Located about 30 miles north of Baton Rouge, the town of Clinton, Louisiana, was founded in 1824 and named after New York governor DeWitt Clinton. It is the seat of East Feliciana Parish, a rural, farming parish that was settled in the late 18th century as part of the colony of British West Florida and then governed by Spain (1783-1810). In the early 19th century, the region attracted predominantly Anglo-American settlers and was one of the few areas in south Louisiana where French culture never took root. Its economy was based on cotton in the antebellum period, and Clinton developed into a commercial and legal center of some note at that time. The parish was the site of two important early educational institutions: Centenary College in Jackson, which in 1845 took over the campus of the defunct College of Louisiana, and Clinton’s Silliman Collegiate Institute, a girls’ school, founded in 1852.
The American Patriot was first issued in December 1854 by J.B. Harris. In June 1855, W.H. Green and C.T. Dunn, editors and proprietors of the Feliciana Whig [LCCN: sn86053702], purchased the paper, maintaining its association with the American or Know-Nothing Party and advocating for the reform of naturalization laws, particularly in regard to Catholic immigration to the United States. Political reporting increased in late 1855, an election season. Some articles discuss immigration in the context of other contemporary issues. For example, the Patriot called its readers’ attention to an article published in a Michigan German-American paper about immigrants’ strong opposition to slavery. Another article refuted rumors of ties between the northern Know-Nothing Party and the abolitionist movement.
Published weekly in four pages, the Patriot’s front page typically carried fiction, poetry, and short general-interest articles reprinted from various sources. The paper carried a small number of obituaries, as well as ads, notices of probate sales, and announcements of public entertainments, such as a visit by Mabie’s Menagerie, a traveling zoo. At present, the last extant issue is dated January 12, 1856.