Jackson was originally part of the Choctaw Nation until in 1820 the Choctaw Indians signed the Treaty of Doak’s Stand. At that time the lands where Jackson is located were opened for non-Indian settlers. The area was known as Parkerville. After building a trading post, Louis LeFleur, a French-Canadian trader, renamed the area LeFleur’s Bluff.
In 1821 the Mississippi General Assembly decided to move the state’s governing body out of the Natchez area in order to establish a more centrally located state capital. They chose LeFleur’s Bluff, because it was on the Pearl River and close to the Natchez Trace trade route, while the exact center of the state, which was the first choice, was a swamp and therefore not a desirable location for a capital. In 1822 the City of Jackson, named after future president Major General Andrew Jackson, was planned by architect Peter Van Dorn. The city was to be laid out in a checkerboard pattern, alternating green areas with city blocks. Of course, today nothing remains of this original plan. The State Legislature began meeting in Jackson on December 23, 1822.
From 1839 to 1903 the Old Capital building was home to the Mississippi State Legislature. In 1839 in Jackson the Mississippi Legislature passed the first law in the United States that allowed women to retain rights of ownership to property after being married. Prior to this, all property and possessions belonging to women became the sole property of their husbands after marriage.
Jackson’s first railroad came into being in 1840. By 1844 Jackson rail service ran to Vicksburg, Raymond and Brandon. Jackson was not able to develop a large amount of river commerce since it was not located on the Mississippi River as were other large towns in Mississippi. Jackson City Hall was built in 1846, cost less than $8000, and is still the seat of city government.
During the 19thCentury Jackson remained a relatively small town in caparison with those located on the Mississippi river. The 1850 census found the population of Jackson to be 1881 residents despite the fact that it was the capital.
There is very little architecture surviving from prior to the Civil War in Jackson. The antebellum homes that were located here were burned or otherwise destroyed. The most prominent of the few surviving structures is the original governor’s mansion built in 1842. This building was used by General Sherman for a headquarters during the civil war. The old capital building, used from 1839 to 1903, as home to the Mississippi State Legislature, and it was here that Mississippi passed its ordinance of succession on January 9, 1891. Mississippi was the second state to secede from the union
History of the City of Jackson – installment # 2 – survival of the Civil War years, will be the next story in the history of the City of Jackson series. Look for that column next Friday. In the meantime, on Monday, we will examine Medgar Evers and his contributions to Jackson’s history.