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Mississippi: The 20th State

Mississippi joined the United States in 1817 – only to leave again in 1861.

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Mississippi joined the Union in 1817, becoming the 20th state. It’s also called “The Magnolia State” because of its many magnolia trees. Mississippi was first explored in 1540 by the Spanish, but since they could not find any gold, they left. In 1699, the French were the first Europeans to start a settlement.

France gave up some of the territory to England, and then the land finally went to the United States in 1798. Mississippi seceded from the Union in 1861 and soon found itself in the middle of the Civil War.

The South lost the Civil War, but Mississippi could not grapple with the loss of its slaves. In 1890, state lawmakers started racial segregation, a system where people are separated based on the color of their skin. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that racially segregated schools were not allowed under the U.S. Constitution. The ruling was not popular, and Mississippi refused to follow the newest laws. A year later, a 14-year-old black boy was murdered after he was accused of whistling at a white woman in a grocery store. This began the 1960s civil rights movement.

Mississippi kept segregating its schools until October 1969, when a court order stopped them. The state had been ruled by the Democratic Party until the mid-20th century. The rise of the Republicans changed politics from conserving old traditions, such as slavery and racial inequality, to be more inclusive.

Interesting Facts

  • In 1778, Oliver Pollock created the dollar sign ($).
  • Blues music stemmed from the Mississippi Delta after the Civil War. Slaves used to sing “working” songs in the fields and that style of music morphed into the Blues we have today.
  • In Nov. 1902, President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt was on a hunting trip with the governor and refused to shoot a captured bear. A cartoon making fun of the president inspired a Brooklyn candy shop to create a stuffed “Teddy’s Bear.”
Kelli Ballard

National Correspondent at and Kelli Ballard is an author, editor, and publisher. Her writing interests span many genres including a former crime/government reporter, fiction novelist, and playwright. Originally a Central California girl, Kelli now resides in the Seattle area.

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