Fellow Mississippians, One of Mississippi’s most beloved characters, William Faulkner, once said: “The past is never dead. It’s not even the past.” No statement could be more pertinent as we celebrate the Magnolia State’s first 200 years. The pages before you weave a fascinating story: beginning before statehood was on the horizon, Mississippi’s place in our Nation’s early history, and the more recent past, which many of our friends and neighbors can still recall. From crops, to culture, to civil discourse, we have learned many lessons, redirected, and forged ahead together in search of a better way for the next generation. These pages also provide us with a glimpse into our future. The days ahead hold promise. New industry in areas like solar energy and manufacturing are burgeoning, while Mississippi’s staples, like shipbuilding and agriculture remain. We continue to leave our one-of-a-kind mark on the creative fields of art, music, and literature. Our people remain family oriented, loyal, resilient, resourceful, and faithful. Whether you are a long-time resident or a welcomed newcomer, my hope is these pages will convince you to press pause, linger on a front porch, and learn about Mississippi’s origins. Studying where we have been is what will allow us to trust one another, build on our strengths, and leave behind our weaknesses. Congratulations, Mississippi, on your bicentennial birthday. We have come so far, and we cannot wait to see what the next two centuries have in store. Sincerely, Delbert Hosemann Secretary of State