Founded as a French trading post in the early 18th century, Baton Rouge was part of the British and later Spanish colony of West Florida from 1763 until 1810, when, as part of the short-lived Republic of West Florida, it was annexed by the United States. Located on the east bank of the Mississippi River and surrounded by sugar and cotton plantations, it developed into the main commercial center between New Orleans and Natchez. In 1846, through the influence of rural planters, the state capital was moved from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, even though its population at that time was less than 3,000.
The first issue of the Baton-Rouge Gazette appeared in February 1819. Its editors and proprietors changed frequently but included Theodore Devalcourt, William Grivot, Louis Sheppers, Hugh Alexander, Henry A.S. Mussenden, Albert P. Converse, Francis G. Henderson, John Dufrocq, William Adams, and Mayhew G. Bryan. In 1843, Editor John Hueston was killed in a duel with Alcee Labranche, a candidate for Congress, whom Hueston had insulted in the Gazette. Although initially nonpartisan, by the 1840s the paper’s political sympathies lay with the Whig Party.
A four-page weekly, the Gazette was originally issued with two pages in English and two in French. By the 1840s, French-language content had virtually disappeared. Each issue typically contained miscellaneous news items related to politics and commerce, as well as advertisements for local businesses, schools, and entertainment venues, including horse racing, for which Baton Rouge was then well known. The paper also carried a large number of runaway slave notices.
Publication continued until 1856, when the Gazette merged with the Baton Rouge Weekly Comet [LCCN: sn86053662] to form the Weekly Gazette and Comet [LCCN: sn85038555]