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Named for the Natchez tribe of Native Americans, who inhabited the area up through the French Colonial period, Natchez, Mississippi is the only city in Adams County, and the seat of government for the county. Situated along the Mississippi River across from Vidalia, Louisiana, Natchez is ninety miles southwest of the state capital of Jackson, Mississippi, and eighty-five miles north of Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, which is also on the Mississippi River. Founded by the French in 1716, Natchez is one of the oldest European settlements in the lower Mississippi River Valley. After passing from French to Spanish, and then English hands, it was acquired by the United States after the American Revolution, and served as the capital of the Mississippi Territory, and then the State of Mississippi. Although Natchez predated Jackson by more than a century, Jackson became the state capital in 1822, largely due to its more central location within the state. Natchez was the southern terminus of the Natchez Trace, which led from there to Nashville, Tennessee. By the mid-1800s, Natchez had become the primary port for the transport of cotton and sugar cane, both dependent upon slave labor. The city was largely undamaged by the American Civil War, as the city surrendered to Admiral David Farragut after the fall of New Orleans in May of 1862, but not before an elderly man and an eight year-old girl were killed when a Union ironclad shelled the town. There were no military deaths involved in the surrender of Natchez. Although occupied by the Union, the sympathies of whites in Natchez were with the South. Natchez became a center for Ku Klux Klan activity in the early 1960s, and the largest Klan organization in 1965 was headquartered there. The Civil Rights movement was also active in the city, most notably the Deacons for Defense, a black paramilitary group. Today, while Natchez remains a popular destination for heritage tourism, its population has declined since 1960.


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