Just off of the Natchez Trace we visited Jefferson College. Incorporated in 1802, by an act of the first General Assembly of the Mississippi Territory the college was named in honor of Thomas Jefferson, president of the United States and president of the American Philosophical Society. Territorial governor William C. C. Claiborne served as president of the college’s first Board of Trustees.
After years of initial financial difficulties, Jefferson College opened its doors on January 7, 1811, as a preparatory school, with fifteen students. Funds from Congress, the Legislature, and private citizens led the way to new prosperity, and by 1817 Jefferson College had become a full-fledged college.
In 1819, ten-year-old Jefferson Davis attended the school. Davis would later become the president of the Confederacy.
The outbreak of the Civil War forced the closing of Jefferson College in 1863. It reopened in 1866 and remained a preparatory school until 1964. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the school had become known as Jefferson Military College. Declining enrollment forced the closing of the school.
Today the historic Jefferson College is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been restored by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.