Mississippi

State of the United States of America
State of Mississippi
Flag of Mississippi State seal of Mississippi
Flag Seal
Nickname(s):

“The Magnolia State”, “The Hospitality State”
Motto(s): Virtute et Armis
State song(s): “Go, Mississippi
Map of the United States with Mississippi highlighted
Official language English
Demonym Mississippian
Capital
.mw-parser-output .nobold{font-weight:normal}
(and largest city)
Jackson
Largest metro Greater Jackson
Area Ranked 32nd
 • Total 48,430 sq mi
(125,443 km2)
 • Width 170 miles (275 km)
 • Length 340 miles (545 km)
 • % water 3%
 • Latitude 30° 12′ N to 35° N
 • Longitude 88° 06′ W to 91° 39′ W
Population Ranked 34th
 • Total 2,986,530 (2018)
 • Density 63.5/sq mi  (24.5/km2)
Ranked 32nd
 • Median household income $40,037[1] (51st)
Elevation
 • Highest point Woodall Mountain[2][3][4]
807 ft (246.0 m)
 • Mean 300 ft  (90 m)
 • Lowest point Gulf of Mexico[3]
Sea level
Before statehood Mississippi Territory
Admission to Union December 10, 1817 (20th)
Governor Phil Bryant (R)
Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves (R)
Legislature Mississippi Legislature
 • Upper house State Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R)
Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)
U.S. House delegation 1: Trent Kelly (R)
2: Bennie Thompson (D)
3: Michael Guest (R)
4: Steven Palazzo (R) (list)
Time zone Central: UTC −6/−5
ISO 3166 US-MS
Abbreviations MS, Miss.
Website www.ms.gov
Mississippi state symbols
Flag of Mississippi.svg

The Flag of Mississippi
Seal of Mississippi (2014–present).svg

The Seal of Mississippi
Coat of arms of Mississippi.svg

The Coat of arms of Mississippi
Living insignia
Bird
  • Northern mockingbird
  • (Mimus polyglottos)
Butterfly
  • Spicebush swallowtail
  • (Papilio troilus)
Fish
  • Largemouth bass
  • (Micropterus salmoides)
Flower Magnolia
Insect
  • Western honey bee
  • (Apis mellifera)
Mammal White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
Reptile
  • American alligator
  • (Alligator mississippiensis)
Tree
  • Southern magnolia
  • (Magnolia grandiflora)
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Colors red and blue
Dance Clogging
Food Sweet potato
Gemstone Emerald
Mineral Gold
Rock Granite
Shell
  • Eastern oyster
  • (Crassostrea virginica)
Slogan First Flight (unofficial)
State route marker
Mississippi state route marker
State quarter
Mississippi quarter dollar coin

Released in 2002
Lists of United States state symbols

Mississippi (/ˌmɪsɪˈsɪpi/ (About this soundlisten)) is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Mississippi is the 32nd most extensive and 34th most populous of the 50 United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Alabama to the east, the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana to the south, and Arkansas and Louisiana to the west. The state’s western boundary is largely defined by the Mississippi River. Jackson, with a population of approximately 167,000 people, is both the state’s capital and largest city.

The state is heavily forested outside the Mississippi Delta area, which is the area between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers. Before the American Civil War, most development in the state was along riverfronts, as the waterways were critical for transportation. Large gangs of slaves were used to work on cotton plantations. After the war, freedmen began to clear the bottomlands to the interior, in the process selling off timber and buying property. By the end of the 19th century, African Americans made up two-thirds of the Delta’s property owners, but timber and railroad companies acquired much of the land after the financial crisis, which occurred when blacks were facing increasing racial discrimination and disfranchisement in the state.

Clearing of the land for plantations altered the Delta’s ecology, increasing the severity of flooding along the Mississippi by taking out trees and bushes that had absorbed excess waters. Much land is now held by agribusinesses. A largely rural state with agricultural areas dominated by industrial farms, Mississippi is ranked low or last among the states in such measures as health, educational attainment, and median household income.[5][6][7] The state’s catfish aquaculture farms produce the majority of farm-raised catfish consumed in the United States.[8]

Since the 1930s and the Great Migration of African Americans to the North and West, the majority of Mississippi’s population has been white, although the state still has the highest percentage of black residents of any U.S. state. From the early 19th century to the 1930s, its residents were majority black, and before the American Civil War that population was composed largely of African-American slaves. Democratic Party whites retained political power through disfranchisement and Jim Crow laws. In the first half of the 20th century, nearly 400,000 rural blacks left the state for work and opportunities in northern and midwestern cities, with another wave of migration around World War II to West Coast cities. In the early 1960s, Mississippi was the poorest state in the nation, with 86% of its non-whites living below the poverty level.[9]

In 2010, 37% of Mississippians were African Americans, the highest percentage of African Americans in any U.S. state. Since regaining enforcement of their voting rights in the late 1960s, most African Americans have supported Democratic candidates in local, state and national elections. Conservative whites have shifted to the Republican Party. African Americans are a majority in many counties of the Mississippi-Yazoo Delta, an area of historic slave settlement during the plantation era.

Contents

  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 Geography

    • 2.1 Major cities and towns
    • 2.2 Climate
    • 2.3 Ecology, flora, and fauna
    • 2.4 Ecological problems

      • 2.4.1 Flooding
  • 3 History

    • 3.1 Colonial era
    • 3.2 United States territory
    • 3.3 Statehood, 1817–1861
    • 3.4 Civil War to 20th century
    • 3.5 20th century to present
  • 4 Demographics

    • 4.1 Ancestry
    • 4.2 Language
    • 4.3 Religion
    • 4.4 Birth data
    • 4.5 LGBT
  • 5 Health
  • 6 Economy

    • 6.1 Entertainment and tourism
    • 6.2 Manufacturing
    • 6.3 Taxation
    • 6.4 Federal subsidies and spending
  • 7 Politics and government

    • 7.1 Laws
  • 8 Political alignment
  • 9 Transportation

    • 9.1 Air
    • 9.2 Roads
    • 9.3 Rail

      • 9.3.1 Passenger
      • 9.3.2 Freight
    • 9.4 Water

      • 9.4.1 Major rivers
      • 9.4.2 Major bodies of water
  • 10 Education
  • 11 Culture

    • 11.1 Music
    • 11.2 Literature
    • 11.3 Sports
  • 12 Notable people
  • 13 See also
  • 14 Footnotes
  • 15 Further reading
  • 16 External links

Etymology

The state’s name is derived from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary. Settlers named it after the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi (“Great River”).

Geography

Major highways and waterways in Mississippi

Bottomland hardwood swamp near Ashland, Mississippi

Mississippi is bordered to the north by Tennessee, to the east by Alabama, to the south by Louisiana and a narrow coast on the Gulf of Mexico; and to the west, across the Mississippi River, by Louisiana and Arkansas.

In addition to its namesake, major rivers in Mississippi include the Big Black River, the Pearl River, the Yazoo River, the Pascagoula River, and the Tombigbee River. Major lakes include Ross Barnett Reservoir, Arkabutla Lake, Sardis Lake, and Grenada Lake with the largest lake being Sardis Lake.

Mississippi is entirely composed of lowlands, the highest point being Woodall Mountain, in the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains, 807 feet (246 m) above sea level. The lowest point is sea level at the Gulf Coast. The state’s mean elevation is 300 feet (91 m) above sea level.

Most of Mississippi is part of the East Gulf Coastal Plain. The coastal plain is generally composed of low hills, such as the Pine Hills in the south and the North Central Hills. The Pontotoc Ridge and the Fall Line Hills in the northeast have somewhat higher elevations. Yellow-brown loess soil is found in the western parts of the state. The northeast is a region of fertile black earth that extends into the Alabama Black Belt.

The coastline includes large bays at Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, and Pascagoula. It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico proper by the shallow Mississippi Sound, which is partially sheltered by Petit Bois Island, Horn Island, East and West Ship Islands, Deer Island, Round Island, and Cat Island.

The northwest remainder of the state consists of the Mississippi Delta, a section of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. The plain is narrow in the south and widens north of Vicksburg. The region has rich soil, partly made up of silt which had been regularly deposited by the flood waters of the Mississippi River.

Areas under the management of the National Park Service include:[10]

  • Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site near Baldwyn
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore
  • Natchez National Historical Park in Natchez
  • Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail in Tupelo
  • Natchez Trace Parkway
  • Tupelo National Battlefield in Tupelo
  • Vicksburg National Military Park and Cemetery in Vicksburg

Major cities and towns

Jackson, Mississippi

Northwest view of Gulfport Harbor Square Commercial Historic District, Gulfport, Mississippi

Strawberry Patch Park in Madison, Mississippi

Map with all counties and many cities and towns labeled

Mississippi City Population Rankings of at least 50,000 (United States Census Bureau as of 2017):[11]

  1. Jackson (166,965)
  2. Gulfport (71,822)
  3. Southaven (54,031)

Mississippi City Population Rankings of at least 20,000 but fewer than 50,000 (United States Census Bureau as of 2017):[11]

  1. Hattiesburg (46,377)
  2. Biloxi (45,908)
  3. Tupelo (38,114)
  4. Meridian (37,940)
  5. Olive Branch (37,435)
  6. Greenville (30,686)
  7. Horn Lake (27,095)
  8. Pearl (26,534)
  9. Madison (25,627)
  10. Starkville (25,352)
  11. Clinton (25,154)
  12. Ridgeland (24,266)
  13. Columbus (24,041)
  14. Brandon (23,999)
  15. Oxford (23,639)
  16. Vicksburg (22,489)
  17. Pascagoula (21,733)

Mississippi City Population Rankings of at least 10,000 but fewer than 20,000 (United States Census Bureau as of 2017):[11]

  1. Gautier (18,512)
  2. Laurel (18,493)
  3. Ocean Springs (17,682)
  4. Hernando (15,981)
  5. Clarksdale (15,732)
  6. Long Beach (15,642)
  7. Natchez (14,886)
  8. Corinth (14,643)
  9. Greenwood (13,996)
  10. Moss Point (13,398)
  11. Bay St. Louis (13,043)
  12. McComb (12,799)
  13. Canton (12,725)
  14. Grenada (12,511)
  15. Brookhaven (12,173)
  16. Cleveland (11,729)
  17. Byram (11,671)
  18. D’Iberville (11,610)
  19. Yazoo City (10,987)
  20. West Point (10,675)
  21. Petal (10,633)
  22. Picayune (10,382)

(See: Lists of cities, towns and villages, census-designated places, metropolitan areas, micropolitan areas, and counties in Mississippi)

Climate

Montgomery County in autumn

Mississippi has a humid subtropical climate with long, hot and humid summers, and short, mild winters. Temperatures average about 81°F (about 27°C) in July and about 48 °F (about 9 °C) in January. The temperature varies little statewide in the summer; however, in winter, the region near Mississippi Sound is significantly warmer than the inland portion of the state. The recorded temperature in Mississippi has ranged from −19 °F (−28 °C), in 1966, at Corinth in the northeast, to 115 °F (46 °C), in 1930, at Holly Springs in the north. Heavy snowfall rarely occurs, but isn’t unheard of, such as during the New Year’s Eve 1963 snowstorm. Yearly precipitation generally increases from north to south, with the regions closer to the Gulf being the most humid. Thus, Clarksdale, in the northwest, gets about 50 inches (about 1,270 mm) of precipitation annually and Biloxi, in the south, about 61 inches (about 1,550 mm). Small amounts of snow fall in northern and central Mississippi; snow is occasional in the southern part of the state.

The late summer and fall is the seasonal period of risk for hurricanes moving inland from the Gulf of Mexico, especially in the southern part of the state. Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which killed 238 people in the state, were the most devastating hurricanes to hit the state. Both caused nearly total storm surge destruction of structures in and around Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pascagoula.

As in the rest of the Deep South, thunderstorms are common in Mississippi, especially in the southern part of the state. On average, Mississippi has around 27 tornadoes annually; the northern part of the state has more tornadoes earlier in the year and the southern part a higher frequency later in the year. Two of the five deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history have occurred in the state. These storms struck Natchez, in southwest Mississippi (see The Great Natchez Tornado) and Tupelo, in the northeast corner of the state. About seven F5 tornadoes have been recorded in the state.

Monthly normal high and low temperatures (°F) for various Mississippi cities
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Gulfport 61/43 64/46 70/52 77/59 84/66 89/72 91/74 91/74 87/70 79/60 70/51 63/45
Jackson 55/35 60/38 68/45 75/52 82/61 89/68 91/71 91/70 86/65 77/52 66/43 58/37
Meridian 58/35 63/38 70/44 77/50 84/60 90/67 93/70 93/70 88/64 78/51 68/43 60/37
Tupelo 50/30 56/34 65/41 74/48 81/58 88/66 91/70 91/68 85/62 75/49 63/40 54/33
Source:[12]
Climate data for Mississippi (1980–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 54.3
(12.4)
58.7
(14.8)
67.2
(19.6)
75.2
(24.0)
82.6
(28.1)
88.9
(31.6)
91.4
(33.0)
91.5
(33.1)
86.3
(30.2)
76.9
(24.9)
66.5
(19.2)
56.6
(13.7)
74.7
(23.7)
Average low °F (°C) 33.3
(0.7)
36.7
(2.6)
43.8
(6.6)
51.3
(10.7)
60.3
(15.7)
67.6
(19.8)
70.6
(21.4)
69.7
(20.9)
63
(17)
51.9
(11.1)
43.1
(6.2)
35.7
(2.1)
52.3
(11.2)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 5.0
(130)
5.2
(130)
5.1
(130)
5.0
(130)
5.1
(130)
4.4
(110)
4.5
(110)
3.9
(99)
3.6
(91)
4.1
(100)
4.9
(120)
5.7
(140)
56.5
(1,420)
Source: USA.com[13]

Ecology, flora, and fauna

The Mississippi state sign located on Interstate 20 West from Alabama

Waterfall at Clark Creek Natural Area, in the deep loess region of western Wilkinson County

Mississippi is heavily forested, with over half of the state’s area covered by wild or cultivated trees. The southeastern part of the state is dominated by longleaf pine, in both uplands and lowland flatwoods and Sarracenia bogs. The Mississippi Alluvial Plain, or Delta, is primarily farmland and aquaculture ponds but also has sizeable tracts of cottonwood, willows, baldcypress, and oaks. A belt of loess extends north to south in the western part of the state, where the Mississippi Alluvial Plain reaches the first hills; this region is characterized by rich, mesic mixed hardwood forests, with some species disjunct from Appalachian forests.[14] Two bands of historical prairie, the Jackson Prairie and the Black Belt, run northwest to southeast in the middle and northeastern part of the state. Although these areas have been highly degraded by conversion to agriculture, a few areas remain, consisting of grassland with interspersed woodland of eastern redcedar, oaks, hickories, osage-orange, and sugarberry. The rest of the state, primarily north of Interstate 20 not including the prairie regions, consists of mixed pine-hardwood forest, common species being loblolly pine, oaks (e.g., water oak), hickories, sweetgum, and elm. Areas along large rivers are commonly inhabited by baldcypress, water tupelo, water elm, and bitter pecan. Commonly cultivated trees include loblolly pine, longleaf pine, cherrybark oak, and cottonwood.

There are approximately 3000 species of vascular plants known from Mississippi.[15] As of 2018, a project funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation aims to update that checklist of plants with museum (herbarium) vouchers and create an online atlas of each species’s distribution.[16]

About 420 species of birds are known to inhabit Mississippi.

Mississippi has one of the richest fish faunas in the United States, with 204 native fish species.[17]

Mississippi also has a rich freshwater mussel fauna, with about 90 species in the primary family of native mussels (Unionidae).[18] Several of these species were extirpated during the construction of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

Mississippi is home to 63 crayfish species, including at least 17 endemic species.[19]

Mississippi is home to eight winter stonefly species.[20]

Ecological problems

Flooding

Due to seasonal flooding, possible from December to June, the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers and their tributaries created a fertile floodplain in the Mississippi Delta. The river’s flooding created natural levees, which planters had built higher to try to prevent flooding of land cultivated for cotton crops. Temporary workers built levees along the Mississippi River on top of the natural levees that formed from dirt deposited after the river flooded.

From 1858 to 1861, the state took over levee building, accomplishing it through contractors and hired labor. In those years, planters considered their slaves too valuable to hire out for such dangerous work. Contractors hired gangs of Irish immigrant laborers to build levees and sometimes clear land. Many of the Irish were relatively recent immigrants from the famine years who were struggling to get established.[21] Before the American Civil War, the earthwork levees averaged six feet in height, although in some areas they reached twenty feet.

Flooding has been an integral part of Mississippi history, but clearing of the land for cultivation and to supply wood fuel for steamboats took away the absorption of trees and undergrowth. The banks of the river were denuded, becoming unstable and changing the character of the river. After the Civil War, major floods swept down the valley in 1865, 1867, 1874 and 1882. Such floods regularly overwhelmed levees damaged by Confederate and Union fighting during the war, as well as those constructed after the war.[22] In 1877, the state created the Mississippi Levee District for southern counties.

In 1879, the United States Congress created the Mississippi River Commission, whose responsibilities included aiding state levee boards in the construction of levees. Both white and black transient workers were hired to build the levees in the late 19th century. By 1882, levees averaged seven feet in height, but many in the southern Delta were severely tested by the flood that year.[22] After the 1882 flood, the levee system was expanded. In 1884, the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee District was established to oversee levee construction and maintenance in the northern Delta counties; also included were some counties in Arkansas which were part of the Delta.[23]

Flooding overwhelmed northwestern Mississippi in 1912–1913, causing heavy damage to the levee districts. Regional losses and the Mississippi River Levee Association’s lobbying for a flood control bill helped gain passage of national bills in 1917 and 1923 to provide federal matching funds for local levee districts, on a scale of 2:1. Although U.S. participation in World War I interrupted funding of levees, the second round of funding helped raise the average height of levees in the Mississippi-Yazoo Delta to 22 feet (6.7 m) in the 1920s.[24] Scientists now understand the levees have increased the severity of flooding by increasing the flow speed of the river and reducing the area of the floodplains. The region was severely damaged due to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, which broke through the levees. There were losses of millions of dollars in property, stock and crops. The most damage occurred in the lower Delta, including Washington and Bolivar counties.[25]

Even as scientific knowledge about the Mississippi River has grown, upstream development and the consequences of the levees have caused more severe flooding in some years. Scientists now understand that the widespread clearing of land and building of the levees have changed the nature of the river. Such work removed the natural protection and absorption of wetlands and forest cover, strengthening the river’s current. The state and federal governments have been struggling for the best approaches to restore some natural habitats in order to best interact with the original riverine ecology.

History

Mississippi state symbols
Flag of Mississippi.svg

The Flag of Mississippi
Seal of Mississippi (2014–present).svg

The Seal of Mississippi
Living insignia
Bird Mockingbird (1944)
Wood duck (1974)
Butterfly Spicebush swallowtail (1991)
Fish Largemouth bass (1974)
Flower Magnolia (1952)
Coreopsis (tickseed) (1991)
Insect Honey bee (1980)
Mammal White-tailed deer (1974)
Red fox (1997)
Bottlenose dolphin (1974)
Reptile American alligator (2005)
Tree Magnolia (1938)
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk (1984)
Dance American folk dance (1995)
Fossil Basilosaurus (1981)
Zygorhiza (1981)
Rock Petrified wood (1976)
Shell Oyster (1974)
Slogan Virtute et armis
Soil Natchez silt loam (2003)
Song “Go, Mississippi” (1962)
Toy Teddy bear (2003)
Other Grand Opera House of Meridian (1993)
Tupelo Auto Museum (2003)
Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum (1972)
State route marker
Mississippi state route marker
State quarter
Mississippi quarter dollar coin

Released in 2002
Lists of United States state symbols

Near 10,000 BC Native Americans or Paleo-Indians arrived in what today is referred to as the American South.[26] Paleo-Indians in the South were hunter-gatherers who pursued the megafauna that became extinct following the end of the Pleistocene age. In the Mississippi Delta, Native American settlements and agricultural fields were developed on the natural levees, higher ground in the proximity of rivers. The Native Americans developed extensive fields near their permanent villages. Together with other practices, they created some localized deforestation but did not alter the ecology of the Mississippi Delta as a whole.[27]

After thousands of years, succeeding cultures of the Woodland and Mississippian culture eras developed rich and complex agricultural societies, in which surplus supported the development of specialized trades. Both were mound builder cultures. Those of the Mississippian culture were the largest and most complex, constructed beginning about 950CE. The peoples had a trading network spanning the continent from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast. Their large earthworks, which expressed their cosmology of political and religious concepts, still stand throughout the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys.

Choctaw Village near the Chefuncte, by Francois Bernard, 1869, Peabody Museum – Harvard University. The women are preparing dye in order to color cane strips for making baskets.

Descendant Native American tribes of the Mississippian culture in the Southeast include the Chickasaw and Choctaw. Other tribes who inhabited the territory of Mississippi (and whose names were honored by colonists in local towns) include the Natchez, the Yazoo, and the Biloxi.

The first major European expedition into the territory that became Mississippi was that of the Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto, who passed through the northeast part of the state in 1540, in his second expedition to the New World.

Colonial era

In April 1699, French colonists established the first European settlement at Fort Maurepas (also known as Old Biloxi), built in the vicinity of present-day Ocean Springs on the Gulf Coast. It was settled by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville. In 1716, the French founded Natchez on the Mississippi River (as Fort Rosalie); it became the dominant town and trading post of the area. The French called the greater territory “New France”; the Spanish continued to claim part of the Gulf coast area (east of Mobile Bay) of present-day southern Alabama, in addition to the entire area of present-day Florida.

Pushmataha, Choctaw Principal Chief

Through the 18th century, the area was ruled variously by Spanish, French, and British colonial governments. The colonists imported African slaves as laborers. Under French and Spanish rule, there developed a class of free people of color (gens de couleur libres), mostly multiracial descendants of European men and enslaved or free black women, and their mixed-race children. In the early days the French and Spanish colonists were chiefly men. Even as more European women joined the settlements, the men had interracial unions among women of African descent (and increasingly, multiracial descent), both before and after marriages to European women. Often the European men would help their multiracial children get educated or gain apprenticeships for trades, and sometimes they settled property on them; they often freed the mothers and their children if enslaved, as part of contracts of plaçage. With this social capital, the free people of color became artisans, and sometimes educated merchants and property owners, forming a third class between the Europeans and most enslaved Africans in the French and Spanish settlements, although not so large a free community as in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana.

After Great Britain’s victory in the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War), the French surrendered the Mississippi area to them under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1763). They also ceded their areas to the north that were east of the Mississippi River, including the Illinois Country and Quebec. After the Peace of Paris (1783), the lower third of Mississippi came under Spanish rule as part of West Florida. In 1819 the United States completed the purchase of West Florida and all of East Florida in the Adams–Onís Treaty, and in 1822 both were merged into the Florida Territory.

United States territory

After the American Revolution (1765–83), Britain ceded this area to the new United States of America. The Mississippi Territory was organized on April 7, 1798, from territory ceded by Georgia and South Carolina to the United States. Their original colonial charters theoretically extended west to the Pacific Ocean. The Mississippi Territory was later twice expanded to include disputed territory claimed by both the United States and Spain.

From 1800 to about 1830, the United States purchased some lands (Treaty of Doak’s Stand) from Native American tribes for new settlements of European Americans; they were mostly migrants from other Southern states, particularly Virginia and North Carolina, where soils were exhausted.[28] On September 27, 1830, the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed between the U.S. Government and the Choctaw. The Choctaw agreed to sell their traditional homelands in Mississippi and Alabama, for compensation and removal to reservations in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). This opened up land for sale to European-American immigrant settlement. Article 14 in the treaty allowed those Choctaw who chose to remain in the state to become U.S. citizens, as they were considered to be giving up their tribal membership. They were the second major non-European ethnic group to do so (the Cherokee were the first).[29][30] Today approximately 9,500 Choctaw live in Neshoba, Newton, Leake, and Jones counties. Federally recognized tribes include the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Many slaveholders brought slaves with them or purchased them through the domestic slave trade, especially in New Orleans. Through the trade, an estimated nearly one million slaves were transported to the Deep South, including Mississippi, in a forced internal migration that broke up many slave families of the Upper South, where planters were selling excess slaves. The Southerners imposed slave laws and restricted the rights of free blacks, according to their view of white supremacy.

Beginning in 1822, slaves in Mississippi were protected by law from cruel and unusual punishment by their owners.[31] The Southern slave codes made the willful killing of a slave illegal in most cases.[32] For example, the 1860 Mississippi case of Oliver v. State charged the defendant with murdering his own slave.[33]

The Big House at D’Evereux Plantation. Built in 1840, the mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Statehood, 1817–1861

On December 10, 1817, Mississippi was the 20th state admitted to the Union. David Holmes was elected as the first governor of the state.[34] At that time, the state was still occupied as ancestral land by several Native American tribes, including the Choctaw, Natchez, Houma, Creek, and Chickasaw peoples.[35][36]

Plantations were developed primarily along the major rivers, where the waterfront provided access to the major transportation routes. This is also where early towns developed, linked by the steamboats that carried commercial products and crops to markets. The remainder of Native American ancestral land remained largely undeveloped but was sold through treaties until 1826, when the Choctaws and Chickasaws refused to sell more land.[37]
The combination of the Mississippi state legislature’s abolition of Choctaw Tribal Government in 1829,[38] President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act and the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek[39] of 1830, the Choctaw were effectively forced to sell their land and were transported to Oklahoma Territory. The forced migration of the Choctaw, together with other southeastern tribes removed as a result of the Act, became known as the Trail of Tears.

When cotton was king during the 1850s, Mississippi plantation owners—especially those of the Delta and Black Belt central regions—became wealthy due to the high fertility of the soil, the high price of cotton on the international market, and free labor gained through their holding enslaved African Americans. They used some of their profits to buy more cotton land and more slaves. The planters’ dependence on hundreds of thousands of slaves for labor and the severe wealth imbalances among whites, played strong roles both in state politics and in planters’ support for secession. Mississippi was a slave society, with the economy dependent on slavery. The state was thinly settled, with population concentrated in the riverfront areas and towns.

By 1860, the enslaved African-American population numbered 436,631 or 55% of the state’s total of 791,305 persons. Fewer than 1000 were free people of color.[40] The relatively low population of the state before the Civil War reflected the fact that land and villages were developed only along the riverfronts, which formed the main transportation corridors. Ninety percent of the Delta bottomlands were still frontier and undeveloped.[41] The state needed many more settlers for development. The land further away from the rivers was cleared by freedmen and white migrants during Reconstruction and later.[41]

Civil War to 20th century

Confederate dead after the Battle of Corinth. Photo taken October 5, 1862

The legislature of the State of Mississippi in 1890

On January 9, 1861, Mississippi became the second state to declare its secession from the Union, and it was one of the founding members of the Confederate States. The first six states to secede were those with the highest number of slaves. During the war, Union and Confederate forces struggled for dominance on the Mississippi River, critical to supply routes and commerce. More than 80,000 Mississippians fought in the Civil War, and casualties were extremely heavy. Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s long siege of Vicksburg finally gained the Union control of the river in 1863.

In the postwar period, freedmen withdrew from white-run churches to set up independent congregations. The majority of blacks left the Southern Baptist Church, sharply reducing its membership. They created independent black Baptist congregations. By 1895 they had established numerous black Baptist state associations and the National Baptist Convention of black churches.[42]

In addition, independent black denominations, such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church (established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the early 19th century) and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (established in New York City), sent missionaries to the South in the postwar years. They quickly attracted hundreds of thousands of converts and founded new churches across the South. Southern congregations brought their own influences to those denominations as well.[42][43]

During Reconstruction, the first Mississippi constitutional convention in 1868, with delegates both black and white, framed a constitution whose major elements would be maintained for 22 years.[44] The convention was the first political organization in the state to include African-American representatives, 17 among the 100 members (32 counties had black majorities at the time). Some among the black delegates were freedmen, but others were educated free blacks who had migrated from the North. The convention adopted universal suffrage; did away with property qualifications for suffrage or for office, a change that also benefited both blacks and poor whites; provided for the state’s first public school system; forbade race distinctions in the possession and inheritance of property; and prohibited limiting civil rights in travel.[44] Under the terms of Reconstruction, Mississippi was restored to the Union on February 23, 1870.

Because the Mississippi Delta contained so much fertile bottomland that had not been developed before the Civil War, 90 percent of the land was still frontier. After the Civil War, tens of thousands of migrants were attracted to the area by higher wages offered by planters trying to develop land. In addition, black and white workers could earn money by clearing the land and selling timber, and eventually advance to ownership. The new farmers included many freedmen, who by the late 19th century achieved unusually high rates of land ownership in the Mississippi bottomlands. In the 1870s and 1880s, many black farmers succeeded in gaining land ownership.[41]

Around the start of the 20th century, two-thirds of the Mississippi farmers who owned land in the Delta were African American.[41] But many had become overextended with debt during the falling cotton prices of the difficult years of the late 19th century. Cotton prices fell throughout the decades following the Civil War. As another agricultural depression lowered cotton prices into the 1890s, numerous African-American farmers finally had to sell their land to pay off debts, thus losing the land which they had developed by hard, personal labor.[41]

Democrats had regained control of the state legislature in 1875, after a year of expanded violence against blacks and intimidation of whites in what was called the “white line” campaign, based on asserting white supremacy. Democratic whites were well armed and formed paramilitary organizations such as the Red Shirts to suppress black voting. From 1874 to the elections of 1875, they pressured whites to join the Democrats, and conducted violence against blacks in at least 15 known “riots” in cities around the state to intimidate blacks. They killed a total of 150 blacks, although other estimates place the death toll at twice as many. A total of three white Republicans and five white Democrats were reported killed. In rural areas, deaths of blacks could be covered up. Riots (better described as massacres of blacks) took place in Vicksburg, Clinton, Macon, and in their counties, as well-armed whites broke up black meetings and lynched known black leaders, destroying local political organizations.[45] Seeing the success of this deliberate “Mississippi Plan”, South Carolina and other states followed it and also achieved white Democratic dominance. In 1877 by a national compromise, the last of federal troops were withdrawn from the region.

Even in this environment, black Mississippians continued to be elected to local office. However, black residents were deprived of all political power after white legislators passed a new state constitution in 1890 specifically to “eliminate the nigger from politics”, according to the state’s Democratic governor, James K. Vardaman.[46] It erected barriers to voter registration and instituted electoral provisions that effectively disenfranchised most black Mississippians and many poor whites. Estimates are that 100,000 black and 50,000 white men were removed from voter registration rolls in the state over the next few years.[47]

The loss of political influence contributed to the difficulties of African Americans in their attempts to obtain extended credit in the late 19th century. Together with imposition of Jim Crow and racial segregation laws, whites increased violence against blacks, lynching mostly men, through the period of the 1890s and extending to 1930. Cotton crops failed due to boll weevil infestation and successive severe flooding in 1912 and 1913, creating crisis conditions for many African Americans. With control of the ballot box and more access to credit, white planters bought out such farmers, expanding their ownership of Delta bottomlands. They also took advantage of new railroads sponsored by the state.[41]

Child workers, Pass Christian, 1911, by Lewis Hine

20th century to present

In 1900, blacks made up more than half of the state’s population. By 1910, a majority of black farmers in the Delta had lost their land and become sharecroppers. By 1920, the third generation after freedom, most African Americans in Mississippi were landless laborers again facing poverty.[41] Starting about 1913, tens of thousands of black Americans left Mississippi for the North in the Great Migration to industrial cities such as St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia and New York. They sought jobs, better education for their children, the right to vote, relative freedom from discrimination, and better living. In the migration of 1910–1940, they left a society that had been steadily closing off opportunity. Most migrants from Mississippi took trains directly north to Chicago and often settled near former neighbors.

Blacks also faced violence in the form of lynching, shooting, and the burning of churches. In 1923, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People stated “the Negro feels that life is not safe in Mississippi and his life may be taken with impunity at any time upon the slightest pretext or provocation by a white man”.[48]

Dancing at a juke joint near Clarksdale, Mississippi, in 1939, by Marion Post Wolcott.

In the early 20th century, some industries were established in Mississippi, but jobs were generally restricted to whites, including child workers. The lack of jobs also drove some southern whites north to cities such as Chicago and Detroit, seeking employment, where they also competed with European immigrants. The state depended on agriculture, but mechanization put many farm laborers out of work.

By 1900, many white ministers, especially in the towns, subscribed to the Social Gospel movement, which attempted to apply Christian ethics to social and economic needs of the day. Many strongly supported Prohibition, believing it would help alleviate and prevent many sins.[49]

African-American Baptist churches grew to include more than twice the number of members as their white Baptist counterparts. The African-American call for social equality resonated throughout the Great Depression in the 1930s and World War II in the 1940s.

The Second Great Migration from the South started in the 1940s, lasting until 1970. Almost half a million people left Mississippi in the second migration, three-quarters of them black. Nationwide during the first half of the 20th century, African Americans became rapidly urbanized and many worked in industrial jobs. The Second Great Migration included destinations in the West, especially California, where the buildup of the defense industry offered higher paying jobs to both African Americans and whites.

Blacks and whites in Mississippi generated rich, quintessentially American music traditions: gospel music, country music, jazz, blues and rock and roll. All were invented, promulgated or heavily developed by Mississippi musicians, many of them African American, and most came from the Mississippi Delta. Many musicians carried their music north to Chicago, where they made it the heart of that city’s jazz and blues.

So many African Americans left in the Great Migration that after the 1930s, they became a minority in Mississippi. In 1960 they made up 42% of the state’s population.[50] The whites maintained their discriminatory voter registration processes established in 1890, preventing most blacks from voting, even if they were well educated. Court challenges were not successful until later in the century. After World War II, African-American veterans returned with renewed commitment to be treated as full citizens of the United States and increasingly organized to gain enforcement of their constitutional rights.

The Civil Rights Movement had many roots in religion, and the strong community of churches helped supply volunteers and moral purpose for their activism. Mississippi was a center of activity, based in black churches, to educate and register black voters, and to work for integration. In 1954 the state had created the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, a tax-supported agency, chaired by the Governor, that claimed to work for the state’s image but effectively spied on activists and passed information to the local White Citizens’ Councils to suppress black activism. White Citizens Councils had been formed in many cities and towns to resist integration of schools following the unanimous 1954 United States Supreme Court ruling (Brown v. Board of Education) that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional. They used intimidation and economic blackmail against activists and suspected activists, including teachers and other professionals. Techniques included loss of jobs and eviction from rental housing.

In the summer of 1964 students and community organizers from across the country came to help register black voters in Mississippi and establish Freedom Schools. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party was established to challenge the all-white Democratic Party of the Solid South. Most white politicians resisted such changes. Chapters of the Ku Klux Klan and its sympathizers used violence against activists, most notably the murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner in 1964 during the Freedom Summer campaign. This was a catalyst for Congressional passage the following year of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Mississippi earned a reputation in the 1960s as a reactionary state.[51][52]

After decades of disenfranchisement, African Americans in the state gradually began to exercise their right to vote again for the first time since the 19th century, following the passage of federal civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965, which ended de jure segregation and enforced constitutional voting rights. Registration of African-American voters increased and black candidates ran in the 1967 elections for state and local offices. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party fielded some candidates. Teacher Robert G. Clark of Holmes County was the first African American to be elected to the State House since Reconstruction. He continued as the only African American in the state legislature until 1976 and was repeatedly elected into the 21st century, including three terms as Speaker of the House.[53]

In 1966, the state was the last to repeal officially statewide prohibition of alcohol. Before that, Mississippi had taxed the illegal alcohol brought in by bootleggers. Governor Paul Johnson urged repeal and the sheriff “raided the annual Junior League Mardi Gras ball at the Jackson Country Club, breaking open the liquor cabinet and carting off the Champagne before a startled crowd of nobility and high-ranking state officials”.[54]

On August 17, 1969, Category 5 Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi coast, killing 248 people and causing US$1.5 billion in damage (1969 dollars).

Mississippi was the last state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, in March 1984, granting women the right to vote.[55]

In 1987, 20 years after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in 1967’s Loving v. Virginia that a similar Virginian law was unconstitutional, Mississippi repealed its ban on interracial marriage (also known as miscegenation), which had been enacted in 1890. It also repealed the segregationist-era poll tax in 1989. In 1995, the state symbolically ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, which had abolished slavery in 1865. Though ratified in 1995, the state never officially notified the U.S. archivist, which kept the ratification unofficial until 2013, when Ken Sullivan contacted the office of Secretary of State of Mississippi, Delbert Hosemann, who agreed to file the paperwork and make it official.[56][57][58] In 2009, the legislature passed a bill to repeal other discriminatory civil rights laws, which had been enacted in 1964, the same year as the federal Civil Rights Act, but ruled unconstitutional in 1967 by federal courts. Republican Governor Haley Barbour signed the bill into law.[59]

The end of legal segregation and Jim Crow led to the integration of some churches, but most today remain divided along racial and cultural lines, having developed different traditions. After the Civil War, most African Americans left white churches to establish their own independent congregations, particularly Baptist churches, establishing state associations and a national association by the end of the century. They wanted to express their own traditions of worship and practice.[60] In more diverse communities, such as Hattiesburg, some churches have multiracial congregations.[61]

Hurricane Katrina approaching the Gulf Coast on August 28, 2005.

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina, though a Category 3 storm upon final landfall, caused even greater destruction across the entire 90 miles (145 km) of the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 7,600
1810 31,306 311.9%
1820 75,448 141.0%
1830 136,621 81.1%
1840 375,651 175.0%
1850 606,526 61.5%
1860 791,305 30.5%
1870 827,922 4.6%
1880 1,131,597 36.7%
1890 1,289,600 14.0%
1900 1,551,270 20.3%
1910 1,797,114 15.8%
1920 1,790,618 −0.4%
1930 2,009,821 12.2%
1940 2,183,796 8.7%
1950 2,178,914 −0.2%
1960 2,178,141 0.0%
1970 2,216,912 1.8%
1980 2,520,638 13.7%
1990 2,573,216 2.1%
2000 2,844,658 10.5%
2010 2,967,297 4.3%
Est. 2018 2,986,530 0.6%
Source: 1910–2010[62]
2018 estimate[63]

The center of population of Mississippi is located in Leake County, in the town of Lena.[64]

Mississippi population density map

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Mississippi was 2,986,530 on July 1, 2018, a 0.65% increase since the 2010 United States Census.[63] The state’s economist characterized the state as losing population as job markets elsewhere have caused 3.2 per 1000 to migrate recently.[65]

From 2000 to 2010, the United States Census Bureau reported that Mississippi had the highest rate of increase in people identifying as mixed-race, up 70 percent in the decade; it amounts to a total of 1.1 percent of the population.[61] In addition, Mississippi led the nation for most of the last decade in the growth of mixed marriages among its population. The total population has not increased significantly, but is young. Some of the above change in identification as mixed race is due to new births. But, it appears mostly to reflect those residents who have chosen to identify as more than one race, who in earlier years may have identified by just one ethnicity. A binary racial system had been in place since slavery times and the days of racial segregation. In the civil rights era, people of African descent banded together in an inclusive community to achieve political power and gain restoration of their civil rights.

As the demographer William Frey noted, “In Mississippi, I think it’s [identifying as mixed race] changed from within.”[61] Historically in Mississippi, after Indian removal in the 1830s, the major groups were designated as black (African American), who were then mostly enslaved, and white (primarily European American). Matthew Snipp, also a demographer, commented on the increase in the 21st century in the number of people identifying as being of more than one race: “In a sense, they’re rendering a more accurate portrait of their racial heritage that in the past would have been suppressed.”[61]

After having comprised a majority of the state’s population since well before the Civil War and through the 1930s, today African Americans comprise approximately 37 percent of the state’s population. Most have ancestors who were enslaved, with many forcibly transported from the Upper South in the 19th century to work on the area’s new plantations. Some of these slaves were mixed race, with European ancestors, as there were many children born into slavery with white fathers. Some also have Native American ancestry.[66] During the first half of the 20th century, a total of nearly 400,000 African Americans left the state during the Great Migration, for opportunities in the North, Midwest and West. They became a minority in the state for the first time since early in its development.

The state has had conservative laws related to sexuality. The state’s sodomy law criminalized consensual sex between adults of the same gender until 2003 (but was seldom enforced),[citation needed] when such laws were voided by the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas. In 2004, voters in Mississippi approved Amendment 1, amending the state’s constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage; the measure passed with 86% of the vote, the highest margin of victory in the nation. This law was overturned by Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court making same-sex marriage a constitutional right.[67]

Despite conservative laws, same-sex couples were forming families in the state. According to the 2010 census, approximately 33% of households led by same-sex couples in Mississippi included at least one child, the highest such percentage in the nation.[68]

Ancestry

At the 2010 U.S. census, the racial makeup of the population was:

  • 59.1% White American (58.0% non-Hispanic white, 1.1% White Hispanic)
  • 37.0% African American or Black
  • 0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native
  • 0.9% Asian American
  • 1.1% Multiracial American
  • 1.4% Other

Ethnically, 2.7% of the total population, among all racial groups, was of Hispanic or Latino origin (they may be of any race).[69] As of 2011, 53.8% of Mississippi’s population younger than age 1 were minorities, meaning that they had at least one parent who was not non-Hispanic white.[70] For more information on racial and ethnic classifications in the United States see race and ethnicity in the United States Census.

Mississippi Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1990[71] 2000[72] 2010[73]
White 63.5% 61.4% 59.1%
Black 35.6% 36.3% 37.0%
Asian 0.5% 0.7% 0.9%
Native 0.3% 0.4% 0.5%
Other race 0.1% 0.5% 1.3%
Two or more races 0.7% 1.2%

Americans of Scots-Irish, English and Scottish ancestry are present throughout the state. It is believed that there are more people with such ancestry than identify as such on the census, in part because their immigrant ancestors are more distant in their family histories. English, Scottish and Scots-Irish are generally the most under-reported ancestry groups in both the South Atlantic States and the East South Central States. The historian David Hackett Fischer estimated that a minimum 20% of Mississippi’s population is of English ancestry, though the figure is probably much higher, and another large percentage is of Scottish ancestry. Many Mississippians of such ancestry identify simply as American on questionnaires, because their families have been in North America for centuries.[74][75] In the 1980 census 656,371 Mississippians of a total of 1,946,775 identified as being of English ancestry, making them 38% of the state at the time.[76]

The state in 2010 had the highest proportion of African Americans in the nation. The African-American percentage of population has begun to increase due mainly to a younger population than the whites (the total fertility rates of the two races are approximately equal). Due to patterns of settlement and whites putting their children in private schools, in almost all of Mississippi’s public school districts, a majority of students are African American. African Americans are the majority ethnic group in the northwestern Yazoo Delta, and the southwestern and the central parts of the state. These are areas where, historically, African Americans owned land as farmers in the 19th century following the Civil War, or worked on cotton plantations and farms.[77]

People of French Creole ancestry form the largest demographic group in Hancock County on the Gulf Coast. The African-American; Choctaw, mostly in Neshoba County; and Chinese-American portions of the population are also almost entirely native born.

Chinese came to Mississippi as indentured laborers from Cuba during the 1870s, with others coming from mainland China in the later 19th century. The majority entering the state immigrated directly from China to Mississippi between 1910 and 1930, when they were recruited by planters as laborers. While most first worked as sharecroppers, the Chinese worked as families to improve their lives. Many became small merchants and especially grocers in small towns throughout the Delta.[78] In these roles, the ethnic Chinese carved out a niche in the state between black and white, where they were concentrated in the Delta. These small towns have declined since the late 20th century, and many ethnic Chinese have joined the exodus to larger cities, including Jackson. Their population in the state overall has increased in the 21st century.[79][80][81]

In the early 1980s many Vietnamese immigrated to Mississippi and other states along the Gulf of Mexico, where they became employed in fishing-related work.[82]

Language

In 2000, 96.4% of Mississippi residents five years old and older spoke only English in the home, a decrease from 97.2% in 1990.[83] English is largely Southern American English, with some South Midland speech in northern and eastern Mississippi. There is a common absence of final /r/ and the lengthening and weakening of the diphthongs /aɪ/ and /ɔɪ/ 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).[83]

Top 10 Non-English Languages Spoken in Mississippi
Language Percentage of population
(as of 2010)[84]
Spanish 1.9%
French 0.4%
German, Vietnamese, and Choctaw (tied) 0.2%
Korean, Chinese, Tagalog, Italian (tied) 0.1%
Arabic 0.0%

Religion

Under French and Spanish rule beginning in the 17th century, European colonists were mostly Roman Catholics. The growth of the cotton culture after 1815 brought in tens of thousands of Anglo-American settlers each year, most of whom were Protestants from Southeastern states. Due to such migration, there was rapid growth in the number of Protestant churches, especially Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist.[85]

Liberty Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist church, the largest Protestant denomination in Mississippi, in Liberty (Amite County), Mississippi

The revivals of the Great Awakening in the late 18th and early 19th centuries initially attracted the “plain folk” by reaching out to all members of society, including women and blacks. Both slaves and free blacks were welcomed into Methodist and Baptist churches. Independent black Baptist churches were established before 1800 in Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Georgia, and later developed in Mississippi as well.

In the post-Civil War years, religion became more influential as the South became known as the “Bible Belt”.

Since the 1970s, fundamentalist conservative churches have grown rapidly, fueling Mississippi’s conservative political trends among whites.[85] In 1973 the Presbyterian Church in America attracted numerous conservative congregations. As of 2010 Mississippi remained a stronghold of the denomination, which originally was brought by Scots immigrants. The state has the highest adherence rate of the PCA in 2010, with 121 congregations and 18,500 members. It is among the few states where the PCA has higher membership than the PC(USA).[86]
According to the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), in 2010 the Southern Baptist Convention had 907,384 adherents and was the largest religious denomination in the state, followed by the United Methodist Church with 204,165, and the Roman Catholic Church with 112,488.[87] Other religions have a small presence in Mississippi; as of 2010, there were 5,012 Muslims; 4,389 Hindus; and 816 Bahá’í.[87]

Public opinion polls have consistently ranked Mississippi as the most religious state in the United States, with 59% of Mississippians considering themselves “very religious”. The same survey also found that 11% of the population were non-Religious.[88] In a 2009 Gallup poll, 63% of Mississippians said that they attended church weekly or almost weekly – the highest percentage of all states (U.S. average was 42%, and the lowest percentage was in Vermont at 23%).[89] Another 2008 Gallup poll found that 85% of Mississippians considered religion an important part of their daily lives, the highest figure among all states (U.S. average 65%).[90]

Religious affiliation in Mississippi (2014)[91]
Affiliation % of Mississippi population
Christian 83 83

 
Protestant 77 77

 
Evangelical Protestant 41 41

 
Mainline Protestant 12 12

 
Black church 24 24

 
Catholic 4 4

 
Mormon 1 1

 
Jehovah’s Witnesses 0.5 0.5

 
Eastern Orthodox 0.5 0.5

 
Other Christian 0.5 0.5

 
Unaffiliated 14 14

 
Nothing in particular 11 11

 
Agnostic 3 3

 
Atheist 1 1

 
Non-Christian faiths 2 2

 
Jewish 0.5 0.5

 
Muslim 0.5 0.5

 
Buddhist 0.5 0.5

 
Hindu 0.5 0.5

 
Other Non-Christian faiths 0.5 0.5

 
Don’t know/refused answer 1 1

 
Total 100 100

 

Birth data

Note: Births in table don’t add up, because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.

Live Births by Single Race/Ethnicity of Mother
Race 2013[92] 2014[93] 2015[94] 2016[95] 2017[96]
White: 20,818 (53.9%) 20,894 (53.9%) 20,730 (54.0%)
> Non-Hispanic White 19,730 (51.0%) 19,839 (51.3%) 19,635 (51.1%) 19,411 (51.2%) 18,620 (49.8%)
Black 17,020 (44.0%) 17,036 (44.0%) 16,846 (43.9%) 15,879 (41.9%) 16,087 (43.1%)
Asian 504 (1.3%) 583 (1.5%) 559 (1.5%) 475 (1.3%) 502 (1.3%)
American Indian 292 (0.7%) 223 (0.6%) 259 (0.7%) 215 (0.6%) 225 (0.6%)
Hispanic (of any race) 1,496 (3.9%) 1,547 (4.0%) 1,613 (4.2%) 1,664 (4.4%) 1,650 (4.4%)
Total Mississippi 38,634 (100%) 38,736 (100%) 38,394 (100%) 37,928 (100%) 37,357 (100%)
  • Since 2016, data for births of White Hispanic origin are not collected, but included in one Hispanic group; persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

LGBT

The 2010 United States Census counted 6,286 same-sex unmarried-partner households in Mississippi, an increase of 1,512 since the 2000 United States census.[97] 33% contained at least one child, giving Mississippi the distinction of leading the nation in the percentage of same-sex couples raising children.[98] Mississippi has the largest percentage of African-American same-sex couples among total households. The state capital, Jackson, ranks tenth in the nation in concentration of African-American same-sex couples. The state ranks fifth in the nation in the percentage of Hispanic same-sex couples among all Hispanic households and ninth in the highest concentration of same-sex couples who are seniors.[99] With the passing of HB 1523 in April 2016, from July it became legal in Mississippi to refuse service to same-sex couples, based on one’s religious beliefs.[100][101] The bill has become the subject of controversy.[102] A federal judge blocked the law in July,[103] however it was challenged and a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the law in October 2017.[104][105]

Health

The state is ranked 50th or last place among all the states for health care, according to the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit foundation working to advance performance of the health care system.[106]

Mississippi has the highest rate of infant and neonatal deaths of any U.S. state. Age-adjusted data also shows Mississippi has the highest overall death rate, and the highest death rate from heart disease, hypertension and hypertensive renal disease, influenza and pneumonia.[107]

In 2011, Mississippi (and Arkansas) had the fewest dentists in the United States.[108]

For three years in a row, more than 30 percent of Mississippi’s residents have been classified as obese. In a 2006 study, 22.8 percent of the state’s children were classified as such. Mississippi had the highest rate of obesity of any U.S. state from 2005 to 2008, and also ranks first in the nation for high blood pressure, diabetes, and adult inactivity.[109][110] In a 2008 study of African-American women, contributing risk factors were shown to be: lack of knowledge about body mass index (BMI), dietary behavior, physical inactivity and lack of social support, defined as motivation and encouragement by friends.[111] A 2002 report on African-American adolescents noted a 1999 survey which suggests that a third of children were obese, with higher ratios for those in the Delta.[112]

The study stressed that “obesity starts in early childhood extending into the adolescent years and then possibly into adulthood.” It noted impediments to needed behavioral modification, including the Delta likely being “the most underserved region in the state” with African Americans the major ethnic group; lack of accessibility and availability of medical care; and an estimated 60% of residents living below the poverty level.[112] Additional risk factors were that most schools had no physical education curriculum and nutrition education is not emphasized. Previous intervention strategies may have been largely ineffective due to not being culturally sensitive or practical.[112] A 2006 survey found nearly 95 percent of Mississippi adults considered childhood obesity to be a serious problem.[113]

Economy

A Mississippi U.S. quarter

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Mississippi’s total state product in 2010 was $98 billion.[114] GDP growth was .5 percent in 2015 and is estimated to be 2.4 in 2016 according to Dr. Darrin Webb, the state’s chief economist, who noted it would make two consecutive years of positive growth since the recession.[115] Per capita personal income in 2006 was $26,908, the lowest per capita personal income of any state, but the state also has the nation’s lowest living costs. 2015 data records the adjusted per capita personal income at $40,105.[115] Mississippians consistently rank as one of the highest per capita in charitable contributions.[116]

At 56 percent, the state has one of the lowest workforce participation rates in the country. Approximately 70,000 adults are disabled, which is 10 percent of the workforce.[115]

Mississippi’s rank as one of the poorest states is related to its dependence on cotton agriculture before and after the Civil War, late development of its frontier bottomlands in the Mississippi Delta, repeated natural disasters of flooding in the late 19th and early 20th century that required massive capital investment in levees, and ditching and draining the bottomlands, and slow development of railroads to link bottomland towns and river cities.[117] In addition, when Democrats regained control of the state legislature, they passed the 1890 constitution that discouraged corporate industrial development in favor of rural agriculture, a legacy that would slow the state’s progress for years.[118]

Before the Civil War, Mississippi was the fifth-wealthiest state in the nation, its wealth generated by the labor of slaves in cotton plantations along the rivers.[119]
Slaves were counted as property and the rise in the cotton markets since the 1840s had increased their value. By 1860, a majority – 55 percent – of the population of Mississippi was enslaved.[120] Ninety percent of the Delta bottomlands were undeveloped and the state had low overall density of population.

Sharecropper’s daughter, Lauderdale County, 1935

Largely due to the domination of the plantation economy, focused on the production of agricultural cotton, the state’s elite was reluctant to invest in infrastructure such as roads and railroads. They educated their children privately. Industrialization did not reach many areas until the late 20th century. The planter aristocracy, the elite of antebellum Mississippi, kept the tax structure low for their own benefit, making only private improvements. Before the war the most successful planters, such as Confederate President Jefferson Davis, owned riverside properties along the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers in the Mississippi Delta. Away from the riverfronts, most of the Delta was undeveloped frontier.

During the Civil War, 30,000 Mississippi soldiers, mostly white, died from wounds and disease, and many more were left crippled and wounded. Changes to the labor structure and an agricultural depression throughout the South caused severe losses in wealth. In 1860 assessed valuation of property in Mississippi had been more than $500 million, of which $218 million (43 percent) was estimated as the value of slaves. By 1870, total assets had decreased in value to roughly $177 million.[121]

Poor whites and landless former slaves suffered the most from the postwar economic depression. The constitutional convention of early 1868 appointed a committee to recommend what was needed for relief of the state and its citizens. The committee found severe destitution among the laboring classes.[122] It took years for the state to rebuild levees damaged in battles. The upset of the commodity system impoverished the state after the war. By 1868 an increased cotton crop began to show possibilities for free labor in the state, but the crop of 565,000 bales produced in 1870 was still less than half of prewar figures.[123]

Blacks cleared land, selling timber and developing bottomland to achieve ownership. In 1900, two-thirds of farm owners in Mississippi were blacks, a major achievement for them and their families. Due to the poor economy, low cotton prices and difficulty of getting credit, many of these farmers could not make it through the extended financial difficulties. Two decades later, the majority of African Americans were sharecroppers. The low prices of cotton into the 1890s meant that more than a generation of African Americans lost the result of their labor when they had to sell their farms to pay off accumulated debts.[41]

After the Civil War, the state refused for years to build human capital by fully educating all its citizens. In addition, the reliance on agriculture grew increasingly costly as the state suffered loss of cotton crops due to the devastation of the boll weevil in the early 20th century, devastating floods in 1912–1913 and 1927, collapse of cotton prices after 1920, and drought in 1930.[117]

It was not until 1884, after the flood of 1882, that the state created the Mississippi-Yazoo Delta District Levee Board and started successfully achieving longer term plans for levees in the upper Delta.[23] Despite the state’s building and reinforcing levees for years, the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 broke through and caused massive flooding of 27,000 square miles (70,000 km2) throughout the Delta, homelessness for hundreds of thousands, and millions of dollars in property damages. With the Depression coming so soon after the flood, the state suffered badly during those years. In the Great Migration, hundreds of thousands of African Americans migrated North and West for jobs and chances to live as full citizens.

Entertainment and tourism

The legislature’s 1990 decision to legalize casino gambling along the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast has led to increased revenues and economic gains for the state. Gambling towns in Mississippi have attracted increased tourism: they include the Gulf Coast resort towns of Bay St. Louis, Gulfport and Biloxi, and the Mississippi River towns of Tunica (the third largest gaming area in the United States), Greenville, Vicksburg and Natchez.

Before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Mississippi was the second-largest gambling state in the Union, after Nevada and ahead of New Jersey.[citation needed] An estimated $500,000 per day in tax revenue was lost following Hurricane Katrina’s severe damage to several coastal casinos in Biloxi in August 2005.[124] Because of the destruction from this hurricane, on October 17, 2005, Governor Haley Barbour signed a bill into law that allows casinos in Hancock and Harrison counties to rebuild on land (but within 800 feet (240 m) of the water). The only exception is in Harrison County, where the new law states that casinos can be built to the southern boundary of U.S. Route 90.[citation needed]

In 2012, Mississippi had the sixth largest gambling revenue of any state, with $2.25 billion.[125] The federally recognized Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has established a gaming casino on its reservation, which yields revenue to support education and economic development.[citation needed]

Momentum Mississippi, a statewide, public–private partnership dedicated to the development of economic and employment opportunities in Mississippi, was adopted in 2005.[126]

Manufacturing

2014 Toyota Corolla built by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi on display at the Tupelo Automobile Museum

Mississippi, like the rest of its southern neighbors, is a right-to-work state. It has some major automotive factories, such as the Toyota Mississippi Plant in Blue Springs and a Nissan Automotive plant in Canton. The latter produces the Nissan Titan.

Taxation

Mississippi collects personal income tax in three tax brackets, ranging from 3% to 5%. The retail sales tax rate in Mississippi is 7%. Tupelo levies a local sales tax of 2.5%.[127] State sales tax growth was 1.4 percent in 2016 and estimated to be slightly less in 2017.[115] For purposes of assessment for ad valorem taxes, taxable property is divided into five classes.[128]

On August 30, 2007, a report by the United States Census Bureau indicated that Mississippi was the poorest state in the country. Major cotton farmers in the Delta have large, mechanized plantations, and they receive the majority of extensive federal subsidies going to the state, yet many other residents still live as poor, rural, landless laborers. The state’s sizable poultry industry has faced similar challenges in its transition from family-run farms to large mechanized operations.[129] Of $1.2 billion from 2002 to 2005 in federal subsidies to farmers in the Bolivar County area of the Delta, only 5% went to small farmers. There has been little money apportioned for rural development. Small towns are struggling. More than 100,000 people have left the region in search of work elsewhere.[130] The state had a median household income of $34,473.[131]

As of December 2018, the state’s unemployment rate was 4.7%, the seventh highest in the country after Arizona (4.9%), Louisiana (4.9%), New Mexico (5.0%), West Virginia (5.1%), District of Columbia (5.4%) and Alaska (6.5%).[132]

Federal subsidies and spending

With Mississippi’s fiscal conservatism, in which Medicaid, welfare, food stamps, and other social programs are often cut, eligibility requirements are tightened, and stricter employment criteria are imposed, Mississippi ranks as having the second-highest ratio of spending to tax receipts of any state. In 2005, Mississippi citizens received approximately $2.02 per dollar of taxes in the way of federal spending. This ranks the state 2nd highest nationally, and represents an increase from 1995, when Mississippi received $1.54 per dollar of taxes in federal spending and was 3rd highest nationally.[133] This figure is based on federal spending after large portions of the state were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, requiring large amounts of federal aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). However, from 1981 to 2005, it was at least number four in the nation for federal spending vs. taxes received.[134]

A proportion of federal spending in Mississippi is directed toward large federal installations such as Camp Shelby, John C. Stennis Space Center, Meridian Naval Air Station, Columbus Air Force Base, and Keesler Air Force Base. Three of these installations are located in the area affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Politics and government

Five Governors of Mississippi in 1976, from left to right: Ross Barnett, James P. Coleman, William L. Waller, John Bell Williams, and Paul B. Johnson Jr.

As with all other U.S. states and the federal government, Mississippi’s government is based on the separation of legislative, executive and judicial power. Executive authority in the state rests with the Governor, currently Phil Bryant (R). The Lieutenant Governor, currently Tate Reeves (R), is elected on a separate ballot. Both the governor and lieutenant governor are elected to four-year terms of office. Unlike the federal government, but like many other U.S. States, most of the heads of major executive departments are elected by the citizens of Mississippi rather than appointed by the governor.

Mississippi is one of five states that elects its state officials in odd-numbered years (the others are Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey and Virginia). Mississippi holds elections for these offices every four years, always in the year preceding Presidential elections.

Laws

In 2004, Mississippi voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and prohibiting Mississippi from recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The amendment passed 86% to 14%, the largest margin in any state.[135][136] Same-sex marriage became legal in Mississippi on June 26, 2015, when the United States Supreme Court invalidated all state-level bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional in the landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges.[137]

Mississippi is one of 31 states which have capital punishment as a legal sentence (see Capital punishment in Mississippi).

Section 265 of the Constitution of the State of Mississippi declares that “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.”[138] This religious test restriction was held to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Torcaso v. Watkins (1961).

Political alignment

Treemap of the popular vote by county, 2016 presidential election.

Mississippi led the South in developing a disfranchising constitution, passing it in 1890. By raising barriers to voter registration, the state legislature disenfranchised most blacks and many poor whites, excluding them from politics until the late 1960s. It established a one-party state dominated by white Democrats.

In the 1980s whites divided evenly between the parties. In the 1990s those voters shifted their allegiance to the Republican Party, first for national and then for state offices.[139] Most blacks were still disenfranchised under the state’s 1890 constitution and discriminatory practices, until passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and concerted grassroots efforts to achieve registration and encourage voting.

Transportation

Air

Mississippi has six airports with commercial passenger service, the busiest in Jackson (Jackson-Evers International Airport) and one in Gulfport (Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport)

Roads

The Vicksburg Bridge carries I-20 and U.S. 80 across the Mississippi River at Vicksburg.

Mississippi is served by nine interstate highways:

and fourteen main U.S. Routes:

as well as a system of State Highways.

Rail

Passenger

Amtrak provides scheduled passenger service along two routes, the Crescent and City of New Orleans. Prior to severe damage from Hurricane Katrina, the Sunset Limited traversed the far south of the state; the route originated in Los Angeles, California and it terminated in Florida.

Freight

All but two of the United States Class I railroads serve Mississippi (the exceptions are the Union Pacific and Canadian Pacific):

  • Canadian National Railway’s Illinois Central Railroad subsidiary provides north-south service.
  • BNSF Railway has a northwest-southeast line across northern Mississippi.
  • Kansas City Southern Railway provides east-west service in the middle of the state and north-south service along the Alabama state line.
  • Norfolk Southern Railway provides service in the extreme north and southeast.
  • CSX has a line along the Gulf Coast.

Water

Major rivers

  • Mississippi River
  • Big Black River
  • Pascagoula River
  • Pearl River
  • Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway
  • Yazoo River

Major bodies of water

The Ross Barnett Reservoir at sunset.

  • Arkabutla Lake – 19,550 acres (79.1 km2) of water; constructed and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District[140]
  • Bay Springs Lake – 6,700 acres (27 km2) of water and 133 miles (214 km) of shoreline; constructed and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Grenada Lake – 35,000 acres (140 km2) of water; became operational in 1954; constructed and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District[141]
  • Ross Barnett Reservoir – Named for Ross Barnett, the 52nd Governor of Mississippi; 33,000 acres (130 km2) of water; became operational in 1966; constructed and managed by The Pearl River Valley Water Supply District, a state agency; Provides water supply for the City of Jackson.
  • Sardis Lake – 98,520 acres (398.7 km2) of water; became operational in October 1940; constructed and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District[142]
  • Enid Lake – 44,000 acres (180 km2) of water; constructed and managed by the U.S. Army

http://www.mvk.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Enid-Lake/

Education

School students in their library, Tupelo, Mississippi, 1936

Until the Civil War era, Mississippi had a small number of schools and no educational institutions for African Americans. The first school for black students was not established until 1862.

During Reconstruction in 1871, black and white Republicans drafted a constitution that was the first to provide for a system of free public education in the state. The state’s dependence on agriculture and resistance to taxation limited the funds it had available to spend on any schools. In the early 20th century, there were still few schools in rural areas, particularly for black children. With seed money from the Julius Rosenwald Fund, many rural black communities across Mississippi raised matching funds and contributed public funds to build new schools for their children. Essentially, many black adults taxed themselves twice and made significant sacrifices to raise money for the education of children in their communities, in many cases donating land and/or labor to build such schools.[143]

Blacks and whites attended segregated and separate public schools in Mississippi until the late 1960s, although such segregation had been declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in its 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. In the majority-black Mississippi Delta counties, white parents worked through White Citizens’ Councils to set up private segregation academies, where they enrolled their children. Often funding declined for the public schools.[144]

But in the state as a whole, only a small minority of white children were withdrawn from public schools. State officials believed they needed to maintain public education to attract new businesses. After several years of integration, whites often dominated local systems anyway, maintaining white supremacy. Many black parents complained that they had little representation in school administration, and that many of their former administrators and teachers had been pushed out. They have had to work to have their interests and children represented.[144]

In the late 1980s, the state had 954 public elementary and secondary schools, with a total yearly enrollment of about 369,500 elementary pupils and about 132,500 secondary students. Some 45,700 students attended private schools.

In the 21st century, 91% of white children in the state attend public schools and most of the black children.[145] In 2008, Mississippi was ranked last among the fifty states in academic achievement by the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Report Card on Education,[146] with the lowest average ACT scores and sixth-lowest spending per pupil in the nation. In contrast, Mississippi had the 17th-highest average SAT scores in the nation. As an explanation, the Report noted that 92% of Mississippi high school graduates took the ACT, but only 3% of graduates took the SAT, apparently a self-selection of higher achievers. This breakdown compares to the national average of high school graduates taking the ACT and SAT, of 43% and 45%, respectively.[146]

Although unusual in the West, school corporal punishment is common in Mississippi, with 31,236 public school students[147] paddled at least one time.[148] A greater percentage of students were paddled in Mississippi than in any other state, according to government data for the 2011–2012 school year.[148]

In 2007, Mississippi students scored the lowest of any state on the National Assessments of Educational Progress in both math and science.[149]

Jackson, the state’s capital city, is the site of the state residential school for deaf and hard of hearing students. The Mississippi School for the Deaf was established by the state legislature in 1854 before the civil war.

The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS) is a public residential high school for academically gifted students. It is located in Columbus, Mississippi on the campus of the Mississippi University for Women. MSMS was founded in 1987 by appropriations from the Mississippi Legislature and it is the fourth public, residential high school for academically gifted students in the United States.[3] The school enrolls students only in the last two years of high school. Rising tenth-grade students from across the state apply and are selected on a competitive basis.

The Mississippi School of the Arts (MSA) is an upper high school of literary, visual, and performing arts on the historic Whitworth College Campus in Brookhaven, Mississippi, about sixty miles (97 km) south of Jackson, Mississippi.[1] MSA teaches 11th and 12th grade students. The campus has six buildings designated as Mississippi Landmarks, and is itself an historic district listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.[1]

The Mississippi School of the Arts provides advanced, residential programs of study in visual arts, vocal music, theatre, dance, and literary arts for “artistically gifted” 11th/12th grade students from throughout Mississippi.[3][1] The comprehensive residential and academic curriculum prepares students for further studies or to pursue employment. Some non-arts courses (some math, science, etc.) are taught in conjunction with Brookhaven High School, 6 blocks away, to provide a wider curriculum.[1] Students apply for admission during their second year.[1]

Culture

While Mississippi has been especially known for its music and literature, it has embraced other forms of art. Its strong religious traditions have inspired striking works by Outsider Artists who have been shown nationally.

The Mississippi State Capitol was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2016

Jackson established the USA International Ballet Competition, which is held every four years. This ballet competition attracts the most talented young dancers from around the world.[150]

The Magnolia Independent Film Festival, still held annually in Starkville, is the first and oldest in the state.

George Ohr, known as the “Mad Potter of Biloxi” and the father of abstract expressionism in pottery, lived and worked in Biloxi, MS.

Music

Musicians of the state’s Delta region were historically significant to the development of the blues. Although by the end of the 19th century, two-thirds of the farm owners were black, continued low prices for cotton and national financial pressures resulted in most of them losing their land. More problems built up with the boll weevil infestation, when thousands of agricultural jobs were lost.

Jimmie Rodgers, a native of Meridian and guitarist/singer/songwriter known as the “Father of Country Music”, played a significant role in the development of the blues. He and Chester Arthur Burnett were friends and admirers of each other’s music. Their friendship and respect is an important example of Mississippi’s musical legacy. While the state has had a reputation for being the most racist in the United States, individual musicians created an integrated music community. Mississippi musicians created new forms by combining and creating variations on musical traditions from Africa with the musical traditions of white Southerners, a tradition largely rooted in Scots–Irish music.

The state is creating a Mississippi Blues Trail, with dedicated markers explaining historic sites significant to the history of blues music, such as Clarksdale’s Riverside Hotel, where Bessie Smith died after her auto accident on Highway 61. The Riverside Hotel is just one of many historical blues sites in Clarksdale. The Delta Blues Museum there is visited by tourists from all over the world. Close by is “Ground Zero”, a contemporary blues club and restaurant co-owned by actor Morgan Freeman.

Elvis Presley, who created a sensation in the 1950s as a crossover artist and contributed to rock ‘n’ roll, was a native of Tupelo. From opera star Leontyne Price to the alternative rock band 3 Doors Down, to gulf and western singer Jimmy Buffett, modern rock/jazz/world music guitarist-producer Clifton Hyde, to rappers David Banner, Big K.R.I.T. and Afroman, Mississippi musicians have been significant in all genres.

Literature

Sports

Mississippi Braves outfielder Cody Johnson at Trustmark Park

  • Biloxi is home to the Biloxi Shuckers baseball team, a AA minor league affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers and member of the Southern League are currently located in Biloxi at MGM Park
  • Clinton is home to the Mississippi Brilla soccer team. The Brilla are a member of the USL Premier Development League.
  • Pearl is home to the Mississippi Braves baseball team. The Braves are an AA minor league affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. They play in the Southern League.
  • Southaven is home to the Memphis Hustle basketball team. The Hustle are an affiliate of the Memphis Grizzlies. They play in the NBA G League.

Notable people

See also

  • Index of Mississippi-related articles
  • Outline of Mississippi – organized list of topics about Mississippi

Footnotes

  1. ^ “Median Annual Household Income”. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved December 9, 2016..mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4c/Wikisource-logo.svg/12px-Wikisource-logo.svg.png”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
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  77. ^ James C. Cobb, The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity (1994) p. 244
  78. ^ Wong, Vivian Wu (Summer 1996). “Somewhere between White and Black: The Chinese in Mississippi”. Oah Magazine of History. 10 (4): 33–36. JSTOR 25163098.
  79. ^ Thornell, John G. 2008. “A Culture in Decline: The Mississippi Delta Chinese”, Southeast Review of Asian Studies 30: 196–202
  80. ^ Loewen, James W. 1971. The Mississippi Chinese: Between Black and White, Cambridge: Harvard University Press
  81. ^ Quan, Robert Seto. 1982. Lotus Among the Magnolias: The Mississippi Chinese, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi
  82. ^ Judge, Phoebe. “Vietnamese Shrimpers May Lose Way Of Life Again”. NPR. May 16, 2010. Retrieved on March 26, 2013.
  83. ^ ab “Mississippi – Languages”. city-data.com. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
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  85. ^ ab “Mississippi History Now – Religion in Mississippi”. Mshistory.k12.ms.us. Archived from the original on October 8, 2010. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  86. ^ “Presbyterian Church in America – Religious Groups – The Association of Religion Data Archives”. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  87. ^ ab “The Association of Religion Data Archives | State Membership Report”. www.thearda.com. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  88. ^
    Frank Newport (March 27, 2012). “Mississippi is The Most Religious U.S. State”. Gallup.
  89. ^ Mississippians Go to Church the Most; Vermonters, Least. Gallup.com. Retrieved on April 12, 2014.
  90. ^ State of the States: Importance of Religion. Gallup.com. Retrieved on April 12, 2014.
  91. ^ “Adults in Mississippi”. Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project. May 11, 2015.
  92. ^ “National Vital Statistics Reports Volumne 64, Number 1, January 15, 2015” (PDF).
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  94. ^ “National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 66, Number 1, January 5, 2017” (PDF).
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  96. ^ https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_08-508.pdf
  97. ^ “Census.gov: Married-Couple and Unmarried-Partner Households 2000” (PDF). Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  98. ^ “Mississippi leads nation in same-sex child rearing”. Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. August 26, 2011. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  99. ^ Ost, Jason. “Facts and Findings from ”The Gay and Lesbian Atlas””. Urban.org. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  100. ^ “LGBT couples can be refused service under new Mississippi law”. The Guardian. April 5, 2016. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  101. ^ “Mississippi law opens a new front in the battle over gay rights”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  102. ^ “Mississippi passes controversial ‘religious freedom’ bill”. BBC News. April 5, 2016.
  103. ^ Park, Madison (July 1, 2016). “Judge blocks controversial Mississippi law”. CNN.com. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  104. ^ Willie James Inman (October 4, 2017). “Major religious freedom law set to take effect, unless Supreme Court intervenes”. foxnews.com. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  105. ^ Campbell, Larrison (October 1, 2017). “Religious freedom law,’ House Bill 1523, will take effect Oct. 6; appeal planned”. mississippitoday.org. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  106. ^ “Commonwealth Fund, ”Aiming Higher: Results from a State Scorecard on Health System Performance”, 2009″. Commonwealthfund.org. August 3, 2009. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  107. ^ “Deaths: Final Data for 2013, table 18” (PDF). CDC/National Center for Health Statistics. May 30, 2014.
  108. ^ “Health, United States, 2014” (PDF). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. May 2015.
  109. ^ Ronni Mott (December 3, 2008). “We-the-Fat”. Jackson Free Press. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  110. ^ Thomas M. Maugh (August 28, 2007). “Mississippi heads list of fattest states”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
    [dead link]
  111. ^ Victor Sutton, PhD, and Sandra Hayes, MPH, Bureau of Health Data and Research, Mississippi Department of Health (October 29, 2008). “Impact of Social, Behavioral and Environmental Factors on Overweight and Obesity among African American Women in Mississippi”. American Public Health Association: APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing at 2008 136th Annual Meeting. Archived from the original on August 11, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2008.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  112. ^ abc Gail D. Hughes, DrPH, MPH and Gloria Areghan, MSN both with Department of Preventive Medicine-Epidemiology, University of Mississippi Medical Centre; Bern’Nadette Knight, MSPH with Department of General Internal Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center and Abiodun A. Oyebola, MD with Department of Public Health, Jackson State University (November 11, 2008). “Obesity and the African American Adolescent, The Mississippi Delta Report”. American Public Health Association: 2002 130th Annual APHA Meeting. Retrieved December 20, 2008.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  113. ^ Lei Zhang, PhD MBA, Office of Health Data and Research, Mississippi State Department of Health; Jerome Kolbo, PhD ACSW, College of Health, Bonnie Harbaugh, PhD RN, School of Nursing and Charkarra Anderson-Lewis, PhD MPH, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi (October 29, 2008). “Public Perception of Childhood Obesity among Mississippi Adults”. American Public Health Association: : APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing at 2008 136th Annual Meeting. Archived from the original on August 11, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2008.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  114. ^ “GDP by State”. Greyhill Advisors. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
  115. ^ abcd Pender, 2017.
  116. ^ “Generosity Index”. Catalogueforphilanthropy.org. Archived from the original on December 4, 2002. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  117. ^ ab John Otto Solomon,The Final Frontiers, 1880–1930: Settling the Southern Bottomlands. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1999, pp.10–11, 42–43, 50–51, and 70
  118. ^ Naipaul, V.S. (1990). A Turn in the South. Vintage. p. 216. ISBN 978-0679724889. The people who wrote the constitution wanted the state to remain ‘a pastoral state, an agricultural state.’ They didn’t want big business or the corporations coming in, encouraging ‘unfavorable competition for jobs with the agricultural community.’
  119. ^ “Mississippi Almanac Entry”. The New York Times. July 15, 2004. Archived from the original on May 26, 2012. Retrieved May 12, 2010., The New York Times Travel Almanac (2004)
  120. ^ “Historical Census Browser”. Fisher.lib.virginia.edu. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
    [permanent dead link]
  121. ^ W. E. B. DuBois,Black Reconstruction in America, 1860–1880. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1935; reprint New York: The Free Press, 1998, p. 432
  122. ^ Du Bois (1935), Black Reconstruction, p. 437
  123. ^ Du Bois (1935), Black Reconstruction, pp. 432, 434
  124. ^ Katrina Stats. City of Biloxi. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  125. ^ 2013 edition of State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment Archived October 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. American Gaming Association. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  126. ^ “Mississippi Direct Financial Incentives 2011 – Mississippi, Momentum Mississippi”. Area Development Online. March 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  127. ^ “Local Sales Taxes Add Significant Burden on Consumers”. The Tax Foundation. September 22, 2011. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  128. ^ “Ad Valorem Tax”. Mississippi Department of Revenue. Archived from the original on July 4, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  129. ^ Stuesse, Angela and Laura Helton. “Low-Wage Legacies, Race, and the Golden Chicken in Mississippi: Where Contemporary Immigration Meets African American Labor History”, Southern Spaces, December 31, 2013, “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on August 14, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link).
  130. ^ Gilbert M. Gaul and Dan Morgan (June 19, 2007), “A Slow Demise in the Delta: US Farm Subsidies Favor Big Over Small and White Over Blacks”, The Washington Post, accessed March 29, 2008
  131. ^ Les Christie (August 30, 2007). “The Richest (and Poorest) Places in the U.S”. CNNMoney.com. Archived from the original on September 14, 2007. Retrieved September 22, 2007.
  132. ^ “Unemployment Rates for States, Seasonally Adjusted, December 2018”. Local Area Unemployment Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. March 2, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
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  134. ^ “Federal Taxes Paid Vs Federal Spending Received State 1981–2005”.
  135. ^ “Amendment banning gay marriage passes”. USA Today. November 2, 2004. Retrieved October 12, 2007.
  136. ^ “Voters pass all 11 bans on gay marriage”. MSNBC. Associated Press. November 3, 2004. Retrieved December 7, 2007.
  137. ^ “Mississippi’s Ban on Gay Marriage Officially Lifted”. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  138. ^ “Mississippi State Constitution”. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  139. ^ Alexander P. Lamis (1999). Southern Politics in the 1990s. LSU Press. p. 425.
  140. ^ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District: Arkabutla Lake Archived July 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  141. ^ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District: Grenada Lake Archived March 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  142. ^ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District: Sardis Lake Archived March 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  143. ^ James D. Anderson,The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860–1935. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1988, pp. 160–161
  144. ^ ab Bolton, Charles C. The Hardest Deal of All: The Battle Over School Integration in Mississippi, 1870–1980. University Press of Mississippi, 2005, pp. 136, 178–179.
    ISBN 1604730609, 9781604730609.
  145. ^ Bolton (2005). The Hardest Deal of All. pp. 178–179.
  146. ^ ab “Report Card on Education” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 7, 2011.
  147. ^ Please note this figure refers to only the number of students paddled, regardless of whether a student was spanked multiple times in a year, and does not refer to the number of instances of corporal punishment, which would be substantially higher.
  148. ^ ab Farrell, Colin (February 2016). “Corporal punishment in US schools”. World Corporal Punishment Research. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  149. ^ Dillon, Sam (November 14, 2007). “Study Compares States’ Math and Science Scores With Other Countries“. The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2010., The New York Times (2007)
  150. ^ “USA International Ballet Competition”. Usaibc.com. Retrieved July 30, 2010.

Further reading

  • Dennis J. Mitchell, A New History of Mississippi. Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 2014.

External links

  • Official website
  • Mississippi Travel and Tourism
  • Mississippi Development Authority
  • The “Mississippi Believe It” Campaign
  • USDA Mississippi State Facts
  • University Press of Mississippi
  • Ecoregions of Mississippi
  • Mississippi at Curlie
  • Mississippi as Metaphor State, Region, and Nation in Historical Imagination”, Southern Spaces, October 23, 2006.
  • Geographic data related to Mississippi at OpenStreetMap
  • Mississippi State Databases – Annotated list of searchable databases produced by Mississippi state agencies and compiled by the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association.

Preceded by
Indiana
List of U.S. states by date of admission to the Union
Admitted on December 10, 1817 (20th)
Succeeded by
Illinois

Coordinates: 33°N 90°W / 33°N 90°W / 33; -90


Arkansas

State of the United States of America

State of Arkansas
Flag of Arkansas State seal of Arkansas
Flag Great Seal
Nickname(s):

The Natural State (current)
The Bear State (former)
Motto(s): Regnat populus (Latin: The People Rule)
State song(s): “Arkansas”, “Arkansas (You Run Deep in Me)”, “Oh, Arkansas”, and “The Arkansas Traveler
Map of the United States with Arkansas highlighted
Official language English
Demonym Arkansan
Arkansawyer
Arkanite[1]
Capital
.mw-parser-output .nobold{font-weight:normal}
(and largest city)
Little Rock
Largest metro Central Arkansas
Area Ranked 29th
 • Total 53,180 sq mi
(137,733 km2)
 • Width 270 miles (435 km)
 • Length 240 miles (386 km)
 • % water 2.09
 • Latitude 33° 00′ N to 36° 30′ N
 • Longitude 89° 39′ W to 94° 37′ W
Population Ranked 33rd
 • Total 3,004,279 (2017 est.)[2]
 • Density 56.4/sq mi  (21.8/km2)
Ranked 34th
 • Median household income $40,531 (48th)
Elevation
 • Highest point Mount Magazine[3][4][a][b]
2,753 ft (839 m)
 • Mean 650 ft  (200 m)
 • Lowest point Ouachita River at Louisiana border[4][a]
55 ft (17 m)
Before statehood Arkansas Territory
Admission to Union June 15, 1836 (25th)
Governor Asa Hutchinson (R)
Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin (R)
Legislature Arkansas General Assembly
 • Upper house Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators John Boozman (R)
Tom Cotton (R)
U.S. House delegation 4 Republicans (list)
Time zone Central: UTC −6/−5
ISO 3166 US-AR
Abbreviations AR, Ark.
Website www.arkansas.gov
Arkansas state symbols
Flag of Arkansas.svg

The Flag of Arkansas
Seal of Arkansas.svg

The Seal of Arkansas
Living insignia
Bird Mockingbird
Butterfly Diana fritillary
Flower Apple blossom
Insect Western honeybee
Mammal White-tailed deer
Tree Pine tree
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Dance Square dance
Food Pecan
Gemstone Diamond
Mineral Quartz
Rock Bauxite
Soil Stuttgart
Other South Arkansas vine ripe pink tomato (state fruit and vegetable)
State route marker
Arkansas state route marker
State quarter
Arkansas quarter dollar coin

Released in 2003
Lists of United States state symbols

Arkansas (/ˈɑːrkənsɔː/ AR-kən-saw)[c] is a state in the southern region of the United States, home to over 3 million people as of 2017.[7][8] Its name is of Siouan derivation from the language of the Osage denoting their related kin, the Quapaw Indians.[9] The state’s diverse geography ranges from the mountainous regions of the Ozark and the Ouachita Mountains, which make up the U.S. Interior Highlands, to the densely forested land in the south known as the Arkansas Timberlands, to the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River and the Arkansas Delta.

Arkansas is the 29th largest by area and the 33rd most populous of the 50 United States. The capital and most populous city is Little Rock, located in the central portion of the state, a hub for transportation, business, culture, and government. The northwestern corner of the state, such as the Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers Metropolitan Area and Fort Smith metropolitan area, is a population, education, and economic center. The largest city in the state’s eastern part is Jonesboro. The largest city in the state’s southeastern part is Pine Bluff.

The Territory of Arkansas was admitted to the Union as the 25th state on June 15, 1836.[10] In 1861, Arkansas withdrew from the United States and joined the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. On returning to the Union in 1868, the state continued to suffer due to its earlier reliance on slavery and the plantation economy, causing the state to fall behind economically and socially. White rural interests continued to dominate the state’s politics until the civil rights movement. Arkansas began to diversify its economy following World War II and relies on its service industry, aircraft, poultry, steel, tourism, cotton, and rice.

The culture of Arkansas is observable in museums, theaters, novels, television shows, restaurants, and athletic venues across the state. Arkansas’s enduring image has earned the state “a special place in the American consciousness”.[11] People such as politician and educational advocate William Fulbright; former President Bill Clinton who served as the 40th and 42nd Governor of Arkansas; his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark, Walmart magnate Sam Walton;[12] singer-songwriters Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich, and Glen Campbell; the poet C. D. Wright; and physicist William L. McMillan, who was a pioneer in superconductor research; have all lived in Arkansas.

Contents

  • 1 Etymology and pronunciation
  • 2 Geography

    • 2.1 Boundaries
    • 2.2 Terrain
    • 2.3 Hydrology
    • 2.4 Flora and fauna
    • 2.5 Climate
  • 3 History

    • 3.1 Early Arkansas
    • 3.2 Purchase by the United States
    • 3.3 Statehood
    • 3.4 Civil War and Reconstruction
    • 3.5 End of the Reconstruction
    • 3.6 Rise of the Jim Crow laws
    • 3.7 Fall of segregation
    • 3.8 Prominent American figures from Arkansas
  • 4 Cities and towns
  • 5 Demographics

    • 5.1 Population
    • 5.2 Ancestry
    • 5.3 Religion
  • 6 Economy

    • 6.1 Industry and commerce
  • 7 Media
  • 8 Culture

    • 8.1 Sports and recreation
  • 9 Health
  • 10 Education

    • 10.1 Educational attainment
    • 10.2 Funding
    • 10.3 Timeline
  • 11 Transportation
  • 12 Law and government

    • 12.1 Executive
    • 12.2 Legislative
    • 12.3 Judicial
    • 12.4 Federal
    • 12.5 Politics
  • 13 Attractions
  • 14 See also
  • 15 Notes
  • 16 References

    • 16.1 Bibliography
  • 17 Further reading
  • 18 External links

Etymology and pronunciation

Pronunciation of state name. A popular comedic Vine addresses the pronunciation. on YouTube

The name Arkansas was initially applied to the Arkansas River and derives from a French term, Arcansas, the plural term for Quapaws,[13] a Dhegiha Siouan-speaking Native American people who settled in Arkansas around the 13th century. This comes from an Algonquian term, /akansa/, for the Quapaws, and is likely also the root term for Kansas.[13]

The name has been pronounced and spelled in a variety of fashions.[c] In 1881, the pronunciation of Arkansas with the final “s” being silent was made official by an act of the state legislature after a dispute arose between Arkansas’s two U.S. senators as one favored the pronunciation as /ˈɑːrkənsɔː/ AR-kən-saw while the other favored /ɑːrˈkænzəs/ ar-KAN-zəs.[c]

In 2007, the state legislature passed a non-binding resolution declaring that the possessive form of the state’s name is Arkansas’s, which has been followed increasingly by the state government.[15]

Geography

View from the Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway in Boxley Valley

The Ozarks: bend in the Buffalo River from an overlook on the Buffalo River Trail near Steel Creek

The flat terrain and rich soils of the Arkansas Delta near Arkansas City are in stark contrast to the northwestern part of the state.

Cedar Falls in Petit Jean State Park

Boundaries

Arkansas borders Louisiana to the south, Texas to the southwest, Oklahoma to the west, Missouri to the north, and Tennessee and Mississippi to the east. The United States Census Bureau classifies Arkansas as a southern state, sub-categorized among the West South Central States.[8] The Mississippi River forms most of Arkansas’s eastern border, except in Clay and Greene, counties where the St. Francis River forms the western boundary of the Missouri Bootheel, and in many places where the channel of the Mississippi has meandered (or been straightened by man) from its original 1836 course.

Terrain

Arkansas can generally be split into two halves, the highlands in the northwest half and the lowlands of the southeastern half.[16] The highlands are part of the Southern Interior Highlands, including The Ozarks and the Ouachita Mountains. The southern lowlands include the Gulf Coastal Plain and the Arkansas Delta.[17] This dual split can yield to general regions named northwest, southwest, northeast, southeast, or central Arkansas. These directionally named regions are broad and not defined along county lines. Arkansas has seven distinct natural regions: the Ozark Mountains, Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas River Valley, Gulf Coastal Plain, Crowley’s Ridge, and the Arkansas Delta, with Central Arkansas sometimes included as a blend of multiple regions.[18]

The southeastern part of Arkansas along the Mississippi Alluvial Plain is sometimes called the Arkansas Delta. This region is a flat landscape of rich alluvial soils formed by repeated flooding of the adjacent Mississippi. Farther away from the river, in the southeast portion of the state, the Grand Prairie consists of a more undulating landscape. Both are fertile agricultural areas. The Delta region is bisected by a geological formation known as Crowley’s Ridge. A narrow band of rolling hills, Crowley’s Ridge rises from 250 to 500 feet (76 to 152 m) above the surrounding alluvial plain and underlies many of the major towns of eastern Arkansas.[19]

Northwest Arkansas is part of the Ozark Plateau including the Ozark Mountains, to the south are the Ouachita Mountains, and these regions are divided by the Arkansas River; the southern and eastern parts of Arkansas are called the Lowlands.[20] These mountain ranges are part of the U.S. Interior Highlands region, the only major mountainous region between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains.[21] The highest point in the state is Mount Magazine in the Ouachita Mountains,[22] which rises to 2,753 feet (839 m) above sea level.[6]

Hydrology

The Buffalo National River is one of many attractions that give the state its nickname, The Natural State.

Arkansas has many rivers, lakes, and reservoirs within or along its borders. Major tributaries of the Mississippi River include the Arkansas River, the White River, and the St. Francis River.[23] The Arkansas is fed by the Mulberry River and the Fourche LaFave River in the Arkansas River Valley, which is also home to Lake Dardanelle. The Buffalo River, Little Red River, Black River and Cache River all serve as tributaries to the White River, which also empties into the Mississippi. The Saline River, Little Missouri River, Bayou Bartholomew, and the Caddo River all serve as tributaries to the Ouachita River in south Arkansas, which eventually empties into the Mississippi in Louisiana. The Red River briefly serves as the state’s boundary with Texas.[24] Arkansas has few natural lakes and many reservoirs,[quantify] such as Bull Shoals Lake, Lake Ouachita, Greers Ferry Lake, Millwood Lake, Beaver Lake, Norfork Lake, DeGray Lake, and Lake Conway.[25]

Arkansas is home to many caves, such as Blanchard Springs Caverns. More than 43,000 Native American living, hunting and tool making sites, many of them Pre-Columbian burial mounds and rock shelters, have been cataloged by the State Archeologist. Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro is the world’s only diamond-bearing site accessible to the public for digging.[26][27] Arkansas is home to a dozen Wilderness Areas totaling 158,444 acres (641.20 km2).[28] These areas are set aside for outdoor recreation and are open to hunting, fishing, hiking, and primitive camping. No mechanized vehicles nor developed campgrounds are allowed in these areas.[29]

Flora and fauna

The White River in eastern Arkansas

Arkansas is divided into three broad ecoregions, the Ozark, Ouachita-Appalachian Forests, Mississippi Alluvial and Southeast USA Coastal Plains, and the Southeastern USA Plainsand two biomes, the subtropical coniferous forest and the temperate deciduous forest.[30] The state is further divided into seven subregions: the Arkansas Valley, Boston Mountains, Mississippi Alluvial Plain, Mississippi Valley Loess Plain, Ozark Highlands, Ouachita Mountains, and the South Central Plains.[31] A 2010 United States Forest Service survey determined 18,720,000 acres (7,580,000 ha) of Arkansas’s land is forestland, or 56% of the state’s total area.[32] Dominant species in Arkansas’s forests include Quercus (oak), Carya (hickory), Pinus echinata (shortleaf pine) and Pinus taeda (loblolly pine).[33][34]

Arkansas’s plant life varies with its climate and elevation. The pine belt stretching from the Arkansas delta to Texas consists of dense oak-hickory-pine growth. Lumbering and paper milling activity is active throughout the region.[35] In eastern Arkansas, one can find Taxodium (cypress), Quercus nigra (water oaks), and hickories with their roots submerged in the Mississippi Valley bayous indicative of the deep south.[36] Nearby Crowley’s Ridge is only home of the tulip tree in the state, and generally hosts more northeastern plant life such as the beech tree.[37] The northwestern highlands are covered in an oak-hickory mixture, with Ozark white cedars, cornus (dogwoods), and Cercis canadensis (redbuds) also present. The higher peaks in the Arkansas River Valley play host to scores of ferns, including the Woodsia scopulina and Adiantum (maidenhair fern) on Mount Magazine.[38]

Climate

Climate types in Arkansas.

Devil’s Den State Park, a state park in Washington County, in the fall.

Winter at Historic Washington State Park, Arkansas

Arkansas generally has a humid subtropical climate. While not bordering the Gulf of Mexico, Arkansas is still close enough to this warm, large body of water for it to influence the weather in the state. Generally, Arkansas has hot, humid summers and slightly drier, mild to cool winters. In Little Rock, the daily high temperatures average around 93 °F (34 °C) with lows around 73 °F (23 °C) in July. In January highs average around 51 °F (11 °C) and lows around 32 °F (0 °C). In Siloam Springs in the northwest part of the state, the average high and low temperatures in July are 89 and 67 °F (32 and 19 °C) and in January the average high and lows are 44 and 23 °F (7 and −5 °C). Annual precipitation throughout the state averages between about 40 and 60 inches (1,000 and 1,500 mm); somewhat wetter in the south and drier in the northern part of the state.[39] Snowfall is infrequent but most common in the northern half of the state.[23] The half of the state south of Little Rock is more apt to see ice storms. Arkansas’s all-time record high is 120 °F (49 °C) at Ozark on August 10, 1936; the all-time record low is −29 °F (−34 °C) at Gravette, on February 13, 1905.[40]

Arkansas is known for extreme weather and frequent storms. A typical year brings thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, snow and ice storms. Between both the Great Plains and the Gulf States, Arkansas receives around 60 days of thunderstorms. Arkansas is located in Tornado Alley, and as a result, a few of the most destructive tornadoes in U.S. history have struck the state. While sufficiently far from the coast to avoid a direct hit from a hurricane, Arkansas can often get the remnants of a tropical system, which dumps tremendous amounts of rain in a short time and often spawns smaller tornadoes.

Monthly Normal High and Low Temperatures For Various Arkansas Cities
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Avg
Fayetteville[41] 44/24
(7/-4)
51/29
(10/-2)
59/38
(15/3)
69/46
(20/8)
76/55
(24/13)
84/64
(29/18)
89/69
(32/20)
89/67
(32/19)
81/59
(27/15)
70/47
(21/9)
57/37
(14/3)
48/28
(9/-2)
68/47
(20/8)
Jonesboro[42] 45/26
(7/-3)
51/30
(11/-1)
61/40
(16/4)
71/49
(22/9)
80/58
(26/15)
88/67
(31/19)
92/71
(34/22)
91/69
(33/20)
84/61
(29/16)
74/49
(23/9)
60/39
(15/4)
49/30
(10/-1)
71/49
(21/9)
Little Rock[43] 51/31
(11/-1)
55/35
(13/2)
64/43
(18/6)
73/51
(23/11)
81/61
(27/16)
89/69
(32/21)
93/73
(34/23)
93/72
(34/22)
86/65
(30/18)
75/53
(24/12)
63/42
(17/6)
52/34
(11/1)
73/51
(23/11)
Texarkana[44] 53/31
(11/-1)
58/34
(15/1)
67/42
(19/5)
75/50
(24/10)
82/60
(28/16)
89/68
(32/20)
93/72
(34/22)
93/71
(34/21)
86/64
(30/18)
76/52
(25/11)
64/41
(18/5)
55/33
(13/1)
74/52
(23/11)
Monticello[45] 52/30
(11/-1)
58/34
(14/1)
66/43
(19/6)
74/49
(23/10)
82/59
(28/15)
89/66
(32/19)
92/70
(34/21)
92/68
(33/20)
86/62
(30/17)
76/50
(25/10)
64/41
(18/5)
55/34
(13/1)
74/51
(23/10)
Fort Smith[46] 48/27
(8/-2)
54/32
(12/0)
64/40
(17/4)
73/49
(22/9)
80/58
(26/14)
87/67
(30/19)
92/71
(33/21)
92/70
(33/21)
84/62
(29/17)
75/50
(23/10)
61/39
(16/4)
50/31
(10/0)
72/50
(22/10)
Average high °F/average low °F (average high °C/average low°C)

History

Early Arkansas

Platform mounds, such as this one at Toltec Mounds near Scott, were constructed frequently during the Woodland and Mississippian periods

Before European settlement of North America, Arkansas was inhabited by indigenous peoples for thousands of years. The Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw peoples encountered European explorers. The first of these Europeans was Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1541, who crossed the Mississippi and marched across central Arkansas and the Ozark Mountains. After finding nothing he considered of value and encountering native resistance the entire way, he and his men returned to the Mississippi River where de Soto fell ill. From his deathbed he ordered his men to massacre all of the men of the nearby village of Anilco, who he feared had been plotting with a powerful polity down the Mississippi River, Quigualtam. His men obeyed and did not stop with the men, but were said to have massacred women and children as well. He died the following day in what is believed to be the vicinity of modern-day McArthur, Arkansas in May 1542. His body was weighted down with sand and he was consigned to a watery grave in the Mississippi River under cover of darkness by his men. De Soto had attempted to deceive the native population into thinking he was an immortal deity, sun of the sun, in order to forestall attack by outraged Native Americans on his by then weakened and bedraggled army. In order to keep the ruse up, his men informed the locals that de Soto had ascended into the sky. His will at the time of his death listed: “four Indian slaves, three horses and 700 hogs.” which were auctioned off to his men. His starving men, who had been living off maize stolen from Native Americans and who had not been allowed to eat the enormous herd of hogs but had had to care for them, immediately started to butcher them. Later on his remaining men, now commanded by his aide de camp Moscoso, attempted an overland return to Mexico. They made it as far as Texas before running into territory too dry for maize farming and too thinly populated to sustain themselves by stealing food from the locals. The expedition promptly backtracked to Arkansas. After building a small fleet of boats they then headed down the Mississippi River and eventually on to Mexico by water.[47][48]

Later explorers included the French Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet in 1673, and Frenchmen Robert La Salle and Henri de Tonti in 1681.[49][50] Tonti established Arkansas Post at a Quapaw village in 1686, making it the first European settlement in the territory.[51] The early Spanish or French explorers of the state gave it its name, which is probably a phonetic spelling of the Illinois tribe’s name for the Quapaw people, who lived downriver from them.[52][c] The name Arkansas has been pronounced and spelled in a variety of fashions. The region was organized as the Territory of Arkansaw on July 4, 1819, with the territory admitted to the United States as the state of Arkansas on June 15, 1836. The name was historically /ˈɑːrkənsɔː/, /ɑːrˈkænzəs/, and several other variants. Historically and modernly, the people of Arkansas call themselves either “Arkansans” or “Arkansawyers”. In 1881, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Arkansas Code 1-4-105 (official text):

Whereas, confusion of practice has arisen in the pronunciation of the name of our state and it is deemed important that the true pronunciation should be determined for use in oral official proceedings.

And, whereas, the matter has been thoroughly investigated by the State Historical Society and the Eclectic Society of Little Rock, which have agreed upon the correct pronunciation as derived from history, and the early usage of the American immigrants.

Be it therefore resolved by both houses of the General Assembly, that the only true pronunciation of the name of the state, in the opinion of this body, is that received by the French from the native Indians and committed to writing in the French word representing the sound. It should be pronounced in three (3) syllables, with the final “s” silent, the “a” in each syllable with the Italian sound, and the accent on the first and last syllables. The pronunciation with the accent on the second syllable with the sound of “a” in “man” and the sounding of the terminal “s” is an innovation to be discouraged.

Citizens of the state of Kansas often pronounce the Arkansas River as /ɑːrˈkænzəs ˈrɪvər/, in a manner similar to the common pronunciation of the name of their state.

Settlers, such as fur trappers, moved to Arkansas in the early 18th century. These people used Arkansas Post as a home base and entrepôt.[51] During the colonial period, Arkansas changed hands between France and Spain following the Seven Years’ War, although neither showed interest in the remote settlement of Arkansas Post.[53] In April 1783, Arkansas saw its only battle of the American Revolutionary War, a brief siege of the post by British Captain James Colbert with the assistance of the Choctaw and Chickasaw.[54]

Purchase by the United States

Evolution from the Territory of Arkansaw to State of Arkansas, 1819–1836

Napoleon Bonaparte sold French Louisiana to the United States in 1803, including all of Arkansas, in a transaction known today as the Louisiana Purchase. French soldiers remained as a garrison at Arkansas Post. Following the purchase, the balanced give-and-take relationship between settlers and Native Americans began to change all along the frontier, including in Arkansas.[55] Following a controversy over allowing slavery in the territory, the Territory of Arkansas was organized on July 4, 1819.[c] Gradual emancipation in Arkansas was struck down by one vote, the Speaker of the House Henry Clay, allowing Arkansas to organize as a slave territory.[56]

Slavery became a wedge issue in Arkansas, forming a geographic divide that remained for decades. Owners and operators of the cotton plantation economy in southeast Arkansas firmly supported slavery, as they perceived slave labor as the best or “only” economically viable method of harvesting their commodity crops.[57] The “hill country” of northwest Arkansas was unable to grow cotton and relied on a cash-scarce, subsistence farming economy.[58]

As European Americans settled throughout the East Coast and into the Midwest, in the 1830s the United States government forced the removal of many Native American tribes to Arkansas and Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.

Additional Native American removals began in earnest during the territorial period, with final Quapaw removal complete by 1833 as they were pushed into Indian Territory.[59] The capital was relocated from Arkansas Post to Little Rock in 1821, during the territorial period.[60]

Statehood

Lakeport Plantation, c. 1859 and built south of Lake Village, is the only remaining antebellum plantation house on the Mississippi River in Arkansas. Many planters became wealthy from the cotton industry in southern Arkansas.

When Arkansas applied for statehood, the slavery issue was again raised in Washington, D.C.. Congress eventually approved the Arkansas Constitution after a 25-hour session, admitting Arkansas on June 15, 1836 as the 25th state and the 13th slave state, having a population of about 60,000.[61] Arkansas struggled with taxation to support its new state government, a problem made worse by a state banking scandal and worse yet by the Panic of 1837.

Civil War and Reconstruction

In early antebellum Arkansas, the southeast Arkansas slave based economy developed rapidly. On the eve of the Civil War in 1860, enslaved African Americans numbered 111,115 people, just over 25% of the state’s population.[62] Plantation agriculture set the state and region behind the nation for decades.[63] The wealth developed among planters of southeast Arkansas caused a political rift to form between the northwest and southeast.[64]

Many politicians were elected to office from the Family, the Southern rights political force in antebellum Arkansas. Residents generally wanted to avoid a civil war. When the Gulf states seceded in early 1861, Arkansas voted to remain in the Union.[64] Arkansas did not secede until Abraham Lincoln demanded Arkansas troops be sent to Fort Sumter to quell the rebellion there. On May 6, a state convention voted to terminate Arkansas’s membership in the Union and join the Confederate States of America.[64]

Arkansas held a very important position for the Rebels, maintaining control of the Mississippi River and surrounding Southern states. The bloody Battle of Wilson’s Creek just across the border in Missouri shocked many Arkansans who thought the war would be a quick and decisive Southern victory. Battles early in the war took place in northwest Arkansas, including the Battle of Cane Hill, Battle of Pea Ridge, and Battle of Prairie Grove. Union General Samuel Curtis swept across the state to Helena in the Delta in 1862. Little Rock was captured the following year. The government shifted the state Confederate capital to Hot Springs, and then again to Washington from 1863–1865, for the remainder of the war. Throughout the state, guerrilla warfare ravaged the countryside and destroyed cities.[65] Passion for the Confederate cause waned after implementation of programs such as the draft, high taxes, and martial law.

Under the Military Reconstruction Act, Congress declared Arkansas restored to the Union in June 1868, after the Legislature accepted the 14th Amendment. The Republican-controlled reconstruction legislature established universal male suffrage (though temporarily disfranchising former Confederate Army officers, who were all Democrats), a public education system for blacks and whites, and passed general issues to improve the state and help more of the population. The State soon came under control of the Radical Republicans and Unionists, and led by Governor Powell Clayton, they presided over a time of great upheaval as Confederate sympathizers and the Ku Klux Klan fought the new developments, particularly voting rights for African Americans.

End of the Reconstruction

In 1874, the Brooks-Baxter War, a political struggle between factions of the Republican Party shook Little Rock and the state governorship. It was settled only when President Ulysses S. Grant ordered Joseph Brooks to disperse his militant supporters.[66]

Following the Brooks-Baxter War, a new state constitution was ratified, re-enfranchising former Confederates.

In 1881, the Arkansas state legislature enacted a bill that adopted an official pronunciation of the state’s name, to combat a controversy then simmering. (See Law and Government below.)

After Reconstruction, the state began to receive more immigrants and migrants. Chinese, Italian, and Syrian men were recruited for farm labor in the developing Delta region. None of these nationalities stayed long at farm labor; the Chinese especially quickly became small merchants in towns around the Delta. Many Chinese became such successful merchants in small towns that they were able to educate their children at college.[67]

Some early 20th-century immigration included people from eastern Europe. Together, these immigrants made the Delta more diverse than the rest of the state. In the same years, some black migrants moved into the area because of opportunities to develop the bottomlands and own their own property.

Wife and children of a sharecropper in Washington County, Arkansas, c. 1935

Construction of railroads enabled more farmers to get their products to market. It also brought new development into different parts of the state, including the Ozarks, where some areas were developed as resorts. In a few years at the end of the 19th century, for instance, Eureka Springs in Carroll County grew to 10,000 people, rapidly becoming a tourist destination and the fourth-largest city of the state. It featured newly constructed, elegant resort hotels and spas planned around its natural springs, considered to have healthful properties. The town’s attractions included horse racing and other entertainment. It appealed to a wide variety of classes, becoming almost as popular as Hot Springs.

Rise of the Jim Crow laws

In the late 1880s, the worsening agricultural depression catalyzed Populist and third party movements, leading to interracial coalitions. Struggling to stay in power, in the 1890s the Democrats in Arkansas followed other Southern states in passing legislation and constitutional amendments that disfranchised blacks and poor whites. Democrats wanted to prevent their alliance.[citation needed] In 1891 state legislators passed a requirement for a literacy test, knowing that it would exclude many blacks and whites. At the time, more than 25% of the population could neither read nor write. In 1892, they amended the state constitution to require a poll tax and more complex residency requirements, both of which adversely affected poor people and sharecroppers, forcing most blacks and many poor whites from voter rolls.

By 1900 the Democratic Party expanded use of the white primary in county and state elections, further denying blacks a part in the political process. Only in the primary was there any competition among candidates, as Democrats held all the power. The state was a Democratic one-party state for decades, until after passage of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 to enforce constitutional rights.[68]

Between 1905 and 1911, Arkansas began to receive a small immigration of German, Slovak, and Scots-Irish from Europe. The German and Slovak peoples settled in the eastern part of the state known as the Prairie, and the Irish founded small communities in the southeast part of the state. The Germans were mostly Lutheran and the Slovaks were primarily Catholic. The Irish were mostly Protestant from Ulster, of Scots and Northern Borders descent.

Based on the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt given shortly after Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, nearly 16,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from the West Coast of the United States and incarcerated in two internment camp located in the Arkansas Delta.[69] The Rohwer Camp in Desha County operated from September 1942 to November 1945 and at its peak interned 8,475 prisoners.[69] The Jerome War Relocation Center in Drew County operated from October 1942 to June 1944 and held c. 8,000 prisoners.[69]

Fall of segregation

After the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas in 1954 that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, some students worked to integrate schools in the state. The Little Rock Nine brought Arkansas to national attention in 1957 when the Federal government had to intervene to protect African-American students trying to integrate a high school in the Arkansas capital. Governor Orval Faubus had ordered the Arkansas National Guard to aid segregationists in preventing nine African-American students from enrolling at Little Rock’s Central High School. After attempting three times to contact Faubus, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent 1000 troops from the active-duty 101st Airborne Division to escort and protect the African-American students as they entered school on September 25, 1957. In defiance of federal court orders to integrate, the governor and city of Little Rock decided to close the high schools for the remainder of the school year. By the fall of 1959, the Little Rock high schools were completely integrated.[70]

Prominent American figures from Arkansas

Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, was born in Hope. Before his presidency, Clinton served as the 40th and 42nd Governor of Arkansas, a total of nearly 12 years.

Cities and towns

Cleveland County Courthouse in Rison

Little Rock has been Arkansas’s capital city since 1821 when it replaced Arkansas Post as the capital of the Territory of Arkansas.[71] The state capitol was moved to Hot Springs and later Washington during the Civil War when the Union armies threatened the city in 1862, and state government did not return to Little Rock until after the war ended. Today, the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway metropolitan area is the largest in the state, with a population of 724,385 in 2013.[72]

The Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers Metropolitan Area is the second-largest metropolitan area in Arkansas, growing at the fastest rate due to the influx of businesses and the growth of the University of Arkansas and Walmart.[73]

The state has eight cities with populations above 50,000 (based on 2010 census). In descending order of size, they are: Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, and Rogers. Of these, only Fort Smith and Jonesboro are outside the two largest metropolitan areas. Other cities are located in Arkansas such as Pine Bluff, Crossett, Bryant, Lake Village, Hot Springs, Bentonville, Texarkana, Sherwood, Jacksonville, Russellville, Bella Vista, West Memphis, Paragould, Cabot, Searcy, Van Buren, El Dorado, Blytheville, Harrison, Dumas, Rison, Warren, and Mountain Home.

Demographics

Population

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Map of Arkansas, showing density of population by county.
Map of Arkansas, with many southern and eastern counties recording population losses with the rest of the state showing moderate gains. Benton and Faulkner counties were the most rapidly growing in population between 2000–2010.
Left: Arkansas’s population distribution. Red indicates high density in urban areas, green indicates low density in rural areas.
Right: Map showing population changes by county between 2000 and 2010. Blue indicates population gain, purple indicates population loss, and shade indicates magnitude.

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Arkansas was 2,978,204 on July 1, 2015, a 2.14% increase since the 2010 United States Census.[75]

As of 2015, Arkansas has an estimated population of 2,978,204.[75] From fewer than 15,000 in 1820, Arkansas’s population grew to 52,240 during a special census in 1835, far exceeding the 40,000 required to apply for statehood.[76] Following statehood in 1836, the population doubled each decade until the 1870 Census conducted following the Civil War. The state recorded growth in each successive decade, although it gradually slowed in the 20th century.

It recorded population losses in the 1950 and 1960 Censuses. This outmigration was a result of multiple factors, including farm mechanization, decreasing labor demand, and young educated people leaving the state due to a lack of non-farming industry in the state.[77] Arkansas again began to grow, recording positive growth rates ever since and exceeding the 2 million mark during the 1980 Census.[78] Arkansas’s rate of change, age distributions, and gender distributions mirror national averages. Minority group data also approximates national averages. There are fewer people in Arkansas of Hispanic or Latino origin than the national average.[79] The center of population of Arkansas for 2000 was located in Perry County, near Nogal.[80]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 1,062
1820 14,273 1,244.0%
1830 30,388 112.9%
1840 97,574 221.1%
1850 209,897 115.1%
1860 435,450 107.5%
1870 484,471 11.3%
1880 802,525 65.6%
1890 1,128,211 40.6%
1900 1,311,564 16.3%
1910 1,574,449 20.0%
1920 1,752,204 11.3%
1930 1,854,482 5.8%
1940 1,949,387 5.1%
1950 1,909,511 −2.0%
1960 1,786,272 −6.5%
1970 1,923,295 7.7%
1980 2,286,435 18.9%
1990 2,350,725 2.8%
2000 2,673,400 13.7%
2010 2,915,918 9.1%
Est. 2018 3,013,825 3.4%
Source: 1910–2010[81]
2018 estimate[75]

Ancestry

In terms of race and ethnicity, the state was 80.1% white (74.2% non-Hispanic white), 15.6% black or African American, 0.9% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.3% Asian, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race made up 6.6% of the population.[82]

As of 2011, 39.0% of Arkansas’s population younger than age 1 were minorities.[83]

Arkansas Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1990[84] 2000[85] 2010[86]
White 82.7% 80.0% 77.0%
African American 15.9% 15.7% 15.4%
Asian 0.5% 0.8% 1.2%
Native 0.5% 0.7% 0.8%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.1% 0.2%
Other race 0.3% 1.5% 3.4%
Two or more races 1.3% 2.0%

European Americans have a strong presence in the northwestern Ozarks and the central part of the state. African Americans live mainly in the southern and eastern parts of the state. Arkansans of Irish, English and German ancestry are mostly found in the far northwestern Ozarks near the Missouri border. Ancestors of the Irish in the Ozarks were chiefly Scots-Irish, Protestants from Northern Ireland, the Scottish lowlands and northern England part of the largest group of immigrants from Great Britain and Ireland before the American Revolution. English and Scots-Irish immigrants settled throughout the backcountry of the South and in the more mountainous areas. Americans of English stock are found throughout the state.[87]

A 2010 survey of the principal ancestries of Arkansas’s residents revealed the following:[88]

  • 15.5% African American
  • 12.3% Irish
  • 11.5% German
  • 11.0% American
  • 10.1% English
  • 4.7% Mexican
  • 2.1% French
  • 1.7% Scottish
  • 1.7% Dutch
  • 1.6% Italian
  • 1.4% Scots-Irish

Most of the people identifying as American are of English descent and/or Scots-Irish descent. Their families have been in the state so long, in many cases since before statehood, that they choose to identify simply as having American ancestry or do not in fact know their own ancestry. Their ancestry primarily goes back to the original 13 colonies and for this reason many of them today simply claim American ancestry. Many people who identify themselves as Irish descent are in fact of Scots-Irish descent.[89][90][91][92]

According to the 2006–2008 American Community Survey, 93.8% of Arkansas’s population (over the age of five) spoke only English at home. About 4.5% of the state’s population spoke Spanish at home. About 0.7% of the state’s population spoke any other Indo-European languages. About 0.8% of the state’s population spoke an Asian language, and 0.2% spoke other languages.[clarification needed dubious]

Religion

Arkansas, like most other Southern states, is part of the Bible Belt and is predominantly Protestant. The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2010 were the Southern Baptist Convention with 661,382; the United Methodist Church with 158,574; non-denominational Evangelical Protestants with 129,638; the Catholic Church with 122,662; and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 31,254. There are some residents of the state who live by other religions such as Islam, Judaism, Wicca, Paganism, Hinduism, Buddhism or who claim no religious affiliation.[93]

Religion in Arkansas (2014)[94]
Religion Percent
Protestant
70%
None
18%
Catholic
8%
Muslim
2%
Mormon
1%
Other
1%

Economy

The Simmons Tower is the state’s tallest building.

Once a state with a cashless society in the uplands and plantation agriculture in the lowlands, Arkansas’s economy has evolved and diversified. The state’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $119 billion in 2015.[95] Six Fortune 500 companies are based in Arkansas, including the world’s #1 retailer, Walmart; Tyson Foods, J.B. Hunt, Dillard’s, Murphy USA, and Windstream are also headquartered in the state.[96] The per capita personal income in 2015 was $39,107, ranking forty-fifth in the nation.[97] The median household income from 2011–15 was $41,371, ranking forty-ninth in the nation.[98] The state’s agriculture outputs are poultry and eggs, soybeans, sorghum, cattle, cotton, rice, hogs, and milk. Its industrial outputs are food processing, electric equipment, fabricated metal products, machinery, and paper products. Mines in Arkansas produce natural gas, oil, crushed stone, bromine, and vanadium.[99] According to CNBC, Arkansas ranks as the 20th best state for business, with the 2nd-lowest cost of doing business, 5th-lowest cost of living, 11th best workforce, 20th-best economic climate, 28th-best educated workforce, 31st-best infrastructure and the 32nd-friendliest regulatory environment.[citation needed] Arkansas gained twelve spots in the best state for business rankings since 2011.[100] As of 2014, Arkansas was the most affordable U.S. state to live in.[101]

As of November 2016, the state’s unemployment rate is 4.0%[102]

Industry and commerce

Arkansas’s earliest industries were fur trading and agriculture, with development of cotton plantations in the areas near the Mississippi River. They were dependent on slave labor through the American Civil War.

Today only approximately 3% of the population is employed in the agricultural sector,[103] it remains a major part of the state’s economy, ranking 13th in the nation in the value of products sold.[104] The state is the U.S.’s largest producer of rice, broilers, and turkeys,[105] and ranks in the top three for cotton, pullets, and aquaculture (catfish).[104] Forestry remains strong in the Arkansas Timberlands, and the state ranks fourth nationally and first in the South in softwood lumber production.[106] Automobile parts manufacturers have opened factories in eastern Arkansas to support auto plants in other states. Bauxite was formerly a large part of the state’s economy, mined mostly around Saline County.[107]

Tourism is also very important to the Arkansas economy; the official state nickname “The Natural State” was created for state tourism advertising in the 1970s, and is still used to this day. The state maintains 52 state parks and the National Park Service maintains seven properties in Arkansas. The completion of the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock has drawn many visitors to the city and revitalized the nearby River Market District. Many cities also hold festivals, which draw tourists to Arkansas culture, such as The Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival in Warren, King Biscuit Blues Festival, Ozark Folk Festival, Toad Suck Daze, and Tontitown Grape Festival.

Media

As of 2010 many Arkansas local newspapers are owned by WEHCO Media, Alabama-based Lancaster Management, Kentucky-based Paxton Media Group, Missouri-based Rust Communications, Nevada-based Stephens Media, and New York-based GateHouse Media.[108]

Culture

Arkansas state symbols
Flag of Arkansas.svg

The Flag of Arkansas
Living insignia
Bird Northern mockingbird
Butterfly Diana fritillary
Flower Apple blossom
Insect Western honey bee
Mammal White-tailed deer
Tree Loblolly pine
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Dance Square dance
Food South Arkansas vine ripe pink tomato
Gemstone Diamond
Instrument Fiddle
Mineral Quartz
Rock Bauxite
Soil Stuttgart
Song “Arkansas”,
“Arkansas (You Run Deep In Me)”,
“Oh, Arkansas”,
“The Arkansas Traveler”
Tartan Arkansas Traveler Tartan
State route marker
Arkansas state route marker
State quarter
Arkansas quarter dollar coin

Released in 2003
Lists of United States state symbols

One of the bridge pavilions over Crystal Spring at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville

The culture of Arkansas is available to all in various forms, whether it be architecture, literature, or fine and performing arts. The state’s culture also includes distinct cuisine, dialect, and traditional festivals. Sports are also very important to the culture of Arkansas, ranging from football, baseball, and basketball to hunting and fishing. Perhaps the best-known piece of Arkansas’s culture is the stereotype of its citizens as shiftless hillbillies.[109] The reputation began when the state was characterized by early explorers as a savage wilderness full of outlaws and thieves.[110] The most enduring icon of Arkansas’s hillbilly reputation is The Arkansas Traveller, a painted depiction of a folk tale from the 1840s.[111] Although intended to represent the divide between rich southeastern plantation Arkansas planters and the poor northwestern hill country, the meaning was twisted to represent a Northerner lost in the Ozarks on a white horse asking a backwoods Arkansan for directions.[112] The state also suffers from the racial stigma common to former Confederate states, with historical events such as the Little Rock Nine adding to Arkansas’s enduring image.[113]

Art and history museums display pieces of cultural value for Arkansans and tourists to enjoy. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville was visited by 604,000 people in 2012, its first year.[114] The museum includes walking trails and educational opportunities in addition to displaying over 450 works covering five centuries of American art.[115] Several historic town sites have been restored as Arkansas state parks, including Historic Washington State Park, Powhatan Historic State Park, and Davidsonville Historic State Park.

Arkansas features a variety of native music across the state, ranging from the blues heritage of West Memphis, Pine Bluff, Helena–West Helena to rockabilly, bluegrass, and folk music from the Ozarks. Festivals such as the King Biscuit Blues Festival and Bikes, Blues, and BBQ pay homage to the history of blues in the state. The Ozark Folk Festival in Mountain View is a celebration of Ozark culture and often features folk and bluegrass musicians. Literature set in Arkansas such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and A Painted House by John Grisham describe the culture at various time periods.

Sports and recreation

The flooded forested bottomlands of east Arkansas attract wintering waterfowl (Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge).

Sports have become an integral part of the culture of Arkansas, and her residents enjoy participating in and spectating various events throughout the year.

Team sports and especially collegiate football have been important to Arkansans. College football in Arkansas began from humble beginnings. The University of Arkansas first fielded a team in 1894 when football was a very dangerous game. Recent studies of the damage to team members from the concussions common in football make it clear that the danger persists.

“Calling the Hogs” is a cheer that shows support for the Razorbacks, one of the two NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams in the state. High school football also began to grow in Arkansas in the early 20th century. Over the years, many Arkansans have looked to the Razorbacks football team as the public image of the state. Following the Little Rock Nine integration crisis at Little Rock Central High School, Arkansans looked to the successful Razorback teams in the following years to repair the state’s reputation. Although the University of Arkansas is based in Fayetteville, the Razorbacks have always played at least one game per season at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock in an effort to keep fan support in central and south Arkansas.

Arkansas State University joined the University of Arkansas in FBS (then known as Division I-A) in 1992 after playing in lower divisions for nearly two decades. The two schools have never played each other, due to the University of Arkansas’s policy of not playing intrastate games.[116] Two other campuses of the University of Arkansas System are Division I members. The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, a league whose members all play football in the second-level Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is a member of the FBS Sun Belt Conference, but is one of two conference schools that has no football program. The state’s other Division I member is the University of Central Arkansas, which is a full member (including football) of the FCS Southland Conference.

Seven of Arkansas’s smaller colleges play in NCAA Division II, with six in the Great American Conference and one in the Heartland Conference. Two other small Arkansas colleges compete in NCAA Division III, in which athletic scholarships are prohibited.

Baseball runs deep in Arkansas and has been popular before the state hosted Major League Baseball (MLB) spring training in Hot Springs from 1886 to the 1920s. Two minor league teams are based in the state. The Arkansas Travelers play at Dickey–Stephens Park in North Little Rock, and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals play in Arvest Ballpark in Springdale. Both teams compete in the Texas League.

Related to the state’s frontier past, hunting continues in the state. The state created the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 1915 to regulate hunting and enforce those regulations.[117] Today a significant portion of Arkansas’s population participates in hunting duck in the Mississippi flyway and deer across the state.[118] Millions of acres of public land are available for both bow and modern gun hunters.[118]

Fishing has always been popular in Arkansas, and the sport and the state have benefited from the creation of reservoirs across the state. Following the completion of Norfork Dam, the Norfork Tailwater and the White River have become a destination for trout fishers. Several smaller retirement communities such as Bull Shoals, Hot Springs Village, and Fairfield Bay have flourished due to their position on a fishing lake. The Buffalo National River has been preserved in its natural state by the National Park Service and is frequented by fly fishers annually.

Health

UAMS Medical Center, Little Rock

As of 2012, Arkansas, as with many Southern states, has a high incidence of premature death, infant mortality, cardiovascular deaths, and occupational fatalities compared to the rest of the United States.[119] The state is tied for 43rd with New York in percentage of adults who regularly exercise.[120] Arkansas is usually ranked as one of the least healthy states due to high obesity, smoking, and sedentary lifestyle rates.[119] However, a Gallup poll demonstrates that Arkansas made the most immediate progress in reducing its number of uninsured residents following the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The percentage of uninsured in Arkansas dropped from 22.5 percent in 2013 to 12.4 percent in August 2014.[121]

The Arkansas Clean Indoor Air Act went into effect in 2006, a statewide smoking ban excluding bars and some restaurants.[122]

Healthcare in Arkansas is provided by a network of hospitals as members of the Arkansas Hospital Association. Major institutions with multiple branches include Baptist Health, Community Health Systems, and HealthSouth. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock operates the UAMS Medical Center, a teaching hospital ranked as high performing nationally in cancer and nephrology.[123] The pediatric division of UAMS Medical Center is known as Arkansas Children’s Hospital, nationally ranked in pediatric cardiology and heart surgery.[124] Together, these two institutions are the state’s only Level I trauma centers.[125]

Education

Arkansas has 1,064 state-funded kindergartens, elementary, junior- and senior high schools.[126]

The state supports a network of public universities and colleges, including two major university systems: Arkansas State University System and University of Arkansas System. The University of Arkansas, flagship campus of the University of Arkansas System in Fayetteville was ranked #63 among public schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.[127] Other public institutions include University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Arkansas Tech University, Henderson State University, Southern Arkansas University, and University of Central Arkansas across the state. It is also home to 11 private colleges and universities including Hendrix College, one of the nation’s top 100 liberal arts colleges, according to U.S. News & World Report.[128]

In the 1920s the state required all children to attend public schools. The school year was set at 131 days, although some areas were unable to meet that requirement.[129][130]

Although unusual in the West, school corporal punishment is not uncommon in Arkansas, with 20,083 public school students[131]paddled at least one time, according to government data for the 2011–2012 school year.[132] The rate of corporal punishment in public schools is higher only in Mississippi.[132]

Educational attainment

Arkansas is one of the most under-educated states in the Union. It ranks near the bottom in terms of percentage of the population with either a high school or college degree. The state’s educational system has a history of under-funding, low teachers’ salaries and political meddling in the curriculum.[133]

Educational statistics during these early days are fragmentary and unreliable. Many counties did not submit full reports to the Secretary of State who did double-duty as Commissioner of Common Schools. However, the percentage of Whites over twenty years of age who were illiterate was given as:

  • 1840 21%
  • 1850 25%
  • 1860 17%

[134]

In 2010 Arkansas students earned an average score of 20.3 on the ACT exam, just below the national average of 21. These results were expected due to the large increase in the number of students taking the exam since the establishment of the Academic Challenge Scholarship.[135] Top high schools receiving recognition from the U.S. News & World Report are spread across the state, including Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville, KIPP Delta Collegiate in Helena-West Helena, Bentonville, Rogers, Rogers Heritage, Valley Springs, Searcy, and McCrory.[136] A total of 81 Arkansas high schools were ranked by the U.S. News & World Report in 2012.[137]

Old Main, part of the Campus Historic District at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville

Arkansas ranks as the 32nd smartest state on the Morgan Quitno Smartest State Award, 44th in percentage of residents with at least a high school diploma, and 48th in percentage of bachelor’s degree attainment.[138][139] Arkansas has been making strides in education reform. Education Week has praised the state, ranking Arkansas in the top 10 of their Quality Counts Education Rankings every year since 2009 while scoring it in the top 5 during 2012 and 2013.[140][141][142] Arkansas specifically received an A in Transition and Policy Making for progress in this area consisting of early-childhood education, college readiness, and career readiness.[143] Governor Mike Beebe has made improving education a major issue through his attempts to spend more on education.[144] Through reforms, the state is a leader in requiring curricula designed to prepare students for postsecondary education, rewarding teachers for student achievement, and providing incentives for principals who work in lower-tier schools.[145]

Funding

As an organized territory, and later in the early days of statehood, education was funded by the sales of Federally-controlled public lands. This system was inadequate and prone to local graft. In an 1854 message to the Legislature, Governor Elias N. Conway said, “We have a common-school law intended as a system to establish common schools in all part of the state; but for the want of adequate means there are very few in operation under this law.” At this time, only about a quarter of children were enrolled in school.
[146] By the beginning of the American Civil War, the state had only twenty-five publicly-funded common schools.[147]

In 1867, the state legislature was still controlled by ex-Confederates. It passed a Common Schools Law that allowed public funded but limited schools to White children.

The 1868 legislature banned former Confederates and passed a more wide-ranging law detailing funding and administrative issues and allowing Black children to attend school. In furtherance of this, the postwar 1868 state constitution was the first to permit a personal-property tax to fund the lands and buildings for public schools. With the 1868 elections, the first county school commissioners took office.[148]

In 2014, the state spent $9,616 per student, compared with a national average of about $11,000 putting Arkansas in nineteenth place.[149]

Timeline

1829 Territorial legislature permits townships to establish schools.
[146]

1868 State law required racial segregation of schools.

1871 University of Arkansas established.

1873 University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff established as a school to train Black teachers.

1877 Philander Smith College established as a school for Black students.

1890 Henderson State University established as a private school. The state assumed responsibility for it in 1929 as Henderson State Teachers College.

1885 Arkansas School for the Deaf and Arkansas School for the Blind established.

1909 Arkansas Tech University, Southern Arkansas University, University of Arkansas at Monticello and Arkansas State University established as schools offering high school diplomas and vocational training.

c. 1920 Schooling made compulsory.[133]

1925 University of Central Arkansas established as Arkansas State Normal School established.

1948 University of Arkansas School of Law admits a Black student

1957 Governor Orval Faubus used National Guard troops to oppose racial integration of Little Rock Central High School.

1958 In Cooper v. Aaron the United States Supreme Court ruled the state was bound to integrate school despite the opposition of the governor and legislature.

1983 The Arkansas State Supreme Court ruled the state’s funding of education was Constitutionally deficient.[133]

Transportation

The Greenville Bridge over the Mississippi River, August 2009

The Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railroad

Transportation in Arkansas is overseen by the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT), headquartered in Little Rock. Several main corridors pass through Little Rock, including Interstate 30 (I-30) and I-40 (the nation’s 3rd-busiest trucking corridor).[150] In northeast Arkansas, I-55 travels north from Memphis to Missouri, with a new spur to Jonesboro (I-555). Northwest Arkansas is served by I-540 from Fort Smith to Bella Vista, which is a segment of future I-49. The state also has the 13th largest state highway system in the nation.[151]

Arkansas is served by 2,750 miles (4,430 km) of railroad track divided among twenty-six railroad companies including three Class I railroads.[152] Freight railroads are concentrated in southeast Arkansas to serve the industries in the region. The Texas Eagle, an Amtrak passenger train, serves five stations in the state Walnut Ridge, Little Rock, Malvern, Arkadelphia, and Texarkana.

Arkansas also benefits from the use of its rivers for commerce. The Mississippi River and Arkansas River are both major rivers. The United States Army Corps of Engineers maintains the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, allowing barge traffic up the Arkansas River to the Port of Catoosa in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

There are four airports with commercial service: Clinton National Airport, Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, Fort Smith Regional Airport, and Texarkana Regional Airport, with dozens of smaller airports in the state.

Public transit and community transport services for the elderly or those with developmental disabilities are provided by agencies such as the Central Arkansas Transit Authority and the Ozark Regional Transit, organizations that are part of the Arkansas Transit Association.

Law and government

As with the federal government of the United States, political power in Arkansas is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. Each officer’s term is four years long. Office holders are term-limited to two full terms plus any partial terms before the first full term.[153]

Executive

The Governor of Arkansas is Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, who was inaugurated on January 13, 2015.[154][155] The six other elected executive positions in Arkansas are lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor, and land commissioner.[156] The governor also appoints qualified individuals to lead various state boards, committees, and departments. Arkansas governors served two-year terms until a referendum lengthened the term to four years, effective with the 1986 general election.

In Arkansas, the lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor and thus can be from a different political party.[157]

Legislative

The Arkansas General Assembly is the state’s bicameral bodies of legislators, composed of the Senate and House of Representatives. The Senate contains 35 members from districts of approximately equal population. These districts are redrawn decennially with each US census, and in election years ending in “2”, the entire body is put up for reelection. Following the election, half of the seats are designated as two-year seats and are up for reelection again in two years, these “half-terms” do not count against a legislator’s term limits. The remaining half serve a full four-year term. This staggers elections such that half the body is up for re-election every two years and allows for complete body turnover following redistricting.[158] Arkansas voters selected a 21–14 Republican majority in the Senate in 2012. Arkansas House members can serve a maximum of three two-year terms. House districts are redistricted by the Arkansas Board of Apportionment. Following the 2012 elections, Republicans gained a 51–49 majority in the House of Representatives.[159]

The Republican Party majority status in the Arkansas State House of Representatives following the 2012 elections is the party’s first since 1874. Arkansas was the last state of the old Confederacy to never have Republicans control either chamber of its house since the Civil War.[160]

Following the term limits changes, studies have shown that lobbyists have become less influential in state politics. Legislative staff, not subject to term limits, have acquired additional power and influence due to the high rate of elected official turnover.[161]

Judicial

Arkansas’s judicial branch has five court systems: Arkansas Supreme Court, Arkansas Court of Appeals, Circuit Courts, District Courts and City Courts.

Most cases begin in district court, which is subdivided into state district court and local district court. State district courts exercise district-wide jurisdiction over the districts created by the General Assembly, and local district courts are presided over by part-time judges who may privately practice law. 25 state district court judges preside over 15 districts, with more districts created in 2013 and 2017. There are 28 judicial circuits of Circuit Court, with each contains five subdivisions: criminal, civil, probate, domestic relations, and juvenile court. The jurisdiction of the Arkansas Court of Appeals is determined by the Arkansas Supreme Court, and there is no right of appeal from the Court of Appeals to the high court. The Arkansas Supreme Court can review Court of Appeals cases upon application by either a party to the litigation, upon request by the Court of Appeals, or if the Arkansas Supreme Court feels the case should have been initially assigned to it. The twelve judges of the Arkansas Court of Appeals are elected from judicial districts to renewable six-year terms.

The Arkansas Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the state, composed of seven justices elected to eight-year terms. Established by the Arkansas Constitution in 1836, the court’s decisions can be appealed to only the Supreme Court of the United States.

Federal

Both of Arkansas’s U.S. Senators, John Boozman and Tom Cotton, are Republicans. The state has four seats in U.S. House of Representatives. All four seats are held by Republicans: Rick Crawford (1st district), French Hill (2nd district), Steve Womack (3rd district), and Bruce Westerman (4th district).[162]

Politics

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2016 60.57% 684,872 33.65% 380,494
2012 60.57% 647,744 36.88% 394,409
2008 58.72% 638,017 38.86% 422,310
2004 54.31% 572,898 44.55% 469,953
2000 51.31% 472,940 45.86% 422,768
1996 36.80% 325,416 53.74% 475,171
1992 35.48% 337,324 53.21% 505,823
1988 56.37% 466,578 42.19% 349,237
1984 60.47% 534,774 38.29% 338,646
1980 48.13% 403,164 47.52% 398,041
1976 34.93% 268,753 64.94% 499,614
1972 68.82% 445,751 30.71% 198,899

Treemap of the popular vote by county, 2016 presidential election.

Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton brought national attention to the state with a long speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention endorsing Michael Dukakis. Some journalists suggested the speech was a threat to his ambitions; Clinton defined it “a comedy of error, just one of those fluky things”.[163] Clinton won the Democratic nomination for President the following cycle. Presenting himself as a “New Democrat” and using incumbent George H. W. Bush’s broken promise against him, Clinton won the 1992 presidential election (43.0% of the vote) against Republican Bush (37.4% of the vote) and billionaire populist Ross Perot, who ran as an independent (18.9% of the vote).

Most Republican strength traditionally lay mainly in the northwestern part of the state, particularly Fort Smith and Bentonville, as well as North Central Arkansas around the Mountain Home area. In the latter area, Republicans have been known to get 90 percent or more of the vote, while the rest of the state was more Democratic. After 2010, Republican strength expanded further to the Northeast and Southwest and into the Little Rock suburbs. The Democrats are mostly concentrated to central Little Rock, the Mississippi Delta, the Pine Bluff area, and the areas around the southern border with Louisiana.

Arkansas has only elected three Republicans to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction: Tim Hutchinson, who was defeated after one term by Mark Pryor; John Boozman, who defeated incumbent Blanche Lincoln; and Tom Cotton, who defeated Mark Pryor in the 2014 elections. Before 2013, the General Assembly had not been controlled by the Republican Party since Reconstruction, with the GOP holding a 51-seat majority in the state House and a 21-seat (of 35) in the state Senate following victories in 2012. Arkansas was one of just three states among the states of the former Confederacy that sent two Democrats to the U.S. Senate (the others being Florida and Virginia) for any period during the first decade of the 21st century.

In 2010, Republicans captured three of the state’s four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2012, Republicans won election for all four House seats. Arkansas held the distinction of having a U.S. House delegation composed entirely of military veterans (Rick Crawford – Army; Tim Griffin – Army Reserve; Steve Womack – Army National Guard, Tom Cotton- Army). In 2014, the last Democrat in Arkansas’s Congressional Delegation, Mark Pryor, was defeated in his campaign to win a third term in the U.S. Senate, leaving the entire congressional delegation in GOP hands for the first time since Reconstruction.

Reflecting the state’s large evangelical population, the state has a strong social conservative bent. Under the Arkansas Constitution Arkansas is a right to work state, its voters passed a ban on same-sex marriage with 75% voting yes,[164] and the state is one of a handful with legislation on its books banning abortion in the event Roe v. Wade is ever overturned.

Attractions

Blanchard Springs Caverns in Stone County is a tourist destination.

Arkansas is home to many areas protected by the National Park System. These include:[165]

  • Arkansas Post National Memorial at Gillett
  • Blanchard Springs Caverns
  • Buffalo National River
  • Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • Hot Springs National Park
  • Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
  • Pea Ridge National Military Park
  • President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site
  • Arkansas State Capitol Building
  • List of Arkansas state parks

See also

  • Flag of Arkansas.svg Arkansas portal
  • Outline of Arkansas – organized list of topics about Arkansas
  • Index of Arkansas-related articles

Notes

  1. ^ ab Elevation adjusted to North American Vertical Datum of 1988.
  2. ^ The Geographic Names Index System (GNIS) of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) indicates that the official name of this feature is Magazine Mountain, not “Mount Magazine”. Although not a hard and fast rule, generally “Mount X” is used for a peak and “X Mountain” is more frequently used for ridges, which better describes this feature. Magazine Mountain appears in the GNIS as a ridge,[5] with Signal Hill identified as its summit.[6] “Mount Magazine” is the name used by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, which follows what the locals have used since the area was first settled.
  3. ^ abcde The name Arkansas has been pronounced and spelled in a variety of fashions. The region was organized as the Territory of Arkansaw on July 4, 1819, but the territory was admitted to the United States as the state of Arkansas on June 15, 1836. The name was historically /ˈɑːrkənsɔː/, /ɑːrˈkænzəs/, and several other variants. Historically and modernly, the people of Arkansas call themselves either “Arkansans” or “Arkansawyers”. In 1881, the Arkansas General Assembly passed the following concurrent resolution, now Arkansas Code 1 April 105:[14].mw-parser-output .templatequote{overflow:hidden;margin:1em 0;padding:0 40px}.mw-parser-output .templatequote .templatequotecite{line-height:1.5em;text-align:left;padding-left:1.6em;margin-top:0}

    Whereas, confusion of practice has arisen in the pronunciation of the name of our state and it is deemed important that the true pronunciation should be determined for use in oral official proceedings.

    And, whereas, the matter has been thoroughly investigated by the State Historical Society and the Eclectic Society of Little Rock, which have agreed upon the correct pronunciation as derived from history, and the early usage of the American immigrants..

    Be it therefore resolved by both houses of the General Assembly, that the only true pronunciation of the name of the state, in the opinion of this body, is that received by the French from the native Indians and committed to writing in the French word representing the sound. It should be pronounced in three (3) syllables, with the final “s” silent, the “a” in each syllable with the Italian sound, and the accent on the first and last syllables. The pronunciation with the accent on the second syllable with the sound of “a” in “man” and the sounding of the terminal “s” is discouraged by Arkansans.

    Despite this, the state’s name is still frequently mispronounced, especially by non-Americans; in fact, it is spelled in Cyrillic with the ar-KAN-zəs pronunciation.

    Citizens of the state of Kansas often pronounce the Arkansas River as /ɑːrˈkænzəs/, in a manner similar to the common pronunciation of the name of their state.

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  88. ^ American FactFinder, United States Census Bureau (2010). “Arkansas – Selected Social Characteristics in the United States”. American Community Survey. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
  89. ^ Sharing the Dream: White Males in a Multicultural America By Dominic J. Pulera.
  90. ^ Reynolds Farley, ‘The New Census Question about Ancestry: What Did It Tell Us?’, Demography, Vol. 28, No. 3 (August 1991), pp. 414, 421.
  91. ^ Stanley Lieberson and Lawrence Santi, ‘The Use of Nativity Data to Estimate Ethnic Characteristics and Patterns’, Social Science Research, Vol. 14, No. 1 (1985), pp. 44–6.
  92. ^ Stanley Lieberson and Mary C. Waters, ‘Ethnic Groups in Flux: The Changing Ethnic Responses of American Whites’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 487, No. 79 (September 1986), pp. 82–86.
  93. ^ “The Association of Religion Data Archives | State membership Report”. www.Thearda.com. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
  94. ^ “Religion in America: U.S. Religious Data, Demographics and Statistics – Pew Research Center”.
  95. ^ “Graph: Total Gross Domestic Product by State for Arkansas”. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  96. ^ “Fortune 500”. Forbes. 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  97. ^ “Graph: Per Capita Personal Income in Arkansas”. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  98. ^ “Quick Facts, Income and Poverty”. United States Census Bureau. 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  99. ^ “The Mineral Industry of Arkansas” (PDF). 2008 Minerals Yearbook. United States Geological Survey. August 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
  100. ^ “Arkansas #20”. America’s Best States for Business 2012. CNBC. 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
  101. ^ EZ Landlord Forms. “Cost To Rent A Home”. ezlandlordforms.com. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  102. ^ “Graph: Unemployment Rate in Arkansas”. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. November 2016. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  103. ^ “Selected Economic Characteristics 2006–2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates”. United States Census Bureau. 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
  104. ^ ab “Arkansas State Profile” (PDF). Census of Agriculture. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
  105. ^ U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Poultry – Production and Value, 2010 Summary, data indicates Arkansas led the nation in 2008, 2009, and 2010, in both broilers and turkeys.
  106. ^ Pelkki, Matthew H. “An Economic Assessment of Arkansas’ Forest Industries: Challenges and Opportunities for the 21st Century” (PDF). University of Arkansas-Monticello School of Forest Resources, Arkansas Forest Resources Center, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 28, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
  107. ^ Bush, William V. “History of Bauxite in Arkansas” (PDF). Arkansas Geological Survey. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
  108. ^ C. Dennis Schick, “Mass Media”, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, Central Arkansas Library System, retrieved March 24, 2017
  109. ^ Arnold et al. 2002, p. 115.
  110. ^ Blevins 2009, p. 15.
  111. ^ Blevins 2009, p. 30.
  112. ^ Sutherlin 1996, p. 20.
  113. ^ Sutherlin 1996, p. 17.
  114. ^ Bartels, Chuck (November 12, 2012). “600K visitors later, Crystal Bridges turns 1”. News Ok. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
  115. ^ Reynolds, Chris (October 14, 2012). “Crystal Bridges art museum is reshaping Wal-Mart’s hometown”. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  116. ^ “Arkansas matchup is not likely soon”. Sun Herald. July 20, 2003. p. 9B.
  117. ^ Griffee, Carol. “Odyssey Of Survival, A History of the Arkansas Conservation Sales Tax” (PDF). p. 10. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  118. ^ ab Sutherlin 1996, p. 164.
  119. ^ ab “Arkansas”. America’s Health Rankings. United Health Foundation. 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  120. ^ “Physical exercise (most recent) by state”. Health Statistics. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  121. ^ Wilson, Reid. “Arkansas is the Best State in America”. www.washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  122. ^ “Arkansas Smoking Ban”. KLRT-TV. July 22, 2006. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  123. ^ “University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences”. Health & Hospitals. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  124. ^ “Arkansas Children’s Hospital”. Health & Hospitals. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  125. ^ “Designated Trauma Centers”. Arkansas Department of Health. December 17, 2012. Archived from the original on February 11, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  126. ^ “Arkansas K-12 Profile: 2016–2017”. Arkansas State Board of Education. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  127. ^ “Top Public Schools”. College Ranking Lists. U.S. News & World Report. 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  128. ^ “National Liberal Arts College Rankings”. U.S. News & World Report. 2012. Archived from the original on August 21, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  129. ^ Holley, Marc J. “Encyclopedia of Arkansas”. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  130. ^ Wilson, William Oscar (August 30, 1918). History of Public School Education in Arkansas; 1900–1918. University of Chicago, Department of Education. p. Page.
  131. ^ Please note this figure refers to only the number of students paddled, regardless of whether a student was spanked multiple times in a year, and does not refer to the number of instances of corporal punishment, which would be substantially higher.
  132. ^ ab Farrell, Colin (February 2016). “Corporal punishment in US schools”. World Corporal Punishment Research. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  133. ^ abc Holley, Marc J. “Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture”. Education Reform. University of Arkansas. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  134. ^ Wilson, William Oscar (August 30, 1918). History of Public School Education in Arkansas; 1900–1918. University of Chicago, Department of Education. p. 7.
  135. ^ “Arkansas’ ACT score slips in 2010”. Arkansas Public School Resource Center. August 18, 2010. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  136. ^ “Best High Schools in Arkansas”. U.S. News & World Report. 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  137. ^ “Arkansas High Schools”. U.S. News & World Report. 2012. Archived from the original on August 30, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  138. ^ “2006–2007 Smartest State Award”. Morgan Quitno Press. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  139. ^ “Educational Attainment, American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates”. 2010 United States Census. United States Census Bureau. 2010. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  140. ^ “Quality Counts 2009 – State Report Cards – Education Week”. www.edweek.org.
  141. ^ “Quality counts” (PDF). www.edweek.org. 2012.
  142. ^ “Qua;ity counts” (PDF). www.edweek.org. 2013.
  143. ^ Hightower, Amy M. “States Show Spotty Progress on Education Gauges”. Education Week. pp. 42, 44. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  144. ^ Blagg, Brenda (April 12, 2007). “Lawsuit may go way of Lake View district”. DeWitt, Arkansas: Dewitt Era-Enterprise. p. 4A.
  145. ^ Sauter, Michael; Weigley, Samuel (January 30, 2013). “The states with the best and worst schools”. Yahoo. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  146. ^ ab Wilson, William Oscar (August 30, 1918). History of Public School Education in Arkansas; 1900–1918. University of Chicago, Department of Education. p. 3.
  147. ^ Wilson, William Oscar (August 30, 1918). History of Public School Education in Arkansas; 1900–1918. University of Chicago, Department of Education. p. 8.
  148. ^ Wilson, William Oscar (August 30, 1918). History of Public School Education in Arkansas; 1900–1918. University of Chicago, Department of Education. p. 4.
  149. ^ “Education Spending Per Student by State”. Governing. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  150. ^ Mukhopadhyay, Ph.D., Sutapa. “Memphis: The Number One City of Chemical Related Incidents in Tennessee” (PDF). Tennessee Department of Health. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 17, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
  151. ^ Hartgen, David T.; Karanam, M. Gregory; Fields; Kerscher, Travis A. (September 2010). “19th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems (1984–2008)” (PDF) (PDF). Reason Foundation. p. 46.
  152. ^ “Arkansas State Rail Plan” (PDF). Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department. 2002. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 17, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
  153. ^ English, Art; Weberg, Brian (2005). “Term Limits in the Arkansas General Assembly: A Citizen Legislature Responds” (PDF). Joint Project on Term Limits. National Conference of State Legislatures. p. 1. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  154. ^ “Winners in ’06 Governors races” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 28, 2011. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  155. ^ “Arkansas.gov Administration page for Governor”. Dwe.arkansas.gov. March 16, 2007. Archived from the original on June 14, 2006. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  156. ^ Arkansas Code 7 May 806.
  157. ^ “Office of Lieutenant Governor”. Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. The Pryor Center. February 28, 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  158. ^ Greenberg, Dan. “The Dangers of Diluting Term Limits”. Arkansas Policy Center. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
  159. ^ Cooke, Mallory. “Republicans Take Control of Arkansas House, Senate”. KFSM-TV. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  160. ^ “Arkansas Senate flips; first time since Reconstruction”. The Courier. November 7, 2012. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  161. ^ English, Art; Weberg, Brian (2005). “Term Limits in the Arkansas General Assembly: A Citizen Legislature Responds” (PDF). Joint Project on Term Limits. National Conference of State Legislatures. pp. 33–34. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  162. ^ Urban, Peter (January 4, 2013). “New Arkansas Rep. Cotton Draws Spotlight; 113th Congress Sworn In”. The Times-Record. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  163. ^ Kornacki, Steve. “When Bill Clinton died onstage”. Salon. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  164. ^ “CNN: Election 2004 – Ballot Measures”.
  165. ^ “Arkansas”. National Park Service. Retrieved July 15, 2008.

Bibliography

  • Arnold, Morris S (Spring 1992). “The Significance of the Arkansas Colonial Experience”. Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 51: 69–82.
  • Arnold, Morris S.; DeBlack, Thomas A; Sabo III, George; Whayne, Jeannie M (2002). Arkansas: A narrative history (1st ed.). Fayetteville, AR: The University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 978-1-55728-724-3. OCLC 49029558.
  • Blevins, Brooks (2009). Arkansas/Arkansaw, How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies & Good Ol’ Boys Defined a State. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 978-1-55728-952-0
  • Bolton, S. Charles (Spring 1999). “Slavery and the Defining of Arkansas”. The Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 58.
  • Fletcher, John Gould (1989). Carpenter, Lucas, ed. Arkansas. 2. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 978-1-55728-040-4. OCLC 555740849.
  • Johnson, William R. (Spring 1965). “Prelude to the Missouri Compromise: A New York Congressman’s Effort to Exclude Slavery from Arkansas Territory”. Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 24: 47–66.
  • Scroggs, Jack B (Autumn 1961). “Arkansas Statehood: A Study in State and National Political Schism”. Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 20: 227–244.
  • Smith, Richard M. (1989). The Atlas of Arkansas. The University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 978-1557280473.
  • White, Lonnie J. (Autumn 1962). “Arkansas Territorial Indian Affairs”. Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 21: 193–212.
  • Sutherlin, Diann (1996). The Arkansas Handbook (2nd ed.). Little Rock, Arkansas: Fly By Night Press. ISBN 978-0-932531-03-2. LCCN 95-90761.
  • The WPA Guide to 1930s Arkansas. Federal Writers’ Project (1st paperback ed.). Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1987 [1941]. ISBN 978-0700603411. LCCN 87-81307.

Further reading

.mw-parser-output .refbegin{font-size:90%;margin-bottom:0.5em}.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>ul{list-style-type:none;margin-left:0}.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>ul>li,.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>dl>dd{margin-left:0;padding-left:3.2em;text-indent:-3.2em;list-style:none}.mw-parser-output .refbegin-100{font-size:100%}

  • Blair, Diane D. & Jay Barth Arkansas Politics & Government: Do the People Rule? (2005)
  • Deblack, Thomas A. With Fire and Sword: Arkansas, 1861–1874 (2003)
  • Donovan, Timothy P. and Willard B. Gatewood Jr., eds. The Governors of Arkansas (1981)
  • Dougan, Michael B. Confederate Arkansas (1982),
  • Duvall, Leland. ed., Arkansas: Colony and State (1973)
  • Hamilton, Peter Joseph. The Reconstruction Period (1906), full length history of era; Dunning School approach; 570 pp; ch 13 on Arkansas
  • Hanson, Gerald T. and Carl H. Moneyhon. Historical Atlas of Arkansas (1992)
  • Key, V. O. Southern Politics (1949)
  • Kirk, John A., Redefining the Color Line: Black Activism in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1940–1970 (2002).
  • McMath, Sidney S. Promises Kept (2003)
  • Moore, Waddy W. ed., Arkansas in the Gilded Age, 1874–1900 (1976).
  • Peirce, Neal R. The Deep South States of America: People, Politics, and Power in the Seven Deep South States (1974).
  • Thompson, Brock. The Un-Natural State: Arkansas and the Queer South (2010)
  • Thompson, George H. Arkansas and Reconstruction (1976)
  • Whayne, Jeannie M. Arkansas Biography: A Collection of Notable Lives (2000)
  • White, Lonnie J. Politics on the Southwestern Frontier: Arkansas Territory, 1819–1836 (1964)
  • Williams, C. Fred. ed. A Documentary History Of Arkansas (2005)

External links

  • Arkansas.gov – Official State Website
  • Arkansas State Facts from USDA
  • Official State tourism website
  • The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
  • Energy & Environmental Data for Arkansas
  • U.S. Census Bureau
  • 2000 Census of Population and Housing for Arkansas, U.S. Census Bureau
  • USGS real-time, geographic, and other scientific resources of Arkansas
  • Arkansas Summer Camps
  • Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre
  • Arkansas at Ballotpedia
  • Arkansas at Curlie
  • Geographic data related to Arkansas at OpenStreetMap
  • Arkansas State Code (the state statutes of Arkansas)
  • Arkansas State Databases – Annotated list of searchable databases produced by Arkansas state agencies and compiled by the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association.

Preceded by
Missouri
List of U.S. states by date of admission to the Union
Admitted on June 15, 1836 (25th)
Succeeded by
Michigan

Coordinates: 34°48′N 92°12′W / 34.8°N 92.2°W / 34.8; -92.2


Louisiana

State of the United States of America
State of Louisiana

.mw-parser-output .nobold{font-weight:normal}
État de Louisiane  (French)
Flag of Louisiana State seal of Louisiana
Flag Seal
Nickname(s):

Bayou State • Creole State • Pelican State (official)
Sportsman’s Paradise • The Boot
Motto(s): Union, Justice, Confidence
State song(s): ““Give Me Louisiana”
“You Are My Sunshine”
“State March Song”
“Gifts of the Earth”
Map of the United States with Louisiana highlighted
Official language No official language
Spoken languages As of 2010[1]

  • English 91.26%
  • French 3.45% (incl. Cajun and Creole)
  • Spanish 3.30%
  • Vietnamese 0.59%
Demonym Louisianian (French: Louisianais)
Capital Baton Rouge
Largest city New Orleans[2][3][4]
Largest metro Greater New Orleans
Area Ranked 31st
 • Total 52,378.13 sq mi
(135,382 km2)
 • Width 130 miles (210 km)
 • Length 379 miles (610 km)
 • % water 15
 • Latitude 28° 56′ N to 33° 01′ N
 • Longitude 88° 49′ W to 94° 03′ W
Population Ranked 25th
 • Total 4,684,333 (2017 est.)[5]
 • Density 93.6/sq mi  (34.6/km2)
Ranked 24th
 • Median household income $45,992[6] (45th)
Elevation
 • Highest point Driskill Mountain[7][8]
535 ft (163 m)
 • Mean 100 ft  (30 m)
 • Lowest point New Orleans[7][8]
−8 ft (−2.5 m)
Before statehood Territory of Orleans
Admission to Union April 30, 1812 (18th)
Governor John Bel Edwards (D)
Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser (R)
Legislature State Legislature
 • Upper house State Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy (R)
John Kennedy (R)
U.S. House delegation 5 Republicans
1 Democrat (list)
Time zone Central: UTC −6/−5
ISO 3166 US-LA
Abbreviations LA, La.
Website louisiana.gov
Louisiana state symbols
Flag of Louisiana.svg

The Flag of Louisiana
Seal of Louisiana.svg

The Seal of Louisiana
Living insignia
Bird Brown pelican
Dog breed Catahoula Leopard Dog
Fish White perch
Flower Magnolia
Insect Honeybee
Mammal Black bear
Reptile Alligator
Tree Bald cypress
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Fossil Petrified palmwood
Gemstone Agate
Instrument Diatonic accordion
State route marker
Louisiana state route marker
State quarter
Louisiana quarter dollar coin

Released in 2002
Lists of United States state symbols

Louisiana entrance sign off Interstate 20 in Madison Parish east of Tallulah

Louisiana (/luˌziˈænə/ (About this soundlisten), /ˌlzi-/ (About this soundlisten))[a] is a state in the Deep South region of the southeastern United States. It is the 31st most extensive and the 25th most populous of the 50 United States. Louisiana is bordered by Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and the state of Texas to the west. A large part of its eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River. Louisiana is the only U.S. state with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are equivalent to counties. The state’s capital is Baton Rouge, and its largest city is New Orleans.

Much of the state’s lands were formed from sediment washed down the Mississippi River, leaving enormous deltas and vast areas of coastal marsh and swamp.[10][self-published source] These contain a rich southern biota; typical examples include birds such as ibis and egrets. There are also many species of tree frogs, and fish such as sturgeon and paddlefish. In more elevated areas, fire is a natural process in the landscape, and has produced extensive areas of longleaf pine forest and wet savannas. These support an exceptionally large number of plant species, including many species of terrestrial orchids and carnivorous plants.[10] Louisiana has more Native American tribes than any other southern state, including four that are federally recognized, ten that are state recognized, and four that have not received recognition.[11]

Some Louisiana urban environments have a multicultural, multilingual heritage, being so strongly influenced by a mixture of 18th-century French, Haitian, Spanish, Native American, and African cultures that they are considered to be exceptional in the US. Before the American purchase of the territory in 1803, present-day Louisiana State had been both a French colony and for a brief period a Spanish one. In addition, colonists imported numerous African people as slaves in the 18th century. Many came from peoples of the same region of West Africa, thus concentrating their culture. In the post-Civil War environment, Anglo-Americans increased the pressure for Anglicization, and in 1921, English was for a time made the sole language of instruction in Louisiana schools before a policy of multilingualism was revived in 1974.[12][13] There has never been an official language in Louisiana, and the state constitution enumerates “the right of the people to preserve, foster, and promote their respective historic, linguistic, and cultural origins.”[12]

Contents

  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 Geology
  • 3 Geography

    • 3.1 Climate
    • 3.2 Hurricanes since 1950
  • 4 Publicly-owned land

    • 4.1 National Park Service
    • 4.2 US Forest Service
    • 4.3 State parks and recreational areas
    • 4.4 Wildlife management areas
    • 4.5 Natural and Scenic Rivers
  • 5 Transportation

    • 5.1 Interstate highways
    • 5.2 United States highways
  • 6 History

    • 6.1 Pre-colonial history
    • 6.2 Exploration and colonization by Europeans
    • 6.3 Expansion of slavery
    • 6.4 Haitian migration and influence
    • 6.5 Purchase by the United States (1803)
    • 6.6 Statehood (1812)
    • 6.7 Secession and the Civil War (1860–1865)
    • 6.8 Post-Civil War to mid-20th century (1865–1945)
    • 6.9 Post-World War II (1945–)
    • 6.10 2000 to present
  • 7 Demographics

    • 7.1 Race and ethnicity
    • 7.2 Religion
    • 7.3 Major cities
  • 8 Economy

    • 8.1 Federal subsidies and spending
    • 8.2 Energy
  • 9 Law and government

    • 9.1 Administrative divisions
    • 9.2 Civil law
    • 9.3 Marriage
    • 9.4 Elections
    • 9.5 Law enforcement
    • 9.6 Judiciary
  • 10 National Guard
  • 11 Media
  • 12 Education
  • 13 Sports
  • 14 Culture

    • 14.1 African culture
    • 14.2 Louisiana Creole culture
    • 14.3 Acadian culture
    • 14.4 Isleño culture
    • 14.5 Languages
    • 14.6 Literature
    • 14.7 Music
  • 15 See also
  • 16 Notes
  • 17 References
  • 18 Bibliography
  • 19 External links

    • 19.1 Geology links
    • 19.2 Government
    • 19.3 U.S. government
    • 19.4 News media
    • 19.5 Ecoregions
    • 19.6 Tourism

Etymology

Louisiana was named after Louis XIV, King of France from 1643 to 1715. When René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle claimed the territory drained by the Mississippi River for France, he named it La Louisiane.[14] The suffix -ana (or -ane) is a Latin suffix that can refer to “information relating to a particular individual, subject, or place.” Thus, roughly, Louis + ana carries the idea of “related to Louis.” Once part of the French Colonial Empire, the Louisiana Territory stretched from present-day Mobile Bay to just north of the present-day Canada–United States border, including a small part of what is now the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Geology

The Gulf of Mexico did not exist 250 million years ago when there was but one supercontinent, Pangea. As Pangea split apart, the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico opened. Louisiana slowly developed, over millions of years, from water into land, and from north to south.[10] The oldest rocks are exposed in the north, in areas such as the Kisatchie National Forest. The oldest rocks date back to the early Cenozoic Era, some 60 million years ago. The history of the formation of these rocks can be found in D. Spearing’s Roadside Geology of Louisiana.[15]

The youngest parts of the state were formed during the last 12,000 years as successive deltas of the Mississippi River: the Maringouin, Teche, St. Bernard, Lafourche, the modern Mississippi, and now the Atchafalaya.[16] The sediments were carried from north to south by the Mississippi River.

In between the Tertiary rocks of the north, and the relatively new sediments along the coast, is a vast belt known as the Pleistocene Terraces. Their age and distribution can be largely related to the rise and fall of sea levels during past ice ages. In general, the northern terraces have had sufficient time for rivers to cut deep channels, while the newer terraces tend to be much flatter.[17]

Salt domes are also found in Louisiana. Their origin can be traced back to the early Gulf of Mexico, when the shallow ocean had high rates of evaporation. There are several hundred salt domes in the state; one of the most familiar is Avery Island.[18] Salt domes are important not only as a source of salt; they also serve as underground traps for oil and gas.[19]

Geography

Map of Louisiana

Aerial view of Louisiana wetland habitats.

A field of yellow wildflowers in Saint Bernard Parish

Honey Island Swamp

Sign upon a trail in the woods

Entrance to the Bald Eagle Nest Trail at South Toledo Bend State Park

Bogue Chitto State Park

Louisiana is bordered to the west by Texas; to the north by Arkansas; to the east by Mississippi; and to the south by the Gulf of Mexico.

The state may properly be divided into two parts, the uplands of the north, and the alluvial along the coast.

The alluvial region includes low swamp lands, coastal marshlands and beaches, and barrier islands that cover about 20,000 square miles (52,000 km2). This area lies principally along the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River, which traverses the state from north to south for a distance of about 600 mi (970 km)) and empties into the Gulf of Mexico; the Red River; the Ouachita River and its branches; and other minor streams (some of which are called bayous).

The breadth of the alluvial region along the Mississippi is from 10 to 60 miles (15 to 100 km), and along the other rivers, the alluvial region averages about 10 miles (15 km) across. The Mississippi River flows along a ridge formed by its own natural deposits (known as a levee), from which the lands decline toward a river beyond at an average fall of six feet per mile (3 m/km). The alluvial lands along other streams present similar features.

The higher and contiguous hill lands of the north and northwestern part of the state have an area of more than 25,000 square miles (65,000 km2). They consist of prairie and woodlands. The elevations above sea level range from 10 feet (3 m) at the coast and swamp lands to 50 and 60 feet (15–18 m) at the prairie and alluvial lands. In the uplands and hills, the elevations rise to Driskill Mountain, the highest point in the state at only 535 feet (163 m) above sea level. From years 1932 to 2010 the state lost 1,800 sq. miles due to rises in sea level and erosion. The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) spends around $1 billion per year to help shore up and protect Louisiana shoreline and land in both federal and state funding.[20]

Besides the waterways already named, there are the Sabine, forming the western boundary; and the Pearl, the eastern boundary; the Calcasieu, the Mermentau, the Vermilion, Bayou Teche, the Atchafalaya, the Boeuf, Bayou Lafourche, the Courtableau River, Bayou D’Arbonne, the Macon River, the Tensas, Amite River, the Tchefuncte, the Tickfaw, the Natalbany River, and a number of other smaller streams, constituting a natural system of navigable waterways, aggregating over 4,000 miles (6,400 km) long.

The state also has political jurisdiction over the approximately 3-mile (4.8 km)-wide portion of subsea land of the inner continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico. Through a peculiarity of the political geography of the United States, this is substantially less than the 9-mile (14 km)-wide jurisdiction of nearby states Texas and Florida, which, like Louisiana, have extensive Gulf coastlines.[21]

The southern coast of Louisiana in the United States is among the fastest-disappearing areas in the world. This has largely resulted from human mismanagement of the coast (see Wetlands of Louisiana). At one time, the land was added to when spring floods from the Mississippi River added sediment and stimulated marsh growth; the land is now shrinking. There are multiple causes.[22][23]

Artificial levees block spring flood water that would bring fresh water and sediment to marshes. Swamps have been extensively logged, leaving canals and ditches that allow saline water to move inland. Canals dug for the oil and gas industry also allow storms to move sea water inland, where it damages swamps and marshes. Rising sea waters have exacerbated the problem. Some researchers estimate that the state is losing a land mass equivalent to 30 football fields every day. There are many proposals to save coastal areas by reducing human damage, including restoring natural floods from the Mississippi. Without such restoration, coastal communities will continue to disappear.[24] And as the communities disappear, more and more people are leaving the region.[25] Since the coastal wetlands support an economically important coastal fishery, the loss of wetlands is adversely affecting this industry.

Climate

Baton Rouge
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
5.9
 
 
62
42
 
 
5
 
 
65
44
 
 
5
 
 
72
51
 
 
5.3
 
 
78
57
 
 
5.2
 
 
84
64
 
 
5.8
 
 
89
70
 
 
5.4
 
 
91
73
 
 
5.7
 
 
91
72
 
 
4.5
 
 
88
68
 
 
3.6
 
 
81
57
 
 
4.8
 
 
71
48
 
 
5.2
 
 
64
43
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: [26]
New Orleans
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
5.9
 
 
64
44
 
 
5.5
 
 
66
47
 
 
5.2
 
 
73
53
 
 
5
 
 
79
59
 
 
4.6
 
 
85
66
 
 
6.8
 
 
90
72
 
 
6.2
 
 
91
74
 
 
6.2
 
 
91
74
 
 
5.6
 
 
88
70
 
 
3.1
 
 
80
61
 
 
5.1
 
 
72
52
 
 
5.1
 
 
65
46
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: as above

Louisiana has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa). It has long, hot, humid summers and short, mild winters. The subtropical characteristics of the state are due in large part to the influence of the Gulf of Mexico, which at its farthest point is no more than 200 mi (320 km) away. The combined effect of the warm Gulf waters, low elevation, and low latitude create the mild subtropical climate Louisiana is known for.

Rain is frequent throughout the year, although the summer is slightly wetter than the rest of the year. There is a dip in precipitation in October. Southern Louisiana receives far more copious rainfall, especially during the winter months. Summers in Louisiana have high temperatures from mid-June to mid-September averaging 90 °F (32 °C) or more, and overnight lows averaging above 70 °F (22 °C).

In the summer, the extreme maximum temperature is much warmer in the north than in the south, with temperatures near the Gulf of Mexico occasionally reaching 100 °F (38 °C), although temperatures above 95 °F (35 °C) are commonplace. In northern Louisiana, the temperatures reach above 105 °F (41 °C) in the summer.

Temperatures are generally warm in the winter in the southern part of the state, with highs around New Orleans, Baton Rouge, the rest of south Louisiana, and the Gulf of Mexico averaging 66 °F (19 °C). The northern part of the state is mildly cool in the winter, with highs averaging 59 °F (15 °C). The overnight lows in the winter average well above freezing throughout the state, with 46 °F (8 °C) the average near the Gulf and an average low of 37 °F (3 °C) in the winter in the northern part of the state.

Louisiana gets some cold fronts, which frequently drop the temperatures below 20 °F (−8 °C) in the northern part of the state, but almost never do so in the southern part of the state. Snow is rare near the Gulf of Mexico, although residents in the northern parts of the state might receive snowfall, it is still rare. Louisiana’s highest recorded temperature is 114 °F (46 °C) in Plain Dealing on August 10, 1936, while the coldest recorded temperature is −16 °F (−27 °C) at Minden on February 13, 1899.

Louisiana is often affected by tropical cyclones and is very vulnerable to strikes by major hurricanes, particularly the lowlands around and in the New Orleans area. The unique geography of the region, with the many bayous, marshes and inlets, can result in water damage across a wide area from major hurricanes. The area is also prone to frequent thunderstorms, especially in the summer.[27]

The entire state averages over 60 days of thunderstorms a year, more than any other state except Florida. Louisiana averages 27 tornadoes annually. The entire state is vulnerable to a tornado strike, with the extreme southern portion of the state slightly less so than the rest of the state. Tornadoes are more common from January to March in the southern part of the state, and from February through March in the northern part of the state.[27]

Average temperatures in Louisiana (°F)
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec   Annual  
Shreveport[28] 47.0 50.8 58.1 65.5 73.4 80.0 83.2 83.3 77.1 66.6 56.6 48.3 65.9
Monroe[28] 46.3 50.3 57.8 65.6 73.9 80.4 82.8 82.5 76.5 66.0 56.3 48.0 65.5
Alexandria[28] 48.5 52.1 59.3 66.4 74.5 80.7 83.2 83.2 78.0 68.0 58.6 50.2 66.9
Lake Charles[29] 51.8 55.0 61.4 68.1 75.6 81.1 82.9 83.0 78.7 70.1 61.1 53.8 68.6
Lafayette[29] 51.8 55.2 61.5 68.3 75.9 81.0 82.8 82.9 78.5 69.7 61.0 53.7 68.5
Baton Rouge[30] 51.3 54.6 61.1 67.6 75.2 80.7 82.5 82.5 78.1 68.9 60.0 52.9 68.0
New Orleans[30] 54.3 57.6 63.6 70.1 77.5 82.4 84.0 84.1 80.2 72.2 63.5 56.2 70.3

Hurricanes since 1950

  • August 28–29, 2012, Isaac (Category 1 at landfall) hits southeast Louisiana 7 years after Katrina (2005).
  • September 1, 2008, Gustav (Category 2 at landfall) made landfall along the coast near Cocodrie in southeastern Louisiana. As late as August 31 it had been projected by the National Hurricane Center that the hurricane would remain at Category 3 or above on September 1, but in the event the center of Gustav made landfall as a strong Category 2 hurricane (1 mph below Category 3), and dropped to Category 1 soon after.[31] As a result of NHC’s forecasts, a massive evacuation of New Orleans took place after many residents having failed to leave for Katrina in 2005.[32] A significant number of deaths were caused by or attributed to Gustav.[33] Around 1.5 million people were without power in Louisiana on September 1.[34]
  • September 24, 2005, Rita (Category 3 at landfall) struck southwestern Louisiana, flooding many parishes and cities along the coast, including Cameron Parish, Lake Charles, and other towns. The storm’s winds weakened the damaged levees in New Orleans and caused renewed flooding in parts of the city.
  • August 29, 2005, Katrina (Category 3 at landfall)[35] struck and devastated southeastern Louisiana, where it breached and undermined levees in New Orleans, causing 80% of the city to flood. Most people had been evacuated, but the majority of the population became homeless. The city was virtually closed until October. It is estimated that more than two million people in the Gulf region were displaced by the hurricane, and that more than 1,500 fatalities resulted in Louisiana alone. A public outcry criticized governments at the local, state, and federal levels, for lack of preparation and slowness of response. Louisiana residents relocated across the country for temporary housing, and many have not returned.
  • October 3, 2002, Lili (Category 1 at landfall)
  • August 1992, Andrew (Category 3 at landfall) struck south-central Louisiana. It killed four people; knocked out power to nearly 150,000 citizens; and destroyed crops worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • August 1969, Camille (Category 5) caused a 23.4 ft (7.1 m) storm surge and killed 250 people. Although Camille officially made landfall in Mississippi and the worst damage occurred there, it also had effects in Louisiana. New Orleans remained dry, with the exception of mild rain-generated flooding in the most low-lying areas.
  • September 9, 1965, Betsy (Category 3 at landfall) came ashore in Louisiana, causing massive destruction as the first hurricane in history to cause one billion dollars in damage (over ten billion in inflation-adjusted USD). The storm hit New Orleans and flooded nearly 35% of the city (including the Lower 9th Ward, Gentilly, and parts of Mid-City). The death toll in the state was 76.
  • June 1957, Audrey (Category 3) devastated southwest Louisiana, destroying or severely damaging 60–80 percent of the homes and businesses from Cameron to Grand Chenier. 40,000 people were left homeless and more than 300 people in the state died.
  • August 15–17, 1915: A hurricane made landfall just west of Galveston. Gales howled throughout Cameron and Vermilion Parishes and as far east as Mobile. It produced storm surge of 11 feet at Cameron (called Leesburg at the time), 10 feet at Grand Cheniere, and 9.5 feet at Marsh Island; Grand Isle reported water 6 feet deep across the city. The lightkeeper at the Sabine Pass lighthouse had to turn the lens by hand, as vibrations caused by the wave action put the clockwork out of order. At Sabine Bank, 17 miles offshore the Mouth of the Sabine, damage was noted. Damage estimates for Louisiana and Texas totaled around $50 million.[36]
    • Over 300 people drowned below Montegut – four can be identified as white, none of the others have been identified and are assumed to be Indians. The Indian settlement was about 10 miles below Montegut, called by the Indians – Taire-bonne – is now in swamp and can only be reached by boat. This hurricane caused the survivors to move to higher ground.

Publicly-owned land

Owing to its location and geology, the state has high biological diversity. Some vital areas, such as southwestern prairie, have experienced a loss in excess of 98 percent. The pine flatwoods are also at great risk, mostly from fire suppression and urban sprawl.[10] There is not yet a properly organized system of natural areas to represent and protect Louisiana’s biological diversity. Such a system would consist of a protected system of core areas linked by biological corridors, such as Florida is planning.[37]

Louisiana contains a number of areas which, to varying degrees, prevent people from using them.[38] In addition to National Park Service areas and a United States National Forest, Louisiana operates a system of state parks, state historic sites, one state preservation area, one state forest, and many Wildlife Management Areas.

One of Louisiana’s largest government-owned areas is Kisatchie National Forest. It is some 600,000 acres in area, more than half of which is flatwoods vegetation, which supports many rare plant and animal species.[10] These include the Louisiana pine snake and Red-cockaded woodpecker. The system of government-owned cypress swamps around Lake Pontchartrain is another large area, with southern wetland species including egrets, alligators, and sturgeon. At least 12 core areas would be needed to build a “protected areas system” for the state; these would range from southwestern prairies, to the Pearl River Floodplain in the east, to the Mississippi River alluvial swamps in the north.[10]

National Park Service

Historic or scenic areas managed, protected, or otherwise recognized by the National Park Service include:

  • Atchafalaya National Heritage Area in Ascension Parish;
  • Cane River National Heritage Area near Natchitoches;
  • Cane River Creole National Historical Park near Natchitoches;
  • Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, headquartered in New Orleans, with units in St. Bernard Parish, Barataria (Crown Point), and Acadiana (Lafayette);
  • Poverty Point National Monument at Epps, Louisiana; and
  • Saline Bayou, a designated National Wild and Scenic River near Winn Parish in northern Louisiana.

US Forest Service

  • Kisatchie National Forest is Louisiana’s only national forest. It includes 600,000 acres in central and north Louisiana with large areas of flatwoods and longleaf pine forest.

State parks and recreational areas

Louisiana operates a system of 22 state parks, 17 state historic sites and one state preservation area.

Wildlife management areas

Louisiana has 955,973 acres, in four ecoregions under the wildlife management of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheriess. The Nature Conservancy also owns and manages a set of natural areas.

Natural and Scenic Rivers

The Louisiana Natural and Scenic Rivers System provides a degree of protection for 51 rivers, streams and bayous in the state. It is administered by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.[39]

Transportation

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is the state government organization in charge of maintaining public transportation, roadways, bridges, canals, select levees, floodplain management, port facilities, commercial vehicles, and aviation which includes 69 airports.

Gulf Intracoastal Waterway near New Orleans

The Intracoastal Waterway is an important means of transporting commercial goods such as petroleum and petroleum products, agricultural produce, building materials and manufactured goods.

In 2011, Louisiana ranked among the five deadliest states for debris/litter-caused vehicle accidents per total number of registered vehicles and population size. Figures derived from[40] the NTSHA show at least 25 persons in Louisiana were killed per year in motor vehicle collisions with non-fixed objects, including debris, dumped litter, animals and their carcasses.

History

Pre-colonial history

Watson Brake, the oldest mound complex in North America

Louisiana was inhabited by Native Americans for many millennia before the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century. During the Middle Archaic period, Louisiana was the site of the earliest mound complex in North America and one of the earliest dated, complex constructions in the Americas, the Watson Brake site near present-day Monroe. An 11-mound complex, it was built about 5400 BP (3500 BC).[41] The Middle Archaic sites of Caney and Frenchman’s Bend have also been securely dated to 5600–5000 BP (3700–3100 BC), demonstrating that seasonal hunter-gatherers organized to build complex earthwork constructions in present-day northern Louisiana. These discoveries overturned previous assumptions in archaeology that such complex mounds were built only by cultures of more settled peoples who were dependent on maize cultivation. The Hedgepeth Site in Lincoln Parish is more recent, dated to 5200–4500 BP (3300–2600 BC).[42]

Poverty Point UNESCO site

Nearly 2,000 years later, Poverty Point was built; it is the largest and best-known Late Archaic site in the state. The city of modern-day Epps developed near it. The Poverty Point culture may have reached its peak around 1500 BC, making it the first complex culture, and possibly the first tribal culture in North America.[43] It lasted until approximately 700 BC.

The Poverty Point culture was followed by the Tchefuncte and Lake Cormorant cultures of the Tchula period, local manifestations of Early Woodland period. The Tchefuncte culture were the first people in the area of Louisiana to make large amounts of pottery.[44] These cultures lasted until AD 200. The Middle Woodland period started in Louisiana with the Marksville culture in the southern and eastern part of the state, reaching across the Mississippi River to the east around Natchez[45] and the Fourche Maline culture in the northwestern part of the state. The Marksville culture was named after the Marksville Prehistoric Indian Site in Avoyelles Parish.

Troyville Earthworks, once the second tallest earthworks in North America

These cultures were contemporaneous with the Hopewell cultures of present-day Ohio and Illinois, and participated in the Hopewell Exchange Network. Trade with peoples to the southwest brought the bow and arrow.[46] The first burial mounds were built at this time.[47] Political power began to be consolidated, as the first platform mounds at ritual centers were constructed for the developing hereditary political and religious leadership.[47]

By 400 the Late Woodland period had begun with the Baytown culture, Troyville culture, and Coastal Troyville during the Baytown Period and were succeeded by the Coles Creek cultures. Where the Baytown peoples built dispersed settlements, the Troyville people instead continued building major earthwork centers.[48][49][50] Population increased dramatically and there is strong evidence of a growing cultural and political complexity. Many Coles Creek sites were erected over earlier Woodland period mortuary mounds. Scholars have speculated that emerging elites were symbolically and physically appropriating dead ancestors to emphasize and project their own authority.[51]

The Mississippian period in Louisiana was when the Plaquemine and the Caddoan Mississippian cultures developed, and the peoples adopted extensive maize agriculture, cultivating different strains of the plant by saving seeds, selecting for certain characteristics, etc. The Plaquemine culture in the lower Mississippi River Valley in western Mississippi and eastern Louisiana began in 1200 and continued to about 1600. Examples in Louisiana include the Medora Site, the archaeological type site for the culture in West Baton Rouge Parish whose characteristics helped define the culture,[52] the Atchafalaya Basin Mounds in St Mary Parish,[53] the Fitzhugh Mounds in Madison Parish,[54] the Scott Place Mounds in Union Parish,[55] and the Sims Site in St Charles Parish.[56]

Plaquemine culture was contemporaneous with the Middle Mississippian culture that is represented by its largest settlement, the Cahokia site in Illinois east of St. Louis, Missouri. At its peak Cahokia is estimated to have had a population of more than 20,000. The Plaquemine culture is considered ancestral to the historic Natchez and Taensa peoples, whose descendants encountered Europeans in the colonial era.[57]

By 1000 in the northwestern part of the state, the Fourche Maline culture had evolved into the Caddoan Mississippian culture. The Caddoan Mississippians occupied a large territory, including what is now eastern Oklahoma, western Arkansas, northeast Texas, and northwest Louisiana. Archaeological evidence has demonstrated that the cultural continuity is unbroken from prehistory to the present. The Caddo and related Caddo-language speakers in prehistoric times and at first European contact were the direct ancestors of the modern Caddo Nation of Oklahoma of today.[58] Significant Caddoan Mississippian archaeological sites in Louisiana include Belcher Mound Site in Caddo Parish[59] and Gahagan Mounds Site in Red River Parish.[60]

Many current place names in Louisiana, including Atchafalaya, Natchitouches (now spelled Natchitoches), Caddo, Houma, Tangipahoa, and Avoyel (as Avoyelles), are transliterations of those used in various Native American languages.

Exploration and colonization by Europeans

Louisiana regions

The first European explorers to visit Louisiana came in 1528 when a Spanish expedition led by Pánfilo de Narváez located the mouth of the Mississippi River. In 1542, Hernando de Soto’s expedition skirted to the north and west of the state (encountering Caddo and Tunica groups) and then followed the Mississippi River down to the Gulf of Mexico in 1543. Spanish interest in Louisiana faded away for a century and a half.

In the late 17th century, French and French Canadian expeditions, which included sovereign, religious and commercial aims, established a foothold on the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast. With its first settlements, France laid claim to a vast region of North America and set out to establish a commercial empire and French nation stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada.

In 1682, the French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle named the region Louisiana to honor King Louis XIV of France. The first permanent settlement, Fort Maurepas (at what is now Ocean Springs, Mississippi, near Biloxi), was founded in 1699 by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, a French military officer from Canada. By then the French had also built a small fort at the mouth of the Mississippi at a settlement they named La Balise (or La Balize), “seamark” in French. By 1721 they built a 62-foot (19 m) wooden lighthouse-type structure here to guide ships on the river.[61]

A royal ordinance of 1722—following the Crown’s transfer of the Illinois Country’s governance from Canada to Louisiana—may have featured the broadest definition of Louisiana: all land claimed by France south of the Great Lakes between the Rocky Mountains and the Alleghenies.[62] A generation later, trade conflicts between Canada and Louisiana led to a more defined boundary between the French colonies; in 1745, Louisiana governor general Vaudreuil set the northern and eastern bounds of his domain as the Wabash valley up to the mouth of the Vermilion River (near present-day Danville, Illinois); from there, northwest to le Rocher on the Illinois River, and from there west to the mouth of the Rock River (at present day Rock Island, Illinois).[62] Thus, Vincennes and Peoria were the limit of Louisiana’s reach; the outposts at Ouiatenon (on the upper Wabash near present-day Lafayette, Indiana), Chicago, Fort Miamis (near present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana), and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, operated as dependencies of Canada.[62]

The settlement of Natchitoches (along the Red River in present-day northwest Louisiana) was established in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, making it the oldest permanent European settlement in the modern state of Louisiana. The French settlement had two purposes: to establish trade with the Spanish in Texas via the Old San Antonio Road, and to deter Spanish advances into Louisiana. The settlement soon became a flourishing river port and crossroads, giving rise to vast cotton kingdoms along the river that were worked by imported African slaves. Over time, planters developed large plantations and built fine homes in a growing town. This became a pattern repeated in New Orleans and other places, although the commodity crop in the south was primarily sugar cane.

French Acadians, who came to be known as Cajuns, settled the swamps of southern Louisiana, especially in the Atchafalaya Basin.

Louisiana’s French settlements contributed to further exploration and outposts, concentrated along the banks of the Mississippi and its major tributaries, from Louisiana to as far north as the region called the Illinois Country, around present-day St. Louis, Missouri. The latter was settled by French colonists from Illinois.

Initially, Mobile and then Biloxi served as the capital of La Louisiane. Recognizing the importance of the Mississippi River to trade and military interests, and wanting to protect the capital from severe coastal storms, France developed New Orleans from 1722 as the seat of civilian and military authority south of the Great Lakes. From then until the United States acquired the territory in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, France and Spain jockeyed for control of New Orleans and the lands west of the Mississippi.

In the 1720s, German immigrants settled along the Mississippi River, in a region referred to as the German Coast.

France ceded most of its territory to the east of the Mississippi to Great Britain in 1763, in the aftermath of Britain’s victory in the Seven Years’ War (generally referred to in North America as the French and Indian War). The rest of Louisiana, including the area around New Orleans and the parishes around Lake Pontchartrain, had become a colony of Spain by the Treaty of Fontainebleau (1762). The transfer of power on either side of the river would be delayed until later in the decade.

In 1765, during Spanish rule, several thousand French-speaking refugees from the region of Acadia (now Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, Canada) made their way to Louisiana after having been expelled from their homelands by the British during the French and Indian War. They settled chiefly in the southwestern Louisiana region now called Acadiana. The Spanish, eager to gain more Catholic settlers, welcomed the Acadian refugees, the ancestors of Louisiana’s Cajuns.

Spanish Canary Islanders, called Isleños, emigrated from the Canary Islands of Spain to Louisiana under the Spanish crown between 1778 and 1783.

In 1800, France’s Napoleon Bonaparte reacquired Louisiana from Spain in the Treaty of San Ildefonso, an arrangement kept secret for two years.

Expansion of slavery

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville brought the first two African slaves to Louisiana in 1708, transporting them from a French colony in the West Indies. In 1709, French financier Antoine Crozat obtained a monopoly of commerce in La Louisiane, which extended from the Gulf of Mexico to what is now Illinois. “That concession allowed him to bring in a cargo of blacks from Africa every year,” the British historian Hugh Thomas wrote.[63] Physical conditions, including disease, were so harsh there was high mortality among both the colonists and the slaves, resulting in continuing demand and importation of slaves.

Starting in 1719, traders began to import slaves in higher numbers; two French ships, the Du Maine and the Aurore, arrived in New Orleans carrying more than 500 black slaves coming from Africa. Previous slaves in Louisiana had been transported from French colonies in the West Indies. By the end of 1721, New Orleans counted 1,256 inhabitants, of whom about half were slaves.

In 1724, the French government issued a law called the Code Noir (“Black Code” in English) which “regulate[d] the interaction of whites [blancs] and blacks [noirs] in its colony of Louisiana[64] (which was much larger than the current state of Louisiana). The law consisted of 57 articles, which regulated religion in the colony, outlawed “interracial” marriages (those between people of different skin color, the varying shades of which were also defined by law), restricted manumission, outlined legal punishment of slaves for various offenses, and defined some obligations of owners to their slaves. The main intent of the French government was to assert control over the slave system of agriculture in Louisiana and to impose restrictions on slaveowners there. In practice, the Code Noir was exceedingly difficult to enforce from afar. Some priests continued to perform interracial marriage ceremonies, for example, and some slaveholders continued to manumit slaves without permission while others punished slaves brutally.

Article II of the Code Noir of 1724 required owners to provide their slaves with religious education in the state religion, Roman Catholicism. Sunday was to be a day of rest for slaves. On days off, slaves were expected to feed and take care of themselves. During the 1740s economic crisis in the colony, owners had trouble feeding their slaves and themselves. Giving them time off also effectively gave more power to slaves, who started cultivating their own gardens and crafting items for sale as their own property. They began to participate in the economic development of the colony while at the same time increasing independence and self-subsistence.

Article VI of the Code Noir forbade mixed marriages, forbade but did little to protect slave women from rape by their owners, overseers or other slaves. On balance, the Code benefitted the owners but had more protections and flexibility than did the institution of slavery in the southern Thirteen Colonies.

The Louisiana Black Code of 1806 made the cruel punishment of slaves a crime, but owners and overseers were seldom prosecuted for such acts.[65]

Fugitive slaves, called maroons, could easily hide in the backcountry of the bayous and survive in small settlements. The word “maroon” comes from the French “marron,” meaning “feral” or “fugitive.”

In the late 18th century, the last Spanish governor of the Louisiana territory wrote:

Truly, it is impossible for lower Louisiana to get along without slaves and with the use of slaves, the colony had been making great strides toward prosperity and wealth.[66]

When the United States purchased Louisiana in 1803, it was soon accepted that enslaved Africans could be brought to Louisiana as easily as they were brought to neighboring Mississippi, though it violated U.S. law to do so.[66] Despite demands by United States Rep. James Hillhouse and by the pamphleteer Thomas Paine to enforce existing federal law against slavery in the newly acquired territory,[66] slavery prevailed because it was the source of great profits and the lowest-cost labor.

At the start of the 19th century, Louisiana was a small producer of sugar with a relatively small number of slaves, compared to Saint-Domingue and the West Indies. It soon thereafter became a major sugar producer as new settlers arrived to develop plantations. William C. C. Claiborne, Louisiana’s first United States governor, said that African slave labor was needed because white laborers “cannot be had in this unhealthy climate.”[67] Hugh Thomas wrote that Claiborne was unable to enforce the abolition of the African slave trade, which the US and Great Britain adopted in 1808. The United States continued to protect the domestic slave trade, including the coastwise trade – the transport of slaves by ship along the Atlantic Coast and to New Orleans and other Gulf ports.

By 1840, New Orleans had the biggest slave market in the United States, which contributed greatly to the economy of the city and of the state. New Orleans had become one of the wealthiest cities, and the third largest city, in the nation.[68] The ban on the African slave trade and importation of slaves had increased demand in the domestic market. During the decades after the American Revolutionary War, more than one million enslaved African Americans underwent forced migration from the Upper South to the Deep South, two thirds of them in the slave trade. Others were transported by their owners as slaveholders moved west for new lands.[69][70]

With changing agriculture in the Upper South as planters shifted from tobacco to less labor-intensive mixed agriculture, planters had excess laborers. Many sold slaves to traders to take to the Deep South. Slaves were driven by traders overland from the Upper South or transported to New Orleans and other coastal markets by ship in the coastwise slave trade. After sales in New Orleans, steamboats operating on the Mississippi transported slaves upstream to markets or plantation destinations at Natchez and Memphis.

As the Deep South was developed for cotton and sugar in the first half of the nineteenth century, demand for slaves increased. This resulted in a massive forced migration (through the slave trade) of more than one million African Americans from the Upper South to the Deep South. Many traders brought slaves to New Orleans for domestic sale, and by 1840, New Orleans had the largest slave market in the country, was the third-largest city, and was one of the wealthiest cities.

Free woman of color with mixed-race daughter; late 18th-century collage painting, New Orleans.

Haitian migration and influence

Spanish occupation of Louisiana lasted from 1769 to 1800. Beginning in the 1790s, waves of immigration took place from Saint-Domingue, following a slave rebellion that started in 1791. Over the next decade, thousands of migrants landed in Louisiana from the island, including ethnic Europeans, free people of color, and African slaves, some of the latter brought in by each free group. They greatly increased the French-speaking population in New Orleans and Louisiana, as well as the number of Africans, and the slaves reinforced African culture in the city. The process of gaining independence in Saint-Domingue was complex, but uprisings continued. In 1803, France pulled out its surviving troops from the island, having suffered the loss of two-thirds sent to the island two years before, mostly to yellow fever. In 1804, Haiti, the second republic in the western hemisphere, proclaimed its independence, achieved by slave leaders.[71]

Pierre Clément de Laussat (Governor, 1803) said: “Saint-Domingue was, of all our colonies in the Antilles, the one whose mentality and customs influenced Louisiana the most.”[72]

French pirate Jean Lafitte, who operated in New Orleans, was born in Port-au-Prince around 1782.[73]

Purchase by the United States (1803)

When the United States won its independence from Great Britain in 1783, one of its major concerns was having a European power on its western boundary, and the need for unrestricted access to the Mississippi River. As American settlers pushed west, they found that the Appalachian Mountains provided a barrier to shipping goods eastward. The easiest way to ship produce was to use a flatboat to float it down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to the port of New Orleans, where goods could be put on ocean-going vessels. The problem with this route was that the Spanish owned both sides of the Mississippi below Natchez.

Napoleon’s ambitions in Louisiana involved the creation of a new empire centered on the Caribbean sugar trade. By the terms of the Treaty of Amiens of 1802, Great Britain returned ownership of the islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe to the French. Napoleon looked upon Louisiana as a depot for these sugar islands, and as a buffer to U.S. settlement. In October 1801 he sent a large military force to take back Saint-Domingue, then under control of Toussaint Louverture after a slave rebellion.

When the army led by Napoleon’s brother-in-law Leclerc was defeated, Napoleon decided to sell Louisiana.

Map of Louisiana in 1800

Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, was disturbed by Napoleon’s plans to re-establish French colonies in America. With the possession of New Orleans, Napoleon could close the Mississippi to U.S. commerce at any time. Jefferson authorized Robert R. Livingston, U.S. Minister to France, to negotiate for the purchase of the City of New Orleans, portions of the east bank of the Mississippi, and free navigation of the river for U.S. commerce. Livingston was authorized to pay up to $2 million.

An official transfer of Louisiana to French ownership had not yet taken place, and Napoleon’s deal with the Spanish was a poorly kept secret on the frontier. On October 18, 1802, however, Juan Ventura Morales, Acting Intendant of Louisiana, made public the intention of Spain to revoke the right of deposit at New Orleans for all cargo from the United States. The closure of this vital port to the United States caused anger and consternation. Commerce in the west was virtually blockaded. Historians believe that the revocation of the right of deposit was prompted by abuses by the Americans, particularly smuggling, and not by French intrigues as was believed at the time. President Jefferson ignored public pressure for war with France, and appointed James Monroe a special envoy to Napoleon, to assist in obtaining New Orleans for the United States. Jefferson also raised the authorized expenditure to $10 million.

However, on April 11, 1803, French Foreign Minister Talleyrand surprised Livingston by asking how much the United States was prepared to pay for the entirety of Louisiana, not just New Orleans and the surrounding area (as Livingston’s instructions covered). Monroe agreed with Livingston that Napoleon might withdraw this offer at any time (leaving them with no ability to obtain the desired New Orleans area), and that approval from President Jefferson might take months, so Livingston and Monroe decided to open negotiations immediately. By April 30, they closed a deal for the purchase of the entire Louisiana territory of 828,000 square miles (2,100,000 km2) for 60 million Francs (approximately $15 million).

Part of this sum, $3.5 million, was used to forgive debts owed by France to the United States.[74] The payment was made in United States bonds, which Napoleon sold at face value to the Dutch firm of Hope and Company, and the British banking house of Baring, at a discount of 87½ per each $100 unit. As a result, France received only $8,831,250 in cash for Louisiana.
English banker Alexander Baring conferred with Marbois in Paris, shuttled to the United States to pick up the bonds, took them to Britain, and returned to France with the money – which Napoleon used to wage war against Baring’s own country.

Louisiana Purchase, 1803

When news of the purchase reached the United States, Jefferson was surprised. He had authorized the expenditure of $10 million for a port city, and instead received treaties committing the government to spend $15 million on a land package which would double the size of the country. Jefferson’s political opponents in the Federalist Party argued the Louisiana purchase was a worthless desert,[75] and that the Constitution did not provide for the acquisition of new land or negotiating treaties without the consent of the Senate. What really worried the opposition was the new states which would inevitably be carved from the Louisiana territory, strengthening Western and Southern interests in Congress, and further reducing the influence of New England Federalists in national affairs. President Jefferson was an enthusiastic supporter of westward expansion, and held firm in his support for the treaty. Despite Federalist objections, the U.S. Senate ratified the Louisiana treaty on October 20, 1803.

By statute enacted on October 31, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson was authorized to take possession of the territories ceded by France and provide for initial governance.[76] A transfer ceremony was held in New Orleans on November 29, 1803. Since the Louisiana territory had never officially been turned over to the French, the Spanish took down their flag, and the French raised theirs. The following day, General James Wilkinson accepted possession of New Orleans for the United States. A similar ceremony was held in St. Louis on March 9, 1804, when a French tricolor was raised near the river, replacing the Spanish national flag. The following day, Captain Amos Stoddard of the First U.S. Artillery marched his troops into town and had the American flag run up the fort’s flagpole. The Louisiana territory was officially transferred to the United States government, represented by Meriwether Lewis.

The Louisiana Territory, purchased for less than 3 cents an acre, doubled the size of the United States overnight, without a war or the loss of a single American life, and set a precedent for the purchase of territory. It opened the way for the eventual expansion of the United States across the continent to the Pacific.

Shortly after the United States took possession, the area was divided into two territories along the 33rd parallel north on March 26, 1804, thereby organizing the Territory of Orleans to the south and the District of Louisiana (subsequently formed as the Louisiana Territory) to the north.[77]

Statehood (1812)

Louisiana became the eighteenth U.S. state on April 30, 1812; the Territory of Orleans became the State of Louisiana and the Louisiana Territory was simultaneously renamed the Missouri Territory.[78] An area known as the Florida Parishes was soon annexed into the state of Louisiana on April 14, 1812.[79]

From 1824 to 1861, Louisiana moved from a political system based on personality and ethnicity to a distinct two-party system, with Democrats competing first against Whigs, then Know Nothings, and finally only other Democrats.[80]

Secession and the Civil War (1860–1865)

‘Signing the Ordinance of Secession of Louisiana, January 26, 1861’, oil on canvas painting, 1861

Capture of New Orleans, April 1862, colored lithograph of engraving

According to the 1860 census, 331,726 people were enslaved, nearly 47% of the state’s total population of 708,002.[81] The strong economic interest of elite whites in maintaining the slave society contributed to Louisiana’s decision to secede from the Union in January 26, 1861.[82] It followed other Southern states in seceding after the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. Louisiana’s secession was announced on January 26, 1861, and it became part of the Confederate States of America.

The state was quickly defeated in the Civil War, a result of Union strategy to cut the Confederacy in two by seizing the Mississippi. Federal troops captured New Orleans on April 25, 1862. Because a large part of the population had Union sympathies (or compatible commercial interests), the Federal government took the unusual step of designating the areas of Louisiana under Federal control as a state within the Union, with its own elected representatives to the U.S. Congress.[citation needed]

Post-Civil War to mid-20th century (1865–1945)

Following the Civil War and emancipation of slaves, violence rose in the South as the war was carried on by insurgent private and paramilitary groups. Initially state legislatures were dominated by former Confederates, who passed Black Codes to regulate freedmen and generally refused to give the vote. They refused to extend voting rights to African Americans who had been free before the war and had sometimes obtained education and property (as in New Orleans.) Following the Memphis riots of 1866 and the New Orleans riot the same year, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed that provided suffrage and full citizenship for freedmen. Congress passed the Reconstruction Act, establishing military districts for those states where conditions were considered the worst, including Louisiana. It was grouped with Texas in what was administered as the Fifth Military District.

African Americans began to live as citizens with some measure of equality before the law. Both freedmen and people of color who had been free before the war began to make more advances in education, family stability and jobs. At the same time, there was tremendous social volatility in the aftermath of war, with many whites actively resisting defeat and the free labor market. White insurgents mobilized to enforce white supremacy, first in Ku Klux Klan chapters.

By 1877, when federal forces were withdrawn, white Democrats in Louisiana and other states had regained control of state legislatures, often by paramilitary groups such as the White League, which suppressed black voting through intimidation and violence. Following Mississippi’s example in 1890, in 1898, the white Democratic, planter-dominated legislature passed a new constitution that effectively disenfranchised blacks and people of color, by raising barriers to voter registration, such as poll taxes, residency requirements and literacy tests. The effect was immediate and long lasting. In 1896, there were 130,334 black voters on the rolls and about the same number of white voters, in proportion to the state population, which was evenly divided.[83]

The state population in 1900 was 47% African-American: a total of 652,013 citizens. Many in New Orleans were descendants of Creoles of color, the sizeable population of free people of color before the Civil War.[84] By 1900, two years after the new constitution, only 5,320 black voters were registered in the state. Because of disfranchisement, by 1910 there were only 730 black voters (less than 0.5 percent of eligible African-American men), despite advances in education and literacy among blacks and people of color.[85] Blacks were excluded from the political system and also unable to serve on juries. White Democrats had established one-party Democratic rule, which they maintained in the state for decades deep into the 20th century until after Congressional passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act provided federal oversight and enforcement of the constitutional right to vote.

National Rice Festival, Crowley, Louisiana, 1938

In the early decades of the 20th century, thousands of African Americans left Louisiana in the Great Migration north to industrial cities for jobs and education, and to escape Jim Crow society and lynchings. The boll weevil infestation and agricultural problems cost many sharecroppers and farmers their jobs. The mechanization of agriculture also reduced the need for laborers. Beginning in the 1940s, blacks went West to California for jobs in its expanding defense industries.[86]

During some of the Great Depression, Louisiana was led by Governor Huey Long. He was elected to office on populist appeal. His public works projects provided thousands of jobs to people in need, and he supported education and increased suffrage for poor whites, but Long was criticized for his allegedly demogogic and autocratic style. He extended patronage control through every branch of Louisiana’s state government. Especially controversial were his plans for wealth redistribution in the state. Long’s rule ended abruptly when he was assassinated in the state capitol in 1935.

Post-World War II (1945–)

Mobilization for World War II created jobs in the state. But thousands of other workers, black and white alike, migrated to California for better jobs in its burgeoning defense industry. Many African Americans left the state in the Second Great Migration, from the 1940s through the 1960s to escape social oppression and seek better jobs. The mechanization of agriculture in the 1930s had sharply cut the need for laborers. They sought skilled jobs in the defense industry in California, better education for their children, and living in communities where they could vote.[87]

In the 1950s the state created new requirements for a citizenship test for voter registration. Despite opposition by the States Rights Party, downstate black voters had begun to increase their rate of registration, which also reflected the growth of their middle classes. In 1960 the state established the Louisiana State Sovereignty Commission, to investigate civil rights activists and maintain segregation.[88]

Despite this, gradually black voter registration and turnout increased to 20% and more, and it was 32% by 1964, when the first national civil rights legislation of the era was passed.[89] The percentage of black voters ranged widely in the state during these years, from 93.8% in Evangeline Parish to 1.7% in Tensas Parish, for instance, where there were white efforts to suppress the vote in the black-majority parish.[90]

Violent attacks on civil rights activists in two mill towns were catalysts to the founding of the first two chapters of the Deacons for Defense and Justice in late 1964 and early 1965, in Jonesboro and Bogalusa, respectively. Made up of veterans of World War II and the Korean War, they were armed self-defense groups established to protect activists and their families. Continued violent white resistance in Bogalusa to blacks trying to use public facilities in 1965, following passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, caused the federal government to order local police to protect the activists.[91] Other chapters were formed in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

By 1960 the proportion of African Americans in Louisiana had dropped to 32%. The 1,039,207 black citizens were still suppressed by segregation and disfranchisement.[92] African Americans continued to suffer disproportionate discriminatory application of the state’s voter registration rules. Because of better opportunities elsewhere, from 1965 to 1970, blacks continued to migrate out of Louisiana, for a net loss of more than 37,000 people. Based on official census figures, the African-American population in 1970 stood at 1,085,109, a net gain of more than 46,000 people compared to 1960. During the latter period, some people began to migrate to cities of the New South for opportunities.[93] Since that period, blacks entered the political system and began to be elected to office, as well as having other opportunities.

On May 21, 1919, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, giving women full rights to vote, was passed at a national level, and was made the law throughout the United States on August 18, 1920. Louisiana finally ratified the amendment on June 11, 1970.

View of flooded New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

2000 to present

Due to its location on the Gulf Coast, Louisiana has regularly suffered the effects of tropical storms and damaging hurricanes. In August 2005, New Orleans and many other low-lying parts of the state along the Gulf of Mexico were hit by the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina. It caused widespread damage due to breaching of levees and large-scale flooding of more than 80% of the city. Officials had issued warnings to evacuate the city and nearby areas, but tens of thousands of people, mostly African Americans, stayed behind, many of them stranded. Many people died and survivors suffered through the damage of the widespread floodwaters.

In August 2016, an unnamed storm dumped trillions of gallons of rain on southern Louisiana, including the cities of Denham Springs, Baton Rouge, Gonzales, St. Amant and Lafayette, causing catastrophic flooding.[94] An estimated 110,000 homes were damaged[95] and thousands of residents were displaced.[96]

Demographics

Louisiana’s population density

Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 76,556
1820 153,407 100.4%
1830 215,739 40.6%
1840 352,411 63.4%
1850 517,762 46.9%
1860 708,002 36.7%
1870 726,915 2.7%
1880 939,946 29.3%
1890 1,118,588 19.0%
1900 1,381,625 23.5%
1910 1,656,388 19.9%
1920 1,798,509 8.6%
1930 2,000,000 11.2%
1940 2,363,516 18.2%
1950 2,683,516 13.5%
1960 3,257,022 21.4%
1970 3,641,306 11.8%
1980 4,205,900 15.5%
1990 4,219,973 0.3%
2000 4,468,976 5.9%
2010 4,533,372 1.4%
Est. 2017 4,684,333 3.3%
Source:[97]

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Louisiana was 4,670,724 on July 1, 2015, a 3.03% increase since the 2010 United States Census.[98] The population density of the state is 104.9 people per square mile.[99]

The center of population of Louisiana is located in Pointe Coupee Parish, in the city of New Roads.[100]

According to the 2010 United States Census, 5.4% of the population aged 5 and older spoke Spanish at home, up from 3.5% in 2000; and 4.5% spoke French (including Louisiana French and Louisiana Creole), down from 4.8% in 2000.[101][102]

Race and ethnicity

According to the US census estimates, the population of Louisiana in 2014 was:[103]

  • White Americans – 63.4% (59.3% non-Hispanic white, 4.1% White Hispanic)
  • Black or African American – 32.5%
  • Asian – 1.8%
  • Multiracial American – 1.5%
  • Native American – 0.8%
  • Hispanic or Latino of any race – 4.8%

The major ancestry groups of Louisiana are African American (30.4%), French (16.8%), American (9.5%), German (8.3%), Irish (7.5%), English (6.6%), Italian (4.8%) and Scottish (1.1%).[104]

As of 2011, 49.0% of Louisiana’s population younger than age 1 were minorities.[105]

Louisiana Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1990[106] 2000[107] 2010[108]
White 67.3% 63.9% 62.6%
Black 30.8% 30.5% 32.0%
Asian 1.0% 1.8% 1.5%
Native 0.8% 0.8% 0.7%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.1%
Other race 0.5% 0.7% 1.5%
Two or more races 1.1% 1.6%

Religion

Religion in Louisiana (2014)[109]
religion percent
Protestant
57%
Catholic
26%
No religion
13%
Jehovah’s Witness
1%
Other Christian
1%
Buddhist
1%
Other faith
1%

The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2010 were the Catholic Church with 1,200,900; Southern Baptist Convention with 709,650; and the United Methodist Church with 146,848. Non-denominational Evangelical Protestant congregations had 195,903 members.[110]

As in other Southern states, the majority of Louisianians, particularly in the north of the state, belong to various Protestant denominations, with Protestants comprising 57% of the state’s adult population. Protestants are concentrated in the northern and central parts of the state and in the northern tier of the Florida Parishes. Because of French and Spanish heritage, and their descendants the Creoles, and later Irish, Italian, Portuguese and German immigrants, southern Louisiana and the greater New Orleans area are predominantly Catholic.[111]

Since Creoles were the first settlers, planters and leaders of the territory, they have traditionally been well represented in politics. For instance, most of the early governors were Creole Catholics.[112] Because Catholics still constitute a significant fraction of Louisiana’s population, they have continued to be influential in state politics. As of 2008[update] both Senators and the Governor were Catholic. The high proportion and influence of the Catholic population makes Louisiana distinct among Southern states.[113]

Jewish communities are established in the state’s larger cities, notably New Orleans and Baton Rouge.[114][115] The most significant of these is the Jewish community of the New Orleans area. In 2000, before the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, its population was about 12,000. Louisiana was among the southern states with a significant Jewish population before the 20th century; Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia also had influential Jewish populations in some of their major cities from the 18th and 19th centuries. The earliest Jewish colonists were Sephardic Jews who immigrated with English colonists from London. Later in the 19th century, German Jews began to immigrate, followed by those from eastern Europe and the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Prominent Jews in Louisiana’s political leadership have included Whig (later Democrat) Judah P. Benjamin (1811–1884), who represented Louisiana in the U.S. Senate before the American Civil War and then became the Confederate Secretary of State; Democrat-turned-Republican Michael Hahn who was elected as governor, serving 1864–1865 when Louisiana was occupied by the Union Army, and later elected in 1884 as a US Congressman;[116] Democrat Adolph Meyer (1842–1908), Confederate Army officer who represented the state in the U.S. House from 1891 until his death in 1908; Republican Secretary of State Jay Dardenne (1954–), and Republican (Democrat before 2011) Attorney General Buddy Caldwell (1946–).

Major cities

Economy

The total gross state product in 2010 for Louisiana was US$213.6 billion, placing it 24th in the nation. Its per capita personal income is $30,952, ranking 41st in the United States.[119][120]

In 2014, Louisiana was ranked as one of the most small business friendly states, based on a study drawing upon data from over 12,000 small business owners.[121]

The state’s principal agricultural products include seafood (it is the biggest producer of crawfish in the world, supplying approximately 90%), cotton, soybeans, cattle, sugarcane, poultry and eggs, dairy products, and rice. Industry generates chemical products, petroleum and coal products, processed foods and transportation equipment, and paper products. Tourism is an important element in the economy, especially in the New Orleans area.

The Port of South Louisiana, located on the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is the largest volume shipping port in the Western Hemisphere and 4th largest in the world, as well as the largest bulk cargo port in the world.[122]

New Orleans, Shreveport, and Baton Rouge are home to a thriving film industry.[123] State financial incentives since 2002 and aggressive promotion have given Louisiana the nickname “Hollywood South”. Because of its distinctive culture within the United States, only Alaska is Louisiana’s rival in popularity as a setting for reality television programs.[124] In late 2007 and early 2008, a 300,000-square-foot (28,000 m2) film studio was scheduled to open in Tremé, with state-of-the-art production facilities, and a film training institute.[125]Tabasco sauce, which is marketed by one of the United States’ biggest producers of hot sauce, the McIlhenny Company, originated on Avery Island.[126]

Louisiana has three personal income tax brackets, ranging from 2% to 6%. The sales tax rate is 4%: a 3.97% Louisiana sales tax and a .03% Louisiana Tourism Promotion District sales tax. Political subdivisions also levy their own sales tax in addition to the state fees. The state also has a use tax, which includes 4% to be distributed by the Department of Revenue to local governments. Property taxes are assessed and collected at the local level. Louisiana is a subsidized state, receiving $1.44 from the federal government for every dollar paid in.

Tourism and culture are major players in Louisiana’s economy, earning an estimated $5.2 billion per year.[127] Louisiana also hosts many important cultural events, such as the World Cultural Economic Forum, which is held annually in the fall at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.[128]

As of July 2017, the state’s unemployment rate was 5.3%.[129]

Federal subsidies and spending

Louisiana taxpayers receive more federal funding per dollar of federal taxes paid compared to the average state. Per dollar of federal tax collected in 2005, Louisiana citizens received approximately $1.78 in the way of federal spending. This ranks the state fourth highest nationally and represents a rise from 1995 when Louisiana received $1.35 per dollar of taxes in federal spending (ranked seventh nationally). Neighboring states and the amount of federal spending received per dollar of federal tax collected were: Texas ($0.94), Arkansas ($1.41), and Mississippi ($2.02). Federal spending in 2005 and subsequent years since has been exceptionally high due to the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
Tax Foundation.

Energy

The oil slick just off the Louisiana coast on April 30, 2010. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is now considered the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Louisiana is rich in petroleum and natural gas. Petroleum and gas deposits are found in abundance both onshore and offshore in State-owned waters. In addition, vast petroleum and natural gas reserves are found offshore from Louisiana in the federally administered Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the Energy Information Administration, the Gulf of Mexico OCS is the largest U.S. petroleum-producing region. Excluding the Gulf of Mexico OCS, Louisiana ranks fourth in petroleum production and is home to about 2 percent of total U.S. petroleum reserves.

Louisiana’s natural gas reserves account for about 5 percent of the U.S. total. The recent discovery of the Haynesville Shale formation in parts of or all of Caddo, Bossier, Bienville, Sabine, De Soto, Red River, and Natchitoches parishes have made it the world’s fourth largest gas field with some wells initially producing over 25 million cubic feet of gas daily.[130]

Louisiana was the first site of petroleum drilling over water in the world, on Caddo Lake in the northwest corner of the state. The petroleum and gas industry, as well as its subsidiary industries such as transport and refining, have dominated Louisiana’s economy since the 1940s. Beginning in 1950, Louisiana was sued several times by the U.S. Interior Department, in efforts by the federal government to strip Louisiana of its submerged land property rights. These control vast stores of reservoirs of petroleum and natural gas.

When petroleum and gas boomed in the 1970s, so did Louisiana’s economy. The Louisiana economy as well as its politics of the last half-century cannot be understood without thoroughly accounting for the influence of the petroleum and gas industries. Since the 1980s, these industries’ headquarters have consolidated in Houston, but many of the jobs that operate or provide logistical support to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico crude-oil-and-gas industry remained in Louisiana as of 2010[update].

Law and government

Louisiana
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The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, the tallest state capitol building in the United States.

The Louisiana Governor’s Mansion

In 1849, the state moved the capital from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. Donaldsonville, Opelousas, and Shreveport have briefly served as the seat of Louisiana state government. The Louisiana State Capitol and the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion are both located in Baton Rouge. The Louisiana Supreme Court, however, did not move to Baton Rouge but remains headquartered in New Orleans.

Louisiana and California (whose supreme court is seated in San Francisco) are the only two states whose high courts are not headquartered in the state capital.

The current Louisiana governor is Democrat John Bel Edwards.The current United States Senators are Republicans John Neely Kennedy and Bill Cassidy. Louisiana has six congressional districts and is represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by five Republicans and one Democrat. Louisiana had eight votes in the Electoral College for the 2012 election. It lost one House seat due to stagnant population growth in the 2010 Census.

Administrative divisions

Louisiana is divided into 64 parishes (the equivalent of counties in most other states).[131]

  • List of parishes in Louisiana
  • Louisiana census statistical areas

Most parishes have an elected government known as the Police Jury, dating from the colonial days. It is the legislative and executive government of the parish, and is elected by the voters. Its members are called Jurors, and together they elect a President as their chairman.

A more limited number of parishes operate under home rule charters, electing various forms of government. This include mayor–council, council–manager (in which the council hires a professional operating manager for the parish), and others.

Civil law

The Louisiana political and legal structure has maintained several elements from the times of French and Spanish governance. One is the use of the term “parish” (from the French: paroisse) in place of “county” for administrative subdivision. Another is the legal system of civil law based on French, German, and Spanish legal codes and ultimately Roman law, as opposed to English common law.

Louisiana’s civil law system is what the majority of nations in the world use, especially in Europe and its former colonies, excluding those that derive from the British Empire. However, it is incorrect to equate the Louisiana Civil Code with the Napoleonic Code. Although the Napoleonic Code and Louisiana law draw from common legal roots, the Napoleonic Code was never in force in Louisiana, as it was enacted in 1804, after the United States had purchased and annexed Louisiana in 1803.

While the Louisiana Civil Code of 1808 has been continuously revised and updated since its enactment, it is still considered the controlling authority in the state. Differences are found between Louisianan civil law and the common law found in the other U.S. states. While some of these differences have been bridged due to the strong influence of common law tradition,[132] the civil law tradition is still deeply rooted in most aspects of Louisiana private law. Thus property, contractual, business entities structure, much of civil procedure, and family law, as well as some aspects of criminal law, are still based mostly on traditional Roman legal thinking.

Marriage

In 1997, Louisiana became the first state to offer the option of a traditional marriage or a covenant marriage.[133] In a covenant marriage, the couple waives their right to a “no-fault” divorce after six months of separation, which is available in a traditional marriage. To divorce under a covenant marriage, a couple must demonstrate cause. Marriages between ascendants and descendants, and marriages between collaterals within the fourth degree (i.e., siblings, aunt and nephew, uncle and niece, first cousins) are prohibited.[134]Same-sex marriages were prohibited by statute,[135][136] but the Supreme Court declared such bans unconstitutional in 2015, in its ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Same-sex marriages are now performed statewide. Louisiana is a community property state.[137]

Elections

Treemap of the popular vote by parish, 2016 presidential election.

From 1898 to 1965, a period when Louisiana had effectively disfranchised most African Americans and many poor whites by provisions of a new constitution,[138] this was essentially a one-party state dominated by white Democrats. Elites had control in the early 20th century, before populist Huey Long came to power as governor.[139] In multiple acts of resistance, blacks left behind the segregation, violence and oppression of the state and moved out to seek better opportunities in northern and western industrial cities during the Great Migrations of 1910–1970, markedly reducing their proportion of population in Louisiana. The franchise for whites was expanded somewhat during these decades, but blacks remained essentially disfranchised until after the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century, gaining enforcement of their constitutional rights through passage by Congress of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Since the 1960s, when civil rights legislation was passed under President Lyndon Johnson to protect voting and civil rights, most African Americans in the state have affiliated with the Democratic Party. In the same years, many white social conservatives have moved to support Republican Party candidates in national, gubernatorial and statewide elections. In 2004, David Vitter was the first Republican in Louisiana to be popularly elected as a U.S. Senator. The previous Republican Senator, John S. Harris, who took office in 1868 during Reconstruction, was chosen by the state legislature under the rules of the 19th century.

Louisiana is unique among U.S. states in using a system for its state and local elections similar to that of modern France. All candidates, regardless of party affiliation, run in a nonpartisan blanket primary (or “jungle primary”) on Election Day. If no candidate has more than 50% of the vote, the two candidates with the highest vote totals compete in a runoff election approximately one month later. This run-off method does not take into account party identification; therefore, it is not uncommon for a Democrat to be in a runoff with a fellow Democrat or a Republican to be in a runoff with a fellow Republican.

Congressional races have also been held under the jungle primary system. All other states (except Washington, California, and Maine) use single-party primaries followed by a general election between party candidates, each conducted by either a plurality voting system or runoff voting, to elect Senators, Representatives, and statewide officials. Between 2008 and 2010, federal congressional elections were run under a closed primary system – limited to registered party members. However, upon the passage of House Bill 292, Louisiana again adopted a nonpartisan blanket primary for its federal congressional elections.

Louisiana has six seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, five of which are currently held by Republicans and one by a Democrat. The state lost a House seat at the end of the 112th Congress due to stagnant population growth as recorded by the 2010 United States Census. Louisiana is not classified as a “swing state” for future presidential elections, as since the late 20th century, it has regularly supported Republican candidates. The state’s two U.S. senators are Bill Cassidy (R) John Neely Kennedy (R).

Law enforcement

Louisiana’s statewide police force is the Louisiana State Police. It began in 1922 with the creation of the Highway Commission. In 1927, a second branch, the Bureau of Criminal Investigations, was formed. In 1932, the State Highway Patrol was authorized to carry weapons.

On July 28, 1936, the two branches were consolidated to form the Louisiana Department of State Police; its motto was “courtesy, loyalty, service”. In 1942, this office was abolished and became a division of the Department of Public Safety, called the Louisiana State Police. In 1988, the Criminal Investigation Bureau was reorganized.[140] Its troopers have statewide jurisdiction with power to enforce all laws of the state, including city and parish ordinances. Each year, they patrol over 12 million miles (20 million km) of roadway and arrest about 10,000 impaired drivers. The State Police are primarily a traffic enforcement agency, with other sections that delve into trucking safety, narcotics enforcement, and gaming oversight.

The elected sheriff in each parish is the chief law enforcement officer in the parish. They are the keepers of the local parish prisons, which house felony and misdemeanor prisoners. They are the primary criminal patrol and first responder agency in all matters criminal and civil. They are also the official tax collectors in each parish. The sheriffs are responsible for general law enforcement in their respective parishes. Orleans Parish is an exception, as the general law enforcement duties fall to the New Orleans Police Department. Before 2010, Orleans parish was the only parish to have two sheriff’s offices. Orleans Parish divided sheriffs’ duties between criminal and civil, with a different elected sheriff overseeing each aspect. In 2006, a bill was passed which eventually consolidated the two sheriff’s departments into one parish sheriff responsible for both civil and criminal matters.[citation needed]

In 2015, Louisiana had a higher murder rate (10.3 per 100,000) than any other state in the country for the 27th straight year. Louisiana is the only state with an annual average murder rate (13.6 per 100,000) at least twice as high as the U.S. annual average (6.6 per 100,000) during that period, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics from FBI Uniform Crime Reports. In a different kind of criminal activity, the Chicago Tribune reports that Louisiana is the most corrupt state in the United States.[141]

According to the Times Picayune, Louisiana is the prison capital of the world. Many for-profit private prisons and sheriff-owned prisons have been built and operate here. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly five times Iran’s, 13 times China’s and 20 times Germany’s. Minorities are incarcerated at rates disproportionate to their share of the state’s population.[142]

Judiciary

The judiciary of Louisiana is defined under the Constitution and law of Louisiana and is composed of the Louisiana Supreme Court, the Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal, the District Courts, the Justice of the Peace Courts, the Mayor’s Courts, the City Courts, and the Parish Courts. The Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court is the chief administrator of the judiciary. Its administration is aided by the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana, the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, and the Judicial Council of the Supreme Court of Louisiana.

National Guard

Louisiana has more than 9,000 soldiers in the Louisiana Army National Guard, including the 225th Engineer Brigade and the 256th Infantry Brigade. Both these units have served overseas during the War on Terror in either Iraq, Afghanistan, or both. The Louisiana Air National Guard has over 2,000 airmen and its 159th Fighter Wing has likewise seen overseas service in combat theaters.

Training sites in the state include Camp Beauregard near Pineville, Camp Villere near Slidell, Camp Minden near Minden, England Air Park (formerly England Air Force Base) near Alexandria, Gillis Long Center near Carville, and Jackson Barracks in New Orleans.

Media

Education

Louisiana is home to several notable colleges and universities, which include Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and Loyola University and Tulane University in New Orleans. Louisiana State University is the largest and most comprehensive university in Louisiana.[143] Tulane University is a major private research university and the wealthiest university in Louisiana with an endowment over $1.1 billion.[144] Tulane is also highly regarded for its academics nationwide, ranked fortieth on U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 list of best national universities.[145]

The Louisiana Science Education Act[146] is a controversial law passed by the Louisiana Legislature on June 11, 2008 and signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal on June 25. The act allows public school teachers to use supplemental materials in the science classroom which are critical of established science on such topics as the theory of evolution and global warming.[147][148]

Sports

Louisiana is nominally the least populous state with more than one major professional sports league franchise: the National Basketball Association’s New Orleans Pelicans and the National Football League’s New Orleans Saints. Louisiana has a AAA Minor League baseball team, the New Orleans Baby Cakes. The Baby Cakes are currently affiliated with the Miami Marlins.

Louisiana has 12 collegiate NCAA Division I programs, a high number given its population. The state has no NCAA Division II teams and only two NCAA Division III teams. The LSU Tigers football team has won 11 Southeastern Conference titles, six Sugar Bowls and three national championships.

Each year New Orleans plays host to the Sugar Bowl and the New Orleans Bowl college football games, and Shreveport hosts the Independence Bowl. Also, New Orleans has hosted the Super Bowl a record seven times, as well as the BCS National Championship Game, NBA All-Star Game and NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship.

The Zurich Classic of New Orleans, is a PGA Tour golf tournament held since 1938. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon and Crescent City Classic are two road running competitions held at New Orleans.

As of 2016, Louisiana was the birthplace of the most NFL players per capita for the eighth year in a row.[149]

Culture

Dishes typical of Louisiana Creole cuisine.

Louisiana is home to many, especially notable are the distinct culture of the Louisiana Creoles, typically people of color, descendants of free mixed-race families of the colonial and early statehood periods.

African culture

The French colony of La Louisiane struggled for decades to survive. Conditions were harsh, the climate and soil were unsuitable for certain crops the colonists knew, and they suffered from regional tropical diseases. Both colonists and the slaves they imported had high mortality rates. The settlers kept importing slaves, which resulted in a high proportion of native Africans from West Africa, who continued to practice their culture in new surroundings. As described by historian Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, they developed a marked Afro-Creole culture in the colonial era.[150][151]

At the turn of the 18th century and in the early 1800s, New Orleans received a major influx of white and mixed-race refugees fleeing the violence of the Haitian Revolution, many of whom brought their slaves with them. This added another infusion of African culture to the city, as more slaves in Saint-Domingue were from Africa than in the United States. They strongly influenced the African-American culture of the city in terms of dance, music and religious practices.

Louisiana Creole culture

Creole culture is an amalgamation of French, African, Spanish (and other European), and Native American cultures.[152] Creole comes from the Portuguese word crioulo; originally it referred to a colonist of European (specifically French) descent who was born in the New World, in comparison to immigrants from France.[153] The oldest Louisiana manuscript to use the word “Creole,” from 1782, applied it to a slave born in the French colony.[154] But originally it referred more generally to the French colonists born in Louisiana.

Over time, there developed in the French colony a relatively large group of Creoles of Color (gens de couleur libres), who were primarily descended from African slave women and French men (later other Europeans became part of the mix, as well as some Native Americans.) Often the French would free their concubines and mixed-race children, and pass on social capital to them. They might educate sons in France, for instance, and help them enter the French Army for a career. They also settled capital or property on their mistresses and children. The free people of color gained more rights in the colony and sometimes education; they generally spoke French and were Roman Catholic. Many became artisans and property owners. Over time, the term “Creole” became associated with this class of Creoles of Color, many of whom achieved freedom long before the Civil War.

Wealthy French Creoles generally maintained town houses in New Orleans as well as houses on their large sugar plantations outside town along the Mississippi River. New Orleans had the largest population of free people of color in the region; they could find work there and created their own culture, marrying among themselves for decades.

Acadian culture

The ancestors of Cajuns immigrated from west central France to New France, where they settled in the Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, known originally as Acadia. After the British defeated France in the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War) in 1763, France ceded its territory east of the Mississippi River to Britain. The British forcibly separated families and evicted them from Acadia because they refused to vow loyalty to the new British regime. The Acadians were deported to England, New England, and France. Some escaped the British remained in French Canada.

Others scattered, to France, Canada, Mexico, or the Falkland Islands. Many Acadian refugees settled in south Louisiana in the region around Lafayette and the LaFourche Bayou country. They developed a distinct rural culture there that was different from that of the French Creole colonists in the New Orleans area. Intermarrying with others in the area, they developed what was called Cajun music, cuisine and culture. Until the 1970s, the term “Cajun” was considered somewhat derogatory.

Isleño culture

A third distinct culture in Louisiana is that of the Isleños, descendants of Spanish Canary Islanders who migrated from the Canary Islands of Spain under the Spanish crown beginning in the mid-1770s. They developed four main communities, but many relocated to what is modern-day St. Bernard Parish. This is where the majority of the Isleño population is still concentrated. An annual festival called Fiesta celebrates the heritage of the Isleños.

St Bernard Parish has an Isleños museum, cemetery and church, as well as many street names with Spanish words and Spanish surnames from this heritage. Some members of the Isleño community still speak Spanish – with their own Canary Islander accent. Numerous Isleño identity organizations, and many members of Isleños society keep contact with the Canary Islands of Spain.

Languages

The languages of historic Native American tribes that occupied what is now Louisiana include: Tunica, Caddo, Natchez, Choctaw, Atakapa, Chitimacha and Houma.

According to a 2010 study by the Modern Language Association, among persons five years old and older,[155] 91.26% of Louisiana residents speak only English at home, 3.45% speak French (standard French, French Creole, or Cajun French), 3.30% speak Spanish, and 0.59% speak Vietnamese.

Historically, Native American peoples in the area at the time of European encounter were seven tribes distinguished by their languages: Caddo, Tunica, Natchez, Houma, Choctaw, Atakapa, and Chitimacha. Of these, only Tunica, Caddo and Choctaw still have living native speakers, although several other tribes are working to teach and revitalize their languages. Other Native American peoples migrated into the region, escaping from European pressure from the east. Among these were Alabama, Biloxi, Koasati, and Ofo peoples.

Starting in the 1700s, French colonists began to settle along the coast and founded New Orleans. They established French culture and language institutions. They imported thousands of slaves from tribes of West Africa, who spoke several different languages. In the creolization process, the slaves developed a Louisiana Creole dialect incorporating both French and African forms, which colonists adopted to communicate with them, and which persisted beyond slavery. In the 20th century, there were still people of mixed race, particularly, who spoke Louisiana Creole French.

During the 19th century after the Louisiana Purchase by the United States, English gradually gained prominence for business and government due to the shift in population with settlement by numerous Americans who were English speakers. Many ethnic French families continued to use French in private. Slaves and some free people of color also spoke Louisiana Creole French. The State Constitution of 1812 gave English official status in legal proceedings, but use of French remained widespread. Subsequent state constitutions reflect the diminishing importance of French. The 1868 constitution, passed during the Reconstruction era before Louisiana was re-admitted to the Union, banned laws requiring the publication of legal proceedings in languages other than English. Subsequently, the legal status of French recovered somewhat, but it never regained its pre-Civil War prominence.[156]

Several unique dialects of French, Creole, and English are spoken in Louisiana. Dialects of the French language are: Colonial French and Houma French. Louisiana Creole French is the term for one of the Creole languages. Two unique dialects developed of the English language: Louisiana English, a French-influenced variety of English; and what is informally known as Yat, which resembles the New York City dialect, particularly that of historical Brooklyn. Both accents were influenced by large communities of immigrant Irish and Italians, but the Yat dialect, which developed in New Orleans, was also influenced by French and Spanish.

Louisiana’s bilingual state welcome sign, recognizing its French heritage.

Colonial French was the dominant language of white settlers in Louisiana during the French colonial period; it was spoken primarily by the French Creoles (native-born). In addition to this dialect, the mixed-race people and slaves developed Louisiana Creole, with a base in West African languages. The limited years of Spanish rule at the end of the 18th century did not result in widespread adoption of the Spanish language. French and Louisiana Creole are still used in modern-day Louisiana, often in family gatherings. English and its associated dialects became predominant after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, after which the area became dominated by numerous English speakers. In some regions, English was influenced by French, as seen with Louisiana English. Colonial French, although mistakenly named Cajun French by some Cajuns, has persisted alongside English.

Renewed interest in the French language in Louisiana has led to the establishment of Canadian-modeled French immersion schools, as well as bilingual signage in the historic French neighborhoods of New Orleans and Lafayette. Organizations such as CODOFIL promote use of the French language in the state.

Literature

Music

See also

  • Louisiana (New France)
  • Index of Louisiana-related articles
  • Outline of Louisiana – organized list of topics about Louisiana

Notes

  1. ^ Louisiana French: La Louisiane, [la lwizjan, luz-];[9]Louisiana Creole: Léta de la Lwizyàn; Standard French: État de Louisiane [lwizjan] (About this soundlisten); Spanish: Luisiana

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  129. ^ [3];Bureau of Labor Statistics
  130. ^ “EIA State Energy Profiles: Louisiana”. June 12, 2008. Retrieved June 24, 2008.
  131. ^ Native Americans from the Handbook of Texas Online
  132. ^ Kinsella, Norman (1997). “A Civil Law to Common Law Dictionary” (PDF). KinsellaLaw.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 7, 2010. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  133. ^ “Covenant Marriage – Pros and Cons”. Marriage.about.com. January 1, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  134. ^ “Louisiana Law Search”. www.legis.state.la.us.
  135. ^ “Louisiana Law Search”. www.legis.state.la.us.
  136. ^ Louisiana Civil Code §3520B
  137. ^ “Louisiana Law Search”. www.legis.state.la.us.
  138. ^ “Reading the Fine Print: The Grandfather Clause in Louisiana”. History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web. George Washington University. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  139. ^ Cashman, Sean Dennis (1991). African-Americans and the Quest for Civil Rights, 1900–1990. New York University Press. p. 8. ISBN 9780814714416.
  140. ^ “Louisiana State Police – About Us – LSP History”. Lsp.org. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  141. ^ Witt, Howard (March 27, 2009). “Most corrupt state: Louisiana ranked higher than Illinois”. Chicago Tribune.
  142. ^ Cindy Chang. “Louisiana is the world’s prison capital”. The Times-Picayune. Nola.com. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  143. ^ (LSU), Louisiana State University. “About Us”. www.lsu.edu.
  144. ^ “Archived copy” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 2, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2017.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  145. ^ https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities
  146. ^ Senator Ben Nevers. “SB733”. Louisiana Legislature. Retrieved June 25, 2008.
  147. ^ Dvorsky, George (January 15, 2013). “How 19-year-old Zack Kopplin is making life hell for Louisiana’s creationists”. Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Archived from the original on February 25, 2013. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
  148. ^ Weiss, Joanna (January 29, 2013). “Jindal’s creationism problem”. Boston Globe. via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  149. ^ “Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh has most NFL players; California leads states; Houston leads hometowns”. Usafootball.com. September 24, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  150. ^ Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century (1992)
  151. ^ Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, comp. Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1719–1820. Database http://www.ibiblio.org/laslave/, 2003.
  152. ^ “French Creole Heritage”. Laheritage.org. Archived from the original on August 30, 2014. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  153. ^ Delehanty, Randolph.New Orleans: Elegance and Decadence, Chronicle Books, 1995, pg. 14
  154. ^ Kein, Sybil. Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana’s Free People of Color, Louisiana State University Press, 2009, p. 73.
  155. ^ “United States”. Modern Language Association. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  156. ^ Ward, Roger K (Summer 1997). “The French Language in Louisiana Law and Legal Education: A Requiem”. Louisiana Law Review. 57 (4).

Bibliography

  • The Sugar Masters: Planters and Slaves in Louisiana’s Cane World, 1820–1860 by Richard Follett, Louisiana State University Press, 2007.
    ISBN 978-0-8071-3247-0
  • The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440–1870 by Hugh Thomas. 1997: Simon and Schuster. p. 548.
  • Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World by David Brion Davis 2006: Oxford University Press.
    ISBN 978-0-19-533944-4
  • Yiannopoulos, A.N., The Civil Codes of Louisiana (reprinted from Civil Law System: Louisiana and Comparative law, A Coursebook: Texts, Cases and Materials, 3d Edition; similar to version in preface to Louisiana Civil Code, ed. by Yiannopoulos)
  • Rodolfo Batiza, “The Louisiana Civil Code of 1808: Its Actual Sources and Present Relevance,” 46 TUL. L. REV. 4 (1971); Rodolfo Batiza, “Sources of the Civil Code of 1808, Facts and Speculation: A Rejoinder,” 46 TUL. L. REV. 628 (1972); Robert A. Pascal, Sources of the Digest of 1808: A Reply to Professor Batiza, 46 TUL. L. REV. 603 (1972); Joseph M. Sweeney, Tournament of Scholars Over the Sources of the Civil Code of 1808,46 TUL. L. REV. 585 (1972).
  • The standard history of the state, though only through the Civil War, is Charles Gayarré’s History of Louisiana’ (various editions, culminating in 1866, 4 vols., with a posthumous and further expanded edition in 1885).
  • A number of accounts by 17th- and 18th-century French explorers: Jean-Bernard Bossu, François-Marie Perrin du Lac, Pierre-François-Xavier de Charlevoix, Dumont (as published by Fr. Mascrier), Fr. Louis Hennepin, Lahontan, Louis Narcisse Baudry des Lozières, Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe, and Laval. In this group, the explorer Antoine Simon Le Page du Pratz may be the first historian of Louisiana with his Histoire de la Louisiane (3 vols., Paris, 1758; 2 vols., London, 1763)
  • François Xavier Martin’s History of Louisiana (2 vols., New Orleans, 1827–1829, later ed. by J. F. Condon, continued to 1861, New Orleans, 1882) is the first scholarly treatment of the subject, along with François Barbé-Marbois’ Histoire de la Louisiane et de la cession de colonie par la France aux Etats-Unis (Paris, 1829; in English, Philadelphia, 1830).
  • Alcée Fortier’s A History of Louisiana (N.Y., 4 vols., 1904) is the most recent of the large-scale scholarly histories of the state.
  • The official works of Albert Phelps and Grace King, the publications of the Louisiana Historical Society and several works on the history of New Orleans (q.v.), among them those by Henry Rightor and John Smith Kendall provide background.

External links

  • Louisiana at Curlie
  • Louisiana Geographic Information Center
  • Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
  • Louisiana Weather and Tides

Geology links

  • Geology

    • Generalized Geologic Map of Louisiana, 2008
    • Generalized Geology of Louisiana (text to Generalized Geologic Map of Louisiana)
    • Loess Map of Louisiana
    • Other Louisiana Geological Maps
    • Louisiana Geofacts

Government

  • Official State of Louisiana website
  • Louisiana State Databases – Annotated list of searchable databases produced by Louisiana state agencies and compiled by the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association.
  • Census Statistics on Louisiana

U.S. government

  • Energy Profile for Louisiana
  • USDA Louisiana Statistical Facts
  • USGS real-time, geographic, and other scientific resources of Louisiana
  • 1st district: Steve Scalise – Website
  • 2nd district: Cedric Richmond – Website & Campaign Website
  • 3rd district: Charles Boustany – Website
  • 4th district: John C. Fleming – Website
  • 5th district: Ralph Abraham – Website
  • 6th district: Garret Graves – Website

News media

  • The Times-Picayune major Louisiana newspaper
  • WWL-TV Louisiana television station

Ecoregions

  • Ecoregions of Louisiana
  • Ecoregions of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain

Tourism

  • Official site of Louisiana tourism
  • Official site of the New Orleans Convention & Tourism Bureau
  • Official site of New Orleans Plantation Country tourism
  • Geographic data related to Louisiana at OpenStreetMap

Preceded by
Ohio
List of U.S. states by date of admission to the Union
Admitted on April 30, 1812 (18th)
Succeeded by
Indiana

Coordinates: 31°N 92°W / 31°N 92°W / 31; -92


Texas

State of Texas
Flag of Texas State seal of Texas
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Lone Star State
Motto(s): Friendship
State song(s): “Texas, Our Texas
Map of the United States with Texas highlighted
Official language No official language
(see Languages spoken in Texas)
Spoken languages Predominantly English;
Spanish is spoken by a sizable minority[1]
Demonym Texan
Texian (archaic)
Tejano (usually only used for Hispanics)
Capital Austin
Largest city Houston
Largest metro Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex
Area Ranked 2nd
 • Total 268,581[2] sq mi
(696,241 km2)
 • Width 773[3] miles (1,244 km)
 • Length 790 miles (1,270 km)
 • % water 2.5
 • Latitude 25° 50′ N to 36° 30′ N
 • Longitude 93° 31′ W to 106° 39′ W
Population Ranked 2nd
 • Total 28,304,596 (2017 est.)[4]
 • Density 108/sq mi  (40.6/km2)
Ranked 26th
 • Median household income $56,473[5] (26th)
Elevation
 • Highest point Guadalupe Peak[6][7][8]
8,751 ft (2667.4 m)
 • Mean 1,700 ft  (520 m)
 • Lowest point Gulf of Mexico[7]
Sea level
Before statehood Republic of Texas
Admission to Union December 29, 1845 (28th)
Governor Greg Abbott (R)
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R)
Legislature Texas Legislature
 • Upper house Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R)
Ted Cruz (R)
U.S. House delegation 25 Republicans
11 Democrats (list)
Time zones  
 • most of state Central: UTC −6/−5
 • El Paso, Hudspeth, and northwestern Culberson counties Mountain: UTC −7/−6
ISO 3166 US-TX
Abbreviations TX, Tex.
Website texas.gov
Texas state symbols
Flag of Texas.svg

The Flag of Texas
Seal of Texas.svg

The Seal of Texas
Living insignia
Bird Northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
Fish Guadalupe bass (Micropterus treculii)
Flower Bluebonnet (Lupinus spp., namely Texas bluebonnet, L. texensis)
Insect Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
Mammal Texas longhorn, nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)
Reptile Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum)
Tree Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)
Inanimate insignia
Food Chili
Instrument Guitar
Shell Lightning whelk (Busycon perversum pulleyi)
Ship USS Texas
Slogan The Friendly State
Soil Houston Black
Sport Rodeo
Other Molecule: Buckyball (For more, see article)
State route marker
Texas state route marker
State quarter
Texas quarter dollar coin

Released in 2004
Lists of United States state symbols

Texas (/ˈtɛksəs/, locally /ˈtɛksɪz/;[9]Spanish: Texas or Tejas [ˈtexas]) is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.

Houston is the most populous city in Texas and the fourth largest in the U.S., while San Antonio is the second-most populous in the state and seventh largest in the U.S. Dallas–Fort Worth and Greater Houston are the fourth and fifth largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, respectively. Other major cities include Austin, the second-most populous state capital in the U.S., and El Paso. Texas is nicknamed “The Lone Star State” to signify its former status as an independent republic, and as a reminder of the state’s struggle for independence from Mexico. The “Lone Star” can be found on the Texas state flag and on the Texan state seal.[10] The origin of Texas’s name is from the word taysha, which means “friends” in the Caddo language.[11]

Due to its size and geologic features such as the Balcones Fault, Texas contains diverse landscapes common to both the U.S. Southern and Southwestern regions.[12] Although Texas is popularly associated with the U.S. southwestern deserts, less than 10% of Texas’s land area is desert.[13] Most of the population centers are in areas of former prairies, grasslands, forests, and the coastline. Traveling from east to west, one can observe terrain that ranges from coastal swamps and piney woods, to rolling plains and rugged hills, and finally the desert and mountains of the Big Bend.

The term “six flags over Texas”[note 1] refers to several nations that have ruled over the territory. Spain was the first European country to claim the area of Texas. France held a short-lived colony. Mexico controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence, becoming an independent Republic. In 1845,[14] Texas joined the union as the 28th state. The state’s annexation set off a chain of events that led to the Mexican–American War in 1846. A slave state before the American Civil War, Texas declared its secession from the U.S. in early 1861, and officially joined the Confederate States of America on March 2 of the same year. After the Civil War and the restoration of its representation in the federal government, Texas entered a long period of economic stagnation.

Historically four major industries shaped the Texas economy prior to World War II: cattle and bison, cotton, timber, and oil.[15] Before and after the U.S. Civil War the cattle industry, which Texas came to dominate, was a major economic driver for the state, thus creating the traditional image of the Texas cowboy. In the later 19th century cotton and lumber grew to be major industries as the cattle industry became less lucrative. It was ultimately, though, the discovery of major petroleum deposits (Spindletop in particular) that initiated an economic boom which became the driving force behind the economy for much of the 20th century. With strong investments in universities, Texas developed a diversified economy and high tech industry in the mid-20th century. As of 2015, it is second on the list of the most Fortune 500 companies with 54.[16] With a growing base of industry, the state leads in many industrie