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In pre-Columbian times, the Mississippi region was part of the Native American Mississippian culture. The Native American peoples who inhabited the area included Chickasaw and Choctaw.
The first European expedition to the area was led by Hernando de Soto, who passed through the area in 1540. However, there were no permanent European settlements until the French founded Fort Maurepas at site which would later become Ocean Springs. The area passed through Spanish, British and French jurisdiction, but eventually was transfered to the United States following the French and Indian War (1754 to 1763).
The Mississippi Territory was organized in 1798 from territory ceded by Georgia and South Carolina. This territory was expanded with additional territory (that was disputed by Spain), and land purchased from Native American tribes. On December 10th 1817, the state of Mississippi was admitted to the Union.
Mississippi rapidy became an important cotton growing state, and consequently had a large slave population. When the American Civil War (1861 to 1865) broke out, Mississippi was the second state to secede from the Union. Because of the state's strategic location on the Mississippi River, numerous battles were fought in the state during the war. Around 80,000 white men from Mississippi fought on the Confederate side during the war, however, around 500 white Mississippians, and more than 17,000 black Mississippians (freedmen and slaves) fought for the Union.
After a period of Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws were enacted in the state which kept blacks in an inferior position. However, following World War II, Mississippi became an important location during the Civil Rights struggle.
Mississippi was twice between hit by serious hurricanes in recent years (Hurricane Camille in 1969) and (Hurricane Katrina in 2005).
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