Hampstead Academy was chartered in 1826 by Governor David Holmes — before the city of Clinton was surveyed in 1829 or became the first incorporated city in Hinds County in 1830. Hampstead Academy is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state. The name was changed to Mississippi Academy in 1827 at the request of the board of trustees and then officially changed to Mississippi College on December 18, 1830.
The Academy began as a Presbyterian institution and was located near the original Mount Salus Church.
The economy crashed during the Panic of 1837, decimating Mississippi College’s finances and temporarily closing the school. The Clinton Presbyterians asked the Mississippi Baptist Convention to sponsor the school, and in 1850, the Baptists took control of Mississippi College.
A large group of Mississippi College students, faculty, and townspeople organized a Confederate militia called the Mississippi College Rifles. This volunteer infantry became Company E in the 18th Mississippi Regiment Infantry. They fought from 1861 in Manassas to Petersburg in 1865 under General Joseph Johnston and then General Robert E. Lee. Only 8 men in the MCR survived, and many are buried in nearby Clinton Cemetery.
Mississippi College absorbed Hillman College, a women’s college often governed by the same administrators, in 1942.