April 4-July 2, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Old Capitol Museum. Luminaries & Legends: Hall of Fame Spotlight—Stephen D. Lee. The Old Capitol Museum is celebrating Stephen D. Lee with a Luminaries and Legends: Hall of Fame
spotlight exhibit. Lee was the youngest lieutenant general in the Confederate Army, a state senator, and the first president of Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College, now known as Mississippi State University.
Lee was born in Charleston, South Carolina on September 22, 1833. Lee entered West Point Academy in 1850 and after graduating, began his career as a lieutenant in the United States Army. Lee resigned his commission in 1861 to enlist in the Confederate Army. During the Civil War, Lee assisted General Beauregard as his aide-de-camp and played a part in firing the first shots of the war at Fort Sumter in Charleston. He then commanded Confederate troops in numerous battles, including several engagements during the Vicksburg Campaign in 1863. Lee was promoted to lieutenant general in 1864, the youngest Confederate to hold the rank at only thirty years old.
In 1865, Lee married Regina Harrison of Columbus, Mississippi. The family settled in Columbus, had a son, and worked as planters. In 1878, he was elected to the Mississippi State Senate. In 1880, Lee became the first president of the newly created Mississippi A&M College and served until 1899. Lee is revered for leading the young university into prominence and for contributions to the field of industrial and agricultural education. A devoted farmer advocate, Lee heavily influenced farming policy as a delegate to the 1890 Constitutional Convention and led the populist Mississippi State Farmers Alliance.
In 1899, Lee resigned as college president. He played a major role in the development of Vicksburg National Military Park and, upon its completion, acted as the park’s first superintendent. During the last years of his life, Lee served on the board of trustees for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and wrote at length about his experience during Civil War.
Lee died in Vicksburg on May 28, 1908 was laid in repose at the Vicksburg Military Park Office. He is buried at Friendship Cemetery in Columbus. The next year, Mississippi State University built Lee Hall in his honor and the Mississippi State Legislature added his statue to Vicksburg National Military Park. His home in Columbus now operates as a museum.
The Old Capitol, Jackson’s oldest building, is a National Historic Landmark. Located on State Street at Capitol, the museum’s regular hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, free of charge. For more information call 601-576-6920 or visit www.oldcapitolmuseum.com.
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