The original settlement was born on the banks of the Tangipahoa River, adjacent to a Choctaw Indian village. Legend has it that the site was chosen when Choctaw Chief Baptiste welcomed the earliest settlers. Baptiste was the last Choctaw Chief in the region.
"Amite" has been said to be a Choctaw word for "red ant", signifying "thrift" or to have meant "friendship", from the French, "amité."
Portions of present day Amite City were entered from the United States as early as 1813.
In 1852 the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern Railroad was chartered in both Louisiana and Mississippi. Two years later, the railroad was opened from New Orleans to the state line.
Amite City was chartered in 1855. The town was laid out, lots were sold and the community quickly began to grow.
Amite City was chosen as the practical stopping point as it was halfway between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi state line. The Hotel Ponder at the "Amite Station" became a popular spot among travelers for dining and relaxing.
In addition to becoming a major commercial center for a large region, Amite Station also became a popular resort in the late 1850's. Many prosperous New Orleans residents established country retreats in the region to enjoy the natural beauty and escape unhealthy conditions in the city. This trend intensified as the scourge of yellow fever continued to plague New Orleans in the mid 19th century.
In 1861, Amite City was incorporated as a town, just months after the secession of Louisiana from the Union. During the war, Amite City served as an important gathering spot for Confederate officials involved in the supply and support of Camp Moore, the largest Confederate training base in Louisiana, just 10 miles to the north. Amite endured at least two visits by Union cavalry. In 1864 a brigade of Union infantry burned the railroad depot and destroyed the track from the depot to Camp Moore.
After the war, Amite City served as the base for Union troops occupying the region during Reconstruction.
With the establishment of a new parish in 1869, soon to be named Tangipahoa, Amite City was selected as the parish seat. Five different buildings have served as the courthouse since 1870.
From the early 1870s through the first decade of the 20th century, Amite City played a central role in the troubles which unfortunately gained the parish the ominous name "Bloody Tangipahoa." The turbulent political and economic conditions of the reconstruction period and its aftermath sparked a number of vicious family feuds. Numerous duels and "bushwhacking" occurred in the streets of Amite City and the countryside. By the early 20th century, improved law enforcement brought peace and better harmony to the area.
Amite City continued to grow as a trading center for cotton planters and others. In 1869, the Gullet Gin Company opened in Amite City. The company was the largest producer of cotton gins in the south, employing over 250 people by the early 20th century. During World War II, the plant converted to war industry production, manufacturing 150 mm shells. The plant closed in 1963.
In the mid-20th century, family dairy farmers began to replace cotton farms. Today, Tangipahoa is the heart of the Louisiana's dairy industry and is the number one producer of strawberries in the state. Amite City is also a major oyster processing center and home of the Oyster Festival.