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After establishing a fort along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in 1699, French and Canadian soldiers began to spread out into the interior of the Lower Mississippi Valley. Large-scale immigration to the vast Louisiana colony, which included the modern state of Mississippi, however, did not occur immediately. For much of the first two decades of the colony's existence, the French crown considered Louisiana a costly and unsuccessful debacle. In 1717, hoping to turn Louisiana into a prosperous enterprise, the crown gave the colony to the Company of the Indies, a business venture headed by the Scottish financier John Law. Where the crown had hoped to create a peasant's paradise of small farmers, Law's vision for the colony focused on the creation of plantations. A scheme that allowed investors huge concessions of land helped to implement his vision, as pockets of settlement, particularly along the rivers, began to appear. But, outside of cities like Mobile and New Orleans, settlements remained small and oriented toward agricultural production, though they also served as home to military outposts.
One of the early French settlements was located in the vicinity of modernday Natchez. For a number of years, Europeans, slaves, and Indians near the