In 1868, Joseph Parkinson Newsham (1837-1919), a native of England raised in Illinois, established the Feliciana Republican [LCCN: sn89059462] in St. Francisville, Louisiana, the seat of West Feliciana Parish, an area known in the 19th century for its large, affluent cotton plantations. In March 1872, the Feliciana Republican was renamed the Semi-Weekly Republican. It retained the existing numbering system but received a new editor, Don A. Weber (1847-1877).
Published twice a week in four pages under the motto “Here shall the Press the people’s right maintain, unawed by influence and unbribed by gain,” the Republican encouraged enfranchisement and fair treatment of African Americans but called for an end to Reconstruction. In the presidential election of 1872, it endorsed Liberal Republican Party candidate Horace Greeley of New York and his running mate Benjamin Gratz Brown of Missouri. From then on, the Republican focused on Liberal Republican Party politics, carrying statements of party platform, news of local meetings, editorials and brief notes on state politics, clippings from other Liberal Republican newspapers, and criticism of Radical Republicans, including President Ulysses S. Grant. The paper’s third and fourth pages consisted mostly of personal notices and advertisements.
In November 1872, immediately after Greeley’s defeat, the Semi-Weekly Republican was renamed the Weekly Feliciana Republican. Don Weber eventually became tax collector and supervisor of voter registration for West Feliciana Parish. In 1876, he and his brother Emile manipulated local election returns to give Republican presidential candidate Rutherford B. Hayes a majority over Democrat Samuel Tilden. The fraud was discovered and reported in the Feliciana Sentinel [LCCN: sn88064555], causing such outrage that in March 1877, while crossing the street in St. Francisville, Don Weber was gunned down and killed by a band of assassins.