Hernando de Soto was the first European to visit what is now Mississippi. He died there in 1542. Robert Cavelier, sieur de la Salle, claimed the Mississippi River valley for France in 1682 and named it Louisiana. Pierre Le Moyne, sieur d'Iberville, established the first permanent French settlement near what is not Oceansprings. In 1717 John Law launched the Mississippi Scheme to entice settlers and commercial development to the French-held river valley. Although the plan collapsed in 1720, it was responsible for bringing many settlers to the area.
After the French and Indian War, from 1754-1763, the region went to the British. The second Spanish period began in 1781, when military forces occupied Natchez, and lasted until 1795, when the region became part of the United States. The territory of Mississippi was organized in 1798, with Natchez as capital. In 1817 Mississippi became the 20th state.