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MISSISSIPPI, a State in the South Central Division of the United States, bounded by Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and the Gulf of Mexico; admitted to the Union, Dec. 10, 1817; area. 46,340 square miles; pop. (1900) 1,551,270; (1910) 1,797,114; (1920) 1,790,618; capital, Jackson.

Topography.—The State is divided into two portions by a low broad watershed between, the rivers flowing toward the Atlantic, and the streams emptying into the Mississippi. A lateral branch of this ridge terminates in the bluff of Vicksburg. E. of this ridge, the surface of the State consists of broad rolling prairies, while to the W. the land is broken into valleys and ridges. The State is very low, the highest altitude being but 800 feet. Mississippi is well watered. Flowing W. from the central watershed are the Homochitto, Big Black, Yazoo, Sunflower, and Tallahatchie rivers, all emptying into the Mississippi, which forms the entire W. boundary line. On the E. of the ridge are Pearl river, the Pascagoula, and Tombigbee, all emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. A chain of islands extends along the coast, separated from it by Mississippi sound, the largest being the Cat Islands, Petit Bois, Horse, and Ship Islands. There is but one good harbor on the Gulf coast. Ship Harbor, the mouths of all the rivers being swampy. The principal ports on the Mississippi river are Vicksburg and Natchez. Mississippi is often called the Bayou State.

Geology.—The geological formations of Mississippi are principally of the Carboniferous, Cretaceous, Tertiary, and post-Tertiary periods. In the N. the Carboniferous is represented by the limestones and sandstones along the Tennessee river. S. of this are four groups of Cretaceous limestone, bounded on the W. by silicious deposits of Tertiary formations. This region abounds in brown coal, pipe and fire clay, and mineral fertilizers. The alluvial or Quaternary period is represented in the bottom lands of the Mississippi river. An orange sand of post-Tertiary formation is found over the entire S. portion of the State. Fossil remains of a gigantic marine animal resembling the alligator are found in the prairie regions.

Mineral Production.—The only mineral products of the State are clay, sand and gravel and mineral water. The total value of this is about $1,000,000.

Soil.—In the N. section and the uplands of the central portion the soil is very fertile, but the land in the Mississippi bottoms, though of exceeding fertility in places, contains much clayey and wet ground. The prairie lands are, as a rule, quite fertile. The most fertile land in the State is in the Yazoo delta, in the extreme W. part of the State, N. of Vicksburg. Mississippi has still a vast area covered by virgin forests. The principal trees are the oak, willow, chestnut, wateroak, walnut, butternut, dogwood, black gum, sweet gum, beech, cottonwood, sycamore, magnolia, locust, mulberry, hickory, pine, cypress, and live oak.

Agriculture.—The prairie region in the N. W. of the State has always been noted as having the best farming land in the South. The most important agricultural product is cotton, although corn is produced in large quantities. The production and value of the principal crops in 1919 were as follows: Corn, 59,700,000 bushels, valued at $95,520,000; oats, 5,282,000 bushels, valued at $5,546,000; hay, 648,000 tons, valued at $13,284,000; potatoes, 1,530,000 bushels, valued at $2,830,000; sweet potatoes, 10,290,000 bushels, valued at $11,525,000; cotton, 946,000 bales, valued at $177,375,000.

Banking.—On Oct. 31, 1919, there were reported 33 National banks in operation, with $3,750,000 in capital, $2,227,443 in outstanding circulation, and $2,740,250 in United States bonds. There were also 293 State banks, with $10,262,000 capital, and $5,093,000 surplus.

Manufactures.—The State is not among the most important industrially. There were in 1914, 2,209 manufacturing establishments giving employment to 42,702 wage earners. The capital invested was $81,006,000; the amount paid wage earners was $19,177,000; the value of the materials used was $41,340,000; and the value of the completed product was $79,550,000.

Education.—There are about 800,000 school children in the State. There is no compulsory school law. Separate schools are maintained for white and colored children, and in recent years the legislature was somewhat backward in passing laws tending to improve educational conditions, but beginning with 1910 several important measures have been passed. These included provisions for consolidation of schools, the establishment of agricultural high schools, and the creation of a text book commission and of a supervisor of elementary rural schools. There is a normal school at Hattiesburg, and a normal school for colored students at Shelby. The institutions for higher education include the University of Mississippi, Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College, Mississippi College, and Millsaps College. There are also several colleges for women.

Churches.—The strongest denominations in the State are the Regular Baptist, colored; Regular Baptist, Methodist Episcopal, South African Methodist; Methodist Episcopal; Roman Catholic; Presbyterian, South; Cumberland Presbyterian; Disciples of Christ, and Protestant Episcopal.

Charities and Corrections.—The charitable and correctional institutions include the State Charitable Hospital at Jackson, State Charitable Hospital at Vicksburg, State Charitable Hospital at Natchez, State Insane Asylum at Asylum, and State Charitable Asylum at Meridian.

Railroads.—The railway mileage in the State was 4,480. The principal railroads are the Illinois Central, 679 miles, the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley, 1,144, and the Mobile and Ohio, 315.

State Government.—The governor is elected for a term of four years. Legislative sessions are held quadrennially, beginning on Tuesday after the first Monday of January, and are unlimited as to length of session. The legislature is Democratic. There are 7 representatives in Congress. The State government in 1920 was Democratic.

History.—Mississippi was originally part of the colony of Louisiana, being settled by the French in 1716. In 1728 the settlers were nearly exterminated by the Indians, and in 1763 the territory was ceded to Great Britain. At the end of the Revolution it became a territory of the United States, and was admitted to the Union as a Federal State Dec. 10, 1817. In 1861 it passed an ordinance of secession, took a prominent part in the Civil War, and finally, in February, 1870, was readmitted to representation in Congress, after ratifying the 15th amendment. Amendments to the State constitution were made in 1875 and 1877. Since the war the State has made much progress, and has entered a state of continued prosperity.


Collier's 1921 Mississippi.jpg
Copyright, L. L. Poates Eng. Co., 1921