state. Since these times Mississippi has attempted to break free from its negative past by passing acts that have repelled previous apartheid policies. Unfortunately, it appeared that the state was always the last place to act. Mixed race marriages were outlawed until as late as 1987 when the state repealed the ban that had been implemented in the 1890s.

Mississippi now has the highest increases in births of children of mixed-race in the country and is working hard to overcome its dark past. It has the highest population percentage of black population in the country with the 37% being strongly influential in making it a Democratic state.