State of Mississippi

ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Derived from the Ojibwa Indian words misi sipi, meaning great river.

NICKNAME: The Magnolia State.

CAPITAL: Jackson.

ENTERED UNION: 10 December 1817 (20th).

SONG: "Go, Mississippi."

MOTTO: Virtute et armis (By valor and arms).

COAT OF ARMS: An American eagle clutches an olive branch and a quiver of arrows in its talons.

FLAG: Crossed blue bars, on a red field, bordered with white and emblazoned with 13 white starsthe motif of the Confederate battle flagcover the upper left corner. The field consists of three stripes of equal width, blue, white, and red.

OFFICIAL SEAL: The seal consists of the coat of arms surrounded by the words "The Great Seal of the State of Mississippi."

BIRD: Mockingbird; wood duck (waterfowl).

FISH: Largemouth or black bass.

FLOWER: Magnolia.

TREE: Magnolia.

LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthdays of Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King Jr., 3rd Monday in January; Washington's Birthday, 3rd Monday in February; Confederate Memorial Day, last Monday in April; Memorial Day and Jefferson Davis's Birthday, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Veterans' Day and Armistice Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Day, 25 December.

TIME: 6 AM CST = noon GMT.


Located in the eastern south-central United States, Mississippi ranks 32nd in size among the 50 states.

The total area of Mississippi is 47,689 sq mi (123,514 sq km), of which land takes up 47,233 sq mi (122,333 sq km) and inland water 456 sq mi (1,181 sq km). Mississippi's maximum e-w extension is 188 mi (303 km); its greatest n-s distance is 352 mi (566 km).

Mississippi is bordered on the n by Tennessee; on the e by Alabama; on the s by the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana; and on the w by Louisiana (with the line partially formed by the Pearl and Mississippi rivers) and Arkansas (with the line formed by the Mississippi River). Several small islands lie off the coast.

The total boundary length of Mississippi is 1,015 mi (1,634 km). The state's geographic center is in Leake County, 9 mi (14 km) wnw of Carthage.


Mississippi lies entirely within two lowland plains. Extending eastward from the Mississippi River, the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, popularly known as the Delta, is very narrow south of Vicksburg but stretches as much as a third of the way across the state farther north. The Gulf Coastal Plain, covering the rest of the state, includes several subregions, of which the Red Clay Hills of north-central Mississippi and the Piney Woods of the south and southeast are the most extensive. Mississippi's generally hilly landscape ascends from sea level at the Gulf of Mexico to reach its maximum elevation, 806 ft (246 m), at Woodall Mountain, in the extreme northeastern corner of the state. The mean elevation of the state is approximately 300 ft (92 m).

The state's largest lakesGrenada, Sardis, Enid, and Arkabutlaare all manmade. Numerous smaller lakescalled oxbow lakes because of their curved shapeextend along the western edge of the state; once part of the Mississippi River, they were formed when the river changed its course. Mississippi's longest inland river, the Pearl, flows about 490 mi (790 km) from the eastern center of the state to the Gulf of Mexico, its lower reaches forming part of the border with Louisiana. The Big Black River, some 330 mi (530 km) long, begins in the northeast and cuts diagonally across the state, joining the Mississippi about 20 mi (32 km) below Vicksburg. Formed by the confluence of the Tallahatchie and Yalobusha rivers at Greenwood, the Yazoo flows 189 mi (304 km) southwest to the Mississippi just above Vicksburg.


Mississippi has short winters and long, humid summers. Summer temperatures vary little from one part of the state to another. Biloxi, on the Gulf coast, averages 82°f (28°c) in July, while Oxford, in the north-central part of the state, averages 80°f (27°c). During the winter, however, because of the temperate influence of the Gulf of Mexico, the southern coast is much warmer than the north; in January, Biloxi averages 51°f (10°c) to Oxford's 44°f (6°c). The lowest temperature ever recorded in Mississippi was 19°f (28°c) on 30 January 1966 in Corinth; the highest, 115°f (46°c), was set on 29 July 1930 at Holly Springs.

Precipitation in Mississippi increases from north to south. The north-central region averages 53 in (135 cm) of precipitation a year; the coastal region, 62 in (157 cm). Annual precipitation at Jackson is about 56 in (142 cm). Some snow falls in northern and central sections. Mississippi lies in the path of hurricanes moving northward from the Gulf of Mexico during the late summer and fall. On 17-18 August 1969, Hurricane Camille ripped into Biloxi and Gulfport and caused more than 100 deaths throughout the state. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina swept through the same region causing floodwater surges of over 30 ft (9 m). Biloxi and Gulfport suffered severe damage to homes and businesses. As of late 2005, the estimated death toll for the cities and the rest of the county was over 100 people. One month later, Hurricane Rita passed through the area, causing severe flooding inland as well as near the coastal regions of the state. Two tornado alleys cross Mississippi from the southwest to northeast, from Vicksburg to Oxford and McComb to Tupelo.


Post and white oaks, hickory, maple, and magnolia grow in the forests of the uplands; various willows and gums (including the tupelo) in the Delta; and longleaf pine in the Piney Woods. Characteristic wild flowers include the green Virginia creeper, black-eyed Susan, and Cherokee rose. In April 2006, the US Fish and Wildlife listed Price's potato-bean as a threatened species. The Louisiana quillwort, pondberry, and American chaffseed were listed as endangered plant species the same year.

Common among the state's mammals are the opossum, eastern mole, armadillo, coyote, mink, white-tailed deer, striped skunk, and diverse bats and mice. Birds include varieties of wren, thrush, warbler, vireo, and hawk, along with numerous waterfowl and seabirds, Franklin's gull, the common loon, and the wood stork among them. Black bass, perch, and mullet are common freshwater fish. Rare species in Mississippi include the hoary bat, American oystercatcher, mole salamander, pigmy killifish, Yazoo darker, and five species of crayfish. Listed as threatened or endangered in 2006 were 30 species of animals (vertebrates and invertebrates), including the American and Louisiana black bears, eastern indigo snake, Indiana bat, Mississippi sandhill crane, bald eagle, Mississippi gopher frog, brown pelican, red-cockaded woodpecker, five species of sea turtle, and the bayou darter.


Except for the drinking water program, housed in the State Health Department, and regulation of noncommercial oil field waste disposal activities, assigned to the State Oil and Gas Board, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is responsible for environmental regulatory programs in the state. MDEQ regulates surface and groundwater withdrawals through its Office of Land and Water Resources and surface mining reclamation through its Office of Geology. All other environmental regulatory programs, including those federal regulatory programs delegated to Mississippi by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are administered through MDEQ's Office of Pollution Control. The state has primacy for almost all federally delegable programs; the one notable exception is the federal hazardous waste corrective action program (under the federal Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984). MDEQ implements one of the premier Pollution Prevention programs in the nation.

In 1996, wetlands accounted for 13% of the state's lands. The Natural Heritage Program helps manage these wetlands.

In 2003, 63.1 million lb of toxic chemicals were released in the state. In 2003, Mississippi had 83 hazardous waste sites listed in the EPA database, three of which were on the National Priorities List as of 2006, including American Creosote Works, Inc, Davis Timber Company, and Picayune Wood Treating Site. In 2005, the EPA spent over $1.5 million through the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state. The same year, federal EPA grants awarded to the state included $9.7 million for the clean water revolving loan fund, as well as over $9 million dollars in funds for other water quality and protection projects.


Mississippi ranked 31st in population in the United States with an estimated total of 2,921,088 in 2005, an increase of 2.7% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Mississippi's population grew from 2,573,216 to 2,844,658, an increase of 10.5%. The population was projected to reach 3.01 million by 2015 and 3.06 million by 2025.

After remaining virtually level for 30 years, Mississippi's population during the 1970s grew 13.7%, but increased only 2.1% from 1980 to 1990. In 2004, the median age of Mississippians was 34.9. In the same year, 25.8% of the on under the age of 18 while 12.2% was age 65 or older. The population density in 2004 was 23.9 persons per sq km (61.9 persons per sq mi).

Mississippi remains one of the most rural states in the United States, although the urban population has increased fivefold since 1920, when only 13% of state residents lived in cities. Mississippi's largest city, Jackson, had an estimated 2004 population of 179,298, down from 193,097 in 1994. Biloxi and Gulfport are other major cities with large populations. The Jackson metropolitan area had an estimated population of 517,275 in 2004.


Since 1860, blacks have constituted a larger proportion of the population of Mississippi than of any other state. By the end of the 1830s, blacks outnumbered whites 52% to 48%, and from the 1860s through the early 20th century, they made up about three-fifths of the population. Because of out-migration, the proportion of black Mississippians declined to about 36% in 2000 (still the highest in the country). By 2004, 36.8% of the population was black. In 2000, the state had 1,746,099 whites, 1,033,809 blacks, 18,626 Asians, 11,652 American Indians, and 667 Pacific Islanders. In 2000, there were 39,569 (1.4%) Hispanics and Latinos. In 2004, 0.7% of the population was Asian and 1.7% Hispanic or Latino. That year, 0.6% of the population reported origin of two or more races.

Until the 1940s, the Chinese, who numbered 3,099 in 2000, were an intermediate stratum between blacks and whites in the social hierarchy of the Delta Counties. There also were 5,387 Vietnamese and 2,608 Filipinos in 2000. Although the number of foreign-born almost tripled in the 1970s, Mississippi still had the nation's smallest percentage of foreign-born residents (1.4%, or 39,908) in 2000.

Mississippi has only a small American Indian population0.4% of the state's population in 2000 (11,652). Many of them live on the Choctaw reservation in the east-central region. In 2004, 0.5% of the population was American Indian.


English in the state is largely Southern, with some South Midland speech in northern and eastern Mississippi because of population drift from Tennessee. Typical are the absence of final /r/ and the lengthening and weakening of the diphthongs /ai/ and /oi/ as in ride and oil. South Midland terms in northern Mississippi include tow sack (burlap bag), dog irons (andirons), plum peach (clingstone peach), snake doctor (dragonfly), and stone wall (rock fence). In the eastern section are found jew's harp (harmonica) and croker sack (burlap bag). Southern speech in the southern half features gallery for porch, mosquito hawk for dragonfly, and press peach for clingstone peach. Louisiana French has contributed armoire (wardrobe).

In 2000, 96.4% of Mississippi residents five years old and older spoke only English in the home, down from 97.2% in 1990.

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "Other Native North American languages" includes Apache, Cherokee, Choctaw, Dakota, Keres, Pima, and Yupik.

Population 5 years and over 2,641,453 100.0
  Speak only English 2,545,931 96.4
  Speak a language other than English 95,522 3.6
Speak a language other than English 95,522 3.6
  Spanish or Spanish, Creole 50,515 1.9
  French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 10,826 0.4
  Other Native North American languages 5,654 0.2
  German 5,501 0.2
  Vietnamese 4,961 0.2
  Chinese 2,506 0.1
  Tagalog 2,005 0.1
  Korean 1,485 0.1
  Italian 1,336 0.1
  Arabic 1,081 0.0


Protestants have dominated Mississippi since the late 18th century. The Baptists are the leading denomination and many adherents are fundamentalists. Partly because of the strong church influence, Mississippi was among the first states to enact prohibition and among the last to repeal it.

In 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention was the largest denomination in the state with 916,440 known adherents; there were 14,947 new members in 2002. The United Methodist Church is considered to be the second-largest denomination in the state, with 189,149 members in 2004. Also in 2004, the Roman Catholic Church reported a statewide membership of about 124,150. In 2000, there were an estimated 3,919 Muslims and about 1,400 Jews. Over 1.2 million people (about 45.4% of the population) did not claim any religious affiliation in 2000.


At the end of 2003, there were 2,658 rail mi (4,279 km) of mainline railroad track in Mississippi, including 2,016 mi (3,245 km) operated by five Class I railroads, which in 2003, were the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, CSX, Illinois Central Gulf, Kansas City Southern, and Norfolk Southern lines. As of 2006, Amtrak provided rail passenger service via its City of New Orleans train, serving the cities of Greenwood, Yazoo, Jackson, Hazlehurst, Brookhaven, and McComb on its route between Chicago and New Orleans, and the Crescent, serving Meridian, Laurel, Hattiesburg, and Picayune in Mississippi, on its route between Atlanta and New Orleans.

Mississippi had 74,129 mi (119,347 km) of public roads as of 2004. Interstate highways 55, running north-south, and 20, running east-west, intersect at Jackson. I-220 provides a loop from I-55 north of Jackson to I-20 west of Jackson. I-10 runs across the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and I-110 provides a connector from I-10 to US Highway 90 in Biloxi. I-59 runs diagonally through the southeastern corner of Mississippi from Meridian to New Orleans.

Development of four-lane highways was financed by a "pay-as-you-go" public works program passed by the Mississippi legislature in 1987 to provide a four-lane highway within 30 minutes or 30 mi (48 km) of every citizen in the state. Originally, the $1.6 billion, three-phase agenda called for the creation of four lanes for 1,077 mi (1,733 km) of highway as of 2001. During the 1994 regular legislative session, an additional 619 mi (996 km), known as Phase IV, were added to the program at an expected cost of $1.3 billion. In 2004, there were 1,896,008 licensed drivers in Mississippi and 1.159 million registered motor vehicles, including some 1.113 million automobiles and 815,000 trucks of all types.

Mississippi's ports and waterways serve a surrounding 16-state market where nearly 40% of the nation's total population is located. Mississippi has two deepwater seaports, Gulfport and Pascagoula, both located on the Gulf of Mexico. In 2004, Gulfport handled 2.374 million tons of cargo, and Pascagoula handled 34.099 million tons, making it the 22nd-busiest port in the United States. Much of Pascagoula's heavy volume consists of oil and gas imports. Other ports located on the Gulf include Port Bienville in Hancock County and Biloxi in Harrison County. Biloxi handled 2.670 million tons of cargo in 2004.

The Mississippi River flows along the western border of the state, linking the Gulf of Mexico to inland river states as far away as Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Mississippi is the largest commercial river in the country and the third-largest river system in the world, and it carries the majority of the nation's inland waterway tonnage. Approximately 409 mi (658 km) of the Mississippi River flow through the state, with ports in Natchez, Vicksburg, Yazoo County, Greenville, and Rosedale. In 2004, the Port of Vicksburg handled 3.922 million tons of cargo, while the Port of Greenville handled 3.045 million tons.

To the east of Mississippi lies the Tennessee-Tombigbee (Tenn-Tom) Waterway, completed in 1984, which links the Tennessee and Ohio rivers with the Gulf of Mexico. Stretching 95 mi (153 km) through Mississippi from the northeast corner of the state down to a point just south of Columbus, the Tenn-Tom Waterway's overall length is 232 mi (373 km). Five local ports are located on the waterway: Yellow Creek, Itawamba, Amory, Aberdeen, and Columbus-Lowndes County. In 2004, Mississippi had 873 mi (1,405 km) of navigable inland waterways. In 2003, waterborne shipments totaled 47.446 million tons.

In 2005, Mississippi had a total of 243 public and private-use aviation-related facilities. This included 191 airports, 51 heliports, and 1 STOLport (Short Take-Off and Landing). Jackson-Evers International Airport is the state's main air terminal. In 2004, the airport had 639,947 enplanements.


The earliest record of human habitation in the region that is now the state of Mississippi goes back perhaps 2,000 years. The names of Mississippi's pre-Columbian inhabitants are not known. Upon the appearance of the first Spanish explorers in the early 16th century, Mississippi Indians numbered some 30,000 and were divided into 15 tribes. Soon after the French settled in 1699, however, only three large tribes remained: the Choctaw, the Chickasaw, and the Natchez. The French destroyed the Natchez in 172930 in re-taliation for the massacre of a French settlement on the Natchez bluffs.

Spanish explorers, of whom Hernando de Soto in 154041 was the most notable, explored the area that is now Mississippi in the first half of the 16th century. De Soto found little of the mineral wealth he was looking for, and the Spanish quickly lost interest in the region. The French explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, penetrated the lower Mississippi Valley from New France (Canada) in 1682. La Salle discovered the mouth of the Mississippi and named the entire area Louisiana in honor of the French king, Louis XIV.

An expedition under French-Canadian Pierre Lemoyne, Sieur d'Iberville, established a settlement at Biloxi Bay in 1699. Soon the French opened settlements at Mobile (1702), Natchez (1716), and finally New Orleans (1718), which quickly eclipsed the others in size and importance. After losing the French and Indian War, France ceded Louisiana to its Spanish ally in 1762. The following year, Spain ceded the portion of the colony that lay east of the Mississippi to England, which governed the new lands as West Florida. During the American Revolution, the Spanish, who still held New Orleans and Louisiana, marched into Natchez, Mobile, and Pensacola (the capital) and took West Florida by conquest.

Although the United States claimed the Natchez area after 1783, Spain continued to rule it. However, the Spanish were unable to change the Anglo-American character of the settlement. Spain agreed to relinquish its claim to the Natchez District by signing the Treaty of San Lorenzo on 27 October 1795, but did not evacuate its garrison there for another three years.

The US Congress organized the Mississippi Territory in 1798. Between 1798 and 1817, the territory grew enormously in population, attracting immigrants mainly from the older states of the South but also from the Middle Atlantic states and even from New England. During this period, the territory included all the land area that is today within the borders of Mississippi and Alabama. However, sectionalism and the territory's large size convinced Congress to organize the eastern half as the Alabama Territory in 1817. Congress then offered admission to the western half, which became the nation's 20th state-Mississippi on 10 December.

Until the Civil War, Mississippi exemplified the American frontier; it was bustling, violent, and aggressive. By and large, Mississippians viewed themselves as westerners, not southerners. Nor was Mississippi, except for a few plantations around Natchez, a land of large planters. Rather, Mississippi's antebellum society and government were dominated by a coalition of prosperous farmers and small landowners. At the time of statehood, the northern two-thirds of Mississippi, though nominally under US rule since 1783, remained in the hands of the Choctaw and Chickasaw and was closed to settlement. Under intense pressure from the state government and from Andrew Jackson's presidential administration, these tribes signed three treaties between 1820 and 1832, ceding their Mississippi lands and agreeing to move to what is now Oklahoma.

The opening of fertile Indian lands for sale and settlement produced a boom of speculation and growth unparalleled in Mississippi history. Cotton agriculture and slaveryintroduced by the French and carried on by the British and Spanish, but hitherto limited mostly to the Natchez areaswept over the state. As the profitability and number of slaves increased, so did attempts by white Mississippians to justify slavery morally, socially, and economically. The expansion of slavery also produced a defensive attitude, which focused the minds of white Mississippians on two dangers: that the slaves outnumbered the whites and would threaten white society unless kept down by slavery; and that any attack on slavery, whether from the abolitionists or from Free-Soilers like Abraham Lincoln, was a threat to white society. The danger, they believed, was so great that no price was too high to pay to maintain slavery, even secession and civil war.

After Lincoln's election to the US presidency, Mississippi became, on 9 January 1861, the second southern state to secede. When the war began, Mississippi occupied a central place in Union strategy. The state sat squarely astride the major Confederate east-west routes of communication in the lower South, and the Mississippi River twisted along the state's western border. Control of the river was essential to Union division of the Confederacy. The military campaign fell into three phases: the fight for northeastern Mississippi in 1862, the struggle for Vicksburg in 186263, and the battle for east Mississippi in 186465. The Union advance on Corinth began with the Battle of Shiloh (Tenn.) in April 1862. The first Union objective was the railroad that ran across the northeastern corner of Mississippi from Corinth to Iuka and linked Memphis, Tenn., to Atlanta, Ga. Losses in the ensuing battle of Shiloh, which eventually led to the occupation of Corinth by Union troops, exceeded 10,000 men on each side.

The campaign that dominated the war in Mississippiand, indeed, along with Gettysburg provided the turning point of the Civil Warwas Vicksburg. Perched atop high bluffs overlooking a bend in the Mississippi and surrounded by hills on all sides, Vicksburg provided a seemingly impregnable fortress. Union forces maneuvered before Vicksburg for more than a year before Grant besieged the city and forced its surrender on 4 July 1863. Along with Vicksburg went the western half of Mississippi. The rest of the military campaign in the state was devoted to the fight for the east, which Union forces still had not secured when the conflict ended in 1865. Of the 78,000 Mississippians who fought in the Civil War, nearly 30,000 died.

Ten years of political, social, and economic turmoil followed. Reconstruction was a tumultuous period during which the Republican Party encouraged blacks to vote and hold political office, while the native white Democrats resisted full freedom for their former slaves. The resulting confrontation lasted until 1875, when, using violence and intimidation, the Democrats recaptured control of the state from the Republicans and began a return to the racial status quo antebellum. However, reconstruction left its legacy in minds of Mississippians: to the whites it seemed proof that blacks were incapable of exercising political power; to the blacks it proved that political and social rights could not long be maintained without economic rights.

The era from the end of Reconstruction to World War II was a period of economic, political, and social stagnation for Mississippi. In many respects, white Mississippians pushed blacks back into slavery in all but name. Segregation laws and customs placed strict social controls on blacks, and a new state constitution in 1890 removed the last vestiges of their political rights. Mississippi's agricultural economy, dominated by cotton and tenant farming, provided the economic equivalent of slavery for black sharecroppers. As a continuing agricultural depression ground down the small white farmers, many of them also were driven into the sharecropper ranks; in 1890, 63% of all Mississippi farmers were tenants. Whether former planter-aristocrats like John Sharp Williams or small-farmer advocates like James K. Vardaman (190812) and Theodore Bilbo (191620 and 192832) held office as governor, political life was dominated by the overriding desire to keep the blacks subservient. From Reconstruction to the 1960s, white political solidarity was of paramount importance. Otherwise, the whites reasoned, another Reconstruction would follow. According to the Tuskegee Institute, 538 blacks were lynched in Mississippi between 1883 and 1959, more than in any other state.

The Great Depression of the 1930s pushed Mississippians, predominantly poor and rural, to the point of desperation, and the state's agricultural economy to the brink of disaster. In 1932, cotton sank to five cents a pound, and one-fourth of the state's farmland was forfeited for nonpayment of taxes. World War II unleashed the forces that would later revolutionize Mississippi's economic, social, and political order, bringing the state its first prosperity in a century. By introducing outsiders to Mississippi and Mississippians to the world, the armed forces and the war began to erode the state's insularity. It also stimulated industrial growth and agricultural mechanization and encouraged an exodus of blacks to better-paying jobs in other states. By the early 1980s, according to any standard, Mississippi had become an industrial state. In the agricultural sector, cotton had been dethroned and crop diversification accomplished. Politics in Mississippi also changed considerably after World War II. Within little more than a generation, from 1945 to 1975, legal segregation was destroyed, and black people exercised their political rights for the first time since Reconstruction. The "Mississippi Summer" (also called Freedom Summer) civil rights campaignand the violent response to it, including the abduction and murder of three civil rights activists in June 1964helped persuade white Mississippians to accept racial equality. Charles Evers, the brother of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, was elected mayor of Fayette in 1969, becoming Mississippi's first black mayor since Reconstruction.

Following the 1990 redistricting that boosted the number of blacks in the Mississippi House of Representatives, the Mississippi legislature was nearly 23% black in a state in which blacks constituted 33% of the population. In 1998 African Americans accounted for 36% of the state's population.

In 1988 reformist governor Ray Mabus, elected in 1987, enacted the nation's largest teacher pay increase by that date. Nevertheless, teacher salaries in 1992 were still, on average, the second-lowest in the nation and public education remained a priority for the state in the early 2000s. Democratic Governor Ronnie Musgrove, elected in 2000, was able to win additional teacher pay increases from the legislature in 2001. Education was Musgrove's main focus in his 2003 State of the State Address, as he proposed a program that would place children in school two months before kindergarten and one that would attempt to keep top faculty members at Mississippi's state colleges and universities.

Mississippi's economy was hard hit by the 1986 decline in oil and gas prices. Unemployment in the state rose to 13%. By 1992 it had fallen to about 8%. The 1990s saw increasing industrial diversification and rising personal incomes, although many agricultural workers in the Mississippi Delta area remained jobless due to the increasing mechanization of farm work. By 1999 the jobless rate had dropped to 5.1%, though still above the national average of 4.2%. Nevertheless, the state remained among the nation's poorest, with nearly 18% of its population living below the poverty level as of 1998, a poverty rate that persisted into the early 2000s. Only three states had higher poverty rates. In 2003, Mississippi was facing a budget shortfall of at least $500 million.

Former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Haley Barbour, was elected governor in November 2003. Upon becoming governor, Barbour focused on job creation, job training, workplace development efforts, and tort reform. He launched "Momentum Mississippi," a long-range economic development strategy group composed of the state's business and community leaders. In 2005, he introduced comprehensive education reform legislation to reward teacher and school performance, reduce state bureaucracy, and strengthen discipline in the state's public schools. With regard to the abortion debate, Barbour introduced and passed six pro-life laws in 2004.

Southern Mississippi was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. A 30-ft (10-m) storm surge came ashore, destroying 90% of buildings along the Biloxi-Gulfport coastline. Casino barges in the area were washed ashore. About 800,000 people suffered power outages in Mississippi in the aftermath of the storm.


Mississippi has had four state constitutions. The first (1817) accompanied Mississippi's admission to the Union. A second constitution (1832) was superseded by that of 1869, redrafted under Republican rule to allow Mississippi's readmission to the Union after the Civil War. The state's present constitution, as amended, dates from 1890. By January 2005 it had 123 amendments.

Mississippi's bicameral legislature includes a 52-member Senate and a 122-member House of Representatives. Annual sessions begin in January and extend 90 calendar days, except in the first year of a gubernatorial administration, when they run 125 calendar days. All state legislators are elected to four-year terms. State representatives must be at least 21 years old and senators 25. Representatives must be qualified voters and must have been Mississippi residents for four years and residents of their district for at least two years before election. Senators must have been qualified voters and state residents for at least four years and residents of their district for at least two years before election. The legislative salary was $10,000 in 2004, unchanged from 1999.

The governor and lieutenant governor (separately elected), secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer, state auditor, commissioner of insurance, and the commissioner of agriculture and commerce all serve four-year terms. (Voters also elect three transportation commissioners and three public service commissioners, who also serve four-year terms.) The governor and lieutenant governor must be qualified voters, at least 30 years old, US citizens for 20 years, and Mississippi residents for 5 years before election. As of December 2004, the governor's salary was $122,160. The governor is limited to a maximum of two consecutive terms.

A bill passed by both houses is sent to the governor, who has five days to veto or sign it before it becomes law. If the legislature adjourns, the governor has 15 days after the bill was presented to him to act on it before the measure becomes law. The governor's veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the elected members of both houses. Constitutional amendments must first receive the approval of two-thirds of the members of each house of the legislature. The electorate may also initiate amendments, provided petitions are signed by 12% of total votes for all candidates for governor at the last election. A majority of voters must approve the amendment on a statewide ballot.

Every US citizen over the age of 18 may vote in Mississippi upon producing evidence of 30 days of residence in the state and county (and city, in some cases). Restrictions apply to those convicted of certain crimes and to those judged by the court as mentally incompetent to vote.


Mississippi's major political parties are the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, each an affiliate of the national party organization. Mississippi Democrats have often been at odds with each other and with the national Democratic Party. In the 1830s, party affiliation in the state began to divide along regional and economic lines: woodsmen and small farmers in eastern Mississippi became staunch Jacksonian Democrats, while the conservative planters in the western river counties tended to be Whigs. An early demonstration of the power of the Democrats was the movement of the state capital from Natchez in 1821 to a new city named after Andrew Jackson. During the pre-Civil War years, the secessionists were largely Democrats; the Unionists, western Whigs.

During Reconstruction, Mississippi had its first Republican governor. After the Democrats returned to power in 1875, they systematically deprived blacks of the right to vote, specifically by inserting into the constitution of 1890 a literacy clause that could be selectively interpreted to include illiterate whites but exclude blacks. A poll tax and convoluted residency requirements also restricted the electorate. Voter registration among blacks fell from 130,607 in 1880 to 16,234 by 1896.

Mississippi Presidential Vote by Political Parties, 19482004
*Won US presidential election.
**unpledged electors won plurality of votes and cast Mississippi's electoral votes for Senator Harry E Byrd of Virginia.
1948 9 Thurmond (SRD) 19,384 4,995 167,538
1952 8 Stevenson (D) 172,553 112,966
1956 8 Stevenson (D) 144,453 60,683 42,961
1960 8 Byrd** 108,362 73,561 116,248
1964 7 Goldwater (R) 52,616 356,512
1968 7 Wallace (Al) 150,644 88,516 415,349
1972 7 *Nixon (R) 126,782 505,125 11,598 2,458
1976 7 *Carter (D) 281,309 366,846 6,678 2,805 2,788
1980 7 *Reagan (R) 429,281 441,089 2,402 2,240 4,702
1984 7 *Reagan (R) 352,192 582,377 2,336
1988 7 *Bush (R) 363,921 557,890 3,329
1992 7 Bush (R) 400,258 487,793 85,626 2,625 2,154
1996 7 Dole (R) 394,022 439,838 52,222 2,809
(Nader) REFORM
2000 7 *Bush, G. W. (R) 404,614 572,844 8,122 2,265 2,009
2004 6 *Bush, G. W. (R) 458,094 684,931 3,177 1,759 1,793

In 1948, Mississippi Democrats seceded from the national party over the platform, which opposed racial discrimination. That November, Mississippi voters backed the States' Rights Democratic (Dixiecrat) presidential ticket. At the national Democratic convention in 1964, the black separatist Freedom Democratic Party asked to be allotted 40% of Mississippi's seats but was turned down. A further division in the party occurred during the 1960s between the (black) Loyalist Democrats and the (white) Regular Democrats, who were finally reunited in 1976. During the 1950s and early 1960s, the segregationist White Citizens' Councils were so widespread and influential in the state as to rival the major parties in political importance.

Since the passing of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, black Mississippians have registered and voted in substantial numbers. According to estimates by the Voter Education Project, only 5% of voting-age blacks were registered in 1960; by 1992, 23% were registered.

Mississippi was one of the most closely contested states in the South during the 1976 presidential election, and that again proved to be the case in 1980, when Ronald Reagan edged Jimmy Carter by a plurality of fewer than 12,000 votes. In 1984, however, Reagan won the state by a landslide, polling 62% of the vote. In the 2000 election, Republican George W. Bush won 57% of the vote; Democrat Al Gore received 42%; and Independent Ralph Nader garnered 1%. In 2004 Bush won 59.6% to Democrat John Kerry's 39.6%. In 2002 there were 1,754,560 registered voters; there is no party registration in the state. The state had seven electoral votes in the 2000 presidential election.

Elected in 1991, Mississippi's governor Kirk Fordice was the first Republican governor since Reconstruction. But a Democrat soon regained the office: David Ronald Musgrove was elected governor in 1999. In 2003, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Haley Barbour, was elected governor. Following the 2004 elections, the state's two US senators were Republicans Trent Lott and Thad Cochran. Lott became majority leader of the Senate in 1996 following the departure of Bob Dole (R-Kansas); he stepped down from that post in December 2002 following controversy over remarks he made praising former South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist campaign for the presidency. Until the 1994 midterm elections all of Mississippi's US representatives were Democrats; in that election, Republican Roger Wicker won a House seat that had been in Democratic hands since Reconstruction. Following the 2004 elections, the House delegation was comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans. Following the 2004 elections, the state Senate comprised 28 Democrats and 24 Republicans; the state House had 75 Democrats and 47 Republicans.


Each of Mississippi's 82 counties is divided into 5 districts, each of which elects a member to the county board of supervisors. As of 2005, Mississippi had 296 municipal governments (incorporated as cities, towns, or villages), typically administered by a mayor and council. Some smaller municipalities were run by a commission or by a city manager, appointed by council members. There were 152 public school districts and 458 special districts in 2005.

In 2005, local government accounted for about 132,139 full-time (or equivalent) employment positions.


To address the continuing threat of terrorism and to work with the federal Department of Homeland Security, homeland security in Mississippi operates under the authority of executive order; the homeland security director is designated as the state homeland security advisor.

The Mississippi Ethics Commission, established by the state legislature in 1979, is composed of eight members who administer a code of ethics requiring all state officials and elected local officials to file statements of sources of income.

The Mississippi Department of Education is primarily a planning and service organization whose role is to assist local schools from kindergarten through junior college and adult education. A separate Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning administers Mississippi's public college and university system. The Department of Health administers a statewide system of public health services, but other bodies, including the Department of Mental Health, also have important functions in this field. The Department of Human Services provides welfare services in the areas of assistance payments, child support, food stamp distribution, and such social services as foster home care.

Public protection is afforded by the Office of the Attorney General, Military Communities Council, Bureau of Narcotics, Department of Public Safety (including the Highway Safety Patrol), and Department of Corrections.


The Mississippi Supreme Court consists of a chief justice, two presiding justices, and eight associate justices, all elected to eight-year terms. The constitution stipulates that the Supreme Court must hold two sessions a year in the state capital; one session is to commence on the second Monday of September; the other on the first Monday of March. A new Court of Appeals was created in 1995. It consists of one chief judge, two presiding judges, and seven judges. Principal trial courts are the circuit courts, which try both civil and criminal cases; their 49 judges are elected to four-year terms. Municipal court judges are appointed. Small-claims courts are presided over by justices of the peace, who need not be lawyers.

As of 31 December 2004, a total of 20,983 prisoners were held in Mississippi's state and federal prisons, an increase of 1.9% (from 20,589) from the previous year. As of year-end 2004, a total of 1,796 inmates were female, up 2.3% (from 1,755) from the year before. Among sentenced prisoners (one year or more), Mississippi had an incarceration rate of 669 per 100,000 population in 2004, the third-highest in the United States.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mississippi in 2004, had a violent crime rate (murder/nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault) of 295.1 reported incidents per 100,000 population, or a total of 8,568 reported incidents. Crimes against property (burglary; larceny/theft; and motor vehicle theft) in that same year totaled 100,980 reported incidents or 3,478.5 reported incidents per 100,000 people. Mississippi has a death penalty, of which lethal injection is the sole method of execution. Following capital punishment's reinstatement in 1977, the state has executed seven persons (as of 5 May 2006); one execution was carried out in 2005. As of 1 January 2006, Mississippi had 65 inmates on death row.

In 2003, Mississippi spent $217,949,581 on homeland security, an average of $75 per state resident.


In 2004, there were 17,917 active-duty military personnel and 4,514 civilian personnel stationed in Mississippi. There were two major US Air Force bases, Keesler (Biloxi) and Columbus. Among the four US naval installations were an oceanographic command at Bay St. Louis, an air station at Meridian, and a construction battalion center at Gulfport. In 2004, Mississippi received about $1.86 billion in federal defense contracts, and $708 million in Defense Department payroll outlays.

There were 240,109 veterans of US military service living in Mississippi as of 2003. Of those who served in wartime, 29,837 were veterans of World War II; 25,845 of the Korean conflict; 66,717 of the Vietnam era; and 44,950 during the Persian Gulf War. Expenditures on veterans amounted to some $844 million during 2004.

As of 31 October 2004, the Mississippi Highway State Patrol employed 531 full-time sworn officers.


In the late 18th century, most Mississippians were immigrants from the South and predominantly of Scotch-Irish descent. The opening of lands ceded by the Indians beginning in the 1820s brought tens of thousands of settlers into northern and central Mississippi, and a resulting population increase between 1830 and 1840 of 175% (including an increase of 197% in the slave population).

After the Civil War, there was little migration into the state, but much out-migration, mainly of blacks. The exodus from Mississippi was especially heavy during the 1940s and 1950s, when at least 720,000 people, nearly three-quarters of them black, left the state. During the 1960s, between 267,000 and 279,000 blacks departed, while net white out-migration came to an end. Black out-migration slowed considerably during the 1970s, and more whites settled in the state than left. Also during the 1970s there was considerable intrastate migration to Hinds County (Jackson) and the Gulf Coast. Between 1980 and 1990, Mississippi had a net loss from migration of 144,128 (38% whites). Only 12 of the state's 82 counties recorded a net gain from migration during the 1980s, mostly in Rankin, DeSoto, Madison, and Hancock counties. Between 1990 and 1998, Mississippi had net gains of 43,000 in domestic migration and 6,000 in international migration. In 1998, the state admitted 701 foreign immigrants. Between 1990 and 1998, Mississippi's overall population increased 6.9%. In the period 200005, net international migration was 10,653 and net internal migration was 10,578, for a net gain of 75 people.


The Mississippi Commission on Interstate Cooperation oversees and encourages the state's participation in interstate bodies, especially the Council of State Governments and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Mississippi also participates in the Appalachian Regional Commission, Arkansas-Mississippi Great River Bridge Construction Compact, Highway 82 Four Lane Construction Compact, Mississippi-Alabama Railroad Authority Compact, Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, Southeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact, Southern Growth Policies Board, Southern States Energy Board, Southern Regional Education Board, and Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority. Mississippi received $4.532 billion in federal aid in fiscal year 2005, an estimated $4.746 billion in fiscal year 2006, and an estimated $4.876 billion in fiscal year 2007.


Between the Civil War and World War II, Mississippi's economy remained poor, stagnant, and highly dependent on the market for cottona bitter legacy from which the state took decades to recover. As in the pre-Civil War years, Mississippi exports mainly raw materials and imports mainly manufactures. In the 1930s, state leaders began to realize the necessity of diversifying the economy. By the mid-1960s, many more Mississippians recognized that political and economic inequality and racial conflict did not provide an environment attractive to the industries the state needed.

Once the turmoil of the 1950s and early 1960s had subsided, the impressive industrial growth of the immediate postwar years resumed. By the mid1960s, manufacturingattracted to the state, in part, because of low wage rates and a weak labor movementsurpassed farming as a source of jobs. During the following decade, the balance of industrial growth changed somewhat. The relatively low-paying garment, textile, and wood-products industries, based on cotton and timber, grew less rapidly in both value added and employment than a number of heavy industries, including transportation equipment and electric and electronic goods. The debut of casino gambling in the state in 1992 stimulated Mississippi's economy in the early and mid-1990s, and by 2002 accounted for 2.7% of total state employment (close to 31,000). In early 1995, however, the manufacturing sector began losing jobs, contributing to a deceleration in annual growth rates in the late 1990s. These losses created stress in other sectors, particularly in the retail trade and transportation and public utilities sectors. Areas of moderate growth in 2002 were business services and government. The number of personal bankruptcies in the state set a record in 2002, but the growth rate in filings moderated to 1.2%, down from 19.5% in 2001. The opening of a $1.4 billion Nissan plant near Jackson boosted the state's economy. Southern Mississippi, where the Ship System division of Northrop Grumman, Keesler Air Force Base, and the Stennis Space Center are located, should also benefit from increased national defense spending.

Mississippi's gross state product (GSP) in 2004 was $76.166 billion, of which manufacturing (durable and nondurable goods) accounted for the largest share at $12.161 billion or 15.9% of GSP, followed by the real estate sector at $7.221 billion (9.4% of GSP) and healthcare and social assistance at $5.497 billion (7.2% of GSP). In that same year, there were an estimated 197,586 small businesses in Mississippi. Of the 54,117 businesses that had employees, an estimated total of 52,403 or 96.8% were small companies. An estimated 6,141 new businesses were established in the state in 2004, up 2% from the year before. Business terminations that same year came to 7,380, up 1.6% from 2003. There were 170 business bankruptcies in 2004, down 39.7% from the previous year. In 2005, the state's personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) filing rate was 765 filings per 100,000 people, ranking Mississippi as the ninth-highest in the nation.


In 2005 Mississippi had a gross state product (GSP) of $80 billion, which accounted for 0.6% of the nation's gross domestic product and placed the state at number 36 in highest GSP among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2004 Mississippi had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $24,518. This ranked 51st in the United States and was 74% of the national average of $33,050. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of PCPI was 4.2%. Mississippi had a total personal income (TPI) of $71,122,091,000, which ranked 33rd in the United States and reflected an increase of 6.1% from 2003. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of TPI was 5.0%. Earnings of persons employed in Mississippi increased from $47,031,531,000 in 2003 to $49,796,304,000 in 2004, an increase of 5.9%. The 200304 national change was 6.3%.

The US Census Bureau reported that the three-year average median household income for 200204 in 2004 dollars was $33,659, compared to a national average of $44,473. During the same period an estimated 17.7% of the population was below the poverty line, as compared to 12.4% nationwide.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in April 2006 the seasonally adjusted civilian labor force in Mississippi numbered 1,314,300, with approximately 101,000 workers unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 7.7%, compared to the national average of 4.7% for the same period. Preliminary data for the same period placed nonfarm employment at 1,133,400. Since the beginning of the BLS data series in 1976, the highest unemployment rate recorded in Mississippi was 13.7% in May 1983. The historical low was 4.9% in January 2001. Preliminary nonfarm employment data by occupation for April 2006 showed that 4.8% of the labor force was employed in construction; 15.5% in manufacturing; 19.8% in trade, transportation, and public utilities; 7.9% in professional and business services; 10.8% in education and health services; 10.2% in leisure and hospitality services; and 21.4% in government.

The US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2005, a total of 77,000 of Mississippi's 1,089,000 employed wage and salary workers were formal members of a union. This represented 7.1% of those so employed, up from 4.9% in 2004, but still below the national average of 12%. Overall in 2005, a total of 105,000 workers (9.7%) in Mississippi were covered by a union or employee association contract, which includes those workers who reported no union affiliation. Mississippi is one of 22 states with a right-to-work law.

As of 1 March 2006, Mississippi did not have a state-mandated minimum wage law. However, employees in that state were covered under federal minimum wage statutes. In 2004, women in the state accounted for 47.3% of the employed civilian labor force.


In 2005, Mississippi ranked 26th among the states in income from agriculture, with marketings of over $3.85 billion; crops accounted for $1.24 billion and livestock and livestock products for $2.61 billion.

The history of agriculture in the state is dominated by cotton, which from the 1830s through World War II was Mississippi's principal cash crop. During the postwar period, however, as mechanized farming replaced the sharecropper system, agriculture became more diversified. During 200004, Mississippi ranked third in cotton and fourth in rice production, among the 50 states. About 2,370,000 bales of cotton worth $591 million were harvested in 2004 (second after Texas). Soybean output in 2004 totaled 62,320,000 bushels, worth $367.7 million, and rice production was 16,146,000 hundredweight in 2004, with a value of $117.9 million.

Federal estimates for 2004 showed some 42,200 farms with a total area of 11 million acres (4.5 million hectares. The richest soil is in the Delta, where most of the cotton is raised. Livestock has largely taken over the Black Belt, a fertile area in the northwest.


Cattle are raised throughout the state, though principally in the Black Belt and Delta. The main chicken-raising area is in the eastern hills.

In 2005, there were around 1.07 million cattle and calves, valued at $834.6 million. In 2004, there were around 315,000 hogs and pigs, valued at $34.6 million. Mississippi is a leading producer of broilers, ranking fifth in 2003; some 4.3 billion lb (2 billion kg) of broilers, worth $1.51 billion, were produced in that year.


In 2004, Mississippi ranked ninth among the 50 states in size of commercial fish landings, with a total of 183.7 million lb (83.5 million kg) valued at $43.8 million. Of this total, 162.8 million lb (74 million kg) was landed at Pascagoula-Moss Point, the nation's eighth-largest port for commercial landings. Shrimp and blue crab made up the bulk of the commercial landings. The saltwater catch also includes mullet and red snapper; the freshwater catch is dominated by buffalo fish, carp, and catfish. In 2003, the state had 35 processing and 31 wholesale plants employing about 2,706 people. In 2002, the commercial fishing fleet had 1,365 boats and vessels.

Mississippi is one of the leading states in catfish farming, mostly from ponds in the Yazoo River basin. There are 410 catfish farms in operation, covering about 101,000 acres (48,900 hectares) of water surface, with a combined 2006 inventory of 641 million fingerlings and 346 million stocker-sized catfish. Sales of catfish in 2004 totaled $275 million. In 2004, the state issued 369,252 sport fishing licenses. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks operates 21 fishing lakes. The National Fish Hatchery System stocks more than 1.5 million fish annually to support fish resources in the coastal rivers of the Gulf of Mexico.


Mississippi had approximately 18,605,000 acres (7,529,000 hectares) of forested land in 2004, over 60% of the total land area of the state. Six national forests extend over 1.1 million acres (445,000 hectares). The state's most heavily forested region is the Piney Woods in the southeast. Of the state's total commercial timberland, 90% is privately owned. Some of this land was also used for agricultural purposes (grazing). Lumber production in 2004 totaled 2.74 billion board feet (sixth in the United States).


According to preliminary data from the US Geological Survey (USGS), the estimated value of nonfuel mineral production by Mississippi in 2003 was $174 million, a decrease from 2002 of about 2%.

According to the preliminary data, Mississippi's top nonfuel mineral by value in 2003 was construction sand and gravel, which accounted for around 40% of all nonfuel mineral output by value. It was followed by fuller's earth, crushed stone, portland cement, and industrial sand and gravel. More than 65% by value of all nonfuel mineral production by Mississippi in 2003 was accounted for by construction sand and gravel, crushed stone, and portland cement.

Construction sand and gravel production in 2003 totaled 12.8 million metric tons and was valued at $69.1 million, while fuller's earth output that year totaled 411,000 metric tons and was valued at $29.9 million, according to the preliminary data from the USGS. The data also showed that crushed stone output in 2003 totaled 2.5 million metric tons and was worth $26.8 million.

The data listed Mississippi as ranking second among the states in production of fuller's earth, third in bentonite, and fourth in ball clay, by volume.


As of 2003, Mississippi had 51 electrical power service providers, of which 23 were publicly owned and 25 were cooperatives. Of the remainder, two were investor owned, and one was federally operated. As of that same year there were 1,420,571 retail customers. Of that total, 605,653 received their power from investor-owned service providers. Cooperatives accounted for 683,124 customers, while publicly owned providers had 131,787 customers. There were seven federal customers.

Total net summer generating capability by the state's electrical generating plants in 2003 stood at 17.282 million kW, with total production that same year at 40.148 billion kWh. Of the total amount generated, 78.1% came from electric utilities, with the re-mainder coming from independent producers and combined heat and power service providers. The largest portion of all electric power generated, 17.082 billion kWh (42.5%), came from coal-fired plants, with nuclear power plants in second place at 10.902 billion kWh (27.2%) and natural gas fired plants in third place at 9.477 billion kWh (23.6%). Other renewable power sources accounted for 2.5% of all power generated, with petroleum fired plants at 4.1% and plants using other types of gases at 0.1%.

The Grand Gulf Nuclear Station boiling-water reactor, built by Mississippi Power Company in Claiborne County, continues to provide power to consumers within Mississippi. As of 2006, it was the state's sole nuclear power plant.

Mississippi is a major petroleum producer. As of 2004, the state had proven crude oil reserves of 178 million barrels, or 1% of all proven US reserves, while output that same year averaged 47,000 barrels per day. Including federal offshore domains, the state that year ranked 14th (13th excluding federal offshore) in proven reserves and 13th (12th excluding federal offshore) in production among the 31 producing states. In 2004 Mississippi1 had 1,412 producing oil wells. As of 2005, the state's four refineries had a combined crude oil distillation capacity of 364,800 barrels per day.

In 2004, Mississippi had 437 producing natural gas and gas condensate wells. In that same year, marketed gas production (all gas produced excluding gas used for repressuring, vented and flared, and nonhydrocarbon gases removed) totaled 145.692 billion cu ft (4.13 billion cu m). As of 31 December 2004, proven reserves of dry or consumer-grade natural gas totaled 995 billion cu ft (28.2 billion cu m). Most production comes from the south-central part of the state.

Mississippi in 2004 had one producing coal mine, a surface operation. Coal production that year totaled 3,586,000 short tons, down from 3,695,000 short tons in 2003. One short ton equals 2,000 lb (0.907 metric tons).


According to the US Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) for 2004, Mississippi's manufacturing sector covered some 19 product subsectors. The shipment value of all products manufactured in the state that same year was $43.862 billion. Of that total, transportation equipment manufacturing accounted for the largest share at $7.694 billion. It was followed by food manufacturing at $5.798 billion; chemical manufacturing at $4.832 billion; furniture and related product manufacturing at $3.678 billion; and petroleum and coal products manufacturing at $3.412 billion.

In 2004, a total of 169,947 people in Mississippi were employed in the state's manufacturing sector, according to the ASM. Of that total, 134,189 were actual production workers. In terms of total employment, the food manufacturing industry accounted for the largest portion of all manufacturing employees at 28,815, with 25,274 actual production workers. It was followed by furniture and related product manufacturing at 26,292 employees (20,094 actual production workers); transportation equipment manufacturing at 25,689 employees (19,568 actual production workers); wood product manufacturing at 11,894 employees (9,934 actual production workers); and fabricated metal product manufacturing with 11,532 employees (9,118 actual production workers).

ASM data for 2004 showed that Mississippi's manufacturing sector paid $5.545 billion in wages. Of that amount, the transportation equipment manufacturing sector accounted for the largest share at $1.003 billion. It was followed by furniture and related product manufacturing at $709.476 million; food manufacturing at $655.124 million; fabricated metal product manufacturing at $390.577 million; and wood product manufacturing at $368.544 million.


According to the 2002 Census of Wholesale Trade, Mississippi's wholesale trade sector had sales that year totaling $19.2 billion from 2,948 establishments. Wholesalers of durable goods accounted for 1,758 establishments, followed by nondurable goods wholesalers at 1,040 and electronic markets, agents, and brokers accounting for 150 establishments. Sales by durable goods wholesalers in 2002 totaled $5.9 billion, while wholesalers of nondurable goods saw sales of $11.6 billion. Electronic markets, agents, and brokers in the wholesale trade industry had sales of $1.5 billion.

In the 2002 Census of Retail Trade, Mississippi was listed as having 12,561 retail establishments with sales of $25.01 billion. The leading types of retail businesses by number of establishments were: gasoline stations (2,009); motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers (1,664); food and beverage stores (1,513); clothing and clothing accessories stores (1,476); and miscellaneous store retailers (1,220). In terms of sales, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers accounted for the largest share of retail sales at $6.4 billion, followed by general merchandise stores at $5.1 billion; gasoline stations at $3.2 billion; and food and beverage stores at $2.8 billion. A total of 135,838 people were employed by the retail sector in Mississippi that year.

Exports from Mississippi totaled $4 billion in 2005.


The Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General, and the Bureau of Regulatory Services under the Department of Agriculture and Commerce, are each responsible for a range of consumer protection activities within the state of Mississippi. The Consumer Protection Division, established in 1974, may investigate complaints of unfair or deceptive trade practices and, in specific cases, may issue injunctions to halt them. Under 1994 amendments, a violation of the Consumer Protection Act is now a criminal misdemeanor. The Bureau of Regulatory Services consumer protection activities are centered on its Petroleum Products Inspection Division and its Weights and Measures Division, which respectively check petroleum product quality and pump calibration at the retail level, and scales and measurement equipment used in commerce and trade.

When dealing with consumer protection issues, the state's Attorney General's Office can initiate civil and criminal proceedings, but cannot represent the state before state and federal regulatory agencies. The office administers consumer protection and education programs, handle consumer complaints and has broad subpoena powers. In antitrust actions, the Attorney General's Office can act on behalf of those consumers who are incapable of acting on their own; initiate damage actions on behalf of the state in state courts; initiate criminal proceedings; and represent counties, cities and other governmental entities in recovering civil damages under state or federal law.

Offices of the Consumer Protection Division and the Bureau of Regulatory Services are each located in the state capitol of Jackson.


As of June 2005, Mississippi had 100 insured banks, savings and loans, and saving banks, plus 30 state-chartered and 81 federally chartered credit unions (CUs). Excluding the CUs, the Memphis market area (which included portions of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas accounted for the largest portion of the state's financial institutions and deposits in 2004, with 52 institutions and $26.946 billion in deposits, followed by Jackson with 24 institu-tions and $7.492 billion in deposits for that same year. As of June 2005, CUs accounted for 5.8% of all assets held by all financial institutions in the state, or some $2.720 billion. Banks, savings and loans, and savings banks collectively accounted for the remaining 94.2% or $43.960 billion in assets held.

MississippiState Government Finances
(Dollar amounts in thousands. Per capita amounts in dollars.)
Abbreviations and symbols: - zero or rounds to zero; (NA) not available; (X) not applicable.
source: U.S. Census Bureau, Governments Division, 2004 Survey of State Government Finances, January 2006.
Total Revenue 15,351,077 5,291.65
  General revenue 12,196,208 4,204.14
    Intergovernmental revenue 5,424,813 1,869.98
    Taxes 5,124,730 1,766.54
      General sales 2,482,908 855.88
      Selective sales 908,294 313.10
      License taxes 318,488 109.79
      Individual income tax 1,061,704 365.98
      Corporate income tax 243,846 84.06
      Other taxes 109,490 37.74
    Current charges 1,211,257 417.53
    Miscellaneous general revenue 435,408 150.09
  Utility revenue - -
  Liquor store revenue 193,518 66.71
  Insurance trust revenue 2,961,351 1,020.80
Total expenditure 14,330,205 4,939.75
  Intergovernmental expenditure 3,880,446 1,337.62
  Direct expenditure 10,449,759 3,602.12
    Current operation 7,786,087 2,683.93
    Capital outlay 966,268 333.08
    Insurance benefits and repayments 1,339,387 461.70
    Assistance and subsidies 157,645 54.34
    Interest on debt 200,372 69.07
Exhibit: Salaries and wages 1,868,768 644.18
Total expenditure 14,330,205 4,939.75
  General expenditure 12,833,368 4,423.77
    Intergovernmental expenditure 3,880,446 1,337.62
    Direct expenditure 8,952,922 3,086.15
  General expenditures, by function:
    Education 4,310,712 1,485.94
    Public welfare 4,048,627 1,395.60
    Hospitals 695,350 239.69
    Health 297,655 102.60
    Highways 1,012,320 348.96
    Police protection 75,257 25.94
    Correction 306,477 105.65
    Natural resources 235,490 81.18
    Parks and recreation 45,853 15.81
    Government administration 283,352 97.67
    Interest on general debt 200,372 69.07
    Other and unallocable 1,321,903 455.67
  Utility expenditure - -
  Liquor store expenditure 157,450 54.27
  Insurance trust expenditure 1,339,387 461.70
Debt at end of fiscal year 4,274,977 1,473.62
Cash and security holdings 23,288,104 8,027.61

In 2004, median past-due/nonaccrual loan levels stood at 2.38% of total loans, down from 2.79% in 2003. The median net interest margin (the difference between the lower rates offered to savers and the higher rates charged on loans) in that same year stood at 4.18%, unchanged from the previous year.

The Banking Division of the Mississippi Department of Banking and Consumer Finance is responsible for regulating state-chartered financial institutions.


In 2004 there were over 2.1 million individual life insurance policies in force with a total value of over $99.8 billion; total value for all categories of life insurance (individual, group, and credit) was about $149 billion. The average coverage amount was $45,800 per policy holder. Death benefits paid that year totaled $526 million.

At the end of 2003, 26 life and health and 18 property and casualty insurance companies were domiciled in Mississippi. In 2004, direct premiums for property and casualty insurance totaled $3.6 billion. That year, there were 42,320 flood insurance policies in force in the state, with a total value of $5.2 million. About $1.6 billion of coverage was in force through beach and windstorm insurance.

In 2004, 47% of state residents held employment-based health insurance policies, 4% held individual policies, and 30% were covered under Medicare and Medicaid; 18% of residents were uninsured. In 2003, employee contributions for employment-based health coverage averaged 15% for single coverage and 29% for family coverage. The state offers a 12-month health benefits expansion program for small-firm employees in connection with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA, 1986), a health insurance program for those who lose employment-based coverage due to termination or reduction of work hours.

In 2003, there were over 1.6 million auto insurance policies in effect for private passenger cars. Required minimum coverage includes bodily injury liability of up to $25,000 per individual and $50,000 for all persons injured in an accident, as well as property damage liability of $25,000. In 2003, the average expenditure per vehicle for insurance coverage was $709.45.


There are no securities exchanges in Mississippi. In 2005, there were 420 personal financial advisers employed in the state and 610 securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents. In 2004, there were over 27 publicly traded companies within the state, with over eight NASDAQ companies, eight NYSE listings, and three AMEX listings.


Two state budgets are prepared annuallyone by the State Department of Finance and Administration, for the executive branch; and one by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, for the legis-lative branchand submitted to the legislature for reconciliation and approval. The fiscal year runs from 1 July through 30 June.

Fiscal year 2006 general funds were estimated at $4.3 billion for resources and $4.0 billion for expenditures. In fiscal year 2004, federal government grants to Mississippi were $5.3 billion.

In the fiscal year 2007 federal budget, Mississippi was slated to receive: $5 million to replace the air traffic control tower at Gulf-port-Biloxi International Airport.


In 2005, Mississippi collected $5,432 million in tax revenues or $1,860 per capita, which placed it 39th among the 50 states in per capita tax burden. The national average was $2,192 per capita. Property taxes accounted for 0.8% of the total, sales taxes, 47.6%; selective sales taxes, 17.2%; individual income taxes, 21.6%; corporate income taxes, 5.2%; and other taxes, 7.5%.

As of 1 January 2006, Mississippi had three individual income tax brackets ranging from 3.0% to 5.0%. The state taxes corporations at rates ranging from 3.0% to 5.0% depending on tax bracket.

In 2004, state and local property taxes amounted to $1,859,756,000, or $641 per capita. The per capita amount ranks the state 40th nationally. Local governments collected $1,819,515,000 of the total and the state government $40,241,000.

Mississippi taxes retail sales at a rate of 7%. In addition to the state tax, local taxes on retail sales can reach as much as 0.25%, making for a potential total tax on retail sales of 7.25%. Food purchased for consumption off-premises is taxable. The tax on cigarettes is 18 cents per pack, which ranks 49th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Mississippi taxes gasoline at 18.4 cents per gallon. This is in addition to the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax on gasoline.

According to the Tax Foundation, for every federal tax dollar sent to Washington in 2004, Mississippi citizens received $1.77 in federal spending, which ranks the state fourth nationally.


In 1936, the state began implementing a program called Balance Agriculture with Industry (BAWI), designed to attract manufacturing to Mississippi. The BAWI laws offered industry substantial tax concessions and permitted local governments to issue bonds to build plants that would be leased to companies for a 20-year period, after which the company would own them. Mississippi continues to offer low tax rates and numerous tax incentives to industry.

The Mississippi Development Authority is charged with encouraging economic growth in the specific fields of industrial development, marketing of state products, and development of tourism. A high-technology asset is the John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC) in Hancock County, which is NASA's largest rocket engine test facility.

In September 2005, President George W. Bush announced he would create a Gulf Opportunity Zone for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama in the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Congress passed the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act in December 2005, which provides a number of tax incentives to encourage the rebuilding of areas ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.


The infant mortality rate in October 2005 was estimated at 9.6 per 1,000 live births, representing the second-highest rate in the country that year (following the District of Columbia). The birth rate in 2003 was 14.7 per 1,000 population. The abortion rate stood at 5.9 per 1,000 women in 2000. In 2003, about 84.9% of pregnant woman received prenatal care beginning in the first trimester. In 2004, approximately 84% of children received routine immunizations before the age of three.

The crude death rate in 2003 was 9.9 deaths per 1,000 population. As of 2002, the death rates for major causes of death (per 100,000 resident population) were: heart disease, 315.5; cancer, 211.3; cerebrovascular diseases, 67.1; chronic lower respiratory diseases, 48; and diabetes, 23.4. Mississippi ranked third in the nation for the highest death rates by heart disease, following West Virginia and Oklahoma. The state also had the third-highest homicide rate at 10.6 per 100,000 (following the District of Columbia and Louisiana). The accidental death rate of 57.2 per 100,000 is also one of the highest in the country. The mortality rate from HIV infection was 6.4 per 100,000 population. In 2004, the reported AIDS case rate was at about 16.5 per 100,000 population. In 2002, about 60.8% of the population was considered overweight or obese; this represented the third-highest rate in the country, following West Virginia and Alabama. As of 2004, about 24.4% of state residents were smokers.

In 2003, Mississippi had 92 community hospitals with about 13,000 beds. There were about 416,000 patient admissions that year and 4 million outpatient visits. The average daily inpatient census was about 7,400 patients. The average cost per day for hospital care was $882. Also in 2003, there were about 204 certified nursing facilities in the state with 18,149 beds and an overall occupancy rate of about 88.5%. In 2004, it was estimated that about 59.4% of all state residents had received some type of dental care within the year; this was the lowest percentage for dental care in the nation. Mississippi had 182 physicians per 100,000 resident population in 2004 and 889 nurses per 100,000 in 2005. In 2004, there was a total of 1,159 dentists in the state.

About 30% of state residents were enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare programs in 2004. Approximately 18% of the state population was uninsured in 2004. In 2003, state health care expenditures totaled $4.2 million.


In 2004, about 60,000 people received unemployment benefits, with the average weekly unemployment benefit at $172. In fiscal year 2005, the estimated average monthly participation in the food stamp program included about 391,485 persons (158,539 households); the average monthly benefit was about $98.55 per person. That year, the total of benefits paid through the state for the food stamp program was about $462.9 million.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the system of federal welfare assistance that officially replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1997, was reauthorized through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. TANF is funded through federal block grants that are divided among the states based on an equation involving the number of recipients in each state. In 2004, the state TANF program had 42,000 recipients; state and federal expenditures on this TANF program totaled $67 million in fiscal year 2003.

In December 2004, Social Security benefits were paid to 545,710 Mississippians. This number included 289,380 retired workers, 56,860 widows and widowers, 103,870 disabled workers, 25,310 spouses, and 70,290 children. Social Security beneficiaries represented 18.7% of the total state population and 92.5% of the state's population age 65 and older. Retired workers received an average monthly payment of $875; widows and widowers, $765; disabled workers, $835; and spouses, $422. Payments for children of retired workers averaged $423 per month; children of deceased workers, $552; and children of disabled workers, $244. Federal Supplemental Security Income payments in December 2004 went to 125,180 Mississippi residents, averaging $369 a month.


In 2004, Mississippi had an estimated 1,221,240 housing units, of which 1,074,503 were occupied; 69.6% were owner-occupied. About 69.4% of all units were single-family, detached homes; 13.7% were mobile homes. Utility gas and electricity were the most common energy sources to all units. It was estimated that 92,908 units lacked telephone service, 8,325 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 9,387 lacked complete kitchen facilities. The average household had 2.61 members.

In 2004, 14,500 privately owned units were authorized for construction. The median home value was $79,023, the second-lowest in the country (above Arkansas). The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was $843. Renters paid a median of $529 per month. In September 2005, the state received grants of $949,098 from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for rural housing and economic development programs. For 2006, HUD allocated to the state over $30.3 million in community development block grants. Also in 2006, HUD offered an additional $5 billion to the state in emergency funds to rebuild housing that was destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in late 2005.


In 2004, 83% of Mississippians age 25 and older had completed high school, almost reaching the national average of 84%. Some 20.1% had obtained a bachelor's degree or higher, below the national average of 26%.

Mississippi's reaction to the US Supreme Court decision in 1954 mandating public school desegregation was to repeal the constitutional requirement for public schools and to foster the development of segregated private schools. In 1964, the state's schools did begin to integrate, and compulsory school attendance was restored 13 years later. As of 1980, 26% of minority (nonwhite) students were in schools in which minorities represented less than 50% of the student body, and 19% were in 99-100% minority schoolsa considerable degree of de facto segregation, but less so than in some northern states. In 1982, the compulsory school age was raised to 14, and as of 2001, it was 17; also in 1982, a system of free public kindergartens was established for the first time.

The total enrollment for fall 2002 in Mississippi's public schools stood at 493,000. Of these, 360,000 attended schools from kindergarten through grade eight, and 132,000 attended high school. Approximately 47.3% of the students were white, 50.7% were black, 1.1% were Hispanic, 0.7% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 0.2% were American Indian/Alaskan Native. Total enrollment was estimated at 489,000 in fall 2003 and was expected to be 469,000 by fall 2014, a decline of 4.8% during the period 200214. There were 49,729 students enrolled in 240 private schools in fall 2003. Expenditures for public education in 2003/04 were estimated at $3.4 billion or $6,237 per student, the fifth-lowest among the 50 states. Since 1969, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has tested public school students nationwide. The resulting report, The Nation's Report Card, stated that in 2005 eighth graders in Mississippi scored 262 out of 500 in mathematics compared with the national average of 278.

As of fall 2002, there were 147,077 students enrolled in college or graduate school; minority students comprised 39.1% of total postsecondary enrollment. In 2005 Mississippi had 40 degree-granting institutions including 9 public 4-year institutions, 17 public 2-year institutions, and 11 nonprofit private 4-year schools. Important institutions of higher learning in Mississippi include the University of Mississippi, established in 1844, Mississippi State University, and the University of Southern Mississippi. Predominantly black institutions include Tougaloo College, Alcorn State University, Jackson State University, and Mississippi Valley State University.


The Mississippi Arts Commission was founded in 1968 and supports and promotes the arts in community life as well as education. In 2005, the Mississippi Arts Commission and other Mississippi arts organizations received seven grants totaling $701,500 from the National Endowment for the Arts. The commission also receives significant sums from the state and private sources. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Humanities contributed $891,547 to eight state programs.

Jackson has two ballet companies, a symphony orchestra, and two opera companies. Opera South, an integrated but predominantly black company, presents free operas during its summer tours and mounts two major productions yearly. The Mississippi Opera was incorporated in 1947 and is noted as the 11th-oldest continuously producing professional opera company in the nation. There are local symphony orchestras in Meridian, Starkville, Tupelo, and Greenville.

The established professional theaters in the state are the Sheffield Ensemble in Biloxi and the New Stage in Jackson. The Greater Gulf Coast Arts Center has been very active in bringing arts programs into the coastal area.

A distinctive contribution to US culture is the music of black sharecroppers from the Delta, known as the blues. The Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale has an extensive collection documenting blues history. The annual Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival is held in Greenville. In September 2005 the 28th annual festival was held showcasing performances by artists such as Shirley Brown and Bobby Rush. Past performers include B.B. King, Muddy Waters, and Stevie Ray Vaughn.


As of September 2001, Mississippi had 49 public library systems, with a total of 237 libraries, of which 189 were branches. In that same year, there were 5,615,000 volumes of books and serial publications in Mississippi libraries, and a total circulation of 8,898,000. The system also had 138,000 audio and 168,000 video items, 7,000 electronic format items (CD-ROMs, magnetic tapes, and disks), and two bookmobiles. The finest collection of Mississippiana is at the Mississippi State Department of Archives and History in Jackson. In the Vicksburg-Warren County Public Library are collections on the Civil War and state history and oral history collections. Tougaloo College has special collections of African materials, civil rights papers, and oral history. The Gulf Coast Research Library of Ocean Springs has a marine biology collection. In fiscal year 2001, operating income for the state's public library system totaled $37,393,000, including $746,000 in federal grants and $7,084,000 in state grants.

There are 65 museums, including the distinguished Mississippi State Historical Museum at Jackson. Pascagoula, Laurel, and Jackson all have notable art museums. The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson has been designated the state's official natural science museum by the legislature. Also in Jackson is the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum. In Meridian is a museum devoted to country singer Jimmie Rodgers, and in Jackson one to pitcher Dizzy Dean.

Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis's home at Biloxi, is a state shrine and includes a museum. The Mississippi governor's mansioncompleted in 1845, restored in 1975, and purportedly the second-oldest executive residence in the United Statesis a National Historical Landmark.


In 2004, only 89.6% of Mississippi's occupied housing units had telephones, the second-lowest rate in the United States. In addition, by June of that same year there were 1,411,277 mobile wireless telephone subscribers. In 2003, 48.3% of Mississippi households had a computer and 38.9% had Internet access, the lowest in the United States in both categories. By June 2005, there were 191,768 high-speed lines in Mississippi, 165,095 residential and 26,673 for business.

In 2005, the state had 64 major operating radio stations (7 AM, 57 FM) and 14 major television stations. A total of 17,234 Internet domain names had been registered in Mississippi as of 2000.


In 2005, Mississippi had 23 daily newspapers: 8 morning dailies and 15 evening dailies. There were 18 Sunday papers in the state. The state's leading newspaper, located in Jackson and owned by the Gannett Company, is The Clarion-Ledger, a morning daily with a weekday circulation of 94,938 (107,865 Sunday).

Other leading dailies with approximate 2005 circulation rates are:

Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald (m,S) 46,598 55,582
Tupelo NE Mississippi Daily Journal 35,490 35,841

A monthly, Mississippi Magazine, is published in Jackson.


In 2006, there were over 1,789 nonprofit organizations registered within the state, of which about 1,057 were registered as charitable, educational, or religious organizations.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Congress of Racial Equality, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, later the Student National Coordinating Committee) were among the organizations that played key roles in the civil rights struggles in Mississippi during the 1950s and 1960s.

Other organizations with headquarters in Mississippi are the American Association of Public Health Physicians (Greenwood), the Sons of Confederate Veterans (Hattiesburg), the Sacred Heart League (Wallis), the National Band Association (Hattiesburg), and the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America (Hernando). The International Dodge Ball Federation has a base in Gulfport.


In 2004, there were 30 million overnight travelers in Mississippi, with 83% of all visitors traveling from out of state. In 2002 tourists spent an estimated $6.4 billion, which supported over 126,500 travel-related jobs. Jobs in the gaming industry represented about one-third of the total.

Among Mississippi's major tourist attractions are its floating riverboat casinos and its mansions and plantations, many of them in the Natchez area. Tunica, 30 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee, has Las Vegas-style casinos with hotels and entertainment, generating a significant source of revenue for the state. McRaven Plantation in Vicksburg was built in 1797. The Delta and Pine Land Co. plantation near Scott is one of the largest cotton plantations in the United States. At Greenwood is the Florewood River Plantation, a museum recreating 19th-century plantation life. The Mississippi State Fair is held annually in Jackson during the second week in October. Natchez Trace Parkway is a scenic route, running 444 mi (740 km) from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. Among the tourist attractions along this route is the Emerald Mound, the second-largest Indian ceremonial earthwork. The city of Oxford was the home of William Faulkner and visitors can tour his former home, Rowan Oak. Although Memphis, Tennessee, is the site of Elvis Presley's home (Graceland), Tupelo is the site of his birthplace. As of 2006, many attractions had not yet recovered from the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

National parks include the Natchez Trace Parkway, Gulf Islands National Seashore, and Vicksburg National Military Park. There are also 6 national forests and 24 state parks.


There are no major professional sports teams in Mississippi. There are minor league hockey teams in Biloxi and Jackson. The University of Mississippi has long been prominent in college football. "Ole Miss" teams won the Sugar Bowl in 1958, 1960, 1961, 1963, and 1970, and the Cotton Bowl in 1956. The Rebels play in the Southeastern Conference, as do the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Southern Mississippi is a member of Conference USA.

Other annual sporting events of interest include the Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo, held in Jackson in February, and the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, held in Madison in October and November.

Football greats Walter Payton and Jerry Rice, along with boxing legend Archie Moore, were born and raised in Mississippi.


Mississippi's most famous political figure, Jefferson Davis (b.Kentucky, 180889), came to the state as a very young child, was educated at West Point, and served in the US Army from 1828 to 1835. He resigned a seat in Congress in 1846 to enter the Mexican War from which he returned home a hero after leading his famous regiment, the 1st Mississippi Rifles, at the Battle of Buena Vista, Mexico. From 1853 to 1857, he served as secretary of war in the cabinet of President Franklin Pierce. Davis was representing Mississippi in the US Senate in 1861 when the state withdrew from the Union. In February 1861, he was chosen president of the Confederacy, an office he held until the defeat of the South in 1865. Imprisoned for two years after the Civil War (though never tried), Davis lived the last years of his life at Beauvoir, an estate on the Mississippi Gulf Coast given to him by an admirer. There he wrote The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, completed eight years before his death in New Orleans.

Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar (b.Georgia, 182593) settled in Oxford in 1855 and only two years later was elected to the US House of Representatives. A supporter of secession, he served as Confederate minister to Russia in 1862. After the war, Lamar was the first Mississippi Democrat returned to the House; in 1877, he entered the US Senate. President Grover Cleveland made Lamar his secretary of the interior in 1885, later appointing him to the US Supreme Court. Lamar served as associate justice from 1888 until his death.

Some of the foremost authors of 20th-century America had their origins in Mississippi. Supreme among them is William Faulkner (18971962), whose literary career began in 1924 with the publication of The Marble Faun, a book of poems. His novels included such classics as The Sound and the Fury (1929), Light in August (1932), and Absalom, Absalom! (1936). Faulkner received two Pulitzer Prizes (one posthumously), and in 1949 was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

Richard Wright (190860), born near Natchez, spent his childhood years in Jackson. He moved to Memphis as a young man, and from there migrated to Chicago; he lived his last years in Paris. A powerful writer and a leading spokesman for the black Americans of his generation, Wright is best remembered for his novel Native Son (1940) and for Black Boy (1945), an autobiographical account of his Mississippi childhood.

Other native Mississippians of literary renown (and Pulitzer Prize winners) are Eudora Welty (19092001), Tennessee Williams (Thomas Lanier Williams, 191183), and playwright Beth Henley (b.1952). Welty's work, like Faulkner's, is set in Mississippi; her best-known novels include Delta Wedding (1946), The Ponder Heart (1954), and Losing Battles (1970). Although Tennessee Williams spent most of his life outside Mississippi, some of his most famous plays are set in the state. Other Mississippi authors are Hodding Carter (b.Louisiana, 190772), Shelby Foote (19162005), Walker Percy (b.Alabama, 19161990), and Willie Morris (193499).

Among the state's numerous musicians are William Grant Still (18951978), a composer and conductor, and Leontyne Price (Mary Leontine Price, b.1927), a distinguished opera singer. Famous blues singers are Charlie Patton (18871934), William Lee Conley "Big Bill" Broonzy (18981958), Howlin' Wolf (Chester Arthur Burnett, 19101976), Muddy Waters (McKinley Morgan-field, 191583), John Lee Hooker (19172001), and Riley "B. B." King (b.1925). Mississippi's contributions to country music include Jimmie Rodgers (18971933), Conway Twitty (19331994), and Charley Pride (b.1939). Elvis Presley (193577), born in Tupelo, was one of the most popular entertainers in US history.


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