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The Southern States of America
Chapter I - Arkansas from 1539 - 1836

Early Discoveries — De Soto.

THE discovery of the new world opened up a wide field for adventure. To the old world America was a fairy land of fabulous wealth. The souls of men were fired by stories of it, and men of broken fortunes or of lost reputation came flocking to America. While most of these fortune-seekers failed to accomplish their immediate purpose, they nevertheless did a far better thing — explored the new world and made known its untold resources.

The first white man to touch what is now Arkansas was one of these adventurous fortune-seekers — Hernando De Soto. With a band of 600 followers he landed in 1539 in Florida. He spent two years wandering over the Gulf region east of the Mississippi. In May, 1541, he discovered the Mississippi, called Meschacebe by the Indians, Rio Grande by De Soto. With hastily constructed barges he crossed probably near Helena. The next year, the last year of his eventful life, the great captain spent in traveling over what is now Arkansas. He went up the west bank of the river to northeast Arkansas, passing on the way several Indian villages. Leaving the St. Francis country De Soto journeyed southwest and stopped near Little Rock. Here the natives told him of mountains to the northwest; hither he traveled until he reached some point in northwest Arkansas. Disappointed in not finding gold, he turned south, passed over the Boston mountains, crossed the Arkansas near Dardanelle Rock and came into the country of the Cayas, where they found "a lake of very hot water and somewhat brackish," which most students interpret as the now famous Hot Springs. [Gentleman of Elvas in Publications Arkansas Historical Association, I., 484.]

Somewhere on the Ouachita in South Arkansas he spent the winter, which proved to be a severe one. Here he suffered an almost irreparable loss in the death of his interpreter, Juan Ortiz, a Spaniard, who, with De Narvez, had come to Florida in 1528. On the wreck of the expedition he had joined a tribe of Indians and had learned to speak their tongue. In the spring of 1542 De Soto started south for the Gulf, but made poor progress, for the hardships of the long journey and the severity of the late winter had reduced his force to 300 men of war and forty horses, the latter having gone a year unshod. Exposure and hardship brought on malarial fever, from which De Soto died. As the end approached he commissioned Moscoso as his successor, who buried the great explorer in the river which he had discovered. A recent writer has located the death and burial of De Soto at Helena. [Publications Arkansas Historical Association, I.. 128.] The traditional view is that it occurred near the mouth of the Red River. [For original sources bearing on De Soto's travels, see the account by Biedma and A Oentleman of Elvas in French's Historical Collections of Louisiana, Vol. II., or for the account of that part of his journey through Arkansas, see Publications, Arkansas Historical Association, I., 466-499. Biedma and A Oentleman of Elvas appear to have accompanied the expedition.]

French Explorers.

Spain was great in exploration and conquest; her explorers were daring and imperial; they risked all. But the mother country did not follow up their work vigorously; settlers rarely came in the wake of the discoverer; the Spaniard would fight or hunt gold, but was loath to open farms and till the soil. These facts perhaps explain why Spain lost the splendid province of Louisiana. A more vigorous nation seized it. Though two accounts of the great explorer's travels by two companions had been published, the French in Canada a hundred and thirty years later did not know whether the Mississippi emptied into the Atlantic, the Gulf or the South Sea (Pacific). From the natives they had gathered some information about the Father of Waters. In 1673 the governor of Quebec sent Marquette, a Jesuit missionary, and Joliet, a fur trader of Quebec, to explore the river. The party went up the Fox, over the portage, down the "Wisconsin and the Mississippi to the mouth of the Arkansas, where they stopped, and were hospitably entertained at a village of the "Arkansa" Indians. From them Marquette learned that the Mississippi emptied into the Gulf of Mexico; they also warned him against going further on account of the character of their enemies below. Having accomplished the object of his journey he returned to Quebec. [Account by Marquette in Publications Arkansas Historical Association, I., 5001; French's Historical Collections of Louisiana, Vol. II.]

Nine years later (1682) La Salle, accompanied by De Tonti, a soldier, Father Membré, a Recollect priest, and a large party of Frenchmen and Indians, descended the Mississippi to its mouth and took possession of the country in the name of his sovereign. On his way down, the Arkansas Indians at Kappa, one of their villages near the mouth of the great river named after them, entertained him royally. La Salle made a treaty of peace with them, erected a cross with the arms of France and took possession of the country in the name of his sovereign March 14, twenty-six days before performing the same act at the mouth of the Mississippi. This was the first formal declaration of sovereignty over Louisiana. Their work done, he retraced his steps.

De Tonti took charge of the forts in and about the Great Lakes, while La Salle returned to France and fitted out another expedition, this time to come up the Mississippi and to build forts at strategic points along the river. But he missed his way and landed in Texas where, after unsuccessful efforts to reach the Mississippi, he was killed. In the meantime De Tonti had gone to the mouth of the Mississippi to join La Salle. Not finding him he started back to the Great Lake region. He stopped at the mouth of the Arkansas, ascended that river a few miles, and at the request of the ten Frenchmen with him he left five under the command of Contour with directions to build a fort, later called Arkansas Post. This was about the first of May, 1686. Wishing to make the settlement permanent, De Tonti made a grant of land near the Post to the church and for three years, at his own expense, maintained a missionary there, who, besides performing his duties as a priest, instructed the natives in agriculture. Thus on Arkansas soil did France perform the first act of sovereignty and establish the first settlement and the first Catholic church in Louisiana. It was thirteen years later before the next post was established at Biloxi. [For original accounts of French discoveries and explorations in the Mississippi valley, see Pierre Margry, Découvertes et Etablissments des Francois, etc. (6 vols., 1878-8S). A translation of most of the accounts is to be found in French's Historical Collections of Louisiana (7 vols.); Shea's Discovery and Exploration of the Mississippi Valley. A most excellent general narrative is to be found in Parkman, La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West.]

Indians of Arkansas.

The historians of De Soto's travels through Arkansas make many references to the natives. They found many villages, some large and well fortified. Some of the Indians were friendly, some treacherous, while still others showed fear by deserting their villages. From them De Soto secured corn and skins of the bear, the lion, the deer and the cat. They used the net in fishing. On the Ouachita they were making salt. The Arkansas Indians gave Marquette, La Salle and De Tonti a most hearty welcome. They were probably the same Indians whom De Soto found here. They feasted their guests on mush, boiled corn and roasted dog, and gave them lodging. Father Membré of La Salle's party, speaking of the Arkansas Indians, says: "The whole village came down to the shore to meet us, except the women, who ran off. I cannot tell you the civility and kindness we received from these barbarians, who brought us poles to make huts, supplied us with fire-wood during the three days we were among them, and took turns in feasting us. But this gives no idea of the good qualities of these savages, who were gay, civil and free hearted." Marquette and De Tonti found that they were living in villages and that their houses were built with logs and covered with bark. Their beds were mats placed upon rude contrivances to lift them above the dirt floor. They raised watermelons and two or three crops of corn each year. Buffalo, deer, turkey and bear abounded, but on account of the hostility of the tribes to the north, the Quapaws did not hunt buffalo north of the Arkansas. They had earthen pots, bowls and dishes. Since then Indian pottery has been found all along our rivers. The men were scantily clad, but profusely decorated with beads and paints, while the women were indifferently dressed in skins.

The French found here two great tribes — the Quapaws south, and the Osages north, of the Arkansas. They remained during French and Spanish control and were here when the United States purchased Louisiana. They do not seem to have given the French or the Spanish any trouble, perhaps because the whites made but few settlements and required almost none of their land. Du Pratz, a planter in Louisiana (1718-34), who visited the Arkansas Indians, says of them: "They have ever had an inviolable friendship for the French, uninfluenced thereto either by fear or views of interest, and live with them as brethren rather than as neighbors." The relations were certainly close; they intermarried.

When the United States acquired Louisiana the Indians still claimed the land. These claims were extinguished by treaties with the Osages in 1808, 1818, 1825, and with the Quapaws in 1818 and 1824. In 1825 the Osages in Arkansas numbered about 1,200. They moved into what later became the Indian Territory. To the Quapaws were given lands with the Caddos on the Red River in Louisiana, and when they moved there in 1825 they numbered 455, of whom there were 158 men, 123 women and 174 children. Here their crops were destroyed by overflows and many died of starvation. In 1826 Saracen, one of their chiefs, with a number of his people, returned to Arkansas, refused proposals of the government that the Quapaws join the Cherokees or Osages, asked that they be allowed to buy land, settle and assimilate with the people of Arkansas. He wanted their children to attend white schools, their women to learn spinning and weaving, and their boys to learn husbandry. In 1833, however, the Quapaws exchanged their possessions in Louisiana for land in the Indian Territory.

But other Indians besides the Osages and the Quapaws have lived in Arkansas. In 1817 the United States ceded to the Cherokees territory in northwest Arkansas. To part of their land the Osages laid claim and at once began hostilities. While the government made repeated efforts to adjust the differences, war was waged at intervals until both tribes were moved west. In the meantime, the people of Arkansas objected to the presence of the Cherokees and called upon the government to remove them. To this end negotiations were carried on for several years, but were made difficult by the presence among the Cherokees of a few half-breeds and whites, whose selfish interests were served by defeating the treaty. The Cherokees in 1825 passed a law decreeing death to any one who might propose to sell or exchange their land. In 1828, however, they signed a treaty, exchanging their lands here for lands further west. While the Cherokees were in Arkansas an important Protestant mission was established among them — the Old Dwight mission near where Russellville now stands, named in honor of President Timothy Dwight, of Yale. At the invitation of Chief Tallantusky, while on a visit to his kin east of the Mississippi in 1818, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions sent to the Cherokees in Arkansas Rev. Cephas Wash-borne, who in 1820 founded the mission. Here he taught and preached until 1828, when he followed the Cherokees to their new home and established the mission at New Dwight. The Choctaws also once had their home in western Arkansas, which they secured in 1820 by exchanging for it their lands east of the Mississippi. Against this the people of Arkansas protested so vigorously that in 1825 they were moved still further west. [For the early history of the Indians of Arkansas, see the accounts of De Soto's travels by Biedma and A Gentleman of Elras, the accounts by Marquette, La Salle, De Tonti, and Membré, a translation of which appears in French's Historical Collection of Louisiana. For the history since 1803, consult in American State Papers, the two volumes on Indian Affairs, the Act of Congress, and the Treaties of the United States with the Indians.]

French Rule.

France owned Louisiana from 1682, when La Salle took possession; she occupied the territory from 1686, when De Tonti founded Arkansas Post, and she governed it from 1699, when she sent over Sauvolle, the first governor, to 1769, when Spain took active control. During this period she sent out eleven governors, the most noted of whom was Bienville. His brother Iberville established a fort at Biloxi Bay in 1699. The seat of government, at first at Biloxi, was moved to Mobile in 1702, and to New Orleans after Bienville founded it in 1718. New Orleans became the centre of French activities in Louisiana. The country on the Arkansas played an inconspicuous part. Among other ventures of the famous John Law was the planting of a colony of Germans in 1718 some seven miles above Arkansas Post. He erected it into a duchy, built storehouses, pavilions for officers and cabins for workmen. In the next three years several vessels landed at the settlement, bringing in all about seven hundred people. Most of the men were married and brought their wives. But when the people learned of the failure of Law they left the settlement and located near New Orleans. La Harpe in 1722 found the place abandoned.

Arkansas Post apparently had a continued existence from its foundation in 1686. Nuttall says that the small band of De Tonti augmented by Canadians, strengthened by intermarriages with the natives, "continually maintained their ground, though rather by adopting the manners of the Indians." [The first white man in Jefferson county, it is said, was one of De Tonti's men, Leon LeRoy, who deserted the Post in 1690. He seems to have had a remarkable history. For fourteen years the captive of the Osages, he was later adopted by the Quapaws, who gratefully remember him for teaching them the use of firearms. On making the treaty of 1818 a Quapaw chief gave the United States Commissioner a gun, which he said Le Roy had used in instructing them. The gun is preserved in the Smithsonian Institution. — Thwaite's Early Western Travels, XIII., 111, 140] Louisiana was divided in 1721 into nine commands, over each of which was placed a commandant. The district of Arkansas was one of these commands, which suggests that settlers were there at the time. La Harpe, a French officer, by order of Bienville, explored the Red and the Arkansas rivers (1719-22) and rebuilt Arkansas Post in 1722. [La Harpe, Journal Historique, 282-5; Margry, VI,, 357-382, Cited by Thwaites in American Nation, VII., 83] Lieutenant De La Boulay is mentioned in 1721 as a new commander of the Post, which consisted of four or five palisade houses, a little guard house and a cabin storehouse. About the time Bienville retired in 1743, De Lino was commandant. Near the close of the century John Hebrard, alcade of Louisiana (1787-91), described the boundary of Arkansas as beginning at Little Prairie on the Mississippi some fifty miles below New Madrid and running along the Mississippi to Grand Point Coupee, now called Lake Province in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, and passing back "so as to include all the waters which empty into the Mississippi from the west between these points." Captain Chalmette was in command about 1780; Don Joseph Valliere was commandant from about 1786 to 1790; Don Carlos Villement was in command from 1793 to about 1802. The official census of Arkansas in 1785 showed a population of 196, and in 1799 of 368.

Spanish Period.

By the Treaty of Paris (1763) France ceded Louisiana to Spain. French governors continued to rule until 1769, when after some difficulty Spain assumed control. She continued in possession until 1800 and actually governed until 1803. One of the Spanish governors, Baron de Carondelet, made many large land grants in. Arkansas, out of which much trouble and litigation later grew. Spanish law required, in addition to a grant by a commandant, the survey of the land and the approval of the transaction by the governor at New Orleans. United States courts later respected all perfect titles under Spanish law, but declared invalid many large grants on account of indefiniteness or failure to perfect title. The most noted of these, the Winters grant (1797) of almost a million and a half acres on the Arkansas, was before Congress and the courts until declared void in 1848. [House Docs., 15 Cong., I. Sees., Doc. No. 36 (Serial No. 6.)] This grant is mentioned by Nuttall as preventing the development of the country about Arkansas Post.

Government Under France and Spain.

The government of Louisiana by France and Spain was absolute; there was no popular element. The laws of France, where applicable, were extended there. Price of produce was fixed by law. Slavery was legalized and Bienville's Black Code (1722) fixed their legal status. A law (1729) was promulgated to prevent the property of Frenchmen, who might marry natives, passing into the hands of the tribe upon the death of the husband. The governor and superior council at New Orleans were the supreme legislative and judicial authorities. The council up to 1721 consisted of a governor and three others; thereafter, of governor, two lieutenant-governors, king's attorney-general, and four or five others. The commandant was the supreme civil and military authority in a district. In the trial of civil cases he called to his assistance two or three citizens; of criminal cases, four citizens. Up to the acquisition of Louisiana by the United States, the Catholic religion was the faith of the people established by law. All other forms of worship were forbidden.

Arkansas as a Part of the United States.

In 1800 Napoleon secured Louisiana, and in 1803 sold it to the United States. On Nov. 30, 1803, Spanish authorities transferred Louisiana to Citizen Laussat of France, who, on December 20 following, delivered at New Orleans formal possession to representatives of the United States. On Jan. 16, 1804, French and Spanish commissioners ordered the transfer of upper Louisiana. Later in the year the Spanish commandant delivered Arkansas Post to Maj. James B. Many, who was directed by General Wilkinson to receive it. [House Docs., I Sess., 15 Cong., Doc. No. 36, p. 10. (Serial No. 6.)]

Arkansas a Part of Louisiana and Missouri.

On March 26, 1804, Congress organized the newly acquired province into two territories, one comprising that part of the purchase south of the 33d degree of north latitude and called by the act Territory of Orleans, and the other consisting of all of the purchase north of said line and called the District of Louisiana. Arkansas formed a part of the latter district, the government of which was vested in the governor and judges of Indiana Territory. By act of March 3, 1805, the District was organized into the Territory of Louisiana. The governor and judges of the superior court constituted the legislature. In the early organization Arkansas was made a part of the District of New Madrid, but in 1806, the District of Arkansas was established — being about two-thirds of the present state. The governors of the Territory of Louisiana were Gen. James Wilkinson. 1805-7; Capt. Meriwether Lewis, 1807-9, and Gen. Benjamin A. Howard, 1809-12.

As soon as the purchase was made Jefferson set to work to secure an inventory of the territory. The famous Lewis-Clark expedition, exploring the northern part, was started. The same year William Dim-bar, with Dr. Hunter, was sent to explore the Ouachita River. In 1806 General Wilkinson directed Lieut. Zebulon Pike to explore the headwaters of the Mississippi and the central and lower western Louisiana. Near its headwaters Lieut. James B. Wilkinson was detached from the main expedition and sent to explore the Arkansas River. With Sergeant Bal-linger and two others, in two canoes, he descended the river to its mouth (Oct. 27, 1806 - Jan. 9, 1807). He estimated that there were enough buffalo, elk and deer on the river to feed all the savages of the United States for a century.

In 1812 Congress admitted the Territory of Orleans into the Union as the State of Louisiana, and reorganized the Territory of Louisiana into the Territory of Missouri, of which Arkansas formed a part. The act made the legislature of Missouri to consist of a governor, a legislative council and a house of representatives. Governor Howard fixed December 1 as the time when the new territory would go into operation, divided it into five election districts, and called for the election of thirteen representatives and of a delegate to Congress. The proclamation made the village (Post) of Arkansas the seat of justice of a district embracing the larger part of the present state of Arkansas. William Clark, brother of George Rogers Clark, was governor of Missouri during her entire territorial period. In 1813 Arkansas county, comprising a larger part of the present state, was created. Largely out of the territory of this county the Missouri legislature organized Lawrence, Clark, Pulaski and Hempstead counties. The first representative of Arkansas county was Alexander Walker. He traveled on horseback from hi? home at Arkansas Post to the capital at St. Louis, following an old Indian trail.

Arkansas as a Territory.

On March 2, 1819, an act of Congress provided a separate territorial government for Arkansas to go into operation July 4. This act was the occasion of a prolonged discussion embracing all phases of the slavery question. On January 30 a petition from sundry citizens of Arkansas praying for a separate territorial government was read in the House and committed. Later a bill was reported, incorporating their prayer with no stipulations with respect to slavery. On February 17, the House being in committee of the whole, Mr. Taylor, of New York, precipitated the debate by offering as an amendment to the pending measure the famous Talmage amendment to the Missouri Bill, prohibiting the further introduction of slaves into Arkansas, and freeing at the age of twenty-five all children born in the state after her admission into the Union. In addition to the usual argument against slavery, Mr. Talmage turned against the Southerner his stock argument, that the Southern slaveowner should be given an equal chance in the Federal territory; Mr. Talmage wanted his New York constituents to be given an opportunity to settle in Arkansas, which, he insisted, they would virtually be denied if slaves were not excluded. In a committee of the whole both propositions were negatived. However, when the bill came before the House, February 8, Mr. Taylor again offered his amendments. The first paragraph was defeated by one vote, and the second adopted by two votes. After a motion to reconsider had been defeated, Mr. Lowndes came to the rescue by moving to lay the bill on the table, promising to call it up the next day. This was agreed to. On the 19th, when the bill was again considered, by the casting vote of the speaker, it was sent to a special committee with instructions to strike out the Taylor amendment. The committee at once reported the bill amended accordingly. The House by one majority concurred in the committee amendment. Mr. Taylor offered a number of other amendments concerning slavery, among which was one to prohibit slavery north of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude, thus anticipating the famous Missouri Compromise, but they were all voted down. On February 20 the bill passed the House. In the Senate it passed without event.

The law making Arkansas a territory provided that it should embrace that part of the Territory of Missouri "south of a line beginning on the Mississippi at thirty-six degrees north latitude, running thence west to the river St. Francois; thence, up the same to thirty-six thirty north latitude, and thence west to the western territorial (Missouri) line." The western line of the Territory of Missouri here used in defining the western boundary of Arkansas was the western line of the Louisiana purchase. The act organizing the Territory of Missouri provided that "the territory heretofore called Louisiana shall hereafter be called Missouri." The boundary of the Territory of Louisiana is defined in Section 12 of the act of March 26, 1804, as embracing all of the Louisiana purchase north of the northern line of the present state of Louisiana. As Congress had passed no other act altering the boundaries of Louisiana and Missouri, the western boundary of Arkansas in 1819 was therefore the west line of the province of Louisiana, which had just been defined the preceding month in the then unratified treaty with Spain ceding Florida to the United States. West of Arkansas this line was the hundredth parallel of longitude. This gave Arkansas a princely domain, including almost all of the present state of Oklahoma. It is true that the War Department had issued an order in 1818 fixing a line from the source of the Poteau to the source of the Kiamichi as the limit of western settlements, but the order did not affect the boundary-line of the Territory of Missouri. It was done for administrative convenience.

However, this large domain was of no practical value to the people of Arkansas. They were allowed to settle only on lands to which the Federal government had extinguished the Indian's right of occupancy, and moreover the civil jurisdiction of governor and legislature extended merely over the same area. The general government, however, was rapidly extinguishing Indian occupancy rights. As has been noted, the Osages and the Quapaws occupied Arkansas at the time of the Louisiana purchase. The Osages, by treaties signed in 1808 and 1818, had ceded all their claims from the Mississippi west to the Verdigris River and from the Arkansas north. (7 Stat., 107, 183; Sen. Docs., Vol. 35, 57 Cong., 1 Sess., Vol. II, 69, 116.) The Quapaws in 1818, with the exception of a large tract south of Little Rock, made a cession bounded on the north by the Arkansas and the Canadian rivers to the west line of Louisiana purchase; on the west that line to the Red River; on the south the Red to the Big Raft (near Shreveport), thence east to the Mississippi; on the east that stream to the Arkansas. The treaty really placed the western line beyond the limits here described, that is, beyond the bounds of the United States, doubtless because of ignorance of the extent of the Canadian and the Red rivers. In the meantime the Federal government was undoing its own work by bestowing upon other Indians the lands purchased from the Quapaws and the Osages. In 1817, in exchange for lands east of the Mississippi, the Cherokees were given a large tract between the Arkansas and "White rivers west of a line running northeast from the mouth of Point Remove Creek on the Arkansas to Chataunga Mountain on the White River. The year after the territory was organized the government ceded to the Choctaws all territory embraced in the Quapaw cession of 1818 west of a line running from a point on the Arkansas opposite the mouth of Point Remove Creek, southwest to the Red River three miles below the mouth of Little River. These cessions, however, did not alter the western boundary of Arkansas. They were merely Indian reservations within the territory. When the eastern line of the Choctaw cession was surveyed in 1821, 375 families were found to be west of it. The people of the territory protested against the Choctaw reservation. Nothing was done, however, until March 3, 1823, when Congress authorized negotiations with the Choctaws to secure as their eastern boundary "a line due south from the southwest corner of the state of Missouri to the Red River." Nothing was done under the act. Against this proposed line, however, the people of Arkansas lodged with Congress a vigorous protest. This led that body to pass an act, May 26, 1824, fixing as the western boundary of Arkansas a line beginning "at a point forty miles west of the southwest corner of the state of Missouri, and run south to the right bank of the Red River, and thence down the river and with the Mexican boundary to the line of the state of Louisiana." The act appropriated money for negotiating a treaty with the Choctaws to secure a relinquishment of their claims within this area. The act was the first effective step in reducing the western limits of Arkansas. The second soon followed. The Choctaws protested that such legislation was a violation of their treaty rights. Under the direction of the President, the secretary of war, John C. Calhoun, concluded a treaty with them Jan. 20, 1825, by which they ceded to the United States their lands "east of a line beginning on the Arkansas, one hundred paces east of Fort Smith, and running thence due south to Red River, it being understood that this line shall constitute and remain the permanent boundarv between the United States and the Choctaws." (7 Stat., 234; Sen. Docs., Vol. 35, 57 Cong., 1 Sess., Vol. II, 149.) In the meantime the people of the territory were dissatisfied with the presence of the Cherokees north of the river. This fact and the wars between them and the Osages led the government to conclude a treaty with them, May 6, 1828, which extended the Choctaw line of 1825 to the southwest corner of Missouri, thus completing the western boundary line of Arkansas as it now stands. (7 Stat., 311; Sen. Docs., Vol. 35, 57 Cong., 1 Sess., Vol. II, 206.) Thus by two treaties with Indians, not independent nations, was an act of Congress set aside and the permanent boundary of a territory fixed. Senator Benton, of Missouri, said that this action was both unconstitutional and inexpedient ; unconstitutional, because the proper objects of treaties are international concerns, which neither party can regulate by municipal law; inexpedient, because political considerations suggest that a frontier state should be strong. He insisted that the boundary of a territory was the subject of legislation, not of treaties, and that a treaty with Indians is not a treaty in the sense used in the supremacy clause of the constitution. He was severe in his arraignment of Southern members for fathering and supporting the measure. [Benton's Thirty Years' View, I., 107 ff.]

Southwest Boundary.

Another phase of the western boundary question was the line at the southwest corner between Arkansas and Mexico, later Texas. The difference grew out of the failure to run the boundary line between the possessions of Spain and of the United States on the west as defined in the treaty of Feb. 22, 1819, ceding Florida. In the early 20's, when she won her independence, Mexico fell heir to the obligations and rights of Spain with respect to the boundary question. For the next ten years the United States made many vain efforts to secure from Mexico the territory drained by the Red, the Canadian and Arkansas rivers. The efforts of the United States to secure a joint survey of the boundary met with indifference and dilatory tactics on the part of Mexico. A treaty providing for the survey was signed in 1828, again in 1831, and lastly in 1835, but in each case was killed by Mexico's unpardonable delays. In 1836 Texas won her independence and took Mexico's place in regard to the boundary affair.

In the meantime settlers in the disputed area at the southwest corner of Arkansas were making the question one of practical politics. The treaty of 1819 provided that the boundary should follow the west side of Sabine River from its mouth to the 32d degree of north latitude, thence directly north to Red River, thence up that stream, etc. The United States advanced two views with respect to this line — one that the treaty intended the Neches instead of the Sabine as the boundary river on account of its size; the other, in the event of failure to secure the Neches, that the Sabine crossed the 32d degree further west than it really did. Mexico claimed that the line north from the 32d degree ran close to the Red River at the southwest corner of Arkansas, the United States that it was much further west. In 1820 the legislature of Arkansas created Miller county out of territory now lying in Texas and Oklahoma. In 1829 a bill passed the lower house of Congress fixing as the west line of Arkansas south of Red River, a line due south to the 33d degree from a point forty miles west of the southwest corner of Missouri. The boundary was a subject of numerous messages of the governor of Arkansas to the legislature, and was fruitful of a prolonged correspondence between him and authorities at Washington, as well as between the United States and Mexico. [Jour. of Gen. Assembly (Ark.), 1832, 20: H. J., 1836, 24: H. J , Spec. Sess., 1837, 184; H J . 1838, 160; H. J. 1840. 257; Ex. Doc., 25th Cong., 2 Sess., Vol. XII., Doc. No. 351, pp 67-69. 650 ff. 659 f.] The President promised protection, directed the governor to maintain jurisdiction over the disputed area and tried to adjust the matter with Mexico. The governor experienced difficulties in carrying out the President's instructions, because the people in the disputed territory were hostile to Arkansas, especially after Texas won her independence, and would not, as officers, exercise authority in her name. The United States concluded a treaty with Texas, April 25, 1838, providing for a joint commission to run the boundary line as defined in the Florida treaty of 1819. The commission finished its work at Red River, June 24, 1841. The established line showed that the United States was decidedly in error in claiming so far west.  [Sen Docs., 25th Cong., 3 Sess., Vol. I . Doc. No. 1, 74 f; Sen. Doc., 27th Cong. 2 Sess., Vol. III., Doc. No. 199, PP. 1 ff, 19 ff, 50 ff, 67 ff.]

Territorial Government.

The act of Congress creating the Territory of Arkansas provided for a governor to serve three years, a secretary for four years, and a legislature, at first consisting of governor and three judges of the superior court; all of these officers were appointed by the President. The judicial power was vested in a superior court, such inferior courts as the local legislature might create, and justices of the peace. The laws of Missouri not in conflict were to be operative until the territorial legislature provided otherwise. When the governor was satisfied that the people wanted it, he was authorized to proclaim a legislature to consist of a governor, a legislative council appointed by the President from a list containing twice the required number nominated by the lower house, and a house of representatives elected by the people. Subsequent acts of Congress modified this government somewhat. An additional judge for the superior court was provided in 1828, and the following year an act authorized the people to elect most of their local officials and the legislature by a two-thirds vote to carry any measure over the governor's veto.

President Monroe appointed James Miller, of Lundy's Lane fame, governor, and Robert Crittenden, brother of John J. Crittenden, of Kentucky, secretary. To Mr. Crittenden, who by his office was acting governor, in the absence of that official, is largely due the credit of organizing and directing the government of the new territory. He served the territory for ten years, during which time he was the dominating figure in the government. Governor Miller was frequently absent and never became identified with Arkansas. At Mr. Crittenden's call the legislature, consisting of the governor and the three superior court judges, convened at Arkansas Post, continued the laws of Missouri as the laws of Arkansas, divided the territory into two judicial circuits, and created the necessary local governmental machinery. Mr. Crittenden, soon after his arrival, proclaimed Arkansas a territory of the second grade entitled to a legislature consisting of governor, legislative council and house of representatives. He ordered an election for choosing a delegate to Congress and members of the house of representatives. The legislature thus constituted held two sessions in 1820, its most important act being the removal of the capital from Arkansas Post to Little Rock. [Called by the French La Petit Rochelle, Little Rock, for a ledge of rock project-ins into the river to distinguish it from :»larger ledge of rock some two miles further up the river. Settlers were here in 1817, perhaps earlier. The name Arcopolis found on old maps is explained by the fact that there was an effort to give it that name.] But little trouble was experienced in securing the passage of the removal bill. Little Rock at the time contained only two or three houses, but by its location gave promise of becoming the commercial as well as the political centre of the territory. The act took effect in June of the following year.

After Governor Miller resigned in 1824 the territory had three governors. The first of these was George Izard, of South Carolina, 1825-28. Izard was born in Charleston, 1777, received both a literary and military education, studying in France and Germany, as well as in America. He became major-general in the War of 1812. He died while governor of Arkansas. John Pope, of Kentucky, 1829-35, succeeded Izard. He was born in Virginia, 1770, educated at William and Mary College, and later moved to Kentucky. He represented his adopted state in both houses of Congress. On retiring from the governor's office in Arkansas he returned to Kentucky, where he died in 1845. William S. Fulton, of Maryland, 1835-36, was the third governor. He was born in Maryland in 1795, received a liberal education, practiced law in Tennessee and at Florence, Ala.; fought at New Orleans under Jackson, who, in 1829, appointed him secretary of Arkansas, and in 1835, governor. From 1836 to his death in 1844 he was United States senator from Arkansas.

During Governor Pope's administration the capitol building was begun and in part completed. To Governor Pope is largely due the credit of constructing it. The legislature met during most of the territorial period in a small frame house, occasionally in the Baptist church. The territorial officials shifted their offices from place to place. To aid in building a state house, Congress, in 1831, donated to the territory ten sections of public lands, which the general assembly exchanged for the handsome residence of Robert Crittenden. Governor Pope vetoed the bill, mainly because the Crittenden residence was not worth the lands nor suitable for a state house. Incensed by the veto, the legislature sent a memorial for the removal of the governor. Instead, Congress placed the control of the land and the building in the governor's hands, who sold the lands and proceeded with the building, which, however, was not completed until 1840.

Arkansas Becomes a State.

Meanwhile the territory had been growing in population and wealth. In 1833 the population was 40,327, of whom 6,081 were colored — 173 being free — and in 1835 it had grown to 52,241, of whom about 9,838 were negroes. As early as 1831 Ambrose H. Sevier, a descendent of John Sevier, of Tennessee, delegate from Arkansas in Congress, began to agitate the question of statehood. In 1833 he offered a resolution instructing the committee on territories to inquire into and report on the expediency of admitting Arkansas state. The committee in 1834 reported a bill to admit Arkansas and Michigan, but the bill did not become a law. In the territory the question was taken up, newspapers discussed it, speakers presented it, and the people in mass-meetings passed resolutions. By 1835 the territory was thoroughly aroused. That year, without authority from Congress, the legislature submitted the question to the people; they voted for statehood, and the legislature ordered the election of delegates to a constitutional convention. This body met Jan. 4, 1836, framed a constitution and dispatched it to Washington with a prayer to be admitted into the Union. Bills to admit the territory were introduced into both houses. Michigan was before Congress at the same time. In the Senate, Benton took care of Michigan, and Buchanan of Arkansas. The Senate bill passed that body April 4 without event. In the House it was opposed because the state constitution legalized slavery and because the people had taken the initiative in framing a constitution before Congress passed an enabling act. The usual anti-slavery arguments were made. With respect to procedure it was urged that the people's action was revolutionary. However, the view that Arkansas was south of Missouri, a slave state, and that the constitution was in the nature of a petition, prevailed, and the House passed the bills admitting Arkansas and Michigan the same day, June 13. The arguments of the opposition were rather ostensible than real. The true ground of opposition was political. The Whigs opposed admitting both states because they would probably give Democratic majorities in the coming presidential election. [Roosevelt, Life of Benton, Standard Library Edition, 152.]

The people of Arkansas in the meantime had anticipated the action of Congress. April 12 the Democrats held their first convention in the territory and nominated for governor James S. Conway, who had come to Arkansas from Tennessee in 1820, and for Congress Archibald Yell, a North Carolinian who had come to Arkansas in 1832. The Whigs met seven days later and put forward for governor Absolom Fowler, and for, Congress William Cummings, both able lawyers. After a heated campaign Conway and Yell were elected. The legislature under the new constitution met Sept. 12, 1836, in the unfinished statehouse, organized the new state government, elected William S. Fulton and A. H. Sevier United States Senators and inaugurated a wildcat banking policy.

Population, Life, Customs, Economic and Social Conditions of the People.

The few French in Arkansas in the Eighteenth century lived in villages. They farmed but little; they were mainly occupied in hunting, trading and trapping. On trading expeditions three or four went together up the Arkansas or the White river in a boat loaded with trinkets, hatchets, guns and blankets, which they exchanged with the natives for skins and furs. Sometimes overland trips were made on horseback. When they had gathered a supply of skins and furs at the Post, they took them by boat to New Orleans. Simple in habits, these people had but few wants. They dressed in buckskin and wore moccasin or 'coon skin caps. But it must be confessed that the Frenchman did but little to develop the country. In point of blood the element is insignificant; in point of character, questionable. They took on too much the habits of the natives. Nuttall, who made a scientific exploration of the Arkansas in 1819, found them "opposed to improvements and regular industry," and spoke of Arkansas Post with some thirty families as not being complimentary to the French who had been there for over a century. They had no mechanics and almost no domestic conveniences. The people had pork and beef because hogs and cattle grew wild in the woods; but such necessities as potatoes, onions and flour were imported at enormous prices, though they could be easily raised at home. They were "strangers to civilized comforts and regular habits." There were notable exceptions, such as Frederick Notrebe and Joseph Bogie. However, the French left a permanent impress in the names of the rivers, creeks, mountains and towns. Fourche La Fave, Poteau, Petit Jean, Des Arc, DeVall's Bluff and Maumelle, are a few of the many names to remind us of this period in Arkansas history.


The population during foreign control grew painfully slow, perhaps because of the many restrictions imposed by the government. Before a man could settle in the province he had to secure permission from a French or Spanish official; a citizen could not go twenty miles from home unless he secured a passport, particularly describing his route and destination. After the United States acquired Louisiana the country developed more rapidly. Americans came and went freely. Unlike the French they liked country life, opened and cultivated farms. In 1799 the population of Arkansas was 368; in 1810, 1,062; in 1820, 14,255; in 1830, 30,388; in 1835, 52,241. The figures show that during the first decade after the Louisiana purchase comparatively few settlements were made, while in the next decade the growth was rapid. This may be explained by the fact that all land, except a few French and Spanish grants, was public, that the Indians claimed all of Arkansas, and that the Federal government would not bestow titles to land to which it had not extinguished the Indian's right of occupancy. The first purchase of Indian claims in Arkansas was from the Osages in 1808, hence, until then people could not secure land. But thereafter Indian titles were rapidly bought up, surveys were made, the land thrown open to settlers and the population multiplied. There were many settlements in 1819 scattered over the territory, separated by wide stretches of wild forests. Arkansas Post, Pine Bluff, Benton, Cadron, Ft. Smith, Hot Springs, Davidsonville, Little Rock, Crystal Hill or Pyeattstown, and Pecannerie were villages or settlements. Arkansas Post had some thirty families, Cadron four or five, Benton nine or ten, Pecannerie sixty. Immigration to Arkansas was also stimulated by land bounties. Many soldiers with such claims for service in the "War of 1812 located in Arkansas. Other tracts were taken by sufferers from the New Madrid earthquake in 1811. The government allowed these people as much land as they had lost by the earthquake. The whole country from the Ohio to the St. Francis in Arkansas was disturbed, the earth was sunk, lakes formed, and strips of land plunged into the Mississippi. The sunk lands of northeast Arkansas were thus caused.

Frontier Conditions.

Conditions of life were rude. The log house destitute of glass with numerous doors was the type. Corn meal, the staff of life on the frontier, was prepared on a grate or in a mortar. "Lye hominy" was common. There were one or two sawmills and perhaps one grist mill in the territory when organized. There was neither stage coach nor steamboat. No regular vessels plied the Arkansas. Occasional merchant vessels would run up the river. Not until 1835 did steamboats come into general use on western rivers. Prior to that the canoe, the raft or the flatboat was used. These vessels went down stream easily, but going up, there was the rub. They were pushed along by means of poles, or cordelled. Travel was slow. Even in 1837, after the steamer had come into use, Senator William S. Fulton writes from Washington to his wife at Little Rock, expressing astonishment at receiving a letter from her in twelve days, "after having been annoyed all winter in not receiving my letters until they were forty or fifty days old." The postage was seventy-five cents, and he congratulated himself on excellent mail facilities. Merchants bought their sugar and molasses in New Orleans, and their dry goods and hardware in Philadelphia. Goods from the east were wagoned to Pittsburgh, thence by water to the point of destination on the Arkansas. The pioneer boatman was a noted character; he was brave, hardy, resourceful; he was ready alike for the storm, the river robber or the lurking savage.

Travel by land was even worse. Horses and covered wagons were the means of conveyance, bridle paths serving for roads. There were several well-defined old Indian roads. One, a path about a foot wide, ran from the Post to the Cadron through the Grand Prairie. Another ran from St. Louis via Cape Girardeau, Little Rock, Benton, Hot Springs. Here it forked, one branched off south to Natchitoches on the Red River, the other ran down the Ouachita to the "post of Ouachita," or modern Monroe, La., thence to Natchitoches. These roads had existed from time immemorial, and were old Indian war and hunting paths. Nuttall found Cadron a general stopping place for travelers in all directions. A double log house served as an inn. It was on a real estate boom. During the territorial period the Federal government expended considerable money on the rivers and roads of Arkansas. Roads were opened from Little Rock to Ft. Smith, to Memphis, to Columbia, from Jackson to Red River.

Courts, Schools and Churches.

The judge and the lawyers were important characters in frontier society. With poor roads, no bridges and courthouses a hundred miles apart, their semi-annual trips on horseback over the territory were filled alike with hardships and thrilling experiences. Court was held in a store, residence, or in the open air. Law was administered without books. When memory failed, they fell back upon general principles. The ready gun and the leather thong took the place of jails. Schools as well as courthouses were few and far apart. With a population of less than one to the square mile even in 1836, educational advantages were necessarily poor. Schools were private. The people subscribed "scholars"; the teacher "boarded around"; the pay was in meal, pork or other produce. In a log house with Webster's blueback speller as the main text, school was kept from sunrise to sunset. A law in 1829 authorized the leasing of the sixteenth section and the use of the proceeds for the support of schools. No material aid came from this source. A few academies were established, usually by churches. But before the advent of the lawyer or teacher came the preacher. This is the history of all western countries. His was a hard lot. He rode to his appointments scattered at wide intervals. The traditional log cabin sheltered him at night; or if, as often occurred, night overtook him miles away from human habitation, with his saddle-bags for a pillow, he camped under a friendly oak. Camp meetings were the common form of religious service. The Methodists, the Presbyterians and the Baptists early gained a foothold here. The Methodist preacher was riding regular circuits as early as 1815. Circuits multiplied, districts were formed, and in 1836 the Arkansas Annual Conference was organized with a membership of 3,690. The Arkansas Presbytery of the Cumberland Church was organized in 1824. At Boonesboro, now Cane Hill, that church in 1835 established a school. In 1828 the first Presbyterian church in Arkansas was established at Little Rock; in 1835 the Presbytery of Arkansas was organized. In 1829 the Baptists organized the Spring River Association, which in 1835 had ten churches.

In 1817 the first post offices were established, one at Davidsonville in northeast Arkansas and the other at Arkansas Post. The two offices served the district between St. Louis and Monroe, La., and had a monthly mail. In 1835 the service between Memphis and Little Rock was improved and made semi-weekly. With the organization of the territory came the newspaper. William E. Woodruff, a young man from New York established the Arkansas Gazette at the Post in 1819. The Gazette followed the capital to Little Rock, and except for a short time during the War of Secession, has been published continuously since its foundation. In 1830 there was established at Little Rock a Whig paper, The Advocate, edited at first by Charles P. Bert-rand, later by Albert Pike.

Economic Conditions.

In the early days cotton and corn were the chief products. In 1819 there were two gins near the Post; cotton in the seed brought five and six dollars a hundred, or about $75 a bale; flour retailed at ten dollars per barrel, rice from twenty-five to thirty-seven cents per pound, sugar twenty-five cents, coffee fifty cents. Three merchants at the Post largely controlled trade up the White and Arkansas rivers. Salt was manufactured in Arkansas at an early date. De Soto found the natives making salt on the Ouachita. During territorial days many salt mines were worked. The government leased the mines to individuals for a period of years. In 1825 the Bean Brothers were operating a mine in northwest Arkansas, turning out some 500 bushels a year and supplying quite a section of country; Rees Price was making salt on Deer Creek twenty miles north of Ft. Smith, and Johnathan Calloway had purchased salt works on the Ouachita. There were no banks in the territory. Governor Izard was compelled to send, by a special messenger, his drafts to New Orleans to be cashed. He frequently requested the authorities at Washington to send remittances in small drafts so that the local merchants could cash them.


In the early days duelling was the ordinary method of settling differences between man and man. Many of the early settlers were of the proudest blood of the South, and they were quick to avenge a fancied or real wrong. This false code of honor cut short many promising lives. Among the prominent men killed in duels in Arkansas were Joseph Seldon, judge of the superior court; Henry W. Conway, delegate to Congress; William Fontaine Pope, nephew and secretary of Governor Pope. The first territorial legislature passed a law against duelling. Duels were thereafter fought just outside of the boundary of Arkansas.

Among the earlier settlers were some tough characters. Nuttall records the presence along the Arkansas of some renegades, refugees from justice and horse thieves; and further tells of the notorious Clary gang of river robbers with headquarters at the mouth of the Arkansas. They were captured and exterminated in 1811 by some boatmen. While there was much bloodshed, perhaps lawlessness did not exist in Arkansas to any greater extent than in any other territory in pioneer days. Of the character of the people of the territory, Gov. John Pope, who came of one of the best Virginia families, gave this testimony: "In justice to the people of this territory, I declare, in the face of the world, and on the responsibility of my public and private character, that among no people with whom I am acquainted are the ordinary offenses against propriety and peace of society less frequent; stealing and robbing are rare; nowhere are the moral and social relations maintained with more fidelity."

Bibliography.— French's Historical Collections of Louisiana (7 Vols.); Hempstead: Pictorial History of Arkansas (The fullest and best single history of the State); Hallum: Biographical History of Arkansas (full but inaccurate); Pope: Early Days in Arkansas (fair view of life in the early days); Reynolds: Makers of Arkansas History (brief; gives description of the economic, social and political life in colonial and territorial days); Shinn: School History of Arkansas (a brief narrative); Twaites: Early Western Travels; Washborne: Reminiscences of Indians (gives story of Dwight Mission, customs and religion of the Cherokees); Publications of the Arkansas Historical Association.

John Hugh Reynolds,
Professor of History and Political Science, University of Arkansas.

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