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Oxford, Mississippi is the county seat of Lafayette County. Both the city and county were founded on land that once belonged to the Chickasaw people, who were forced to cede their lands by the terms of the Treaty of Pontotoc Creek in 1832. The county was organized in 1836, and the land for the county seat was purchased by John Martin, John Chisom and John Craig, who laid out the town and named it for the British university, hoping to attract a college, which they did. The Mississippi legislature chose Oxford as the site for what is now the University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss, in 1841. Oxford was plagued with several invasions by Union troops during the Civil War. Union troops under Generals Grant and Sherman came through in 1862, and Major General Andrew Jackson Smith burned the buildings in the town square in 1864, including the courthouse. Oxford recovered slowly following the war, and a new courthouse was not completed until 1872. During the Civil Rights movement, the Ole Miss Riot of 1962 drew national attention after state officials, including Governor Barnett, prevented James Meredith, a black man, from enrolling at the University of Mississippi in defiance of a federal ruling. When US Marshals accompanied Meredith, thousands of segregationists rioted in protest, which spread into the outlying city. Oxford is in the North Central Hills region of the state, at the intersection of highways from eight directions. State Highway 6/US Highway 278 runs west to Batesville and east to Pontotoc, and Highway 7 runs north to Holly Springs and south to Water Valley. Highway 30 leads northeast to New Albany, while Highway 334 goes southeast to Toccopola. Taylor Road runs southwest to Taylor, and Highway 314 leads northwest to the Clear Creek Recreation Area on Sardis Lake.

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