Pointe Coupee Democrat

Pointe Coupee Parish

The town of New Roads, Louisiana, was founded in the 1720s as a French trading post. It later went by several names, including St. Mary’s, Chemin Neuf (“New Road”), and False River on account of its location on an oxbow lake that was once part of the main channel of the Mississippi River. It is the seat of Pointe Coupee Parish. In the 19th century, the area’s rich alluvial soil made it one of the most productive in the state. Its major crops were cotton, sugar, corn, and pecans.

The first issue of the Pointe Coupee Democrat was published in January 1858 by Edward J. Pullen. One year later, Pullen sold the paper to  Pierre Antoine Roy, a native of Quebec. Issued weekly with two pages in English and two in French, it was initially published under the mottos “United We Stand; Divided We Fall” and “L’Union fait la force.” These were dropped in October 1859 as political tensions between North and South intensified. Part literary journal, part news organ and advertising sheet, the Democrat carried discussions of topics such as slavery, abolition, free African Americans, state politics, roads, railroads, river traffic, education, and local agriculture. It also published the minutes of the parish police jury (similar to county councils in other states).

The content of the paper’s French section differed from the English, containing poetry and fiction, articles such as “Proscription de la langue française,” a series of “Biographies americaines,” and stories about French history.                  

In the presidential election of 1860, the Pointe Coupee Democrat endorsed secessionist candidates John C. Breckenridge of Kentucky and Joseph Lane of Oregon. Few copies survive from the first year of Lincoln’s presidency and only one copy from 1862. Extant wartime copies contain information on the raising of local troops, news of military campaigns, and letters to the editor from soldiers. Publication is thought to have ceased in 1862.