Canton, Mississippi (population 12,911) was incorporated in 1834 as the new seat of Madison County. The first recorded ordinance made it a misdemeanor to gallop a horse, mare, or mule on any street or alley.
Canton was an early farming center with cotton fields worked by many slaves--a fact that later caused the area to be the only county outside the Delta with blacks outnumbering whites four to one. In addition, Canton became a large railroad, lumber and saloon center.
The city survived two Union invasions in the Civil War, financial and political chaos during Reconstruction, a yellow fever epidemic in 1870, the collapse of the lumber and sawmill heyday during the Depression, and racial strife in the 1960s. Today Canton is a friendly, progressive community, appreciative of its colorful past and distinctive Southern personality.
Canton has done much to preserve its historical buildings. In 1982, the Canton Courthouse Historic Square District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the courthouse was declared one of the three best examples of Greek Revival architecture in the state. To display the building, the city launched a Victorian Christmas Festival in 1992, which draws thousands of visitors to the “City of Lights” each year.
The historic 1925 Illinois Central Railroad Depot has been completely renovated and is used today as a railway museum, Chamber of Commerce office, and local railway freight office. The 1900s-era Trolio Hotel has been converted into an arts and crafts school, and the Multicultural Museum, which chronicles civil right struggles and achievements in the city, is located in the historic Maloney Building, along with a movie set and movie museum.
Designated a Preserve America Community in May 2006.