One of the Southwestern States
; discovered by De Soto
in 1541, who crossed the Mississippi
near the site of Helena
It was next visited by father Marquette
(q. v.) in 1673.
It was originally a part of Louisiana
, purchased from the French
in 1803, and so remained until 1812, when it formed a part of Missouri Territory
It was erected into a Territory in 1819, with its present name, and remained under a territorial government until 1836, when a convention at Little Rock
, its present capital, formed a State constitution.
Its first territorial legislature met at Arkansas
Post in 1820.
On June 15, 1836, Arkansas
was admitted into the Union
as a State.
In 1861 the people of Arkansas
were attached to the Union
, but, unfortunately, the governor and most of the leading politicians of the State
were disloyal, and no effort was spared by them to obtain the passage of an ordinance of secession.
For this purpose a State convention of delegates assembled at the capital (Little Rock
) on March 4, 1861.
It was composed of seventy-five members, of whom forty were such stanch Unionists
that it was evident that no ordinance of secession could be passed.
The friends of secession then proposed a plan that seemed fair.
A self-constituted committee reported to the convention an ordinance providing for an election to be held on the first Monday in August, at which the legal voters of the State
should decide, by ballot, for “secession” or “co-operation.”
If a majority should appear for “secession,” that fact would be considered in the light of instructions to the convention to pass an ordinance to that effect; if for
“co-operation,” then measures were to be used, in conjunction with the border slave States “yet in the Union
,” for the settlement of existing difficulties.
The next session of the convention was fixed for Aug. 17.
The proposition seemed so fair that it was adopted by unanimous vote, and the convention adjourned, subject to the call of its president, who was known as a Union man.
Taking advantage of the excitement incident to the attack on Fort Sumter
and the President
's call for troops, the governor (Rector
) and his disloyal associates adopted measures for arraying Arkansas
among the “seceded States.”
In violation of the pledge of the convention that the whole matter should be determined by the people in August, the governor induced the president of the convention to call that body together on May 6.
It met on that day. Seventy delegates were present.
An ordinance of secession, previously prepared, was presented to it at three o'clock in the afternoon, when the hall in which the delegates met was crowded by an excited multitude.
It was moved that the “yeas” and “nays” on the question should be taken without debate.
Though the motion was rejected by a considerable majority, the president declared it carried.
Then a vote on the ordinance was taken.
There seemed to be a majority against it; but the president arose and earnestly exhorted the Unionists to change their votes, which they did, as they perceived a determination on the part of the crowd of spectators to compel them to do so. The place (the hall of the House of Representatives) was densely packed with human beings.
As each vote was given there was a solemn stillness, and one Union man after another prefaced his vote by some stirring sentiment in favor of the South
When the result was announced--69 for the ordinance, to 1 against it — there was tremendous cheering.
The negative vote was given by Isaac Murphy
, who was the Union
governor of Arkansas
Meanwhile the State
authorities had seized the national property in the State
During almost the whole period of the war, National or Confederate troops occupied the State
; and one of the most hotly contested battles of the war was fought on its soil (see Pea Ridge
). On Oct. 30, 1863, a meeting of loyal citizens, representing about twenty counties, was held at Fort Smith
, to take measures for reorganizing the State
In January following, a convention, composed of representatives of
forty-two counties, assembled at Little Rock
, and framed a loyal constitution, which was ratified by the people in March, 1864.
Members of the legislature were elected, and in April a State government was organized.
In 1867 military rule was established in Arkansas
, which, with Mississippi
, constituted a military district.
A new constitution was framed by a convention at Little Rock
, Jan. 7, 1868, and was ratified by a small majority in March.
On June 22, Congress declared Arkansas
entitled to representation in that body, and the administration of the government was transferred to the civil authority.
Population in 1890, 1,125,385; in 1900, 1,311,564.
Senators from the State of Arkansas