44 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI States in the American Revolution. However, the area that would become Jackson County was not claimed by the United States at that time, but rather by Spain, America’s ally in the war. Spain ruled the Mississippi coast from 1779 to 1810. They paid little attention to the region and kept it mainly as a site for forts in Mobile and Pensacola, a staging area where the Spanish navy could keep the gold-rich regions in Mexico and Central America safe from attack from Britain or France. During this brief time of Spanish dominion, the Mississippi lands north of the 31 degree latitude line were organized into a United States territory. The Mississippi Territory was established by the United States on April 7, 1798. It was a vast stretch of land that included the central portions of present-day Alabama and Mississippi north of the Spanish holdings (the strip of coastline below the Mississippi Territory from the Pearl River eastward to the Mobile River). The dividing line between Spanish holdings and Mississippi was the 31st parallel line, so Spain held what is roughly the present-day counties of Jackson, Harrison, Hancock, Stone, George, and Pearl River. Spain wanted the region mainly for defensive purposes and did little to encourage its growth. American settlers around Baton Rouge west of the Pearl River rose up against the Spanish government in 1810. These settlers were Americans and had little use for their Spanish rulers. They lead a successful revolt and formed the Republic of West Florida with the Lone Star Flag as their official banner. The Pascagoula region east of the Pearl River joined the movement. The western half of the new republic soon went to Louisiana while the eastern half (today’s Mississippi and Alabama coasts) was annexed into the Mississippi Territory. Governor William C. C. Claiborne of Louisiana created the Parish of Biloxi and the Parish of Pascagoula out of the area from the Pearl River to Bayou LaBatre that lay south of the 31 degree latitude. The Biloxi River was the midpoint in this wide region. All land west of it was the Parish of Biloxi, and all territory east of it was Pascagoula Parish. Claiborne then sent Dr. William Flood to secure allegiances and raise the American flag in Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, and Pascagoula. Claiborne charged Flood with distributing the Mississippi Territorial laws and copies of the territorial proclamation by President James Madison that declared and affirmed the Republic of West Florida to be a part of the Louisiana Purchase, which had been finalized in 1803. Flood delivered Simon Favre his commission as Justice of the Peace once Claiborne appointed him to the position. Flood also appointed parish officers. Once that was done, Flood hoisted the American flag on January 9, 1811, in the Pass Christian area and proceeded eastward to finalize his mission. After securing the loyalty of the coastal folks and raising American flags, Flood returned to report his observations about the region in his accounts to Governor Claiborne. He wrote that in Biloxi Parish, the population was mostly French and Creoles. He also prophetically mused that he was most impressed with the natural beauty of the region “and value of this coast. The high sandy lands, heavily timbered with pines, and the lovely bays and rivers, from the MISSISSIPPI CITY Mississippi City was the original county seat in Harrison County and was also one of the most important towns in the late 19th century. The Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&NRR) was constructed to connect New Orleans, Louisiana, to Mobile, Alabama, and Mississippi City was located on the railroad. The population of Mississippi City continued to grow and attract visitors to the beach in the Mississippi Sound. The town also had schools, hotels, churches, and more. The Mississippi legislature began to consider locations for a state university in 1841. The final ballots listed Mississippi City and Oxford as choices for the college. The vote was 58 to 57 and Oxford was selected as the site for the University of Mississippi. On February 7, 1882, the bareknuckle fight for the heavyweight championship was in Mississippi City. In the ninth round, John L. Sullivan knocked out Patrick “Paddy” Ryan in front of the Barnes Hotel. After the Civil War in 1888, Jefferson Davis gave a speech in Mississippi City where he asked for all citizens to become unified. Although Mississippi City has a rich history, it never was able to attain city status. In 1965, it was overtaken by the city of Gulfport. PHOTO COURTESY OF MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY, MOSBY POSTCARD COLLECTION