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Description of Mississippi, US
Mississippi is a state located in the Southeastern United States. An indigenous phrase meaning "big waters" or "father of waters" is the origin of its name. In 1817, Mississippi was admitted to the union as the country's 20th state. In comparison to other states in the union, Mississippi is relatively tiny, bordered by Tennessee to the north, Alabama to the east, Louisiana to the south, and the Gulf of Mexico to the west. Mississippi's soil is rich and deep, and its terrain is crisscrossed by numerous rivers. Until the mid-20th century, the state's advantage was largely due to the dominance of a rural, slow-paced culture. The history of this way of life may still be seen in the many historic homes in historical cities like Columbus, Biloxi, Natchez, Vicksburg, and Holly Springs, Mississippi.
In many ways, Mississippi's leisurely way of life became a detriment to the state's economic and social progress as it grew more urbanized and industrialized over time. For decades, Mississippi's per capita income has remained low due to an abnormally large dependant population, a largely agricultural economy, and a general reluctance to change. Since the mid-20th century's civil rights movement, the state has been at the center of fierce inter-racial strife. As recently as the early 21st century, around half of Mississippians were still living in rural areas, albeit they weren't always on farms.
Geographical Description of Mississippi
To the north, Tennessee; to the east, Alabama; to the south, Louisiana; to the west, Louisiana and Arkansas across the Mississippi River; and to the south, the Gulf of Mexico.
Along with its name-bearing river, Mississippi is home to several other notable waterways. These include: Big Black, Pearl, Yazoo, Pascagoula, and the Tombigbee. Ross Barnett Reservoir, Arkabutla, Sardis, and Grenada are the four main lakes in the area, with Sardis Lake being the largest of the four.
Woodall Mountain, at 807 feet (246 meters) above sea level in the state's northeastern corner, is the state's highest point. There is no lower point than sea level in this area of the Gulf of Mexico. 91 m above sea level is the state's average elevation.
The East Gulf Coastal Plain encompasses the majority of Mississippi's land area. In the southern part of the coastal plain, the Pine Hills and the North Central Hills can be seen. Nearby in the northeast are the Pontotoc Ridge and Fall Line Hills, which have a higher altitude. The western part of the state is covered in yellow-brown loess soil. The fertile black earth uplands of the northeastern United States stretch into the Alabama Black Belt as a result of the region's geology.
In addition to Bay St. Louis and Biloxi, there are also major bays at Pascagoula and Pascagoula Bay. Located between the Gulf of Mexico and the shallow Mississippi Sound is Petit Bois Island; Horn Island; East and West Ship Islands; Deer Island; Round and Cat Islands; and the Mississippi Sound itself, which is somewhat protected by these islands.
The Mississippi Delta, a portion of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, occupies the state's northwest corner. North of Vicksburg, the plain becomes more open. The Mississippi River's floodwaters have deposited silt in the region's fertile soil, which is mainly composed of clay.
Economy of Mississippi
Mississippi's total state output in 2010 was estimated by the Bureau of Economic Analysis to be $98 billion. Dr. Darrin Webb, the state's chief economist, predicts GDP growth of 2.4 percent in 2016, which would mark the second year in a row of expansion following the recession. In 2006, the state's per capita personal income was $26,908, the lowest of any state, although the state also had the lowest living costs in the US. The adjusted per capita income for 2015 was $40,105. Mississippians are among the most generous people in the United States.
At 56%, the state has the nation's lowest rate of labor force participation. Disabled adults make about 10% of the workforce, or 70,000.
Several factors contribute to Mississippi's poverty, including its reliance on cotton agriculture before and after the Civil War, the late development of the Mississippi Delta's frontier bottomlands, floods that occurred frequently in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and necessitated large-scale capital investments in levees and ditching and draining the bottomlands, as well as the slow construction of railroads to connect the bottomlands with river towns. Another legacy Democrats left behind in 1890, when they won control of both chambers of the state legislature, was a constitution that favored rural agriculture over corporate industrial expansion.
Pre-Civil War Mississippi was the 5th wealthiest state in the US, thanks to the slave labor on cotton plantations along the rivers that produced its wealth. Cotton prices rose in the 1840s, making slaves more valuable, and slaves were counted as property. In Mississippi, 55% of the people were enslaved by 1860. 90% of the Delta's bottomlands were undeveloped, and the state's population was dispersed.
The state's aristocracy was reluctant to invest in infrastructure like roads and trains because of the dominance of the plantation economy, which was concentrated on the production of agricultural cotton. They sent their kids to a private school. Many locations did not see widespread industrialization until the latter half of the twentieth century. The planter aristocracy of pre-Civil War Mississippi kept taxes low and made solely private improvements for their own gain. Confederate President Jefferson Davis held riverfront properties in the Mississippi Delta along the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers before the conflict. Most of the Delta was an unexplored frontier away from the riverfronts.
30,000 Mississippian troops, the most of whom were white, killed in battle or from sickness during the Civil War, and many more were left paralyzed or injured. Agricultural depressions and labor reforms in the South resulted in significant losses of wealth. In 1860, the assessed value of property in Mississippi was over $500 million, with slaves accounting for $218 million (43%). By the year 1870, the total worth of the company's assets had fallen to about $177 million.
Poor whites and freed former slaves bore the brunt of the downturn that followed World War II. For the first time, a committee was established by the early 1868 constitutional conference to recommend what the state and its residents required. Desperation was observed among the working class by the committee. For years, the state rebuilt levees that had been destroyed during the conflicts. After the war, the state was devastated by the disruption of the commodity system. However, by 1868 a larger cotton harvest showed the potential for free labor in the state despite a lower cotton yield of 565,000 bales produced in 1870.
To become landowners, blacks cleared land, sold timber, and developed bottomland. Two-thirds of Mississippi farm owners were black in 1900, a significant accomplishment for them and their families. Many of these farmers were unable to make it through the prolonged financial troubles due to the bad economy, low cotton prices, and difficulty obtaining loans. The majority of African-Americans were still sharecroppers two decades later. When African Americans had to sell their farms to pay off debts, the low cotton prices in the 1890s meant that more than a generation lost the fruits of their labor.
For many years following the Civil War, the state failed to invest in its citizens' human capital by ensuring that they received a comprehensive education. Due to disastrous floods in 1912, 1913, and 1927, as well as the collapse of cotton prices in 1920, the state's reliance on agriculture became increasingly costly.
After the devastating flood of 1882, the Mississippi-Yazoo Delta District Levee Board was established in 1884 and the state began implementing long-term levee designs in the upper Delta. This catastrophic flood, which flooded 27,000 square miles (70,000 km2) of land in the Delta, left thousands homeless and damaged property worth millions of dollars, despite the state spending years building and upgrading levees. The state suffered greatly during those years as a result of the Depression occurring so soon after the flood. Hundreds of thousands of African Americans travelled to the North and West during the Great Migration in search of jobs and the opportunity to become full citizens.