On November 28, 1821, the Mississippi Legislature met in Columbia and designated LeFleur’s Bluff as the site of the state capital.
On April 26, 1822, Peter Aaron Van Dorn, a New Jersey native and Princeton University graduate, completed the original plan for the city of Jackson which was designed in a “checkerboard” layout. You can view the plan on the MDAH Digital Archives at https://da.mdah.ms.gov/series/maps/detail/191385.
In June 1822, the legislature passed an act providing that its next session would take place in Jackson the fourth Monday in December, and by that date all state offices would be located in Jackson.
The Mississippi Legislature first met in Jackson on December 23, 1822 in a now nonextant two-story brick structure.
In 1835, Mount Helm Baptist Church, the oldest Black congregation in Jackson, is formed.
The legislature first convenes in the Old State Capitol in Jackson on Monday, January 7, 1839. The Old Capitol was constructed with enslaved labor.
On November 26, 1839, a committee of citizens issued Andrew Jackson an invitation to “visit the City of Jackson as the guest of Mississippi.”
January 19–21, 1840, Andrew Jackson, old and ill health, made a visit to the city named in his honor. He stands before hundred on the portico at the Old Capitol.
The Mississippi Governor’s Mansion, the second-oldest governor’s residence in active use in the nation and located in Jackson, was completed in 1842.
April 28–29, 1843, Richard M. Johnson, vice president of the United States, visits Jackson.
In May 1847, Jackson City Hall is completed.
On May 14, 1863, General Ulysses S. Grant occupies Jackson with Union forces and plants the United States flag on the dome of the Old Capitol. He spent the night in the Bowman Hotel, which was located across the from what today is the William F. Winter Archives and History Building.
On January 7, 1868, the first biracial constitutional convention met in Jackson at the Old Capitol. They wrote a new constitution allowing Mississippi to rejoin the Union and establishing a public education system. A few of the at least sixteen Black delegates who served were Hinds County residents.
Legislators met for the first time in the New State Capitol in Jackson on January 5, 1904.
Early History of Jackson
The site on which Jackson is located was the home of Choctaw Indians and their ancestors for centuries. The first Europeans to live in the area, such as French-Canadian explorer Louis LeFleur, traded with the Choctaw people for livelihood.
Through the Treaty of Doak’s Stand, signed on October 18, 1820, control of the land was wrested away from the Choctaw people—Pushmataha, the great Choctaw leader, was reluctant to sign the treaty, and died in Washington D.C. in 1824 while seeking better terms. The Mississippi Legislature designated a committee, composed of Major General Thomas Hinds (Andrew Jackson’s comrade during the Battle of New Orleans), James Patton, and William Lattimore, to explore the newly acquired territory and locate a new site for the state’s capital within twenty miles of the true center of the state, and on a navigable stream.
Their first efforts to locate a capital along the Big Black River failed. They visited the trading post of LeFluer, or LeFluer’s Bluff, which was located thirty-five miles from the center of the state. It met all of the requirements—elevated position, pure water, fertile soil, timber, a navigable stream (Pearl River), public roads—except the legislature’s geographic criteria.
The Mississippi Legislature met in Columbia on November 5, 1821, and received a report from the committee. Convinced by the committee, the legislature designated LeFleur’s Bluff as the site of the state capital on November 28, 1821. An act of the legislature authorized Thomas Hinds, William Lattimore, and Peter Aaron Van Dorn to proceed with the survey and organization of the capital. The act also named the new city Jackson, after General Andrew Jackson, who became a national figure during the War of 1812, and Hinds County after Thomas Hinds, the chief military leader of Mississippi.
On April 26, 1822, Van Dorn, a New Jersey native and Princeton University graduate, completed the original plan for the city of Jackson. It was designed in a “checkerboard” layout, which President Thomas Jefferson wrote was the ideal plan for a city. The site for what is now the Old Capitol is clearly designated on the survey. Today City Hall and its park and Smith Park are America’s only remnants of Jefferson’s ambitious plan for half-green cities, according to the Mississippi Encyclopedia.
The Mississippi Legislature first met in Jackson on December 23, 1822, in a two-story brick structure that is no longer standing. In 1839, legislators began convening in a newly built statehouse, which now serves as the Old Capitol Museum (currently closed for repairs). The building was built with skilled enslaved laborers. The Old Capitol, designed by architect William Nichols, is the oldest building in Jackson.
Nichols also designed the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion. Construction on the Greek Revival style building along Capitol Street began in 1839 and was completed in 1842. Architectural historians consider the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion to be one of the finest surviving examples of the Greek Revival style in the United States.
Jackson City Hall is a Greek Revival building originally constructed in 1846 and 1847, but was rebuilt in 1853 and 1854 under the direction of Joseph Willis due to structural issues. As originally constructed, the building had a Masonic Hall in the third story and still has one today. The building was used as a hospital during the Civil War.