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ARKANSAS, one of the states of the American Union, situated between lat. 33° and 36° 30' N., and lon. 89° 45' and 94° 40' W., having an extent of 240 m. from N. to S., and varying from 170 to 250 m. from E. to W., the narrowest part being on the S. line and the broadest on the parallel of lat. 36 N.; area, 52,198 sq. m. The state is bounded N. by Missouri, E. by the St. Francis river, separating it from Missouri, and the Mississippi, separating it from Tennessee and Mississippi, S. by Louisiana, S. W. by Texas, and W. by the Indian territory.

AmCyc Arkansas - seal.jpg

State Seal of Arkansas.

The state is divided into 64 counties, as follows: Arkansas, Ashley, Benton, Boone, Bradley, Calhoun, Carroll, Chicot, Clarke, Columbia, Conway, Craighead, Crawford, Crittenden, Cross, Dallas, Desha, Drew, Franklin, Fulton, Grant, Greene, Hempstead, Hot Springs, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lincoln, Little River, Madison, Marion, Mississippi, Monroe, Montgomery, Nevada, Newton, Ouachita, Perry, Phillips, Pike, Poinsett, Polk, Pope, Prairie, Pulaski, Randolph, St. Francis, Saline, Sarber, Scott, Searcy, Sebastian, Sevier, Sharpe, Union, Van Buren, Washington, White, Woodruff, Yell. There are no large cities. The oldest settlement is Arkansas Post (pop. in 1870, 683), the chief town of Arkansas county, on the river of the same name, about 50 m. above its junction with the Mississippi. It was settled by the French in 1685. Little Rock, Pulaski county, the state capital (pop. 12,380), is also situated on the Arkansas river, about 300 m. above its mouth, in lat. 34° 40' N., lon. 92° 12' W. It was founded in 1820, is built on a commanding bluff, and is a place of considerable traffic. The other chief towns are Fort Smith (pop. 2,227), Helena (2,249), Pine Bluff (2,081), Camden (1,621), Hot Springs (1,276), and Princeton (1,142). The population of Arkansas in 1870 was 484,471, of whom 362,115 were whites, 122,169 colored, 98 Chinese and Japanese, and 89 Indians. Of the total population, 479,445 were native born, and 5,026 foreign born. The native population not born in the state were principally from Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and North Carolina, while the foreigners were chiefly natives of England, Ireland, and Germany. In population Arkansas ranks 26th among the states. The following table will show the increase in population since 1820, the year after Arkansas was organized as a territory:

 Censuses.  White.  Free Col'd.  Slaves. Total.
1820 12,579 77 1,617 14,273
1830 25,671 141 4,576 30,388
1840 77,174 465 19,935 97,574
1850 162,189 608 47,100 209,897
1860 324,191 144   111,115   435,450
1870 362,115  122,169 . . . . . . 484,471

In 1870 there were 111,799 persons in the state 10 years old and upward unable to read, and 133,339 unable to write. Of those 21 years old and upward unable to write, 13,610 were white males, 21,770 white females, 23,681 colored males, and 22,689 colored females.—The Ozark mountains, which seldom rise to an elevation beyond 1,500 or 2,000 ft., cross the N. W. corner of the state. They are composed chiefly of limestone, clay slate, sandstone, greenstone, and granite. Extending E. from this range N. of the Arkansas are the Boston mountains, or Black hills. S. of that river is the Masserne or Washita range, which is so barren that the gray sandstone of which it is mainly composed is the prevailing color of the landscape. The eastern portion of the state, bordering on the Mississippi, including a strip ranging from 30 to 100 m. wide, is low and flat, covered by dense forests interspersed with swamps and small lakes or ponds, frequently of stagnant and unhealthy water. This portion is annually overflowed by the floods of the Mississippi, Arkansas, and other rivers. Passing west, the surface gradually rises, and near the centre of the state the country becomes hilly, and the forests are interspersed with rolling prairies. Still further west these hills terminate in the Ozark mountains, and beyond these is an extensive elevated plain continually increasing in height in its course toward the Rocky mountains, in which it finally terminates. The valley of the St. Francis river, in the N. E. part of the state, is a continuous swamp, filled with shallow lakes and bayous, and covered with a heavy growth of cypress, gum, and sycamore, the cypress growing in the water, and the other trees in the marshes or swamps. Rising into the higher land, where the soil is comparatively dry, the surface is covered with a growth of white oak and hickory, with occasional thickly set canebrakes.—Arkansas has no seacoast, but is remarkably favored with navigable streams. The Mississippi river washes its eastern border for a distance of three degrees, though by its tortuous course the actual distance is probably between 300 and 400 m., separating it from Tennessee and Mississippi. The Arkansas river, one of the largest tributaries of the Mississippi, having its source by numerous branches high up in the Rocky mountains, traverses the state by a tortuous route through its centre, the general direction being from N. W. to S. E., for a distance by the course of the stream of about 500 m., and is navigable far above the limits of the state into the Indian territory. The Red river a large navigable stream which rises in New Mexico, flows through the S. W. corner of the state. The St. Francis river rises at the foot of Iron mountain in Missouri, forms the boundary between Missouri and Arkansas for a short distance, runs through the N. E. corner of the state, and joins the Mississippi about 13 m. above Helena. Although a large river, its navigation is rendered difficult by numerous rafts or snags. For about 50 m. the river spreads out into a lake from 5 to 20 m. wide, supposed to have been produced by a sinking of the earth caused by the great earthquake of 1811. The St. Francis is 450 m. long, and navigable for 150 m. at favorable seasons of the year. White river rises in the N. W. corner of Arkansas, and, after running N. into Missouri, returns into Arkansas, takes a S. E. zigzag course, and flows into the Mississippi. White river is about 600 m. long, and is navigable for small steamers to Batesville, 260 m. from its mouth, and, when cleared of snags and driftwood, may be ascended at favorable seasons at least 400 m. It has numerous tributaries rising in Missouri, the chief of which are the Black or Big Black, Spring, and Cache rivers. The first flows S. and joins White river 30 or 40 m. below Batesville, and is navigable for steamers during the greater part of the year a distance of 100 m. The Washita or Ouachita rises in the W. part of the state, S. of the Arkansas, runs S. and S. E. parallel with that stream, passing through a beautiful and fertile portion of southern Arkansas, thence S. through a portion of Louisiana, and joins the Red river near its junction with the Mississippi. It is navigable for about 350 m. from its mouth. Its chief tributaries are the Little Missouri, Saline, Bayou Boeuf, &c.—The mineral wealth of Arkansas is as yet comparatively undeveloped. It is known that the state abounds in cannel, anthracite, and bituminous coal, which is found in greatest profusion along the banks of the Arkansas river on either side, from a point a short distance above Little Rock to the western boundary of the state. Iron ore of a good quality has been found in the Ozark mountains. Zinc ore exists more extensively in Arkansas than in any other state of the Union except New Jersey. Galena or lead ore, frequently bearing silver, abounds in various parts of the state. Gold has been discovered in White county, but has never been profitably worked. Manganese is abundant, and, according to De Bow, Arkansas contains more gypsum than all the other states in the Union. Near the hot springs in the Washita valley is an immense bed of superior oil stone, or novaculite, said to be equal to the celebrated Turkish oil stone. Salt of very good quality is produced from the saline springs in the vicinity of Washita and elsewhere.—The climate is temperate, but subject to sudden changes in consequence of the north winds. The temperature at Little Rock usually ranges from 15° to 99° F., and averages 62.66°, though the mercury has been known to fall as low as 8°. The mean temperature for the winter months is 45.82°; for the summer, 79.66°, the mercury reaching 90° or above for from 40 to 50 days during the summer. Terrific thunderstorms prevail during the spring and summer. The precipitation of rain during the months of July, August, and September, 1871, amounted to 9.23 inches at Mineral Springs, and 3.75 inches at Clarksville.—The total number of deaths in 1870 was 6,119, of which 2,096 were from general diseases; with respect to local diseases, the most numerous deaths were 639 from affections of the nervous system, 1,476 of the respiratory system, and 602 of the digestive system.—The soil of Arkansas varies from the richest and most productive to the most sterile; and the climate and productions are equally varied. The river bottoms, composed of a black alluvium, are wonderfully fertile, producing bountiful crops of cotton, corn, tobacco, sweet potatoes, melons, peaches, grapes, and various other fruits. There are immense tracts of submerged bottoms equally rich, which might be brought under cultivation by a judicious system of drainage. Rising from the valley, the soil becomes less productive, and in many places will not repay cultivation; while large portions of the uplands, particularly in the northern part of the state, produce good crops of wheat and other gram, as well as the best of apples, and are well adapted to grazing. The uplands are largely interspersed with rolling prairies, which are generally well watered, though Grand prairie, 90 m. long and 30 broad, situated between Arkansas and White rivers, is an exception, being almost entirely without water. The low valleys are destitute of good water, the inhabitants resorting to rain water, which is collected and kept in large tanks sunk into the ground, and filtered river water. These valleys are very unhealthy, particularly to the unacclimated. The more elevated portions of the state are salubrious.—The productions of Arkansas are mainly agricultural. The area of the state is 33,406,720 acres, and in 1870 there were 1,714,466 acres of improved and 3,791,873 of wood land. The cash value of farms was $36,457,476; of farming implements and machinery, $2,112,020; total amount of wages paid during the year, including value of board, $3,907,188. There were 83,952 horses, 33,381 mules and asses, 119,607 milch cows, 31,673 working oxen, 179,431 other cattle, 149,592 sheep, 772,662 swine; value of all live stock $15,795,971. The productions were 683,691 bushels of wheat, 23,422 of rye, 12,208,044 of corn, 486,425 of oats, 46,477 of peas and beans, 399,927 of Irish potatoes, 859,842 of sweet potatoes, 73,021 lbs. of rice, 529,110 of tobacco, 203,275 of wool, 2,531,011 of butter, 12,047 of wax, 261,824 of honey, 221,546 bales of cotton, 6,806 tons of hay, 60,272 gallons of cane and 138,859 of sorghum molasses; value of home manufactures, $723,979; of slaughtered animals, $3,466,152; estimated value of all farm products, including betterments and additions to stock, $36,524,608. The number of manufacturing establishments was 1,364; capital, $2,137,738. Of these the most important were 272 flour and meal mills, 283 establishments for ginning cotton, 35 for the manufacture of leather, 212 saw mills, and 13 wool-carding establishments.—The state is remarkably well stocked with wild animals, valuable for their meat, hides, and furs, among which are the deer, elk, beaver, otter, rabbit, raccoon, wildcat, catamount, wolf, and bear. Wild turkeys, geese, quails, and various other birds, are also found in great abundance. The chief exports are cotton, maize, wool, hides, and lumber, which find a market in New Orleans, through which port Arkansas receives her foreign merchandise. A thriving domestic commerce is carried on along the Mississippi, Arkansas, and other navigable streams of the state; and the traffic with the Indians on the western border is of considerable importance. Among the most striking natural curiosities in the state are the famous hot springs, beneficial to those suffering from the effects of mercury in the system, rheumatism, stiffness of the joints, &c. These springs are situated on a small tributary of the Washita, about 6 m. from that river, and 60 m. S. W. of Little Rock, in Hot Springs county. From 75 to 100 of these springs, varying in temperature from 105° to 160° F., issue from a lofty ridge of sandstone overlooking the town, while a number rise from the bed of Hot Spring creek, which flows at the foot of the ridge, and, by reason of the springs, is rendered sufficiently warm for bathing in midwinter. In Pike county, on the Little Missouri river, is a natural bridge, and near by is a mountain of very fine alabaster.—Up to Jan. 1, 1870, only 128 miles of railroad had been completed in Arkansas; but many important lines are now in process of construction. The Cairo and Fulton road extends from Cairo, Ill., S. W. across Arkansas past Little Rock to Fulton in Hempstead county, and thence to the Texas line; 301 m. of this road will lie in Arkansas. The Little Rock, Pine Bluff, and New Orleans road extends from the former city to Napoleon on the Mississippi, a distance of 125 m. The Little Rock and Fort Smith road connects these two points, which are distant 156 m. The Memphis and Little Rock extends from a point opposite Memphis, Tenn., on the Mississippi, to Little Rock, and is 130 m. long. The Mississippi, Ouachita, and Red Eiver road extends from Eunice on the Mississippi westerly to Fulton on the Red river, 155 m. The St. James and Little Rock is projected from St. James, Mo., on the Southern Pacific railroad, 104 m. W. of St. Louis, to Little Rock, a distance of 240 m. The Missouri, Kansas, and Texas extends from Junction City, Kansas, on the Kansas Pacific railroad, to Fort Smith, Ark., 325 m. The Memphis and St. Louis extends from Wakefield, opposite Memphis, northerly to Morley, Mo., 142 m., with a branch extending southerly to Helena, 60 m. Under the act of 1868 the number of miles of railroad for which state aid could be granted was limited to 850. The bonds, of the denomination of $1,000, are payable in 30 years, with 7 per cent. interest payable semi-annually in New York city. The amount of aid awarded to the various companies up to Jan. 1, 1871, is as follows:

 of line. 
Miles of
 state aid 
 Rate per 
 Amount of 
state aid
 Amount of 
stock in
 road held 
by state.

Memphis and Little Rock 130  118  120   $10,000  $1,200,000  $40,000 
Little Rock and Fort Smith 156  95  150  10,000  1,500,000  38,125 
Little Rock, Pine Bluff, and New Orleans  125  45  120  15,000  1,800,000  none. 
Missouri and Ohio Railroad 160  45  130  15,000  1,950,000  210,500 
Cairo and Fulton 301  20  300  10,000  3,000,000  . . . . . . 
Little Rock and Helena 98  . .  30  15,000  450,000  . . . . . . 

Total 970  323  850   $9,900,000   $288,625 

The amount of state bonds actually issued to railroad companies to Sept. 30, 1870, was $2,750,000. Pursuant to an act of the legislature of 1869, 53 m. of levee work have been completed upon the rivers of the state, at a total cost of $505,917, and 167 m. are in course of construction, comprising levees, railroad beds answering the same purpose, cut-offs, and other works securing land from overflow. By these improvements many acres of valuable land will be reclaimed. In 1870 there were two national banks in Arkansas, with a total capital of $200,000 and a circulation of $179,500.—The present constitution of Arkansas was adopted Feb. 11, 1868, and ratified by the people March 13, 1868. The equality of all persons before the law is recognized. The ordinance of secession of 1861 and the state debt contracted in waging war against the federal government are declared null and void. The legislature, which assembles biennially on the first Monday of January (odd years), consists of a house of representatives of 82 members chosen for two years, and a senate of 26 members elected for four years. One half of the senators are chosen every two years. Representatives must be male citizens of the United States not less than 21 years old, must have resided in the state for one year, and be qualified electors and residents of the districts from which they are elected. In addition to these qualifications senators must have attained the age of 25 years. No person holding a federal, state, or county office, with certain exceptions, is eligible as a member of the legislature. A majority of the members elected to each house is sufficient to pass a bill over the governor's veto. Provision is made for taking the census in 1875, and every ten years thereafter; and immediately after every census, state or federal, the legislative districts may be rearranged. The executive power is vested in a governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, attorney general, and superintendent of public instruction, who are chosen by the people for a term of four years. The governor must be not less than 25 years of age, a citizen of the United States for five years, an elector and a resident of the state for one year. His salary is $5,000. No member of congress or person holding a federal or state office is eligible as governor. The executive appoints a commissioner of public works and internal improvements, who is also ex officio commissioner of immigration and state lands. The judicial power is vested in a supreme court, 10 circuit courts, and such inferior courts as the legislature may establish. There is a separate chancery court at Little Rock for Pulaski county. The supreme court consists of a chief justice appointed by the governor with the consent of the senate for eight years, and four justices elected by the people for eight years, two being chosen every four years. The judges of the circuit and inferior courts are appointed by the governor with the consent of the senate for six years. Two justices of the peace are elected in each township for two years. General elections are held by ballot biennially on the Tuesday next following the first Monday in November. Every male citizen of the United States, or person who has declared his intention to become a citizen, who has attained the age of 21 years and resided in the state six months next preceding the election, and who is an actual resident of the county in which he offers to vote, is qualified as an elector, except soldiers, sailors, and marines in the United States service stationed in Arkansas, criminals, idiots, the insane, and the following classes: 1, those who during the civil war took the oath of allegiance or gave bonds for loyalty and good behavior to the United States government, and afterward gave aid, comfort, or countenance to those engaged in armed hostility to the federal government; 2, those disqualified as electors or from holding office in the state from which they came; 3, those persons who during the civil war violated the rules of civilized warfare; 4, those who may be disqualified by the 14th amendment to the federal constitution, or by the reconstruction acts of congress. All persons included in the above classes who have openly advocated or have voted for the reconstruction measures of congress, and accept the equality of all men before the law, are deemed qualified electors under the constitution. The general assembly is empowered to remove by a two-thirds vote of each house, approved by the governor, the political disabilities from any person who has in good faith returned to his allegiance to the federal government, except in the case of those who after the adoption of this constitution continued their opposition to the reconstruction measures of congress. A registration of voters is to be made before every general election. All persons before registering or voting must take an oath never to countenance secession, to accept the civil equality of all men, and never to injure or countenance others in injuring any person on account of past or present support of the government of the United States, or the principle of equal rights, or affiliation with any political party. The constitution requires the general assembly to maintain a system of free schools, and enforce the attendance of every child between 5 and 18 years of age for a term equivalent to three years, unless educated by other means. A free school must be kept in each school district for not less than three months during the year. The legislature is also required to establish and maintain a state university, with departments for instruction in teaching, agriculture, and natural sciences, as soon as the public school fund will permit. Liberal provisions are made for the protection of homesteads, and of the separate property of married women; and taxes are limited to 2 per cent. of assessed value.—The funded and unfunded debt of the state, principal and accrued interest, amounted on Jan. 1, 1870, after deducting estimated assets, to $4,522,297 77, the annual interest on which is about $300,000. The receipts and expenditures of the principal funds from July 3, 1868, to Sept. 30, 1870, were: General revenue—receipts, $1,110,483 43, including $286,703 57 on hand at former date; disbursements, $327,777 06; school fund—receipts, $429,449 90, including $64,875 32 on hand; disbursements, $370,454 95; permanent school fund—receipts, $35,591 74; disbursements, $399 25; military fund—receipts, $70,302 20; disbursements, $970 84; sinking fund—receipts, $142,382 20; disbursements, $43,779 91; excess fund—receipts, $108,932; disbursements, $2,368 23. According to the census of 1870, the assessed value of real estate was $53,102,304; personal property, $31,426,539; true value of real and personal estate, $156,394,691; total taxation not national, $2,866,890. At present the state tax amounts to 9½ mills on the dollar, of which 5 mills are for general purposes, 2 mills for school purposes, and 2½ mills for the payment of interest on the public debt.—The present system of free public schools was established in 1868. The number of children of school age in 1870 was 180,274; attending school, 107,908; teachers employed, 2,302; number of teachers' institutes, 41; teachers attending institutes, 944; whole amount paid teachers in 1870, $405,748; number of school houses built in 1869 and 1870, 657; persons subject to per capita tax of $1 in 1869, 79,544; per capita tax collected in 1869, $61,465; number of schools taught in 1870, 2,537. The second apportionment of the school fund, based on the school tax for 1869, was made in 1870, and amounted to $187,427 08. The common school fund on Oct. 1, 1870, amounted to $58,954 95, and the permanent school fund to $35,192 49. In 1868 the legislature accepted the grant of land, amounting to about 150,000 acres, made by congress in 1862 toward the support of a college of agriculture and the mechanic arts, and provided for the creation of the Arkansas industrial university, not yet established.—Among the state institutions, all at Little Rock, are the institute for the blind, having 38 pupils in 1868; the deaf mute institute, with 43 pupils in 1870; and the penitentiary, with 199 prisoners in 1870. There are published in the state 4 daily, 2 tri-weekly, and 41 weekly papers, and 4 monthly periodicals. The average circulation of each issue is 650, and the aggregate annual circulation 2,438,716.—Arkansas was originally a portion of the territory of Louisiana, purchased from the French in 1803. It remained a part of Louisiana territory till 1812, when the present state of Louisiana was admitted to the Union, and the remaining portion was organized as Missouri territory, which name it held till 1819, when Missouri formed a state constitution and Arkansas was erected into a territory bearing its present name. It remained under a territorial government till June, 1836, when a constitution was formed at Little Rock, and Arkansas became a state. In January, 1861, the people decided by a vote of 27,412 to 15,826 in favor of a convention to consider the question of secession. That body assembled in March, and deferred the decision to a popular election to be held in August. Meanwhile the state authorities seized the arsenals at Little Rock (Feb. 8) and Napoleon (April 24), and upon Fort Smith on the western border (April 23). The convention reassembled May 6, in consequence of President Lincoln's call for troops, and passed the ordinance of secession by a vote of 69 to 1, withdrawing the submission of the question to the people. The battle of Pea Ridge, or Elk Horn, in N. W. Arkansas, was fought March 6 and 7, 1862, between the confederates under Van Dorn and the Union forces under Curtis, and resulted in a victory of the latter, who then advanced to the Mississippi and occupied Helena. On Dec. 7, 1862, the confederate general Hindman, attempting to prevent the junction of Gens. Blunt and Heron, was defeated by Blunt at Prairie Grove near Fayetteville, with a loss of about 1,200. Arkansas Post, on the Arkansas river, was captured by Gen. McClernand and Admiral Porter, Jan. 11, 1863. The confederates under Holmes attempted to retake Helena July 4, but were defeated by Gen. Prentiss. Little Rock was taken by an expedition commanded by Gen. Steele, Sept. 10, without serious resistance, while the W. and S. parts of the state were occupied by Blunt and Stephenson, Holmes being driven into Texas; but the confederates recovered possession of most of the southern counties after the reverse of Gen. Banks in Louisiana (April, 1864). On Oct. 30, 1863, a meeting of loyal citizens representing about 20 counties was held at Fort Smith to institute measures for reorganizing the state government. A convention assembled at Little Rock Jan. 8, 1864, when representatives from 42 counties were present, and framed a loyal constitution. At an election held on March 14, 15, and 16, 12,177 votes were cast for the constitution and 226 against it. State and county officers, representatives in congress, and members of the legislature from 40 counties were elected; and in April a state government was organized. During 1865 much suffering and destitution prevailed among the people, and in May the federal government issued 75,097 rations to refugees and 46,845 to freedmen. Under the reconstruction act of March 2, 1867, declaring that “no legal state governments or adequate protection for life or property now exists” in the states lately in rebellion, Arkansas and Mississippi were constituted the fourth military district. A registration of voters was made under instructions from Gen. Ord, and delegates were elected in November to a constitutional convention which assembled at Little Rock Jan. 7, 1868. The new constitution was ratified by a small majority of the people in March. On June 22 congress passed over the president's veto a resolution admitting Arkansas to representation, and the administration was thereupon transferred to the civil authorities. On Nov. 9, 1868, Gov. Clayton declared 10 counties in a state of insurrection. On March 22, 1869, martial law ceased throughout the state. The 14th amendment to the federal constitution was ratified in April, 1868, and the 15th in March, 1869.