December 11, 2013 9:53:33 AM
JACKSON -- Mississippi on Tuesday marked its 196th anniversary of statehood, and officials said they're starting to plan a bicentennial celebration for 2017.
Mississippi became the 20th state on Dec. 10, 1817, about a year after Indiana and a year before Illinois.
During the Mississippi bicentennial, a rare 20-star U.S. flag will be displayed around the state. The flag, which flew in 1818 and 1819, is owned by the state Department of Archives and History and is thought to be one of the few in existence.
The Mississippi Legislature will start the bicentennial by meeting briefly in joint session in the small community of Washington, just east of Natchez. The state's first constitution was drafted in Washington in 1817 in a small Methodist church that later became part of the Jefferson College campus.
"Mississippi has much to be proud of since the first statehood convention was held at Jefferson College 200 years ago," Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said in a news release.
Officials say they're working on details for a statewide bicentennial gala in December 2017, which will be open to the public.
Also scheduled for that month is the opening of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum -- two facilities under one roof. Construction started in October on a site near the state Capitol in downtown Jackson.
Mississippi issued its secession declaration in January 1861, three months before the start of the Civil War, becoming the second Southern state to try to leave the union.
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