West Feliciana Parish (French: Paroisse de Feliciana Ouest) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2010 census, the population was 15,625. The parish seat is St. Francisville. The parish was established in 1824.
Following the founding of the Bayou Sara settlement by Franciscan/Capuchin monks in the late 17th century, the area was explored further by Spain, France, and Great Britain. The original settlement has been covered over by waters of the Mississippi River, which shifted course.
After 1763, when France was defeated by Britain in the Seven Years' War, it ceded this part of Louisiana to Great Britain, which included it in its West Florida colony. Spain gained control of the area in about 1780 -- during the American Revolutionary War -- and maintained its authority in the area for three decades. In 1810, the colonists, many of whom were of British descent, rebelled against the colonial regime and established the short-lived independent Republic of West Florida. Within a few months, the United States declared the area to be part of the territory included in the Louisiana Purchase, which it had acquired in 1803. (Today this area is called the Florida Parishes). Feliciana Parish was established in 1810, in the Territory of Orleans, which was admitted two years later as the state of Louisiana. With continued growth of population, in 1824 Feliciana Parish was divided into the East Feliciana and West Feliciana parishes.
During the American Civil War, West Feliciana Parish provided financial assistance to the families of soldiers fighting for the Confederate States of America. Wives and children of soldiers were to receive from $10 to $40 per month, depending on family size.
Since before the Civil War, West Feliciana had been historically Democratic in voter preference. But after passage of federal civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s, many white conservatives in the South started shifting into the Republican Party, at least in terms of supporting presidential candidates. In 1972, the year of Richard Nixon's reelection as president, West Feliciana was the only Louisiana parish to support the George McGovern and Sargent Shriver ticket. In that same period, most African Americans in the South began to support the national Democratic Party, which had helped their drive for civil rights.
Since 2000, white voters in the parish have supported the Republican Party candidates in Presidential elections. That year Bush-Cheney polled 2,512 votes (55 percent), compared to 2,187 (45 percent) for Democrats Al Gore and Joe Lieberman. West Feliciana voters helped to reelect George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in 2004, with 2,932 (56 percent) to 2,214 (42 percent) over Democratic candidates John Kerry and John Edwards. Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin also won the parish in 2008, but they lost the Presidential/Vice-Presidential contest to Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden.