State of Arkansas

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Coat of Arms of the State of Arkansas.
Map of Arkansas counties in 1819.
Map of Arkansas counties in 1828.
Map of Arkansas counties in 1836.
Map of Arkansas counties in 1850.

The State of Arkansas is located in the south-central part of the United States of America. Arkansas is bordered by Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. The state is commonly divided into six distinct geographical regions: the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, Crowley's Ridge, the Ozarks, the Arkansas River Valley, the Ouachita Mountains, the Gulf Coastal Plain.

Arkansas was originally a part of the Louisiana Territory acquired from France in 1803. It later became part of Missouri Territory, and in 1813 most of what became the state formed Arkansas County, with Arkansas Post as the county seat. In 1819 the county became the Territory of Arkansas, with a capitol at Arkansas Post. In 1820 the territorial capitol moved to Little Rock.

Arkansas was admitted to the Union on June 15, 1836, with Little Rock as its state capitol. It was the twenty-fifth state to join the Union. Arkansas' admission to the United States is enshrined in the Constitution of 1836. The state had four subsequent constitutions in 1861, 1864, 1868, and 1874. The state today shares borders with Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.

Early Inhabitants

The earliest human inhabitants in the area of Arkansas may have been the Ozark Bluff Dwellers who began living in caves and under ledges along the White River around 8000 BC. They were followed by the Mound Builders who occupied the delta portions of eastern and southern Arkansas from around 600 to 1050 AD.

Prehistoric tribes:

Folsom people

Mississippian Indians

Plum Bayou culture

Historic tribes:

Caddo

The Caddo Indians of Texas occupied lands in western parts of Arkansas, particularly along the Red and Ouachita rivers.

Cahinnio

Cherokee

Chickasaw

Choctaw

Illinois

Kaskinampo

Michigamea

Mosopelea

Ofo

Osage

The Osage Indians held hunting lands in the northwestern part of Arkansas.

Quapaw

Europeans encountered the Quapaw (or "Arkansas") Indians. The Quapaw had migrated to the state from the upper Ohio River valley.

European Exploration

The conquistador Hernando de Soto entered Arkansas on June 18, 1541, possibly at Sunflower Landing. He was looking for gold.

In 1673 Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet entered a Quapaw village at the mouth of the Arkansas River. On his map of journeys in the Mississippi River valley, Father Marquette wrote the word "Akansea" where he found this village. The name was spelled variously as "Akamsea" and "Akensea" in his narrative. The place-name came to signify what is now known as "Arkansas." In 1682 Robert Chevelier, Sieur de La Salle claimed the entire valley of the Mississippi River for France. He called the area "Louisiana" in honor of the absolute monarch Louis XIV.

Permanent Settlement

La Salle's associate Henri de Tonti founded Arkansas Post in 1686. The trading post was the first permanent European settlement on the western side of the Mississippi River. The French governed Arkansas from 1686 through 1766, when they relinquished all claims to Louisiana, including Arkansas Post, to Spain. Spain returned the territory, now containing 368 settlers, to France in 1800. The Arkansas area became part of the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The District of Arkansas was created within the purchase in 1806. Arkansas became part of Missouri Territory in 1812 when Louisiana became a state.

French Governors of Louisiana

  • Marquis de Sanville (1689-1700)
  • Bienville (1701-1712)
  • Lamothe Cadillar (1713-1715)
  • De L'Epinay (1716-1717)
  • Bienville (1718-1723)
  • Boisbriant (interim, 1724)
  • Perier (1725-1731)
  • Bienville (1732-1741)
  • Marquis de Vaudreuil (1742-1752)
  • Baron de Kelerec (1753-1762)
  • D'Abbadie (1763-1766)

Spanish Governors of Louisiana

  • Antonio de Ulloa (1767-1768)
  • Alexander O'Reilly (1768-1769)
  • Luis de Unzaga (1770-1776)
  • Bernando de Galvez (1777-1784)
  • Estevan Miro (1785-1787)
  • Francisco Luis Hortu, Baron of Carondelet (1789-1792)
  • Gayoso de Lemos (1793-1798)
  • Sebastian de Casa Calvo y O'Farrell (1798-1799)
  • Juan Manual de Salcedo (1800-1803)

Louisiana Territorial Population:

  • 1809 - 1,062

Arkansas Territory

The Territory of Arkansas was designated by the U.S. Congress on March 2, 1819, when an area roughly shaped like the present State of Arkansas was cleaved away from the Territory of Missouri. Arkansas Post was originally established as the seat of territorial government, but in 1820 the capitol was moved west to Little Rock.

Arkansas Territorial Censuses:

  • 1820 - 14,273
  • 1823 -
  • 1829 -
  • 1830 - 30,388

On March 2, 1831, President Jackson signed an act reserving ten sections of land in the territory for the erection of public buildings. On June 15, 1832, Jackson acted again to provide 1,000 acres of land in support of a state courthouse and jail.

Statehood

The first Constitutional Convention met at the Baptist Church in Little Rock beginning on January 4, 1836. Arkansas achieved statehood on June 15, 1836. The state legislature convened for the first time on September 12, 1836. The legislature established a credit pool by incorporating the Bank of the State of Arkansas on November 2, 1836.

Antebellum Arkansas

Trail of Tears

Civil War

Reconstruction

Progressive Era

World War I

Great Depression

World War II

Civil Rights Struggle

Demographics

According to the U.S. Census Bureau the population of the state in 2005 was 2,779,154. The largest city in the state is Little Rock with a population of 184,081 in 2004.

Arkansas population:

  • 1836 - 51,809 (9,838 black)
  • 1840 - 97,574
  • 1850 - 209,897
  • 1860 - 435,450
  • 1870 - 484,471
  • 1880 - 802,525
  • 1890 - 1,128,211
  • 1900 - 1,311,564
  • 1910 - 1,574,449
  • 1920 - 1,752,204
  • 1930 - 1,854,482
  • 1940 - 1,949,387
  • 1950 - 1,909,511
  • 1960 - 1,786,272
  • 1970 - 1,923,295
  • 1980 - 2,286,435
  • 1990 - 2,356,586
  • 2000 - 2,678,668
  • 2005 - 2,779,154

State Departments, boards, commissions, committees, and councils

References

  • David Yancey Thomas, Arkansas and Its People: A History, 1541-1930 (American Historical Society, 1930).
  • C. Fred Williams, A Documentary History of Arkansas (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1984), 1-5.

External links