The New Student's Reference Work/Mississippi
Miss′issip′pi, one of the southern states of the Union, lying on the Mississippi River. It is bounded on the north by Tennessee, on the east by Alabama, on the south by the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana and on the west by the Mississippi. It covers 46,810 square miles (the total land surface being 46,340 square miles), and is 335 miles long and 150 broad — about one sixth the size of Texas. The winters are mild, the summers hot, though tempered by the gulf breezes.
Topography. It has several large rivers — the Yazoo, 264 miles long, flowing into the Mississippi, the Pearl and the Tombigbee into the Gulf of Mexico. The country is hilly, except in the Mississippi bottomlands. These lands, lying between the Mississippi and the Yazoo River, are protected by levees, the funds for the purpose being raised by a tax on every bale of cotton. The coast extends only 90 miles, and is separated from the gulf by Mississippi Sound and a range of low islands.
Natural Resources. There are several fine mineral springs, the resort of tourists. The forests are valuable, covering 32,000 square miles of the land, the most valuable tree being the yellow pine. Forests of hickory, maple, ash, oak, gum, poplar and tulip are found. Mississippi also grows the long-leaved pine extensively in the southern portion. Phosphate-rock, gypsum, hydraulic lime and coal are found, but have never been worked to any great extent, and the clay and marl are regarded as leading in value. There also are oyster and shrimp fisheries.
Manufactures. Mississippi is not a manufacturing state, but is engaged to a considerable extent along special lines. Her leading industries are connected with timber and cotton. Turpentine and resin are produced, cottonseed-oil, oil cake and cotton goods manufactured. Cotton ginning, the manufacture of fertilizers, oyster canning and preserving also are among the prosperous industries.
Agriculture. The state is mainly agricultural, cotton being the great crop, besides corn, oats, rice, potatoes and sugarcane. Vegetables of all kinds grow luxuriantly, and are sent to the northern markets. The cotton product is second only to that of Texas. All fruits of the temperate zone grow in abundance, as do figs and, in the southern portion of the state, oranges.
Education. Separate schools are maintained for the colored population, and in nearly every city and town graded schools are conducted for ten months. There are two public and two private normal schools, the school property is valuable, and a high standard of education is maintained. Among the higher institutions of learning are the University of Mississippi, founded in 1848, near Oxford; the Agricultural College, with an experiment farm, at Starkville; an industrial college for girls at Columbus; Mississippi College at Clinton; and schools for the colored youth at Tougaloo, Holly Springs and Jackson. The capital is Jackson (population 21,262), the other chief cities being Vicksburg, Natchez and Meridian. Population of the state 1,797,114, of which more than half is colored.
State Institutions. The State Deaf and Dumb Institute for white and colored and the state school for the blind (white) are at Jackson. Insane asylums are at Jackson and Meridian, state hospitals at Vicksburg and Natchez, and the state penitentiary is at Jackson. Mississippi has 3,480 miles of railway.
History. The first European to pass through this region was De Soto, but he left no settlements. La Salle took possession of the country in the name of France in 1682, calling it Louisiana. In 1699 and in 1716 forts were built on the bay of Biloxi and at Natchez. It was ceded to Great Britain in 1763. The state was organized as a territory in 1798, and came into the Union in 1817.