Natchez is the oldest settlement on the Mississippi River. The area was originally inhabited by prehistoric Indians, and later by the Natchez Indians. The first written history of Natchez begins in the year 1662 with the French explorer LaSalle who floated downstream searching for the mouth of the Mississippi. In 1716 the French built Fort Rosalie overlooking the river. In the early 1720s colonists from Hainaut were among the early settlers and farmers who settled at St. Catherine Concession at Natchez. There was tension between the French leaders and the native Natchez Indians and in 1729 the Natchez launched a surprise attack against the fort and settlers of the surrounding area killing a total of 712 people. The French, aided by the Choctaw Indians, waged a war on the Natchez Indians that resulted in an almost complete annihilation of the tribe. Great Britain took possession of the Natchez territory in 1763. Not long afterwards, in 1779 Natchez came under Spanish rule. During the Spanish period, the basic design of the downtown area was layed out by engineers. The territory came under the control of the United States in 1797 and Natchez was made the capital.
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