Mississippi is a Southern state of the United States. Postal abbreviation: MS. Official (long) name: State of Mississippi.
The state takes its name from the Mississippi River, which flows along the western boundary. The name itself probably means "big waters" in an old form of Ojibwe, a Native American language spoken around the river′s headwaters. Other nicknames attached to Mississippi are the Magnolia State and the Hospitality State.
Mississippi was part of the Mississippian culture in the early part of the second millennium AD; descendant Native American tribes include the Chickasaw and Choctaw. Other tribes who inhabited the territory of Mississippi (and gave their names to local towns) include the Natchez, the Yazoo, and the Biloxi.
The first expedition into the territory that became Mississippi was that of Hernando de Soto, who passed through in 1540. However, the first settlement was that of Ocean Springs (or Old Biloxi), settled by Pierre Le Moyne d′Iberville in 1699. In 1716, Natchez was founded on the Mississippi River (as Fort Rosalie); it became the dominant town and trading post of the area. After spending some time under Spanish, British, and French nominal jurisdiction, the Mississippi area was deeded to the United States after the French and Indian War under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.
The Mississippi Territory was organized on April 7, 1798, from territory ceded by Georgia and South Carolina; it was later twice expanded to include disputed territory claimed by both the U.S. and Spain. Land was purchased (generally through unequal treaties) from Native American tribes from 1800 to about 1830.
Mississippi was the 20th state admitted to the Union, on December 10, 1817.
When cotton was king during the 1850s, Mississippi plantation owners—especially those of the Delta and Black Belt regions—became increasingly wealthy due to the high fertility of the soil and the high price of cotton on the international market. The severe wealth imbalances and the necessity of large-scale slave populations to sustain such income played a heavy role in both state politics and in the support for secession.
Mississippi was the second state to secede from the Union as one of the Confederate States of America on January 9, 1861. During the Civil War the Confederate States were defeated. Under the terms of Reconstruction, Mississippi was readmitted to the Union on February 23, 1870.
Mississippi was considered to typify the Deep South during the era of Jim Crow. However, at the same time, Mississippi became a center of rich, quintessentially American music traditions: gospel music, jazz music, blues, and rock and roll all were invented, promulgated, or heavily developed by Mississippi musicians. Mississippi was also noted for its authors in the early twentieth century, especially William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams.
Mississippi was a center of the civil rights movement. While many in the state supported the effort to secure voting and other rights for African-Americans, the vocal opposition of many politicians and officials and the violent tactics of Ku Klux Klan members and sympathizers gave Mississippi a reputation as a reactionary state during the 1960s.
State motto: "Virtute et Armis" (By Valor and Arms)
State song: "Go, Mississippi", adopted 1962
Patron saint: Our Lady of Sorrows
State flower and state tree: Magnolia
State bird: Mockingbird
State beverage: Milk
State fish: Largemouth Bass
State insect: Honeybee
State water mammal: Bottlenose Dolphin
State shell: Oyster
State fossil: A whale fossil nicknamed "ziggy"
State land mammal: White-tailed Deer
State waterfowl: Wood duck
State stone: Petrified wood
State wildflower: Coreopsis
State butterfly: Spicebush Swallowtail
State dance: Square Dance
Statehood Quarter was minted in 2002.
Pledge to the Flag: "I salute the flag of Mississippi and the sovereign state for which it stands with pride in her history and achievements and with confidence in her future under the guidance of Almighty God."
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