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Founded in 1823, and originally known as Mount Salus, for the local plantation owned by Walter Leake, the third governor of Mississippi, the Hinds County town changed its name to Clinton in 1828, in honor of DeWitt Clinton. The road leading to the town was the Natchez Trace, an old Native American trail, currently known as the Natchez Trace Parkway. Today, two additional major highways pass through the city, including US Route 80 and Interstate Highway 20. Jackson, Mississippi is about ten miles southeast of Clinton. Other nearby communities include Bolton, Brownsville, Green Crossing, McRaven, Raymond, and Tinnin. Clinton is home to Mississippi College, the oldest college in the state, founded as Hampstead Academy in 1826. Mississippi College is also the second oldest Baptist university in the world, and the first coeducational college in the United States to grant a degree to a woman. Established in 1831, the Clinton-Vicksburg Railroad contributed to the export of 20,000 bales of cotton a year from Clinton, shipping it by rail to Grand Gulf on the Mississippi. During the War of Northern Aggression, the city was occupied, at various times, by Confederate and Union troops, the latter by General Ulysses S. Grant and General Sherman, who believed that Confederate General John Pemberton would attack them at Clinton. In September of 1875, a Republican rally was disrupted by racist Democrat insurgents, resulting in what became known as the Clinton Riot, in which several white men and about fifty blacks were killed over a period of a few days. Camp Clinton, a German POW camp, was established just south of the city during World War II, housing about three thousand German prisoners of war, including thirty-five German generals. Charles H. Brough, the 25th governor of Arkansas, was born in Clinton and taught school there.

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