The onetime Choctaw Indian agency town of Clinton (pop. 25,211), north of I-20, about 10 miles west of Jackson, was renamed in 1828 in honor of New York governor DeWitt Clinton, who oversaw construction of the Erie Canal. It is now a small cotton-growing and shipping center, with a few blocks of “olde towne” around the Baptist-run Mississippi College along Hwy-80 and College Street. In its early years, Clinton sat on the notorious Natchez Trace, now followed by the blissful Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs southwest to Natchez and northeast all the way to Nashville.
Though it survived the Civil War relatively unscathed, Clinton later saw some of the worst Reconstruction-era race riots in the state, with an estimated 50 unarmed blacks killed during a single rampage in 1875. More recently, Clinton suffered through the painful fallout of the MCI/WorldCom scandal: The multinational telecom company had its world headquarters here, and CEO Bernie Ebbers, convicted in 2005 of overseeing a multibillion-dollar fraud, was a Mississippi College graduate.