Arkansas history

Student’s Name
Arkansas is found in the South Eastern region of the United States. The region has a
population of close to 3 million
.Geographically, current Arkansas region is more than fifty
thousand square miles and lies on the Western side of the Mississippi River. The Mississippi
delta regions are part of the lowlands while the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains are the highlands.
The Arkansas river flows across the state draining its water to the Mississippi
.The name,
Arkansas, was derived from the Osage language of the Quapaw Indians which meant ‘related
kin’. The history of Arkansas dates to a millennium ago but there is literature that proves its
existence during the archaic and paleo ages. Its history has been explored by various researchers
who have discovered historical aspects of the state. This discussion will examine the major
historical landmarks of the region. The major areas to be examined will be the archaic periods,
the colonial era, the formation of Arkansas territory, the civil war and the Arkansas in the 20
Early Arkansas
In the Native American history, the Archaic age refers to the period between 9500 BC to
650 BC
. Archeologists have identified Arkansas state as one of the major areas in North
America that bare evidence of the existence of the Paleoindian groups. These groups have grown
into larger communities that reside in the Mississippian and Woodland periods. The main
cultures that were identified by within the region were the Dalton, Tom’s Brook, Poverty Point
and Big Creek
. These cultures do not correspond directly to the Arkansas Indian cultures, but
they portray the adaptation of the Native Americans. One of the evidence of the existence of
United States Census Bureau, “U.S. Census Bureau Quick facts: Arkansas.” Census.Gov. (Arkansas: US Census
Bureau, 2016): 1,
Williams Fred, Charles Bolton, Carl Moneyhon and LeRoy Williams, A Documentary History of Arkansas.
(Arkansas: University of Arkansas Press, 2013), 1
Ibid., 3
Ibid., 4
these cultures in the region was the discovery of the Sloan site which had numerous tools and
human remains
.This site holds a significant evidence of the early mortuary behaviors of human
Almost a thousand years ago, the Native Americans in Arkansas got into a cultural era
referred to as Mississippian. During this period, they engaged in intensive farming. They lived in
surrounded villages in houses that had mounded flat tipster and engaged in pottery, hunting, and
trade. They were divided into the complex hierarchical structure and practiced complex religion.
Fred et al mention that during this period the population of the native Americans rose to numbers
that would not be achieved for the next 300 years
. However, this number declined in the era
when the Spaniards left their country and they were affected by the Europeans diseases and wars
they engaged.
Colonial Arkansas
The beginning of the colonial period in Arkansas was marked by the coming of the
French explorers (Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet) in the 17
. It is estimated
that the colonial period lasted between 1686 and 1804
.The Frenchmen were attracted by the
urge of becoming powerful, gaining wealth, knowledge and converts. Their first settlement was
at Port-Royal and they expanded upstream towards Montreal. They preferred settling along the
riverbank because it supported agriculture. Some of the settlers tried to engage in fur trade but
their administrator was against it as it would tolerate idleness for the better part of the year.
Anderson, David G. "Paleoindian and Archaic Periods in North America." The Cambridge
World Prehistory, Paul Bahn and Colin Renfrew, eds (2013): 913-932.
Ibid., 914
Ibid., 920
Ibid., 930
In 1686, the Arkansas post was established by Henri De Tonti under the Louisiana
Purchase Agreement
. However, this post was faced with instability due to floods, attacks from
the Indians and changes in the strategic missions. In 1732 a French military post was established
at Arkansas post. In 1749, the post was attacked, and it was relocated 15 leagues up the river and
built a more secure post
. The establishment of these posts marked the beginning of the
friendship between the French and the Quapaw, one of the Native American tribes. This tribe
allied with the French for the fear that they may lose them to their enemies. Apart from the
military and diplomatic alliances established, the French also took up other social responsibilities
such as kinship, sexual intimacies, and intermarriages. These strategies proved very helpful
against their enemies who were also interested in the colony.
During this period, the Chickasaw
also formed an Alliance with the English. Nonetheless, the French and the Quapaw formed a
stronger alliance together against them.
Owing to the geographical isolation and rivalry among the tribes, the French went ahead
and forged relationships with the other tribes, Chickasaw and Osage Indians. Their partnership
with the Osage also began in the 17
century after their encounter with Father Jacques Marquette
and Louis Jolliet
. Other Frenchmen settled along the Missouri River which was one of the
settlement areas of the Osage tribe. The Osage benefited from the French through the exchange
of firearms with fur. The French acted as the middlemen in the fur trade. The possession of
firearms by the Osage tribe made them more powerful within the region and they controlled a
Ibid., 915
Fred William. Charles Bolton, Carl Moneyhon, and LeRoy Williams. A Documentary History
of Arkansas. (University of Arkansas Press, 2013), 5
Sonia, Toudji. Intimate Frontiers: Indians, French, and Africans in Colonial Mississippi
Valley. (Arkansas: University of Arkansas, 2012), 8
Ibid., 9
greater region of Arkansas. The French and the Osage also intermarried which strengthened the
economic bond that they had.
Entry of the Spaniards and the English did not affect the relationship between the Indians
and the French. The Spaniards and the English gave gifts and favors to the Indian tribe as
‘bribes’ to win them over. Unlike the two colonialists’ nations, the French preferred to become
socially engaged to the Indians as they saw them as allies and partners in trade. Nevertheless, this
relationship was put to test in the mid-18
century. During this period, the French, British, and
Spanish engaged in a great war to gain control over the region. At the climax of this period, the
French-Indian war began.
The war resulted in French losing and ceding the Indian territory to
the Spaniards in 1763. In 1800, after intense frustration from the French and the Osage, the
Spaniards ceded the Louisiana territory back to the French who gave it back to the United States
. The American’s took charge of the region and the Louisiana Purchase kicked off
a new era where the Osages and the Chateaus worked together.
During the colonial period, slave trade became a lucrative trade. The slaves were used in
the farms and to carry the goods of trade.
This trade was influenced by various factors such as
political, economic and ritualistic factors.
Ibid., 160
Sonia, Toudji. Intimate Frontiers: Indians, French, and Africans in Colonial Mississippi
Valley. (Arkansas: University of Arkansas, 2012), 162
Ibid, 160
Ibid, 163
Dye, David H. "Long Distance Trade at European Contact in Eastern North America." (2016).
Arnold, Morris S. Colonial Arkansas, 1686-1804: a social and cultural history. (University of
Arkansas Press, 2017).
Formation of Arkansas territory
The Arkansas territory was initially referred as the Territory of Arkansas. It existed form
1819 but was handed to the US government in 1836
. It was created from a portion of the
Missouri territory and included the present-day Oklahoma state.
It lied on the southern side of
the Mississippi River and West of St Francis River. In 1824 and 1828, the westernmost portions
were reduced to the size of the present Oklahoma state. The capital was the Arkansas Post and
Little Rock. The army set camp in Fort Smith is oversaw the activities of the Indians.
Arkansas and the civil war
During the last years of 1850, Arkansas enjoyed prosperity as business boomed
throughout the state. However, between 1861 and 1865, there was a destructive civil war that
brought death and death destruction to the state
. At the beginning of the war, many Arkansans
want to secede, and an Arkansan Peace Society was formed to ensure that there was harmony
throughout the process. However, the efforts of this group were undermined by the Local
Militias. In 1862, he was within the region kicked off. This war greatly affected the functions of
the government and livelihoods of the residents of the county. Many issues on abuse of rights
were put across and the residents had to live through it as the war had affected the justice system.
In 1963, the war continued which led to the fall of Little Rock. More men were recruited, and
they ended up losing their lives. In 1864 and 1865, Arkansas state unionist drafted a new
constitution that closely matched the original document except that it outlawed slavery
. The
constitution was passed, and they formed a force that matched to the famous Red River
Ibid., 163
Roy, Gittinger. The Formation of the State of Oklahoma: 18031906. (Oklahoma: University
of Oklahoma Press, 2015).
Mackey, R. R. The Uncivil War: Irregular Warfare in the Upper South, 18611865 (Vol. 5).
(Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2014), 1861
Ibid., 1862
expedition. The war was ended because of a shortage of supplies. Later, Price Missouri led a raid
to Hainesport, but it failed after only a few men survived the trek. The war began to die down
and it ended completely in June 1865. After the war, the Arkansans had to reconstruct the state
and bring it back to normalcy.
Much of the rest of the 19
century was spent to regain what was
lost during the war.
Arkansas in the 20
The 20
century was marked by challenges and opportunities for Arkansas State,
especially in the first four decades. The state introduced some movement that was known as
progressivism that was aimed at bringing significant reforms in the various sectors in the state.
The major target areas were women rights and convict leasing laws. Women were given more
rights from oppression, the convict leasing system ended in 1912 after it became difficult to
make prisoners honor the leasing contracts. The progressive system also targeted the education
system. The education system was improved through funding from the increased taxes paid by
the public. The transportation sector was improved during this era as more roads were
constructed and rehabilitated. Nonetheless, the county put itself into debts. The agricultural
sector was affected. A system of sharecropping and tenancy placed a huge burden of debt on the
farmers. There were also issues of race during this period as the African American’s felt
oppressed by the whites. Several court cases such as Robinson V Holman was filed. The era of
DeBlack, Thomas. "Civil War Through Reconstruction, 1861 Through 1874 - Encyclopedia of
Arkansas". (2017) in Encyclopediaofarkansas.Net.
the Great Depression occurred during this era. The cost of living was high, wages were low, and
many people could not afford basic needs. This lead to poverty across the state.
During world war II, the state once again prospered. The black community moved to
California where there were better jobs. The Agricultural sector also flourished. Later, Bill
Clinton became the elected to the Presidential position. He was born and raised in Arkansas
State. Changes in racial attitude have also created an ample environment for the African
Communities to flourish, especially in the south.
In conclusion, the history of Arkansas is encompassed by challenges and
accomplishments. The state began as a colonial center where the French, Spaniards, and English
fought for dominance. The French’s strategy of forming alliances with the Native Americans
proved to be successful as they reaped generously from Agriculture and Fur Trade. Nevertheless,
the American government took over the region and in the process of reorganizing the structures,
a civil war erupted. This war adversely affected the economy of the region. Though with
challenges, Arkansas was able to get back on its feet in the after the war and prospered greatly
throughout the world war II and into the 21
Whayne, Jeannie. "Early Twentieth Century, 1901 Through 1940 - Encyclopedia of
Arkansas". (2017). Encyclopediaofarkansas.Net.
United States Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau Quick facts: Arkansas" In Census.Gov, 1-3,
Anderson, David. "Paleoindian and Archaic Periods in North America." In the Cambridge World
Prehistory, Paul Bahn and Colin Renfrew, eds 2013: 913-932.
Arnold, Morris. Colonial Arkansas, 1686-1804: a social and cultural history. Arkansas:
University of Arkansas Press, 2017.
DeBlack, Thomas. "Civil War Through Reconstruction, 1861 Through 1874 - Encyclopedia of
Arkansas". In Encyclopediaofarkansas.Net.
Dye, David H. "Long Distance Trade at European Contact in Eastern North America." 2016.
Gittinger, Roy. The Formation of the State of Oklahoma: 18031906. Oklahoma: University of
Oklahoma Press, 2015.
Mackey, R. R. The Uncivil War: Irregular Warfare in the Upper South, 18611865 (Vol. 5).
Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2014.
Toudji, Sonia. Intimate Frontiers: Indians, French, and Africans in Colonial Mississippi Valley.
Arkansas: University of Arkansas, 2012.
Whayne, Jeannie. "Early Twentieth Century, 1901 Through 1940 - Encyclopedia of Arkansas" In
Williams Fred, Charles Bolton, Carl Moneyhon, and LeRoy Williams, eds. A Documentary
History of Arkansas. Arkansas: University of Arkansas Press, 2013.

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