Even though the Spanish were the first to explore Mississippi in the 1500s, France first claimed and settled the area. Battles for control amongst France,
Spain, and Britain concluded in 1763, with Britain controlling the area east of the Mississippi River, and Spain the Natchez colony. Yet, by the late 1700s British colonists were the Natchez colony’s most numerous, with few Frenchmen and almost no Spaniards among its population. Spain’s governor, Manuel Luis Gayoso, had no choice but to rule through accommodation to British colonists, even appointing British settlers to top posts. Making little attempt to Hispanicize its new subjects, the Spanish Crown encouraged Anglo settlement in Natchez and eventually ceded the area to the United States through the Treaty of San Lorenzo. By 1798 the Mississippi Territory was part of the United States.
As Spain’s overseas empire crumbled, the English-speaking residents of the Mississippi Territory, and later the state of Mississippi, retained little active memory of their Spanish past. During the nineteenth century, Mississippi’s Gulf Coast attracted a few Latino merchants, as it was in contact with Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America via maritime trade.