Natchez Trace Parkway, Clinton Visitor Center, Clinton, Mississippi
Image by Ken Lund
Clinton is a city in Hinds County, Mississippi, United States. Situated in the Jackson metropolitan area, it is the tenth largest city in Mississippi. The population was 23,347 at the 2000 United States Census.
Clinton, founded in 1823 was originally known as Mount Salus, which means "Mountain of health". Mount Salus was also the name of the home of Walter Leake, third governor of Mississippi, which was located in Clinton and built in 1812. In 1828, the name was changed from Mount Salus to Clinton in honor of DeWitt Clinton, the former governor of New York.
The first road through Mount Salus/Clinton was the Natchez Trace. Currently Clinton has 3 major highways that cut through the city, U.S. Highway 80, U.S. Interstate 20 and the Natchez Trace Parkway.
Mississippi College, a Christian university located in Clinton, is the oldest college in the state of Mississippi, founded January 24, 1826. Mississippi College is the second oldest Baptist university in the world, and was also the first coeducational college in the United States to grant a degree to a woman. The historically black institution of higher education for women, Mount Hermon Female Seminary was established in 1875 by Sarah Ann Dickey. It closed in 1924.
Confederate forces, as well as Union troops—both under the command of Ulysses S. Grant and General Sherman—briefly occupied Clinton during the U.S. Civil War on the way to the Battle of Vicksburg in May 1863. Grant, who scored a decisive victory at Vicksburg, mistakenly believed that John C. Pemberton, a Confederate general, would attack him at Clinton.
In September 1875, the Clinton Riot occurred in downtown Clinton during a political rally of about 3000 people. The riot was racially and politically motivated, related to the contemporary Reconstruction movement under the Republican led U.S. government. Approximately 50 people were killed, mostly African-American, and all Republican. The lack of response from the U.S. government in retaliation signaled the beginning of the end of reconstruction.
During World War II, Camp Clinton was established, a German POW camp south of town which housed about 3,000 German soldiers. Most of the prisoners were from the Afrika Korps. Of the 40 German generals captured in WWII, Camp Clinton housed 35 of them. The German soldiers provided the labor to build a replica model of the Mississippi River Basin for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, used for flood prevention.
Clinton, the smallest city to ever host a Fortune 500 company, was the headquarters for WorldCom from the mid-1990s to until 2002. After its bankruptcy due to the largest accounting scandal at the time in U.S. history and fraud-related convictions of Bernard Ebbers, CEO and Scott Sullivan, CFO, it changed its name to MCI and moved its corporate headquarters location to Ashburn, Virginia. Verizon, MCI’s successor and which also owns SkyTel (no relation to Bell Mobility’s Skytel brand), still occupy the massive formerly WorldCom compound in Clinton.
Clinton is a Certified Mississippi Main Street Community.