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Founded in 1801, the City of Clinton was first named Burrville in honor of Vice President Aaron Burr, who served during Thomas Jefferson’s first term. The name was quickly changed in 1809 because of the disgraceful Burr-Hamilton duel, which resulted in the death of Alexander Hamilton. The name was changed to Clinton after Thomas Jefferson’s second term vice president, George Clinton.
Clinton received national attention on August 27, 1956, when twelve African American high school students walked into the first desegregated public high school in the south. When the Supreme Court decided Brown vs Board of Education and ended legal segregation in public schools, most Clinton residents accepted it as the law of the land. No public displays of outrage or attempts to stop the process took place in the summer of 1956. Registration of twelve African American students took place without incident on August 20, 1956. On August 27, 1956, 10 of the Clinton 12 gathered at the Green McAdoo School and walked together to the white high school without incident. By the next day, Tuesday, there were threats, violence, and large, agitated crowds, instigated by an outside by the name of John Kasper. The tension level escalated and local law enforcement was overwhelmed. A Home Guard was created by local residents and eventually over 600 members of the National Guard were stationed in Clinton to keep the peace. The story and the conflict that concluded with the bombing of Clinton High School are on display a Green McAdoo Cultural Center.
Today, Clinton is the home of a growing community around a historic downtown that features over 20 antique and unique shops and eateries.