Who settled in Mississippi first?

Excursion into the past: Tennessee and Mississippi

Info / recommendations | Mississippi | 11/12/2015 | Photo: Memphis & Mississippi

The exciting history of the USA can be experienced up close on a trip through both states - from the discovery by the Spaniard de Soto in the 16th century and fighting with the indigenous people to the development by settlers from the north to the civil war and the civil rights movement.

Battlefields, museums and the former homes of famous people such as Andrew Jackson's "The Hermitage" vividly tell the story of Tennessee and the United States. Go on a journey through time and discover the many testimonies to a moving and exciting past, along with gorgeous southern mansions and cotton fields!

Americas first frontier - border to the wild south
With courage and determination, the American pioneers paved the way for colonization on the United States' first frontier in the south near Tennessee and Kentucky. They cut aisles through dense forests, conquered rivers and mountains. Some of these trails can still be visited, such as the Natchez Trace. One of the most famous pioneers is Daniel Boone, who is also known in this country mainly for the television series of the same name from the 1960s.

People have lived between the Appalachians and the Mississippi for over 10,000 years. Hundreds of tribes settled in the area by the time the Europeans came and claimed the newly discovered land for themselves. The Cherokee (lower row of pictures, third picture) are still the largest Indian people in the "meeting place of the rivers", the meaning of the name Tennessee. In Vonore, southeast of Knoxville, you can find out about one of the most famous chiefs at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum. You can learn more about the peoples and the history of settlement in Knoxville itself at the McClung Museum. Pinson Mounds in Jackson is home to old hills, which are among the largest Indian structures in North America.
South of Tupelo, MS you can also visit an Indian hill, the Nanih Waiya Mound. The Natchez Indians built the last mounds in the 17th century. In Mississippi - also a word of Indian origin (large water or large river) - the Natchez, Choctaw and Chickasaw lost their territory to the French by the end of the 18th century. Most of the tribes were resettled to Oklahoma. The Natchez Indians often sought refuge with the other tribes and intermingled, which is why their culture was practically lost. Today there are no longer any descendants who speak the Natchez language fluently. You can follow in their footsteps in the Grand Village, just before the town of Natchez. Incidentally, the Choctaw who remained in Mississippi now have a solid economic base with hotels, restaurants and casinos in the hands of their own companies.

Civil War battlefields
The last battle of the American Civil War raged around 150 years ago. The attitude towards the slave attitude divided the still young nation and so this was one of the main reasons for the secession of some states and the beginning of the civil war. Many monuments and former battlefields commemorate the bloody clashes between the Confederate and Union, such as Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Franklin and Chickamauga in Tennessee. Major battles of the civil war will be re-enacted here on the occasion of the 150th anniversary and numerous events will be held until the end of this year.
Vicksburg, Mississippi, was one of the most critical clashes of the Civil War. The surrender of the Confederates in 1863 after a long siege was the key to the south and a turning point in the civil war. The National Military Park commemorates that battle. Once in Vicksburg, you should definitely visit the Biedenharn Museum of Coca-Cola® Memorabilia. The Yesturday’s Children's Antique Toy and Doll Museum is sure to be a nice change for the little ones. A stroll through the city is also worthwhile, as there are wonderful old southern villas in Vicksburg!

Struggle for civil rights
After the end of the civil war and the liberation of the slaves, Afro-Americans were still not really free, let alone equal. The struggle for their civil rights gained momentum after the end of World War II when the GIs returned from the front. Here the African-American soldiers were still separated from their white counterparts and discriminated against. They experienced more respect and tolerance from the Germans who had been freed from racism than from some of their comrades-in-arms, and everything was as it was before even after their return. The attitudes of their own compatriots hadn't changed, however. For them this was the reason for the "storm of freedom" for equality, justice and freedom.
In the footsteps of the Civil Rights Movement, you can go on the Mississippi Freedom Trail. In Memphis, Martin Luther King was shot on the balcony of his hotel after his last moving speech. The Civil Rights Museum is located exactly where the hotel once stood. The hotel facade and the balcony have been preserved and have been integrated into the museum.

Source: © Memphis & Mississippi, Tennessee Tourism

Famous people

Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, alias Mark Twain, lived in Mississippi and worked on the "Father of Rivers", as the mighty river is also called. At that time he was not a writer, but his experiences and impressions during his time there influenced his books The Adventures of Tom Sawyer ("The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", 1876), Life on the Mississippi ("Leben auf dem Mississippi", 1883) and his masterpiece The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was instrumental. The bridge over the Mississippi after Hannibal, where he spent his childhood, was named after him: Mark Twain Memorial Bridge.

Andrew Jackson
He was the first US president who did not come from the ranks of the founding fathers (American Revolution). His estate, The Hermitage Historical Plantation and Museum, is east of Nashville. You should definitely see the beautiful mansion built on a secluded meadow. You learn about that time, see how the Jacksons lived, how and where the slaves lived and also where Andrew Jackson and his wife are buried.
During his tenure, Jackson smashed the Bundesbank, expanded the infrastructure and thus laid the foundation for industrialization. He also played a crucial role in founding the Democratic Party and was unfortunately responsible for the forced displacement of the Indians. He was considered an "Indian hater" and even drove out the so-called "five civilized Indian tribes", which were largely spared by his predecessors.

James K. Polk
He was the 11th President of the USA. He set up the Home Office, initiated the founding and construction of the US Naval Academy, the famous Smithsonian Institution with its many museums, and was responsible for the construction of the Washinton Monument. In addition, the USA introduced the first postage stamp, incorporated Texas as well as California, New Mexico and Utah after the outcome of the war against Mexico. Washington, Oregon and Idaho as well as parts of Montana and Wyoming were added after negotiations with the British. He had also tried to acquire Cuba. However, the Spaniards rejected the offer.
Prior to his presidency, Polk lived in Mississippi for some time, setting up a cotton plantation. His country house in Nashville was unfortunately demolished, but his grave can still be visited at the Tennessee State Capitol Building and the house built by Polk's father in Columbia, south of Nashville, can still be viewed. The property, built around 1816, shows over a thousand exhibits of Polk's life.

Daniel Boone
He was a pioneer and hunter and is considered to be the pioneer of expansion into the West and the opening of the "Frontier". He explored the wilderness of the Appalachians, in which very few whites previously ventured, and developed the Wilderness Road - a route from Virginia to Kentucky. The project began in 1775 with 35 loggers. In the following 20 years or so, during which it was already used by thousands of travelers, the route could only be crossed on foot or by horse until it was expanded in 1796. The base camp in Kentucky at the end of Wilderness Road, where the settlers arrived, was named Boonesborough after its founder, where Boone lived with his family for four years. Again and again Boone came across Indians. The settlement was of crucial importance as it was the furthest to the west. Despite massive attacks by the Shawnee, Boonesborough could be held. This fact and the defeat of the Indians were of great importance for the outcome of the American War of Independence. Boone is now known as the "father of Kentucky". There is a state park in Boonesborough where archaeological digs are being carried out.
Boone and his family eventually settled in Mississippi. Boone County was named after this first American folk hero. Booneville, Mississippi, on the other hand, is named after one of his relatives, not after him.
Part of the Wilderness Road can be seen in Tennessee, as can his cabin. Visit the East Tennessee History Center in Downtown Knoxville or the Visitor Center in Kingsport to learn more about this American icon!

Andrew Johnson
He was the 17th President of the United States and succeeded Abraham Lincoln as Vice President after the assassination attempt. He too was a Democrat and, like Andrew Jackson, a man of the people. Even though he came from a poor background and was initially a simple tailor, he still made it to the mayor of a small town and from there to the congressman and governor of Tennessee and finally to the vice president. Among other things, the office brought him his stance for the unity of the country during the civil war, with which he was the only southern politician. As a result, the Confederates took away his home and slaves.
To be nominated as a presidential candidate after his term in office failed and would have had little chance of success, as he had previously blocked the line in Congress to grant comprehensive civil rights for the freed slaves, which culminated in a narrowly failed impeachment process. Nevertheless, he remained in politics and died shortly after his return to the Senate.

David, Davy ’Crockett
Besides Andrew Jackson, the politician and war hero is the only one born in what is now Tennessee. Crockett grew up in poor circumstances and without any significant education. He joined the Second Regiment of the Tennessee Volunteer Mounted Riflemen, with General Andrew Jackson in command. He later achieved his first political successes at the local level when he got rid of corruption in his home community. When he was elected to the House of Representatives, he stood up for the squatters. These are poor pioneers who often occupied land illegally. A law forbade those who did not own land to buy it. He did not really make himself popular with his former commander when he spoke out against the expulsion of the Indians. However, the Indian Removal Act was quite popular among white politicians, and so Crockett lost his second election campaign. After writing his memoirs, he tried his luck again in politics and in 1835, after another defeat, decided to join the Texans' revolution against Mexico. He died at the Battle of the Alamo in San Antonio Texas in 1836. The Texans lost the battle at the former Spanish mission because of the unequal balance of power: The Mexicans were about ten times superior to the men of the region fighting for independence. The Alamo is also known from the song by Johnny Cash and the 1960 film of the same name, in which John Wayne played the role of the national hero Crockett.

Jefferson Davis
He went down in history as the President of the Confederate States of America. The politician was previously a Senator for Mississippi and Secretary of War and actually against secession. The cohesion of the Union was important to him, but he also advocated strengthening the rights of individual states. After Abraham Lincoln was elected and South Carolina split off, he followed Mississippi in January 1861.
After his defeat in the Civil War, he initially wanted to go abroad with his family to form a government in exile, but was caught and imprisoned in Georgia. The family went to Europe after his release. By the way, his daughter Winnie went to school in Karlsruhe. Davis ‘Affair with the wife of a well-known politician strained his marriage. Varina Davis then stayed mainly in England. Davis fell ill and was bankrupt when the rich widow Dorsey from Biloxi invited him over. In the same year he was reconciled with his wife. Dorsey died a year later. Her estate, Beauvoir, which now serves as a museum and can be visited, was given to Davis while she was still alive.