Shoalmire studies Twitchell's life within the context of the social unrest in Red River Parish at the time.The extended agricultural depression and poor economy of the late 19th century aggravated social tensions, as both freedmen and whites struggled to survive and to manage new labor arrangements.
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.
The unpublished dissertation, Carpetbagger Extraordinary: Marshall Harvey Twitchell, 1840-1905 by the historian Jimmy G.
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.
They were essentially disfranchised in 1898 under a new state constitution after the white Democrats regained power in the state in the late 1870s through paramilitary intimidation at the polls.
Most of the former slaves worked as sharecroppers and laborers, cultivating cotton.
Because of the mechanization of agriculture, many blacks left the parish during the mid-20th century Great Migration to seek better job opportunities elsewhere.
By 2000, the parish population was 9,622, with a white majority, but Coushatta itself was still two thirds black.