Mississippi, The Magnolia State

Mississippi, The Magnolia State

by Sandra Merville Hart

Mississippi’s official nickname is The Magnolia State.

Mississippi schoolchildren chose the name in a 1900 election. Runners up were the cotton blossom and the cape jasmine.

The early history of Mississippi

The Natchez, Chickasaw, and Choctaw were some of the Native Americans that lived in the Mississippi area when the Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto, arrived in 1540 and claimed the area for Spain.

More than a century later, the French explorer, La Salle, claimed the area for France. In 1699, Pierre d’Iberville built the first settlement in Mississippi, Fort Maurepas.

Mississippi becomes a State

Mississippi became the twentieth state on December 10, 1817. The capital is Jackson.

cotton-615103_960_720Top producer of cotton

Cotton became an important crop for the state in the early 1800s. In fact, the nation’s top producer of cotton was Mississippi. Large plantations relied on slaves to harvest the crop.

Civil War

Mississippi seceded from the United States. 78,000 men from the state fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War that lasted from 1861 until 1865. Many Mississippians died.

The war ended. Slaves were freed yet had difficulty receiving the rights of freedom. Cotton prices fell. Everyone had a hard time making a living.

“Blues” is born

The type of music known as Blues started in the Mississippi Delta. The music found roots in slaves’ songs and African spirituals. Blues began after the Civil War and is still popular today.

bouquet-of-flowers-1342737_960_720Where Flowers Healed a Nation

The Civil War had been over a year on April 25, 1866, when ladies from Columbus decorated soldiers’ graves – Confederate and Union – with bouquets. This kindness inspired the American celebration of Memorial Day where those who died in war are honored.

Columbus’s Friendship Cemetery earned its nickname, Where Flowers Healed a Nation.

Teddy Bear

In 1902, Mississippi Governor Andrew Longino hunted with President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt in Sharkey County. Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear tied to a tree.

baby-623417_960_720This refusal inspired the creation of “Teddy’s Bear” by a candy shop owner in Brooklyn.

Mississippi’s state toy is a teddy bear.

Other fun facts about Mississippi

Mrs. Mamie Thomas became the nation’s first woman rural mail carrier in 1914. She delivered mail by buggy near Vicksburg.

Mississippi’s Choctaw Indians played stickball, America’s oldest game. See demonstrations at Philadelphia’s Choctaw Indian Fair in July.

In 1898, Edward Adolf Barq, Sr., invented root beer. Yum!

The state folk dance is square dance.



Gutman, Bill. The Look-It-Up Book of the 50 States, Random House, 2002.

“Fort Maurepas,” Wikipedia, 2016/07/15 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Maurepas.

“Mississippi,” History.com, 2016/07/15   http://www.history.com/topics/us-states/mississippi.

“Mississippi,” State Symbols USA, 2016/07/15   http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/states/united-states/mississippi.

“Mississippi Facts and Trivia,” 50 States.com, 2016/07/15  http://www.50states.com/facts/mississippi.htm.


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