The Mississippi Territory was organized from land ceded from Georgia and South Carolina.
President James Monroe signed the resolution admitting Mississippi as the 20th state in the Union.
Walter Leake of Red Bluff and Thomas Hill Williams of Washington presented their credentials to the Senate, and after taking the oath of office became Mississippi's first senators. The next day they drew lots to determine their class assignments. Leake drew Class 2, with a term to expire March 3, 1821. Williams drew Class 3, with a term to expire March 3, 1823.
Jefferson Davis of Warrenton and later Hurricane became chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs (today's Committee on Armed Services), serving until 1851. Davis again served as chairman of the committee from 1857 to 1861.
During heated debate on the Senate floor, Senator Henry S. Foote of Jackson pulled a pistol on Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri as the physically imposing Benton moved toward Foote down the center aisle. Foote claimed self-defense, while Benton accused him of being an assassin. As tempers cooled, a committee was immediately appointed to look into the disorder and the matter quietly went away.
American artist William H. Powell's Discovery of the Mississippi by De Soto was placed in the Capitol Rotunda. Completed two years earlier, the 12-foot by 18-foot oil painting was the last of eight historical paintings commissioned by Congress for the Rotunda. The painting depicts Spanish conquistador Hernando De Soto arriving at the Mississippi River at a point below Natchez on May 8, 1541. De Soto was the first European documented to have seen the river, which forms the western state boundary of Mississippi.
Senator Jefferson Davis gave his farewell speech in the Senate. Days before, on January 9, Mississippi had become the second state, following South Carolina, to secede from the Union in the events leading up to the Civil War. Davis and his fellow Mississippian Albert G. Brown of Newton, who had left on January 12, both formally withdrew from the Senate and therefore were not among the ten southern senators expelled from the Senate on July 11, 1861 for supporting the Confederate rebellion.
Hiram Revels of Natchez took his oath of office and became the first African American to serve in the Senate. After being elected to the remainder of the term ending March 3, 1871, Revels joined Adelbert Ames of Natchez as the first two senators from Mississippi following its readmission to representation in the Union.
Blanche Kelso Bruce of Floreyville became the only former slave to ever preside over the Senate. Bruce was also the first African American to serve a full term in the Senate, serving from March 4, 1875 to March 3, 1881.
Former senator Adelbert Ames was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for actions on July 21, 1861, at the Battle of Bull Run. Ames, then serving as a first lieutenant with the 5th U.S. Artillery, was cited for having “remained upon the field in command of a section of Griffin's Battery, directing its fire after being severely wounded and refusing to leave the field until too weak to sit upon the caisson where he had been placed by men of his command.” Ames served in the Senate from February 23, 1870, to January 10, 1874, when he resigned to become governor of Mississippi.
Bronze statues of former Mississippi senators Jefferson Davis and James Z. George, both by artist Augustus Lukeman, were unveiled at the Capitol as part of the National Statuary Hall Collection. The statue of Jefferson Davis currently resides in National Statuary Hall while the statue of James Z. George sits in the Capitol Visitor Center.
Hubert D. Stephens of New Albany became chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce (today's Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation), serving until 1935.
Wall Doxey of Holly Springs became the only former senator to serve as sergeant at arms of the Senate. Doxey had been elected to the Senate on September 23, 1941, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Mississippi Senator Pat Harrison and served from September 29, 1941 to January 3, 1943. Although he was unsuccessful in his bid for renomination in 1942, he returned to the Senate--this time, as the sergeant at arms, serving from 1943 to 1947.
Senator Theodore Bilbo of Poplarville passed away, ending a senate predicament. Bilbo, who had served in the Senate since 1935, won a contested 1946 election but the Senate refused to reseat him. Facing charges of personal corruption and civil rights violations, Bilbo was also battling cancer when he returned to Mississippi. At the time of his death, he was hoping to recover and then reclaim his seat in the Senate.
Felton "Skeeter" Johnston, who was born in Louisiana but grew up in Mississippi, became secretary of the Senate after serving much of the previous decade as the Democratic party secretary. Johnston first came to Washington, D.C., in 1929, after graduating from the University of Mississippi, as an aide to Mississippi senator Pat Harrison. He retired as secretary of the Senate on December 30, 1965.
Former Mississippi senator Lucius Q.C. Lamar was included in Massachusetts senator John F. Kennedy's Pulitzer-Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage. Lamar, a Confederate veteran of the Civil War, was lauded for his Senate eulogy of abolitionist and senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, his efforts during Reconstruction, and his opposition to the 1878 Bland-Allison Act.
James O. Eastland of Ruleville and later Doddsville became chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. He served as chairman for nearly 23 years--longer than any other Judiciary Committee chairman--until his retirement on December 27, 1978.
James O. Eastland became the third Mississippi senator elected president pro tempore of the Senate. He served in this position during four different Congresses, until his resignation on December 27, 1978.
Senator James O. Eastland ended his Senate service after more than 36 years. Eastland, who served in 1941 and again from 1943 to 1978, is Mississippi’s second longest-serving senator, behind John C. Stennis. Together, Eastland and Stennis represented Mississippi for 31 years and 2 months, a record surpassed only by Strom Thurmond and Ernest "Fritz" Hollings of South Carolina.
John C. Stennis ended his Senate career having served 41 years, 1 month, and 29 days. Stennis surpassed James O. Eastland to become Mississippi’s longest serving senator and cast over 11,000 roll-call votes during his tenure. Stennis is also the sixth longest-serving senator.
Senator Trent Lott was elected Senate majority leader after Senator Robert Dole resigned that position to focus on his presidential campaign. Lott held his position as Republican Leader in the Senate until January 7, 2003. In 2007 Senator Lott would briefly return to the position of Republican Party whip.
The U.S. Senate Commission on Art approved the commissioning of a portrait of James Eastland. Herbert Abrams was selected to paint Eastland’s portrait and received the commission in 2000. Abrams completed the portrait in 2001.
During the 107th Congress, Senator Trent Lott served as both the minority leader and majority leader. From January 3 to January 20, 2001, with the Senate divided evenly between the two parties, the Democrats held the majority due to the deciding vote of outgoing Democratic Vice President Al Gore. Senator Lott served as minority leader at that time. Beginning on January 20, 2001, Vice President Richard Cheney, a Republican, held the deciding vote, making Senator Lott majority leader. On June 6, 2001, Senator James Jeffords of Vermont switched from Republican to Independent status. The move changed control of the Senate back to the Democrats and Senator Lott resumed his duties as minority leader.
Thad Cochran became chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, serving until 2005.
As chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Trent Lott accompanied President-elect George W. Bush from the White House to the inaugural ceremonies at the Capitol.
The U.S. Senate Commission on Art unveiled a new painting of U.S. Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) at a ceremony in the historic Old Senate Chamber of the U.S. Capitol (program | photo | open captioned video of the event).The portrait, painted by noted American artist Steven Polson, is part of the U.S. Senate Leadership Portrait Collection, which honors past Senate leaders.