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Natchez, Mississippi

City: Natchez

County: Adams

State: Mississippi

Lat/Long: 31.5500, -91.4000

Situated on the Mississippi River in southwest Mississippi, Natchez was originally the site of a Natchez Indian village. Visited by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1682, the French laid claim to the area, establishing a fortified settlement there in 1716. Ceded to the English in 1763, Natchez subsequently fell into the hands of Spain in 1779. Under Spanish rule, Natchez flourished, becoming a hub of commerce and a center of tobacco, indigo, and cotton production. Spain ceded Natchez to the United States in 1798. From 1798 to 1802, it served as the capital of the Mississippi Territory. When the Mississippi Territorial Legislature established Adams County in 1799, Natchez became the seat of government. In 1803, the Mississippi Territorial Legislature incorporated the town as a city. By the end of the second decade of the nineteenth century, the city had a population of 2,000. Increased cultivation of cotton and the introduction of the steamboat furthered the city's prosperity, and it became a center of planter aristocracy in the region, second only to New Orleans. By the 1850s, however, New Orleans and richer parts of Mississippi began to eclipse Natchez as a center of cotton production and trade. As Mississippi moved closer to secession, Natchez remained a center of Unionism. During the Civil War, Union forces captured Natchez without a fight and occupied the city until 1865.

Webster's New Geographical Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1988), 814; Gerald M. Capers, Jr., "Natchez," Dictionary of American History, rev. ed. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976), 4:455; Robert Lowry and William H. McCardle, A History of Mississippi (Jackson, MS: R. H. Henry, 1891), 436; Timothy B. Smith, Mississippi in the Civil War: The Home Front(Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2010), 128; Michael B. Ballard, The Civil War in Mississippi: Major Campaigns and Battles (Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 2011), 35.