Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mississippi - #20, December 10, 1817

Our next state is one that almost any child can spell, even if they don't live there.  It's one of the easier states to learn how to spell, with all those repeating letters M - ISS - ISS - IPP - I.  Plus everyone knows that it takes a full second to say the state (one - mississippi, two - mississippi, three - mississippi).  Mississippi has deep roots across several genres of American Music, specifically the blues, jazz, gospel music, and rock and roll.

Mississippi was organized as a territory following the American Revolution, carved out of land ceded by Georgia and South Carolina.  At the outbreak of the Civil Way, Mississippi became the second state to secede from the Union and was a founding member of the Confederacy.  The state suffered the largest percentage of people who died in the Civil War of any Confederate State. 78,000 Mississippians entered the Confederate army. By the end of the war 59,000 were either dead or wounded.   It rejoined the Union in 1870.

Mississippi has been slow to react to laws that were widely adopted elsewhere in the US.  In 1966, it was the last state to officially repeal prohibition, which had been overturned with the ratification of the Twenty-third amendment - in 1933.  In 1987, the state repealed its ban on interracial marriage, which had been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court - in 1967.  One hundred thirty years after its ratification, Mississippi symbolically ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery.  In 1989, it repealed its poll tax and twenty years later, in 2009, it repealed other discriminatory civil rights laws, which had been enacted as part of the Civil Rights Act - of 1964.

Despite being a "little slow on the uptake" - it has a few things going for it:
  • In 1894, the first Coca-Cola was bottled in the state, at the Biedenarn Candy Company in Vicksburg
  • Root Beer was invented in Biloxi in 1898 by Edward Adolf Barq, founder of Barq's Root Beer
  • In 1902, while hunting in Sharkey County, President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear cub - leading to the creation of the "Teddy Bear"
  • Mamie Thomas became the first female rural mail carrier in the United States, when she delivered mail by buggy to the area southeast of Vicksburg in 1914
  • Babe Ruth is forever connected to two Mississippians - Guy Bush of Tupelo played for the Chicago Cubs and was the pitcher off whom Babe Ruth hit his last home run and Sam Vick played for both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox and is the only man ever to pinch hit for Ruth 
  • The Vicksburg National Cemetery is second in size only to Arlington National Cemetery
The state of Mississippi is one of the more "red" states in the Union and is part of the deep Republican South.  The current Governor of Mississippi is Republican Phil Bryant, who succeeded Haley Barbour, one of Mississippi's more prominent residents. Both of Mississippi's Senators are Republicans, Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker.  There are four members of the Mississippi Congressional delegation, three Republicans and one Democrat.

  • State Capital (and largest city) - Jackson
  • Date of Admission - December 10, 1817
  • Area - 48,430 sq mi (32nd) 
  • State Motto - "Virtue et Armis" ("By Valor and Arms")
  • State Nickname - the Magnolia State 
  • State bird - mockingbird
  • State flower - magnolia
  • State tree - southern magnolia
  • State fish - the largemouth bass (although the state produces the majority of the farm-raised catfish consumed in the US)
  • State University - Mississippi State University
  • State Archives - Mississippi Department of Archives and History
  • Population (2011 est.) - 2,978,512 (31st) 


Prominent Mississippians (here's a few lists to peruse, one and two - the state evidently knows how to produce football players and musicians/singers)

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