oxford was founded in 1835 and is the county seat of lafayette county mississippi. oxford is named after the british university town of oxford england. during the civil war oxford was occupied by the forces of union general a. j. "whiskey" smith. smith burned the old lafayette county courthouse and used the university of mississippi campus as a field hospital. two notable residents of oxford are the nobel prize winning novelist william faulkner and the novelist john grisham. for those interested in southern history and architecture oxford has scores of historic homes and buildings some of which are listed on the national register of historic places. for football fans oxford is home to the university of mississippi "rebels" college football team. downtown oxford has a good selection of bars and restaurants. oxford is well worth a visit when in north central mississippi.
in modern times the most significant historic event in oxford was the 1962 race riot. on october 1 st 1962 an african-american student named james meredith was admitted to the university of mississippi. segregationists from all over the state and the mississippi state police tried to block his admission. a riot broke out between white students and segregationists with the mississippi national guard. cars and televison vans were burned and the national guard were pelted with stones. two people were killed and seventy five injured during the riot. mississippi governor ross barnett supported the state police and the segregationists and stated that oxford was "being invaded by federal forces". at the urging of president john f. kennedy barnett backed down on his stance and allowed meredith to be admitted in order to quell the riot. during his tenure at the university of mississippi james meredith lived in baxter hall with a 24 hour armed guard. today the university of mississippi is a racially diverse campus with students from all over the world.