Red River Parish, Louisiana

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Red River Parish (French: Paroisse de la Rivière-Rouge) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. Its seat is Coushatta. It was one of the newer parishes created in 1871 by the state legislature under Reconstruction. The plantation economy was based on cotton cultivation, highly dependent on enslaved labor before the American Civil War.

In 1880, the parish had a population with more than twice as many blacks as whites.[1] They were essentially disfranchised after the white Democrats regained power in the state in the late 1870s. Most of the former slaves worked as sharecroppers and laborers, cultivating cotton. Due to mechanization of agriculture, many blacks left the parish during the mid-20th century Great Migration to seek better opportunities elsewhere. By 2000, the parish population was 9,622, with a white majority.



As in many other rural areas, Red River Parish and the Red River Valley were areas of white vigilante and paramilitary violence after the Civil War, as insurgents tried to regain power after the South's defeat. The state legislature during Reconstruction created the parish in 1871, one of a number established to develop Republican Party strength.

Marshall H. Twitchell was a Union veteran who moved to the parish from Vermont and married a local woman. With the help of her family, he became a successful cotton planter and local leader. He was elected in 1870 as a Republican to the state legislature and filled four local offices with his brother and three brothers-in-law, the latter native to the parish. He won support from freedmen by appointing some to local offices and promoting education.[2][3]The unpublished dissertation, Carpetbagger Extraordinary: Marshall Harvey Twitchell, 1840-1905 by the historian Jimmy G. Shoalmire studies Twitchell's life within the context of the social unrest in Red River Parish at the time.[4]

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Coushatta, Louisiana