Feliciana Parish, Louisiana

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Coordinates: 30°52′15″N 91°12′52″W / 30.87083°N 91.21444°W / 30.87083; -91.21444

Parish of New Feliciana, outlined in dark green - circa 1816

Feliciana Parish is a former parish of Louisiana, formed in 1810 from West Florida territory. It was divided in 1824 into East Feliciana Parish and West Feliciana Parish.

Feliciana is a Spanish word meaning happy land. The area was settled by about 1775 and was named by Spanish Governor Galvez,[1] who married a widow named Marie Felice in 1777.

The town of Jackson was founded in 1815 as the seat of justice for Feliciana Parish, before the parish was divided into two parishes. The town also served as a land office and as a center for learning and culture. Legend holds that the town was originally called Bear Corners for the many wild black bears crossing nearby Thompson's Creek, and that it eventually took its name from General Andrew Jackson, who reportedly camped there with his troops on the return trip from the Battle of New Orleans.

Aboriginal residents here were Tunica Indians who had previously usurped the native Houma people. Later, the Spanish appeared, laying claim to the territory by right of exploration, until 1699. The French were not far behind, for De la Salle having explored the Mississippi River in 1682, claimed all the lands drained by it in the name of Louis XIV.

In 1763, at the French and Indian War's end, Spain ceded Florida to Great Britain, and France ceded Louisiana and the Isle of Orleans to Spain. The area that is now East and West Feliciana was claimed by Britain as part of its West Florida colony. Encouraged by land grants, emigrants, mainly from the English colonies, or from Great Britain, poured into West Florida to populate the frontier. By 1775, many Loyalists had migrated here, establishing large, prosperous plantations.

Bernardo de Galvez, Louisiana's colonial governor, recruited troops for surprise attacks on Fort Bute and Baton Rouge, both of which soon capitulated. Galvez also captured Natchez, Mobile, and Pensacola; and at the end of the American Revolutionary War, Spain regained both the West and East Florida colonies. Thus, the part of today's Louisiana which is east of the Mississippi River and north of Lake Pontchartrain fell under Spanish control, from about 1780 until 1810.

In 1800, Spain was compelled to cede Louisiana back to France and, in 1803, Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States. The West Florida section of what is now the state of Louisiana, however, was not included; the Louisiana Purchase was vague as to defining its eastern boundary. Though President Jefferson insisted that this area was American, the Spanish denied this and continued their occupation. (The eastern boundary of West Florida, since the 1760s, had been the Apalachicola River, and Pensacola was the capital.)

Feliciana colonists, unhappy under the Spanish regime, revolted in 1810 and established the short-lived Republic of West Florida. They petitioned President James Madison to annex the area. Their request was honored when, in October 1810, the Florida Parishes area was declared to be part of the Louisiana Purchase and an American possession.

The United States established "Feliciana County" as part of the Territory of Orleans, later subdividing it to form four parishes...Feliciana, East Baton Rouge, St. Helena, and St. Tammany. In 1812, Louisiana was admitted to the Union, with the parish of Feliciana included.

Addressing complaints that citizens of western Feliciana Parish found it difficult to travel during bad weather to the parish seat, Jackson, in the eastern section, in 1824 the state divided the area into two parishes...East and West Feliciana. At that point, two new parish seats were selected, Clinton in East Feliciana and St. Francisville in West Feliciana.

Adjacent parishes/counties[edit]

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