The oldest town in Indiana, it was originally established in 1732 as a French fur trading post. Called Fort Sackville by the British, it revolted in 1778, was put down by British soldiers from Detroit, then recaptured by George Rogers Clark on February 23, 1779. The episode was featured in the 1901 novel Alice of Old Vincennes by Maurice Thompson.
Comedian Red Skelton was born in Vincennes.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.6 km² (7.2 mi²). 18.5 km² (7.1 mi²) of it is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.97% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 18,701 people, 7,614 households, and 4,332 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,011.3/km² (2,620.3/mi²). There are 8,574 housing units at an average density of 463.6/km² (1,201.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 94.34% White, 3.28% African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.72% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.48% from other races, and 0.88% from two or more races. 1.02% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 7,614 households out of which 26.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.8% are married couples living together, 12.4% have a female householder with no husband present, and 43.1% are non-families. 35.8% of all households are made up of individuals and 14.9% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.20 and the average family size is 2.85.
In the city the population is spread out with 20.0% under the age of 18, 20.5% from 18 to 24, 24.0% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 98.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 97.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $26,289, and the median income for a family is $35,424. Males have a median income of $27,029 versus $20,254 for females. The per capita income for the city is $14,993. 20.7% of the population and 15.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 25.9% are under the age of 18 and 12.7% are 65 or older.