Mississippi joined the Union as the 20th state in 1817 and gets its name from the Mississippi River, which forms its western border. Before Europeans began to explore the area now known as Mississippi, three major Native American groups lived there. In the north and the eastern parts of the state were the Chickasaw. The Choctaw lived in the central part of territory and the Natchez lived in the southwest.
1540-1541 - Hernando De Soto, Spanish explorer, becomes the first European to enter Mississippi. Wintering with the Chickasaws and discovers the Mississippi River in the spring.
1682 - Robert Cavalier de La Salle navigates the Mississippi River to its mouth and claims for France all lands drained by the river.
1699 - Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur D'Iberville and brother, Jean Baptiste, Sieur D'Bienville, landed in what is now Ocean Springs. They built Fort Maurepas and established the first capital of the French colony in North American.
1716 - Fort Rosalie, the beginning of the town of Natchez, is established.
1718 - French officials establish rules to allow slave imports into the Biloxi area
1719 - First slave shipments arrive; most early slaves are Caribbean Creoles
1724 - Black Code is enacted and slavery is defined in the Mississippi territory
1729 - French settlers at Fort Rosalie are massacred by Natchez Indians in an effort to drive Europeans from Mississippi.
1736 - Bienville battles Chickasaw Indians in present day Lee County. He is defeated at the battle of Ackia.
1763-1779 - English Dominion - British administer Natchez and Biloxi as the Province of West Florida; British slave traders bring large numbers of Jamaican-born African Caribbeans to the Natchez region
1763 Mississippi, along with all other French territory east of the Mississippi river, passes into English control at the end of the French and Indian War.
1779-1798 - Spanish Dominion - Natchez region is governed by the Spanish, who encourage the slave trade by offering land grant bonuses to settlers who transport slaves
1779 - Bernardo Galvez, governor of Spanish Louisiana, captures Natchez.
1781-1783 Under provisions of the Treaty of Paris, West Florida, which included the southern half of Mississippi, comes under Spanish control. America gains possession of Mississippi north of the 32 degree 28 minute parallel.
1795-1810 - Cotton replaces tobacco as the main cash crop; demand for slave field workers grows substantially
1795 - Pinckney Treaty with Spain transfers the territory along the eastern bank of the Mississippi River to the United States
1797 - Spain yields to America all land in Mississippi north of the 31st parallel, giving America control of Natchez.
1798-1817 - Mississippi Territory
1801 - Mississippi advances to the second stage of territorial government.
1801-1837 - Various Indian land cessions lead to the removal of all Indians east of the Mississippi by 1837; opening of new lands resulting from each cession creates land rushes and increased demand for additional African American slaves
1803 -The Louisiana Purchase opens the Mississippi River for Commerce.
1805 - By the Treaty of Mount Dexter, the Choctaws sell 4.5 million acres of land to the US government. The area includes the Piney Woods region of the state.
1805 - Lt. Zebulon Pike explores Upper Mississippi, setting up posts in what will be Minnesota.
1810 - West Florida rebellion gives the United States control of Spanish West Florida.
1814-1815 The War of 1812 ends.
1816 - The Treaty of Fort Stephens with the Choctaws opens for settlement the area around the Tombigbee Prairie.
1817 - State of Mississippi
1818 - Elizabeth Female Academy is founded in Washington, the first girls' school chartered by the state and one of America's first women's colleges.
1819 - Fort Snelling established at confluence of Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, future site of Twin Cities.
1820 - The Treaty of Doak's Stand, the second Choctaw cession.
1821 - Mississippi's first public school is opened in Columbus.
1822 - The state capital is moved to Jackson. Built on the site of Lefleur's Bluff, Jackson was one of the first planned cities in the nation. It was named for Major General Andrew Jackson.
1826 - Mississippi College, then Hampstead Academy, is established.
1832 - Henry Schoolcraft is led to the headwaters of the Mississippi by an Ojibwe elder, Ozawindib.
1837 - First major commercial logging of white pine forests begins.
1838 - Pig's Eye settlement, forerunner of St. Paul, established upstream of Fort Snelling.
1842 - Governor Tilghman M. Tucker becomes the state's first chief executive to occupy the newly completed Governor's Mansion, still used today.
1844 - The University of Mississippi is established.
1848 - State government assumes operation of a private school for the blind. It becomes the Mississippi School for the Blind, the nation's first state-supported institution for the handicapped.
1863 - The Emancipation Proclamation abolishes slavery.
1865 - Robert E. Lee surrenders on April 9. The Civil War ends.
1867 - A military government is established in Mississippi after the reconstructed government of Mississippi is rejected by the US Congress.
1868 - Mississippi's first biracial constitutional convention - the "Black and Tan" Convention" - drafts a constitution protecting the rights of freedmen (ex-slaves) and punishing ex-Confederates. It is rejected by the voters.
1869 - Under the leadership of James L. Alcorn, Mississippi ratifies a constitution which does not punish ex-Confederate soldiers.
1871 - Alcorn University, now Alcorn State University, is organized.
1878 - Agricultural and Technical School is established. In 1935, it becomes Mississippi State College and in 1958, Mississippi State University.
1884 - The Industrial Institute and College, today's Mississippi University for Women, is established.
1903 - A new capitol building, constructed at a cost of $1 million, is dedicated in Jackson.
1908 - Mississippi adopts statewide prohibition.
1909 - Dr. Laurence C. Jones founds the Piney Woods Country Life School for the vocational and secondary education of black students.
1910 - Mississippi Normal College, now the University of Southern Mississippi, is organized.
1922 - The State Legislature authorizes a system of junior colleges, the first in the nation.
1923 - Two women, Senator Belle Kearny and Representative Nellie Nugent Somerville, are elected to the State Legislature.
1924 - Delta State Teachers' College, now Delta State University, is established.
1927 - The Mississippi River floods 2,722,000 acres in the Delta. Thousands are left homeless.
1929 - The Depression begins.
1930 - Lock and dam system - to facilitate navigation and control flooding - authorized by Congress.
1936 - State Legislature passes an amendment to balance agriculture with industry (BAWI Program). The Industrial Commission and the Advertising Commission are created to implement the program, which includes adoption of the nation's first industrial revenue bond.
1939 - The state's first oil well is brought in near Tinsley, in Yazoo County.
1941-1945 World War II promotes an industrial boom in the state.
1946 - Mississippi Vocational College, now Mississippi Valley State University, is established.
1954 - Brown vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court's landmark ruling, lays groundwork for desegregation.
1962 - James Meredith, the first black registrant, enters the University of Mississippi - the beginning of the end to segregation in public universities and colleges.
1963 - Medgar Evers, NAACP field secretary, is assassinated.
1965 - Governor Paul B. Johnson, Jr., announces that the BAWI Program has achieved its goal.
1970 - Mississippi Authority for Educational Television is established and begins broadcasting.
1983 - Judge Lenore Prather becomes Mississippi's first woman Supreme Court justice.
1985 - Justice Reuben Anderson becomes Mississippi's first black Supreme Court Justice.
1988 - A voluntary county unit system law is signed by Governor Mabus.
1990 - Mississippi National Guard men and women play important roles in Operation Desert Storm for America in the Middle East.
1992 - Tornadoes hit Brandon and other parts of Mississippi killing fifteen and injuring about 300 others
1994 - One of the nation's strongest lobbying reform laws is passed by the Mississippi Legislature.
2000 - David Ronald Musgrove becomes Mississippi's sixty-second Governor.
2004 - Voters banned same-sex marriage
2010 - Tornado struck southeastern Mississippi, killed ten, state of emergency declared in 17 counties
2012 - Before leaving office, Governor Haley Barbour issued full pardons to 208 inmates, including 14 convicted murderers