Now the largest city in northeastern Louisiana, the city of Monroe was little more than a village from the time of its founding in the late 18th century until 1855, when it was connected by rail to the thriving cotton port of Vicksburg, Mississippi. In 1860, this line was extended to Shreveport and then to areas farther west. Until the early 20th century, the Ouachita River was also important to Monroe as a way of shipping cotton, lumber, and other local manufactures.
The Monroe Register was published at least as early as 1851, but at present, the oldest copy known to have survived is dated March 31, 1859. Its editor was Samuel Bard (1825-1878), a native of New York who moved to the South as a young man. He had previously worked as commissioner of public education in Louisiana and as an editor for the Memphis Avalanche. During the Civil War, Bard served as a captain in the Confederate army and afterwards worked as a newspaperman and postmaster in Atlanta. In 1870, he was appointed governor of Idaho Territory but never took office.
The Register, a four-page weekly, carried articles on miscellaneous topics, with a focus on politics and the sectional crisis. In the presidential election of 1860, it endorsed secessionist candidate John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky and his running mate Joseph Lane of Oregon. Several poems and songs related to the campaign were printed. The paper also carried news of local schools, churches, and the state legislature, as well as notices of public sales and advertisements for Monroe businesses.
The last known extant copy of the Register dates from July 1861.