Mississippi has a lengthy history, much of it not favorable. The same cotton plantations that helped the state become prosperous in its early years also contributed to its significant reliance on enslaved Black people. Even after losing the Civil War, the white landowners who dominated the region never entirely gave up their sense of dominance. As a result, some areas of the state can be racist to outsiders. Still, it shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying the gorgeous antebellum villages, the rich Delta Blues, or the lovely beaches along the Gulf Coast.
The Mississippi and its verdant river valley have a long history of interaction with Native Americans. The area is one of the first sections of North America to have been settled, and archaeological sites along the picturesque Natchez Trace Parkway have revealed the remains of the early cultures. On their reservations, the remaining Native American tribes, like the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez, run casinos that support the local economy.
The region of Mississippi was first claimed by the French as part of New France. In 1716, they established the town of Natchez, which later developed into the principal commercial hub and most significant settlement in the area. One of the most visited historic sites in the state is still Natchez.
After the Revolutionary War, Mississippi was handed to the United States in 1783. It thrived in the early 1800s thanks to the development of cotton and other profitable crops. But when it came to large plantations and the enslavement necessary to labor the fields, cotton reigned supreme. A privileged class of white enslavers controlled the state at this time.
Mississippi would lose everything if the South lost the Civil War and sent 80,000 soldiers to battle. Significant battles like the Battle of Vicksburg and the Battle of Grand Gulf were the locations of today’s national parks and well-liked tourist destinations. The Confederacy did lose, and the state of Mississippi was altered entirely.
Numerous African Americans moved thousands of miles to the Mississippi Delta in search of property and employment to begin a new life. The Delta Blues and other musical genres are just a few beautiful results of this demographic transition. Mississippi, however, maintained segregation to the end. The first black student attempted to enroll at Oxford University, which led to the Ole Miss Riot in 1962, a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. The racist Ku Klux Klan organization was particularly active in the state, and the capital city of Jackson was a hotbed of violence. Mississippi continues to be one of America’s poorest and least developed states.
Mississippi is indeed a state of contrasts. Despite having a sizable African American population, it is one of the most segregated cities in the nation. King Cotton once called it home in the 1850s, but it is now one of the union’s poorest and least educated states. Some of these social problems will still be beneath the surface when visitors arrive. In this prideful Deep South state, whether you’ll have a good or bad experience is hit or miss.
Mississippi does have many positive aspects, despite its many seeming drawbacks. Black musicians flourished in the Mississippi Delta after being granted emancipation. The Delta Blues and numerous other illustrious jazz, gospel, and rock genres were also developed here. A significant portion of the antebellum opulence from the 19th century has also persisted in places like Natchez, which injects much-needed tourism revenue. The seaside towns along the Gulf Coast are more carefree in their outlook on life.