The original settlement was founded in 1805 at the junction of the Natchez Trace and Old Vicksburg Road. Originally, the location was home to the Indian agency Mount Dexter, operated by Robert H. Bell. The settlement was home to many settlers in 1823, when Walter Leake, the Governor of Mississippi, purchased land in the area to build his home. When the governor's home was completed it was christened Mount Salus, meaning mountain of health, since it was built near a large, flowing spring. Soon after Governor Leake took residence, the community adopted the name of his manor home. The Mt. Salus community became well known to the travelers along the Natchez Trace for its many healthful and refreshing springs.
Clinton is at the crossroad of Mississippi where the Natchez Trace stagecoach line and state roads connected Mt. Salus with Vicksburg, Natchez, and Jackson. At the center, Mt. Salus was under consideration to be the capital of the newly formed state of Mississippi. In 1828, town planners felt that the name of the proposed capital city should be more prestigious. So, the City of Clinton was born, named for DeWitt Clinton, former Governor of New York and a prominent citizen during the early 1800s. Quite unexpectedly, in 1829 Clinton was defeated in its bid to become the state capital by one vote.
But defeat was secondary. During the 1830s, Clinton experienced a building boom which qualified it as the third-largest city in Mississippi, surpassed only by the port cities of Natchez and Vicksburg. At this time Clinton was home to over 40 businesses and professional offices, and to one of the largest cotton gins of its time.
Today, Clinton continues to be known for its excellent business climate, progressive government, outstanding educational opportunities, and a location that combines metropolitan conveniences with historic charm.