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State of Arkansas

ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: French derivation of Akansas or Arkansas, a name given to the Quapaw Indians by other tribes.

NICKNAME: The Natural State.

CAPITAL: Little Rock.

ENTERED UNION: 15 June 1836 (25th).

SONG: "Arkansas."

MOTTO: Regnat populus (The people rule).

COAT OF ARMS: In front of an American eagle is a shield displaying a steamboat, plow, beehive, and sheaf of wheat, symbols of Arkansas's industrial and agricultural wealth. The angel of mercy, the goddess of liberty encircled by 13 stars, and the sword of justice surround the eagle, which holds in its talons an olive branch and three arrows, and in its beak a banner bearing the state motto.

FLAG: On a red field, 25 stars on a blue band border, a white diamond containing the word "Arkansas" and four blue stars.

OFFICIAL SEAL: Coat of arms surrounded by the words "Great Seal of the State of Arkansas."

BIRD: Mockingbird.

FLOWER: Apple blossom.

TREE: Pine.

GEM: Diamond.

LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Robert E. Lee's birthday, 19 January; Birthdays of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee, 3rd Monday in January; George Washington's Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day, 3rd Monday in February; Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Veterans' Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Eve, 24 December; Christmas Day, 25 December.

TIME: 6 AM CST = noon GMT.


Located in the western south-central United States, Arkansas ranks 27th in size among the 50 states.

The total area of Arkansas is 53,187 sq mi (137,754 sq km), of which land takes up 52,078 sq mi (134,882 sq km), and inland water, 1,109 sq mi (2,872 sq km). Arkansas extends about 275 mi (443 km) e-w and 240 mi (386 km) n-s.

Arkansas is bordered on the n by Missouri; on the e by Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi (with part of the line passing through the St. Francis and Mississippi rivers); on the s by Louisiana; on the sw by Texas (with part of the line formed by the Red River), and on the w by Oklahoma. The total boundary length of Arkansas is 1,168 mi (1,880 km). The state's geographic center is in Pulaski County, 12 mi (19 km) nw of Little Rock.


The Boston Mountains (an extension of the Ozark Plateau, sometimes called the Ozark Mountains) in the northwest and the Ouachita Mountains in the west-central region not only constitute Arkansas's major uplands but also are the only mountain chains between the Appalachians and the Rockies. Aside from the wide valley of the Arkansas River, which separates the two chains, the Arkansas lowlands belong to two physiographic regions: the Mississippi Alluvial Plain and the Gulf Coastal Plain. The highest elevation in Arkansas, at 2,753 ft (840 m), is Magazine Mountain, standing north of the Ouachitas in the Arkansas River Valley. The state's lowest point, at 55 ft (17 m), is on the Ouachita River in south-central Arkansas. The mean elevation of the state is approximately 650 ft (198 m).

Arkansas's largest lake is the artificial Lake Ouachita, covering 63 sq mi (163 sq km); Lake Chicot, in southeastern Arkansas, and oxbow of the Mississippi River, is the state's largest natural lake, with a length of 18 mi (29 km). Bull Shoals Lake, occupying 71 sq mi (184 sq km), is shared with Missouri. Principal rivers include the Mississippi, forming most of the eastern boundary; the Arkansas (the sixth longest river in the country), beginning in Colorado and flowing 1,450 mi (2,334 km) through Kansas and Oklahoma and across central Arkansas to the Mississippi; and the Red, White, Ouachita, and St. Francis rivers, all of which likewise drain south and southeast into the Mississippi. Numerous springs are found in Arkansas, of which the best known are Mammoth Springs, near the Missouri border, one of the largest in the world, with a flow rate averaging nine million gal (34 million l) an hour, and Hot Springs in the Ouachitas.

Crowley's Ridge, a unique strip of hills formed by sedimentary deposits and windblown sand, lies west of and parallel to the St. Francis River for about 180 mi (290 km). The ridge is rich in fossils and has an unusual diversity of plant life.


Arkansas has a temperate climate, warmer and more humid in the southern lowlands than in the mountainous regions. At Little Rock, the normal daily temperature ranges from 40°f (4°c) in January to 82°f (27°c) in July. A record low of 29°f (34°c) was set on 13 February 1905 at the Pond weather station, and a record high of 120°f (49°c) was recorded on 10 August 1936 at the Ozark station.

Average yearly precipitation is approximately 45 in (114 cm) in the mountainous areas and greater in the lowlands; Little Rock receives an annual average of 50.5 in (128 cm). Snowfall in the capital averages 5.1 in (12 cm) a year.


Arkansas has at least 2,600 native plants, and there are many naturalized exotic species. Cypresses, water oak, hickory, and ash grow in the Mississippi Valley, while the St. Francis Valley is home to the rare cork tree. Crowley's Ridge is thick with tulip trees and beeches. A forest belt of oak, hickory, and pine stretches across south-central and southwestern Arkansas, including the Ozark and Ouachita mountains. The Mexican juniper is common along the White River's banks. The state has at least 26 native varieties of orchid; the passion flower is so abundant that it was once considered for designation as the state flower, but the apple blossom was finally chosen instead.

Arkansas's native animals include 15 varieties of bat and 3 each of rabbit and squirrel. Common throughout the state are mink, armadillo, white-tailed deer, and eastern chipmunk. The only remaining native population of black bears is found in the White River National Wildlife Refuge and the Trusten Holder Wildlife Management Area. These two sites are part of the Cache-Lower White River area, which has been designated as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance for the role it plays as a wintering habitat for migratory birds. Among 300 native birds are such game birds as the eastern wild turkey, mourning dove, and bobwhite quail. Among local fish are catfish, gar, and the unusual paddle fish. Arkansas counts 20 frog and toad species, 23 varieties of salamander, and 36 kinds of snake.

In April 2006, a total of 29 species occurring within the state were on the threatened and endangered species list of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. These included 23 animals (vertebrates and invertebrates) and 6 plant species. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission lists the leopard darter and fat pocketbook pearly mussel as threatened species. The bald eagle is listed as endangered, along with the Indiana and gray bats, cave crayfish, pink mucket, several species of mussel, pallid sturgeon, least tern, and red-cockaded woodpecker. Among endangered or threatened plants are the Missouri bladderpod, pondberry, eastern prairie fringed orchid, and running buffalo clover. In 1983, Arkansas established the Non-Game Preservation Committee to promote sound management, conservation, and public awareness of the state's nongame animals and native plants.


In 1949, the Arkansas General Assembly created the Arkansas Pollution Control Commission. This legislation was amended in later years to be known as the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act. Under an extensive reorganization of state government in 1971, the Arkansas Department of Pollution Control and Ecology (ADPC & E) was created as a cabinet-level agency and the commission was renamed the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission. (In 1996, the Arkansas General Assembly voted to change the name of the department to the Arkansas Department of Environmental QualityADEQ, effective 31 March 1999.) Although the terms are frequently confused or used interchangeably by persons not connected with either governmental unit, the commission and the department are two separate, but related, entities. The commission, with guidance from the governor and the Arkansas General Assembly, determines the environmental policies for the state, and the department employees are responsible for implementing those policies.

The initial authority to regulate water and air sources has been expanded to open-cut mining, solid waste, hazardous waste, recycling, and underground storage tanks. In 2001, an ADEQ focus on recycling waste oil resulted in a 91% increase in the amount of waste oil recycled, from 21,189 tons in 2000 to 41,500 tons in 2001. In 2002, ADEQ turned its attention to recycling of wood waste.

In 1987, the state adopted some of the first "ecoregion" water-quality standards in the nation. These standards recognize the distinct physical, chemical, and biological properties of the six geographical regions of the state and establish separate water quality standards within each region. In 2005, federal Environment Protection Agency (EPA) grants awarded to the state included $8.9 million for safe drinking water projects. A grant in excess of $4.6 million was awarded for water pollution prevention projects.

The EPA delegated responsibility for its clean-air programs to ADEQ. These programs include New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS), Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD), and State Implementation Plan (SIP). In 2003, 40.6 million lb of toxic chemicals were released by the state.

Citizen's groups actively involved with environmental issues include: the Arkansas Native Plant Society, Arkansas Audubon Society, Arkansas Canoe Club, Arkansas Herpetological Society, Arkansas Wildlife Federation, Audubon Society of Central Arkansas, League of Women Voters, Ozark Society, Sierra ClubArkansas Chapter, and National Water Center. The Arkansas Environmental Federation presents industry's viewpoints on environmental issues.

The Buffalo River, designated as a national river, flows through northern Arkansas. One of the wildest areas in the state is the 113,000-acre (46,000-hectare) White River Refuge, which contains more than 100 small lakes. About 8% of the state is wetland. The wetlands of the Cache-Lower White River were designated as Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance in 1989. The site includes two national wildlife refuges, managed by the federal government, and three wildlife management areas, managed by the state. The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission was established in 1975 for, among other purposes, the preservation of rivers and natural areas and to serve as a source of information on plant and animal species of Arkansas.

In 2003, the EPA database listed 78 hazardous waste sites in Arkansas, 10 of which were on the National Priorities List as of 2006. Jacksonville Municipal Landfill and the Rogers Road Municipal Landfill (also in Jacksonville) were both deleted from the list in 2006. In 2005, the EPA spent over $6.3 million through the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state.


Arkansas ranked 32nd in population in the United States with an estimated total of 2,779,154 in 2005, an increase of 4% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Arkansas's population grew from 2,350,725 to 2,673,400, an increase of 13.7%. The population is projected to reach 2.96 million by 2015 and 3.15 million by 2025. The average population density in 2004 was 52.9 per sq mi.

As of 2004, 13.8% of the population was age 65 or over (compared with a national average of 12.4%), partially reflecting the large number of retirees who settled in the state during the early 1980s. The median age was 36.6, and 24.6% of the population was under 18 years old.

The largest city in Arkansas is Little Rock, which had a 2004 estimated population of 184,081. The Little Rock-North Little Rock metropolitan area had an estimated 636,636 residents in 2004. Other major cities with large populations include Ft. Smith, North Little Rock, Pine Bluff, and Fayetteville.


Arkansas's population is predominantly white, composed mainly of descendants of immigrants from the British Isles. The largest minority group consists of black Americans, estimated at 418,950 in 2000, or 15.7% of the population. That percentage had risen to 15.8% by 2004. The American Indian population was estimated at 17,808 in 2000. In 2004, 0.7% of the population was American Indian. About 86,866 Arkansans, or 3.2% of the total population, was of Hispanic or Latino origin, nearly double the 1990 figure of 44,000 (1.9%). That figure had risen to 4.4% by 2004. In 2000 the Asian population was estimated at 20,220, and Pacific Islanders numbered 1,668. In 2004, the Asian population was 0.9% and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders made up 0.1% of the total population. The 2000 census listed 3,974 Vietnamese (up from 1,788 in 1990), 3,126 Chinese (1,575 in 1990), 2,489 Filipinos, 3,104 Asian Indians (1,202 in 1990), and 1,036 Japanese. The foreign-born population numbered 73,690, or 2.8% of all Arkansas residents, up from 24,867, or 1%, in 1990. In 2004, 1.2% of the total population reported origin of two or more races.


A few place-names, such as Arkansas itself, Choctaw, Caddo, and Ouachita, attest to the onetime presence of American Indians in the Territory of Arkansas, mostly members of the Caddoan tribe, with the Cherokee the most influential.

Arkansas English is essentially a blend of Southern and South Midland speech, with South Midland dominating the mountainous northwest; and Southern, the southeastern agricultural areas. Common in the east and south are redworm (earthworm) and mosquito hawk (dragonfly). In the northwest appear South Midland whirlygig (merry-go-round) and sallet (garden greens).

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "Other Pacific Island languages" includes Chamorro, Hawaiian, Ilocano, Indonesian, and Samoan.

Population 5 years and over 2,492,205 100.0
  Speak only English 2,368,450 95.0
  Speak a language other than English 123,755 5.0
Speak a language other than English 123,755 5.0
  Spanish or Spanish Creole 82,465 3.3
  German 7,444 0.3
  French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 7,312 0.3
  Vietnamese 3,467 0.1
  Chinese 2,529 0.1
  Laotian 2,502 0.1
  Tagalog 1,627 0.1
  Korean 1,250 0.1
  Japanese 1,193 0.0
  Other Pacific Island languages 1,185 0.0
  Italian 1,106 0.0

In 2000, 2,368,450 Arkansans (95% of the residents five years old or older) spoke only English at home, a decrease from the 97.2% recorded in 1990.


Although French Roman Catholic priests had worked as missionaries among the American Indians since the early 18th century, the state's first mission was founded among the Cherokee by a Congregationalist, Cephas Washburn, in 1820. When the Cherokee were removed to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), the mission moved there as well, remaining active through the Civil War. William Patterson may have been the first Methodist to preach in Arkansas, around 1800, in the area of Little Prairie: the first Methodist circuit, that of Spring River, was organized in 1815. The first Baptist church was likely that of the Salem congregation, begun in 1818 near what is now Pocahontas.

The vast majority of religious adherents in the state belong to Evangelical Protestant congregations. The largest denomination is the Southern Baptist Convention, which had 685,301 adherents in 1,372 congregations in 2000; there were 13,119 newly baptized members in 2002. In 2000, the American Baptist Association had 115,916 adherents and 570 congregations and the Baptist Missionary Association of America had 87,244 adherents and 359 congregations. The Churches of Christ claimed 86,342 adherents in 754 congregations that same year.

The leading mainline Protestant group in 2000 was the United Methodist Church, with 179,383 adherents in 747 congregations. By 2004, however, the United Methodist Church reported a statewide membership of 138,987. The Roman Catholic population of Arkansas in 2004 was 106,051 with 88 parishes. The estimated Jewish population in 2000 was 1,600 people. About 42.9% of the population did not specify a religious affiliation.


Although railroad construction began in the 1850s, it was not until after the Civil War (186165) that any lines were completed. The most important railroad, the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and Southern line, reached Little Rock in 1872 and was subsequently acquired by financier Jay Gould, who added the Little Rock and Ft. Smith line to it in 1882. By 1890, the state had about 2,200 mi (3,500 km) of track. In 1974, trackage totaled 3,559 mi (5,728 km). As of 2003, Arkansas had a total of 3,484 rail mi (5,609 km) of track, of which the three Class I roads that served the state accounted for 2,607 rail miles (4,197 km). In that same year, nonmetallic minerals were the top commodity carried by rail in the state, for shipments originating within the state. For rail shipments terminating within the state, coal (by weight) was the top commodity. As of 2006, Amtrak passenger trains serviced Little Rock, Walnut Ridge, Malvern, Arkadelphia, and Texarkana en route from St. Louis to Dallas.

Intensive road building began in the 1920s, following the establishment of the State Highway Commission and the inauguration of a gasoline tax. By 2004, Arkansas had 98,606 mi (158,755 km) of public roads, streets, and highways. During that same year, there were some 950,000 automobiles and around 938,000 trucks of all types registered in Arkansas. In 2004, there were 1,862,430 licensed drivers in the state.

Beginning in the 1820s, steamboats replaced keelboats and flatboats on Arkansas rivers. Steamboat transportation reached its peak during 187090, when it was supplanted by the railroads that were opened during the same two decades. Development of the Arkansas River, completed during the early 1970s, made the waterway commercially navigable all the way to Tulsa. In 2004, Arkansas had 1,860 mi (2,994 km) of navigable inland waterways. Waterborne shipments in 2003 totaled 15.083 million tons.

In 2005, Arkansas had a total of 321 public- and private-use aviation-related facilities. This included 238 airports, and 83 heliports. The principal airport in the state is Adams Field at Little Rock. In 2004, the airport had 1,138,249 enplanements.


Evidence of human occupation of Arkansas reaches back to about 10,000 bc. The bluff dwellers of the Ozark Plateau were among the first human beings to live in what is now Arkansas, making their homes in caves and beneath overhanging rock cliffs along the banks of the upper White River. Farther south are the remains of another primitive people, the Mound Builders. The most significant of the Stone Age monuments they left are those of the Toltec group in Lonoke County, some 25 mi (40 km) southeast of Little Rock. Eventually, both ancient peoples vanished, for reasons that remain unclear.

Foremost among the American Indian tribes in Arkansas were the Quapaw (meaning "downstream people" or "South Wind people"), agriculturists who had migrated to southern Arkansas in the early 16th century; the Caddo, fighters from Texas, who claimed the western region between the Red and Arkansas rivers; the warlike Osage, who hunted north of the Arkansas River and in present-day Missouri; and the Choctaw. Another prominent tribe, the Cherokee, arrived in the early 19th century, after federal and state authorities had taken their land east of the Mississippi and driven them westward. Nearly all these American Indians had been expelled to what is now Oklahoma by the time Arkansas became a state.

The first Europeans to set foot in Arkansas were Spaniards, led by Hernando de Soto. They crossed the Mississippi River, probably near present-day Helena, in spring 1541, roamed the land for a year or so, and then returned to the mighty river, where De Soto was buried in 1542. More than 100 years later, in 1673, a small band of Frenchmen led by Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit missionary, and Louis Jolliet, a fur trader and explorer, ended their voyage down the Mississippi at the mouth of the Arkansas River and returned north after being advised by friendly American Indians that hostile tribes lay to the south. Nine years later, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, led an expedition from Canada down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, stopping at Indian villages in Arkansas along the way and, on 9 April 1682, claiming all the Mississippi Valley for his king, Louis XIV.

Henri de Tonti, who had been second in command to La Salle, came back to Arkansas in 1686 to claim a land grant at the confluence of the Arkansas and White rivers, a few miles inland from the Mississippi. He left six men there; the log house they built was the beginning of Arkansas Post, the first permanent white settlement in the lower Mississippi Valley. Though tiny and isolated, Arkansas Post upheld the French claim to the Mississippi Valley until 1762, when France ceded the territory to Spain. Restored to France in 1800, the territory was sold to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. White settlers soon began arriving in Arkansas, and in 1806, the Louisiana territorial legislature created the District of Arkansas as a separate entity. When the Louisiana Purchase was further subdivided, Arkansas became part of the Missouri Territory. In 1819, Arkansas gained territorial status in its own right, and its boundaries were fixed by Congress. The territorial capital was moved from Arkansas Post to Little Rock in 1821. By 1835, Arkansas Territory had a population of 52,240, including 9,838 slaves. It was admitted to the Union in 1836 as a slave state, paired with the free state of Michigan in accordance with the Missouri Compromise.

Increasing numbers of slaves were brought into the largely agricultural state as the cultivation of cotton spread. Arkansas, like the rest of the South, was headed for secession, although it waited to commit itself until the Civil War (186165) had begun. There was considerable Union sentiment in the state, especially in the hilly northern and western counties, which lacked the large plantations and the slaves of southern and eastern Arkansas. But the pro-Union sympathies crumbled after Confederate guns fired on Ft. Sumter, SC, and the secession convention was held at Little Rock on 6 May 1861. The final vote to leave the Union was 69-1: the lone holdout was Isaac Murphy of Madison County, who became the first Unionist Democrat governor at the end of the war.

The largest Civil War battle fought in Arkansas, and one of the most significant battles of the war west of the Mississippi, was at Pea Ridge, in the northwest corner of the state. After three days of fighting, the Union forces retreated, and then the Confederate forces relinquished the field. By September 1863, the Union Army had taken Little Rock, and the Confederate capital was moved to Washington, in Hempstead County, until the conclusion of hostilities in 1865. Like virtually all white southerners, Arkansas's white majority hated the postwar Reconstruction government and repudiated it thoroughly at the first opportunity. Reconstruction officially ended in 1874, when the reenfranchised white Democratic majority adopted a new state constitution, throwing out the carpetbagger constitution of 1868. The most colorful figure in postwar Arkansas was federal judge Isaac C. Parker, known as the Hanging Judge. From his court at Ft. Smith, he had sole jurisdiction over Indian Territory, which had become a gathering place for the nation's worst cutthroats. Parker and his deputy marshals fought them relentlessly. From 1875 through 1896, the judge hanged 79 men on his Ft. Smith gallows. The struggle was not one-sided: 65 of Parker's deputy marshals were killed.

Industrialization, urbanization, and modernization did not come to Arkansas until after the depression of the 1930s. Following World War II (193945), the state became the first in the South to integrate its public colleges and universities. Little Rock's school board decided in 1954 to comply with the US Supreme Court's desegregation decision. Nevertheless, in September 1957, Governor Orval E. Faubus called out the National Guard to block the integration of Central High School at Little Rock. US President Dwight D. Eisenhower enforced a federal court order to integrate the school by sending in federal troops. The 1957 crisis brought years of notoriety to Arkansas, as Faubus, then in his second term, was elected to a third term and then to three more.

By the end of the Faubus administration, the public mood had changed, and the contrast between Faubus and his successor could not have been greater. Winthrop Rockefeller, millionaire scion of a famous family, moved to Arkansas from New York in the early 1950s, established himself as a gentleman rancher, and devoted himself to luring industry into his adopted state and building a Republican Party organization in one of the most staunchly Democratic states in the Union. Elected governor in 1966, Rockefeller thus became the first Republican to capture the Arkansas statehouse since Reconstruction. The specific accomplishments of his two terms were relatively fewhe and the Democratic-controlled legislature warred incessantlybut he helped immeasurably in bringing a new image and a new spirit to the state.

Rockefeller's successors have continued the progressive approach he took. Governor Bill Clinton, who became US president in 1992, introduced a number of reforms. These included investment tax credits to help corporations modernize their facilities and thereby to create jobs. Clinton also signed a "bare bones" health insurance law, which dropped state requirements for some of the more costly coverages and thus made health insurance affordable for small businesses. He increased expenditures for education and passed legislation requiring competency tests for teachers. But Clinton, like other governors before him, remained hampered in his efforts to improve Arkansas's economy and standard of living by the state constitutional requirement that any increase in the state income tax obtain approval of two-thirds of the legislature. Arkansas continued to rank among the poorest states in the nation, with a per capita income in 1990 of only $14,000 (46th among the states). By 1998, its ranking had improved, with 14.8% of its people living below poverty level, making it the 12th poorest state in the nation. In 200203, Arkansas had an 18.8% poverty rate; that percentage dropped to 16.4% in 200304. The US poverty rate in 2004 was 12.7%, up from 12.5% in 2003. Arkansas's poverty rate contributes to its status as an unhealthy state: Arkansas was ranked 46th on the United Health Foundation's state health ratings in 2004.

In 1994, a federal special prosecutor began to investigate the actions of several members of Little Rock's Rose law firm, in which First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton had been a partner, in connection with the failed Whitewater real estate venture. Governor Jim Guy Tucker resigned from office in July 1996 after his conviction on fraud and conspiracy charges stemming from his bank dealings. In March 2000, independent counsel Robert Ray began filing final reports detailing the six-year investigation into Whitewater, and that September, he issued a report finding that neither President Bill Clinton nor First Lady Hillary Clinton had knowingly participated in any criminal conduct. Susan McDougal, with her husband a controlling partner in the Whitewater land deal, found guilty of fraud in 1996, was pardoned by President Clinton in January 2001, just before he left office.

While the state was rocked by political scandal in the 1990s, it also coped with tragic school shootings. On 24 March 1998, two students (ages 11 and 13) went on a rampage in a Jonesboro school, killing four students and a teacher, and wounding ten others. Another shooting occurred in the small community of Prairie Grove on 11 May 2000, when a seventh-grade student left school in a rage and later engaged in an exchange of gunfire with an officer nearby; both were injured. While the nation wrestled with the problem of violence in its schools and the issue of gun control, for Arkansas residents it was a problem that was too close to home.


Arkansas's fifth constitution, enacted in 1874, has survived several efforts to replace it with a more modern charter. In November 1980, voters turned down yet another proposed new constitution. In May 1995, the Governor's Task Force for a New Constitution was appointed in anticipation of a proposed 1996 constitutional convention. However, in December 1995, a referendum authorizing the convention was defeated by the voters. The constitution had been amended 91 times by January 2005. Eight of the approved amendments have been superseded and are not printed in the current edition of the constitution. The total adopted does not include five amendments proposed and adopted since statehood.

Arkansas's bicameral legislature, the general assembly, consists of a 35-member Senate and a 100-member House of Representatives. Regular legislative sessions are held in odd-numbered years, begin in January, and are limited to 60 calendar days. Senators serve four-year terms and must be at least 25 years old; representatives serve for two years and must be at least 21. Each legislator must be a US citizen and have resided for at least two years in the state and one year in the county or district prior to election. Legislators' salaries in 2004 were $13,751 per biennial session.

The executive officers elected statewide are the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, and attorney general, all of whom serve four-year terms. The governor is limited to a maximum of two consecutive elected terms. The governor and lieutenant governor, who run separately, must be US citizens, be at least 30 years old, and have resided in Arkansas for seven years. As of December 2004 the governor's salary was $75,296.

A bill passed by a majority in both houses of the legislature becomes law if signed by the governor, if passed over his veto by a majority of all elected members of each house, or if neither signed nor returned by the governor within five days (Sundays excepted) when the legislature is in session or 20 days (Sundays included) after session adjournment. Under an initiative procedure, 8% of those who voted for governor in the last election may propose a law, and 10% of the voters (for governor at the last election) may initiate a constitutional amendment; initiative petitions must be filed at least four months before the general election in order to be voted upon at that time. A referendum on any measure passed by the General Assembly or any item of an appropriations bill or other measure may be petitioned by 6% of the voters; referendum petitions must be filed within 90 days of the session in which the act in question was passed. A successful referendum measure may be repealed by a two-thirds vote of all elected members of the General Assembly. Constitutional amendments may also be proposed by the General Assembly (and approved by a majority vote of both houses) or by constitutional convention. Proposed amendments must be ratified by a majority of voters.

To vote in Arkansas, one must be a US citizen, at least 18 years old, a state resident, and not able to claim the right to vote in another jurisdiction. Restrictions apply to convicted felons.

Arkansas Presidential Vote by Political Parties, 19482004
*Won US presidential election.
1948 9 *Truman (D) 149,659 50,959 40,068
1952 8 Stevenson (D) 226,300 177,155
1956 8 Stevenson (D) 213,277 186,287 7,008
1960 8 *Kennedy (D) 215,049 184,508 28,952
1964 6 *Johnson (D) 314,197 243,264 2,965
1968 6 Wallace (AI) 188,228 190,759 240,982
1972 6 *Nixon (R) 199,892 448,541 2,887
1976 6 *Carter (D) 498,604 267,903
1980 6 *Reagan (R) 398,041 403,164 8,970
1984 6 *Reagan (R) 388,646 534,774 2,2221
1988 6 *Bush (R) 349,237 466,578 3,297
IND. (Perot)
1992 6 *Clinton (D) 505,823 337,324 99,132
1996 6 *Clinton (D) 475,171 325,416 69,884
2000 6 *Bush, G. W. (R) 422,768 472,940 13,421
2004 6 *Bush, G. W. (R) 469,953 572,898 6,171


The principal political groups in Arkansas are the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, each affiliated with the national party organizations.

Before the Civil War (186165), politics in Arkansas were fraught with violence. Republicans ruled during Reconstruction, which officially ended in Arkansas after the constitution of 1874 had been adopted by the new Democratic majority. During the election of 1872, the Liberal Republicans, nicknamed Brindletails, opposed the Radical Republicans, or Minstrels. After the Minstrel candidate, Elisha Baxter, was elected, he proved so independent a governor that some of the party leaders who had supported him attempted to oust him through a court order in April 1874, declaring his defeated opponent, Joseph Brooks, the winner. Supported by a militia of about 300 blacks under white command, Brooks took over the statehouse; Baxter, bolstered by his own 300-man black army, set up his headquarters three blocks away. The so-called Brooks-Baxter War finally ended with President Ulysses S. Grant's proclamation of Baxter as the lawful governor. Baxter did not seek reelection-instead Augustus H. Garland was elected, the first of a long series of Bourbon Democrats who were to rule the state well into the 20th century.

After Reconstruction, blacks in Arkansas continued to vote and to be elected to public office; under what became known as the fusion principle, black Republican and white Democratic leaders in the Plantation Belt often agreed not to oppose each other's candidates. Segregation in public places was still outlawed, and Little Rock was perhaps the most integrated city in the South. During the 1890s, however, as in the rest of the South, Democrats began to pass laws imposing segregation and disfranchising blacks as well as poor whites. In 1906, the Democrats instituted a nominating primary for whites only.

On the rocky path to progressive government, Arkansans elected several governors who stand out as progressive: George Donaghey (190913), Charles Brush (191721), Thomas McRae (192125), Carl Bailey (193539), and Sidney McMath (194853). Although elected to the governorship as a progressive in 1954, McMath's protégé Orval Faubus took a segregationist stand in 1957. In subsequent years, poor whites tended to support Faubus, while blacks and more affluent whites opposed him. Faubus's successor, progressive Republican Winthrop Rockefeller, was strongly supported by blacks. Rockefeller was followed by three more progressives, all Democrats: Dale Bumpers, David Pryor, andafter Bumpers and Pryor had graduated to the US SenateBill Clinton. In a major upset, Clinton was defeated in 1980 by Republican Frank White, but he recaptured the statehouse in 1982 and won reelection in 1984, 1986, and 1990. Clinton ran for and won the presidency in 1992 with a plurality of 53% in Arkansas. Clinton won presidential reelection in 1996, gaining 54% of the vote, against 37% for Republican challenger Bob Dole and 8% for Independent Ross Perot. In the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush won 51% of the vote to Al Gore's 45% and 2% for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader; in 2004, Bush was reelected with 54% of the vote to Democrat John Kerry's 37%. In 2004 there were 1,686,000 registered voters; there is no party registration in the state. The state had six electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election.

On 8 November 1994, Democratic governor Jim Guy Tucker was one of the few of his party nationwide to resist a Republican challenge. However, in 1996 Tucker was forced to resign following his conviction on charges related to the Whitewater prosecution, and the governorship was assumed by Lieutenant Governor Mike Huckabee. Huckabee was elected in his own right in 1998 and reelected in 2002.

In 1996, the vacated US Senate seat of Democrat David Pryor was won by US Representative Tim Hutchinson, a Republican. Hutchinson was the first Republican ever to be popularly elected to the US Senate from Arkansas. In 1998 Democrat Blanche Lincoln was voted into office, only the second woman in Arkansas history to be elected to the Senate; she was reelected with 56% of the vote in 2004. Democrat Mark Pryor, son of David Pryor, was elected to the US Senate in 2002. Arkansas's US representatives following the 2006 elections included one Republican and three Democrats. As of 2006, the state legislature had 27 Democrats and 8 Republicans in the Senate, and 72 Democrats and 28 Republicans in the House. As of 2006, there were 23 women serving in the state legislature.


There are 75 counties in Arkansas, 10 of them with 2 county seats. Each county is governed by a quorum court, consisting of between 9 and 15 justices of the peace, elected for 2-year terms; the county judge, who presides, does not vote but has veto power, which may be overridden by a three-fifths vote of the total membership. Elected county officials, who serve two-year terms, include the sheriff, assessor, coroner, treasurer, and county supervisor. In 2005, Arkansas had 499 municipalities, administered under the mayor-council or city-manager form of government. There were 704 special districts and 310 public school districts.

In 2005, local government accounted for about 105,930 full-time (or equivalent) employment positions.


To address the continuing threat of terrorism and to work with the federal Department of Homeland Security, homeland security in Arkansas operates under the authority of the governor; the emergency management director is designated as the state homeland security adviser.

Educational services in Arkansas are administered primarily by the Department of Education and the Department of Higher Education. The State Highway and Transportation Department has primary responsibility for roads, rails, and public transit; the offices of motor vehicle registration and driver services are in the Department of Finance and Administration. The Department of Information Systems governs the state's computer links, while the Department of Parks and Tourism encourages visitors.

Health and welfare services are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health and Human Services. Public protection is provided primarily through the Department of Emergency Management, State Police, National Guard, and Civil Air Patrol, as well as the Department of Correction, which operates prisons and work-release centers. The Public Service Commission regulates utilities in the state.


Arkansas's highest court is the Arkansas Supreme Court, which consists of a chief justice and six associate justices, elected for staggered eight-year terms. An appeals court of 12 judges, also elected for eight-year terms, was established in 1978.

Arkansas's courts of original jurisdiction are the circuit courts (law) and the chancery courts (equity), of which there are 24 circuits each. In 1999, there were 30 circuit court judges serving four-year terms and 33 chancery probate court judges serving six-year terms. An additional 43 judges were serving both circuit and chancery courts. Courts of limited jurisdiction include justice of the peace, county, municipal, and police courts, and courts of common pleas.

As of 31 December 2004, a total of 13,807 prisoners were held in state and federal prisons in Arkansas, an increase from 13,315, or 3.7%, from the previous year. As of year-end 2004, a total of 962 inmates were female, up from 866, or 11.1%, from the year before. Among sentenced prisoners (one year or more), Arkansas had an incarceration rate of 495 per 100,000 population in 2004.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Arkansas in 2004 had a violent crime rate (murder/nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault) of 499.1 reported incidents per 100,000 population, or a total of 13,737 reported incidents. Crimes against property (burglary; larceny/theft; and motor vehicle theft) in that same year totaled 110,464 reported incidents, or 4.13 reported incidents per 100,000 people. Arkansas has a death penalty, which can be carried out by lethal injection or electrocution, depending upon the prisoner's request. As of 1976, the state has executed 27 persons; there was one execution in 2005. As of 1 January 2006, there were 38 death row inmates.

In 2003, Arkansas spent $105,532,650 on homeland security, an average of $38 per state resident.


As of 2004, there were five military installations in Arkansas, the principal ones being Little Rock Air Force Base with the most active-duty military personnel in the state (6,156), and the Army's Pine Bluff Arsenal, with the most civilian employees (1,065). Military personnel in the state numbered 7,676 in 2004, Reserve and National Guard numbered 2,554, and there were 1,714 civilian employees. Firms in the state received $493 million in defense contract awards in 2004, while the Defense Department payroll was about $1.2 billion, including retired military pay.

There were 268,353 veterans of US military service in Arkansas as of 2003, of whom 36,703 served in World War II; 28,509 in the Korean conflict; 79,280 during the Vietnam era; and 42,007 during 19902000 (in the Gulf War). US Veterans Administration spending in Arkansas was $1.0 billion in 2004.

In June 2003, the Arkansas State Police had 559 full-time sworn officers.


Near the end of the 18th century, American Indians from east of the Mississippi, displaced by white settlement, entered the area now known as Arkansas. However, as the availability of cheap land in Louisiana Territory drew more and more white settlersin particular, veterans of the War of 1812, who had been promised 160-acre (65-hectare) tractsthe Indians were pressured to cross the border from Arkansas to present-day Oklahoma.

After the end of the Mexican War, thousands of Arkansans immigrated to Texas, and others were attracted to California in 1849 by the gold rush. Because of a law passed in 1859 requiring free blacks to leave the state by the end of the year or risk being enslaved, Arkansas's population of free blacks dropped from 682 in 1858 to 144 in 1860. During Reconstruction, the state government encouraged immigration by both blacks and whites. Literature sent out by the Office of State Lands and Migration, under the tenure of William H. Grey, a black leader, described the state as a new Africa. Railroads, seeking buyers for the lands they had acquired through government grants, were especially active in encouraging immigration after Reconstruction. Later immigrants included Italians and, in the early 1900s, Germans.

During the Depression era (1930s) and thereafter, Arkansas lost a substantial proportion of its farm population, and many blacks left the state for the industrial cities of the Midwest and the east and west coasts. The net loss from migration totaled 919,000 between 1940 and 1970. Between 1970 and 1980, however, the state gained 180,000 residents through migration, as the Ozarks became one of the fastest-growing rural areas in the United States. The state experienced a small net decline of 2,000 in migration between 1980 and 1983. Net migration from 1985 to 1990 amounted to a gain of nearly 36,600. Between 1990 and 1998, there were net gains of 106,000 in domestic migration and 9,000 in international migration. In 1998, Arkansas admitted 914 immigrants. Between 1990 and 1998, the state's overall population increased by 8%. In the period 200005, net international migration was 21,947 and net internal migration was 35,664, for a net gain of 57,611 people.


Among the many interstate agreements in which Arkansas participates are the Arkansas River Basin Compact of 1970 (with Oklahoma), Arkansas-Mississippi Great River Bridge Construction Compact, Bi-State Criminal Justice Center Compact, Central Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact, Interstate Mining Compact Commission, Interstate Oil and Gas Compact, Red River Compact, South Central Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact, Southern Growth Policies Board, Southern Regional Education Board, and Southern States Energy Board. There are boundary agreements with Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. In fiscal year 2005, Arkansas received federal grants totaling $3.818 billion, an estimated $3.776 billion in fiscal year 2006, and an estimated $4.016 billion in fiscal year 2007.


During the 19th century, Arkansas's economic growth was hindered by credit problems. When the state's two central banks, the Arkansas State Bank and the Real Estate Bank, failed during the 1840s, the government defaulted on bonds issued by the latter and amended the constitution to prohibit all banking in Arkansas. Although banking was restored after the Civil War (186165), the state defaulted on its obligations once more in 1877, this time following a decision by the Arkansas supreme court that $10 million worth of railroad bonds issued during Reconstruction were unconstitutional. Not until 1917 did New York banks again accept Arkansas securities.

Cotton dominated Arkansas's agricultural economy until well into the 20th century, when rice, soybeans, poultry, and fish farming diversified the output. Coal mining began in the 1870s, bauxite mining near the turn of the century, and oil extraction in the 1920s. Lumbering developed in the last quarter of the 19th century, reached its peak about 1909, and then declined until the 1920s, when reforestation started. Industrialization was limited however, and resources were generally shipped out of state for processing. Not until the 1950s did Arkansas enjoy significant success in attracting industry, thanks in large part to the efforts of Winthrop Rockefeller.

By the 1990s, principal industries in Arkansas had become manufacturing, dominated by lumber and wood products companies; agriculture; forestry; and tourism. Fifty-seven Fortune 500 parent firms are found in Arkansas, including Wal-Mart Stores, Tyson Foods, Dillard Department Stores, Beverly Enterprises, and Alltel. Other important corporations include Jacuzzi, Riceland Foods, Maybelline, Whirlpool, International Paper, American Greetings, and Georgia Pacific. Stephens Inc., in Little Rock, is the largest off-Wall Street investment firm in the country. Growth in gross state product (GSP) rose to 6% in 1999, but fell to 2.8% in 2000 and 1.7% in 2001. Contributing to Arkansas's GSP of $80.902 billion in 2004 were manufacturing (durable and nondurable goods) at $14.85 billion (18.3% of GSP); real estate at $7.417 (9% of GSP); and healthcare and social assistance at $6.150 billion (7.6% of GSP). In 2004, of the 61,778 firms that had employees, a total of 60,007, or 97.1%, were small businesses. In addition, the number of self-employed persons in that same year rose 8.6%, from 149,093 in 2003 to 161,842 in 2004. New business rose from 8.3%in 2003 to 7,852 in 2004, surpassing business terminations that same year of 6,481. In addition, business bankruptcies in 2004 totaled 376, down 12.4% from 2003. In 2005, personal bankruptcies (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) totaled 881 per 100,000 people, ranking Arkansas as the seventh in the United States.


In 2005, Arkansas had a gross state product (GSP) of $87 billion, which accounted for 0.7% of the nation's gross domestic product and placed the state at number 34 in highest GSP among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2004 Arkansas had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $25,814. This ranked 49th in the United States and was 78% of the national average of $33,050. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of PCPI was 4.1%. Arkansas had a total personal income (TPI) of $70,987,900,000, which ranked 34th in the United States and reflected an increase of 7.0% from 2003. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of TPI was 5.1%. Earnings of persons employed in Arkansas increased from $49,196,825,000 in 2003 to $52,896,830,000 in 2004, an increase of 7.5%. The 200304 national change was 6.3%.

The US Census Bureau reports that the three-year average median household income for 200204 in 2004 dollars was $33,948, compared to a national average of $44,473. During the same pe-riod, an estimated 17.6% of the population was below the poverty line, as compared to 12.4% nationwide.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in April 2006 the seasonally adjusted civilian labor force in Arkansas numbered 1,398,400, with approximately 71,800 workers unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 5.1%, compared to the national average of 4.7% for the same period. Preliminary data for the same period placed nonfarm employment at 1,189,400. Since the beginning of the BLS data series in 1976, the highest unemployment rate recorded in Arkansas was 10.2% in March 1983. The historical low was 4.1% in September 2000. Preliminary nonfarm employment data by occupation for April 2006 showed that approximately 4.6% of the labor force was employed in construction; 16.5% in manufacturing; 20.8% in trade, transportation and public utilities; 4.4% in financial activities; 9.6% in professional and business services; 12.5% in education and health services; 8% in leisure and hospitality services; and 17.4% in government.

Chartered in 1865, the Little Rock Typographical Union, consisting of Arkansas Gazette employees, was the first labor union in the state. The United Mine Workers (UMW) was established in the Ft. Smith area by 1898; six years later, the UMP led in the founding of the Arkansas Federation of Labor. Between 1904 and World War I (191418), a series of progressive labor laws was enacted, including a minimum wage, restrictions on child labor, and prohibitions against blacklisting and payment of wages in scrip. Union strength waned after the war, however, and the labor movement is not a powerful force in the state today.

The US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2005, a total of 54,000 of Arkansas' 1,138,000 employed wage and salary workers were formal members of a union. This represented 4.8% of those so employed. This was unchanged from 2004, and below the national average of 12%. Overall in 2005, a total of 68,000 workers (6%) in Arkansas were covered by a union or employee association contract, which included those workers who reported no union affiliation. As of 1 January 2006 Arkansas was one of 22 states with a right-to-work law.

As of 1 March 2006, Arkansas had a state-mandated minimum wage rate of $5.15 per hour. In 2004, women in the state accounted for 45.6% of the employed civilian labor force.


Farm marketing's in Arkansas were over $6 billion in 2005 (11th in the United States), with crops and livestock accounting for about 35% and 65%, respectively. The state is the nation's leading producer of rice and is among the leaders in cotton, soybeans, and grain sorghum.

Cotton was first grown in the state about 1800, along the river valleys. Confined mainly to slaveholding plantations before the Civil War (186165), cotton farming became more widespread in the postwar period, expanding into the hill country of the northwest and eventually into the deforested areas of the northeast, which proved to be some of the most fertile farmland in the nation. As elsewhere in the postbellum South, sharecropping by tenant farmers predominated well into the 20th century, until mechanization and diversification gradually brought an end to the system. Rice was first grown commercially in the early 1900s; by 1920, Arkansas had emerged as a poultry and soybean producer.

During 2004, Arkansas produced 124,425,000 bushels of soybeans, valued at $690,559,000; 32,860,000 bushels of wheat, worth $115,010,000; 3,570,000 tons of hay, worth $166,180,000; and 4,704,000 bushels of sorghum for grain, valued at $10,142,000. The rice harvest in 2004 was 96,600,000 hundredweight (4.39 million kg), worth $768,196,000. The cotton crop in 2004, 2,085,000 bales, was worth $488,390,000.


Poultry farms are found throughout Arkansas, but especially in the northern and western regions. Broiler production accounts for over 40% of the state's agricultural receipts. Arkansas was the second-highest broiler-producing state in the United States in 2003 (after Georgia); 5.4 billion lb (2.5 billion kg) of broilers were valued at $2 billion.

In 2004, it was estimated that Arkansas produced 3.5 billion eggs. In 2003 Arkansas produced 477 million lb (217 million kg) of turkey, valued at $176.5 million and 125.9 million lb (57.2 million kg) of chickens, valued at $8.8 million.

The yield of the state's 29,000 milk cows in 2003 was 352 million lb (160 million kg) of milk. In 2005, Arkansas had an estimated 1.9 million cattle and calves valued at $1.5 billion. In 2004, Arkansas had an estimated 330,000 hogs and pigs valued at $32.3 million.


As of 2005, the state ranked second only to Mississippi in catfish farming. As of 1 January 2005, there were 153 catfish operations covering 31,500 acres (14,300 hectares) of water surface, with 100.6 million stocker-size and 184 million fingerling/fry catfish in early 2006. Some producers rotate fish crops with row crops, periodically draining their fish ponds and planting grains in the rich and well-fertilized soil. Most public fishing areas are frequently stocked with trout. Arkansas had 685,634 licensed anglers in 2004. There are three national fish hatcheries in Arkansas.


Forestland comprised 18,771,000 acres (7,596,000 hectares), 56% of the state's total land area, in 2003. Of that total, 18,373,000 acres (7,435,000 hectares) were commercial timberland. The southwest and central plains, the state's timber belt, constitute one of the most concentrated sources of yellow pine in the United States. Lumber production in 2004 totaled 2.9 billion board feet, third in the United States. Three national forests in Arkansas covered a total of 3,540,000 acres (1,432,638 hectares) in 2003.


According to the US Geological Survey, the value of nonfuel mineral production in Arkansas in 2004 totaled $518 million, an increase of 13.8% from 2003. Bromine, crushed stone, cement (port-land and masonry), and construction sand and gravel were the top four nonfuel minerals produced by value, respectively, and accounted for 92% of all nonfuel mineral output by value in the state for 2004. Overall, Arkansas accounted for more than 1% of all US nonfuel mineral output.

A total of 32.9 million metric tons of crushed stone were produced in 2004 (valued at $162 million), as well as 9.37 million metric tons of construction sand and gravel with a value of $53.5 million.

Arkansas in 2004 continued to be the leading bromine-producing state, accounting for most US production. Michigan was the only other state to produce bromine. Also in that year, Arkansas, remained the only state that produced silica stone. A total of 655 metric tons was produced, with a value of $3.66 million. The state also ranked fifth in gemstones in 2004, with output valued at $590,000.


As of 2003, Arkansas had 39 electrical power service providers, of which 15 were publicly owned and 17 were cooperatives. Of the remainder, four were investor owned and three were owners of independent generators that sold directly to customers. As of that same year there were over 1.415 million retail customers. Of that total, over 832,486 received their power from investor-owned service providers. Cooperatives accounted for 419,184 customers, while publicly owned providers had 164,252 customers.

Total net summer generating capability by the state's electrical generating plants in 2003 stood at 13.548 million kW, with total production that same year at 50.401 billion kWh. Of the total amount generated, 82.6% came from electric utilities, with the remainder coming from independent producers and combined heat and power service providers. The largest portion of all electric power generated, 23.504 billion kWh (46.6%), came from coal-fired plants, with nuclear fueled plants in second place at 14.869 billion kWh (29.1%). Natural gas-fired plants accounted for 14.5% of all power generated, with hydroelectric and other renewable fueled plants at 3.7%.

As of 2006, Arkansas had one operating nuclear power facility, the Arkansas Nuclear One power plant in Pope County.

As of 2004, Arkansas had proven crude oil reserves of 51 million barrels, or less than 1% of all US reserves, while output that same year averaged 18,000 barrels per day. Including federal off shore domains, the state that year ranked 19th (18th excluding federal off shore) in reserves and 17th (16th excluding federal off shore) among the 31 producing states. In 2004, Arkansas had 6,660 producing oil wells and accounted for less than 1% of all US production. As of 2005, the state's two small refineries had a crude oil distillation capacity of 76,800 barrels per day.

In 2004, Arkansas had 3,460 producing natural gas and gas condensate wells. In 2003 (the latest year for which data was available) marketed gas production (all gas produced excluding gas used for repressuring, vented and flared, and nonhydrocarbon gases removed) totaled 169.599 billion cu ft (4.8 billion cu m). As of 31 December 2004, proven reserves of dry or consumer-grade natural gas totaled 1,835 billion cu ft (52.1 billion cu m).

Arkansas in 2004 had two producing coal mines, one surface and one underground. Coal production that year totaled 7,000 short tons, down from 8,000 short tons in 2003. Of the total produced in 2004, the surface mine accounted for 6,000 short tons.


Manufacturing in Arkansas is diverse, ranging from blue jeans to bicycles, though resource industries such as rice processing and woodworking still play a major role.

According to the US Census Bureau Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) for 2004, the state's manufacturing sector covered some 19 product subsectors. The shipment value of all products manufactured in the state that same year was $54.547 billion. Of that total, the food manufacturing sector accounted for the largest portion, at $14.064 billion. It was followed by primary metal manufacturing, at $5.419 billion; transportation equipment manufacturing, at $4.122 billion; paper manufacturing, at $3.858 billion; and fabricated metal product manufacturing, at $3.844 billion.

In 2004, a total of 193,746 people in Arkansas were employed in the state's manufacturing sector, according to the ASM. Of that total, 155,852 were production workers. In terms of total employment, the food manufacturing industry accounted for the largest portion of all manufacturing employees at 49,972, with 43,043 actual production workers. It was followed by fabricated metal product manufacturing, with 16,558 employees (11,808 actual production workers); plastics and rubber products manufacturing, with 15,078 employees (12,160 actual production workers); transportation equipment manufacturing, with 15,004 employees (12,287 actual production workers); and machinery manufacturing, with 14,324 employees (10,274 actual production workers).

ASM data for 2004 showed that the state's manufacturing sector paid $6.391 billion in wages. Of that amount, the food manufacturing sector accounted for the largest portion, at $1.259 billion. It was followed by fabricated metal product manufacturing, at $610.668 million; plastics and rubber products manufacturing, at $537.290 million; paper manufacturing, at $524.614 million; and transportation equipment manufacturing, at $512.188 million.


According to the 2002 Census of Wholesale Trade, the state's wholesale trade sector had sales that year totaling $34.4 billion from 3,498 establishments. Wholesalers of durable goods accounted for 2,156 establishments, followed by nondurable goods wholesalers at 1,152 and electronic markets, agents, and brokers accounting for 190 establishments. Sales by durable goods wholesalers in 2002 totaled $10.1 billion, while wholesalers of nondurable goods saw sales of $17.5 billion. Electronic markets, agents, and brokers in the wholesale trade industry had sales of $6.7 billion.

In the 2002 Census of Retail Trade, Arkansas was listed as having 12,141 retail establishments with sales of $25.6 billion. The leading types of retail businesses by number of establishments were: motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers (1,783); gasoline stations (1,695); miscellaneous store retailers (1,404) food and beverage stores (1,354); clothing and clothing accessories stores (1,201); and building material/garden equipment and supplies dealers (1,095). In terms of sales, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts stores accounted for the largest share of retail sales at $7.09 billion, followed by general merchandise stores at $5.2 billion; gasoline stations at $3.02 billion; and food and beverage stores at $2.8 billion. A total of 134,197 people were employed by the retail sector in Arkansas that year.

During 2005, exports of goods from the state were valued at $3.8 billion, ranking the state 36th in the nation.


Under the mandate of Consumer Protection Act of 1971, the Consumer Protection Division (CPD) of the Office of the Attorney General has principal responsibility for consumer affairs. The CPD serves as a central coordinating agency for individual consumer complaints, conducts investigations, acts as an advocate and mediator in resolving complaints, and prosecutes civil cases on behalf of Arkansas citizens.

When dealing with consumer protection issues, the state's Attorney General can initiate civil (but not criminal) proceedings; represent the state before state and federal regulatory agencies; administer consumer protection and education programs; and handle consumer complaints. However, the Attorney General's Office has limited subpoena powers. In antitrust actions, the attorney general can act on behalf of consumers who are incapable of acting on their own and may initiate damage actions on behalf of the state in state courts.

The office of the Consumer Protection Division is located in Little Rock.


In 1836, the first year of statehood, the legislature created the Arkansas State Bank, and the Real Estate Bank, which were intended to promote the plantation system. Fraud, mismanagement, and the consequences of the financial panic of 1837 ruined both banks and led to the passage in 1846 of a constitutional amendment prohibiting the incorporation of any lending institution in Arkansas. Money grew scarce, with credit being rendered largely by suppliers and brokers to farmers and planters until after the Civil War (186165), when the prohibition was removed.

As of June 2005, Arkansas had 163 insured banks, savings and loans, and saving banks, plus 72 credit unions (CUs), all of which were federally chartered. Excluding the CUs, the Memphis market area (which includes portions of Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi) had 52 financial institutions in 2004, with deposits of $26.946 billion, followed by the Little Rock/North Little Rock area, with 37 institutions and $9.799 billion in deposits. As of June 2005, CUs accounted for only 3.6% of all assets held by all financial institutions in the state, or some $1.584 billion. Banks, savings and loans, and savings banks collectively accounted for the remaining 96.4% ($42.280 billion) in assets held.

As of the early 1980s, the Arkansas usury law imposed a 10% ceiling on interest rates (one of the most rigid in the United States); which the US Supreme Court upheld in 1981. The rise of the federal rate above that limit, beginning in mid-1979, caused a considerable outflow of capital from Arkansas. The Arkansas Usury Law was changed in December 1992 with the Interest Rate Control Amendment, which set the maximum interest rate on general loans at 5% above the Federal Reserve Discount Rate. The Arkansas Supreme Court interpreted the amendment to mean that the rate on consumer loans would be 5% above the discount rate, up to 17%. Although many institutions offered higher interest rates anyway, the ability to do so was formalized in the Financial Modernization Act of 1999. Opposition to usury came primarily from religious factions and labor unions, but low levels of investment during the 1990s motivated the Arkansas government to change the law. State-chartered banks in Arkansas are regulated by the Arkansas State Bank Department.

In 2005, Arkansas experienced strong economic growth in 2005, which benefited the state's financial community as institutions based in the state experienced record net income growth, due mainly to increased net operating income. In 2004, median net interest margins (NIMsthe difference between the lower rates offered to savers and the higher rates charged on loans) for Arkansas' insured institutions stood at 4.14%, up from 4.13% in 2003.


In 2004 there were 1.77 million individual life insurance policies in force with a total value of $83.9 billion; total value for all categories of life insurance (individual, group, and credit) was $136.2 billion. The average coverage amount is $47,400 per policy holder. Death benefits paid that year totaled $461.6 million.

As of 2003, there were 11 property and casualty and 38 life and health insurance companies incorporated or organized in the state. Direct premiums for property and casualty insurance amounted to $3.69 billion in 2004. That year, there were 15,067 flood insurance policies in force in the state, with a total value of $1.3 billion.

In 2004, 46% of state residents held employment-based health insurance policies, 5% held individual policies, and 30% were covered under Medicare and Medicaid; 17% of residents were uninsured. In 2003, employee contributions for employment-based health coverage averaged at 21% for single coverage and 29% for family coverage. The state offers a 120-day health benefits expansion program for small-firm employees in connection with Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA, 1986), a health insurance program for those who lose employment-based coverage due to termination or reduction of work hours.

In 2003, there were over 1.8 million auto insurance policies in effect for private passenger cars. Required minimum coverage includes bodily injury liability of up to $25,000 per individual and $50,000 for all persons injured, as well as property damage liability of $25,000. In 2003, the average expenditure per vehicle for insurance coverage was $698.28.


There are no securities exchanges in Arkansas. In 2005, there were 570 personal financial advisers employed in the state and 1,420 securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents. In 2004, there were over 30 publicly traded companies within the state, with over 14 NASDAQ companies, 9 NYSE listings, and 1 AMEX listing. In 2006, the state had five Fortune 500 companies; Wal-Mart Stores (Bentonville) ranked first in the state and second in the nation with revenues of over $315 billion, followed by Tyson Foods (Springdale), Murphy Oil (El Dorado), Alltel (Little Rock), and Dillard's (Little Rock). All five of these companies were listed on the NYSE.


Under the 1874 constitution, state expenditures may not exceed revenues. The mechanism adopted each biennium to prevent deficit spending is a Revenue Stabilization Act. This Act provides the funding for state appropriations by assigning levels of funding priority to the appropriations. All higher level appropriations must be fully funded before any lower level appropriations are funded. In the event of insufficient revenues to fund appropriations, each agency reduces its spending to correspond to the general revenues allocated to the agency. Efforts to install a statewide Web-based information system met with technical and training difficulties that had slowly been rectified as of 2006. Fiscal year 2006 general funds were estimated at nearly $3.8 billion for resources and $3.8 billion for expenditures. In fiscal year 2004, federal government grants to Arkansas were nearly $4.7 billion. For fiscal year 2007, federal funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and the HOME Investment Partnership Program was increased.

ArkansasState Government Finances
(Dollar amounts in thousands. Per capita amounts in dollars.)
Abbreviations and symbols: - zero or rounds to zero; (NA) not available; (X) not applicable.
source: U.S. Census Bureau, Governments Division, 2004 Survey of State Government Finances, January 2006.
Total Revenue 14,225,176 5,172,79
  General revenue 11,679,719 4,247.17
    Intergovernmental revenue 4,041,889 1,469.78
    Taxes 5,580,678 2,029.34
      General sales 2,149,527 781.65
      Selective sales 784,503 285.27
      License taxes 187,876 68.32
      Individual income tax 1,685,585 612.94
      Corporate income tax 181,830 66.12
      Other taxes 591,357 215.04
    Current charges 1,543,848 561.40
    Miscellaneous general revenue 513,304 186.66
  Utility revenue - -
  Liquor store revenue - -
align="left">  Insurance trust revenue 2,545,457 925.62
Total expenditure 12,674,325 4,608.85
  Intergovernmental expenditure 3,233,499 1,175.82
  Direct expenditure 9,440,826 3,433.03
    Current operation 7,074,989 2,572.72
    Capital outlay 1,005,560 365.66
    Insurance benefits and repayments 991,592 360.58
    Assistance and subsidies 245,563 89.30
    Interest on debt 123,122 44.77
Exhibit: Salaries and wages 1,528,630 555.87
Total expenditure 12,674,325 4,608.85
  General expenditure 11,682,733 4,248.27
    Intergovernmental expenditure 3,233,499 1,175.82
    Direct expenditure 8,449,234 3,072.45
  General expenditures, by function:
    Education 4,730,047 1,720.02
    Public welfare 2,995,212 1,089.17
    Hospitals 532,800 193.75
    Health 316,062 114.93
    Highways 1,116,310 405.93
    Police protection 79,800 29.02
    Correction 351,786 127.92
    Natural resources 225,132 81.87
    Parks and recreation 83,065 30.21
    Government administration 476,279 173.19
    Interest on general debt 123,122 44.77
    Other and unallocable 653,118 237.50
  Utility expenditure - -
  Liquor store expenditure - -
  Insurance trust expenditure 991,592 360.58
Debt at end of fiscal year 3,749,282 1,363.38
Cash and security holdings 18,988,203 6,904.80


In 2005, Arkansas collected $6,552 million in tax revenues ($2,358 per capita), which placed it 18th among the 50 states in per capita tax burden. The national average was $2,192 per capita. Property taxes accounted for 8.5% of the total; sales taxes, 39.3%; selective sales taxes, 13.5%; individual income taxes, 28.6%; corporate income taxes, 4.2%; and other taxes, 5.9%.

As of 1 January 2006, Arkansas had six individual income tax brackets of 1.0-7.0%. The state taxes corporations at rates of 1.0-6.5%, depending on tax bracket.

In 2004, state and local property taxes amounted to $1,100,938,000 ($400 per capita). The per capita amount ranks the state 49th among the 50 states. Local governments collected $580,614,000 of the total and the state government, $520,324,000. Although local property taxes are the lowest in the nation, state property tax collections are unusually high.

Arkansas taxes retail sales at a rate of 6%. In addition to the state tax, local taxes on retail sales can reach as much as 5.50%, making for a potential total tax on retail sales of 11.50%. Food purchased for consumption off-premises is taxable. The tax on cigarettes is 59 cents per pack, which ranks 32nd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Arkansas taxes gasoline at 21.5 cents per gallon. This is in addition to the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax on gasoline.

According to the Tax Foundation, for every federal tax dollar sent to Washington in 2004, Arkansas citizens received $1.47 in federal spending.


First as chairman of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission and later as governor of the state (196771), Winthrop Rockefeller succeeded in attracting substantial and diverse new industries to Arkansas. In 1979, Governor Bill Clinton formed the Department of Economic Development from the former Arkansas Industrial Development Commission for the purpose of stimulating the growth of small business and finding new export markets. The Arkansas Development Finance Authority was created in 1985 in order to support small-scale economic development of new businesses, mortgages, education, and health care. The Economic Development Commission offers such incentives to new businesses as an Enterprise Zone Program, income tax credit, sales and use tax refunds, among others. In 2003, the legislature passed the Consolidated Incentive Act which combined six previ-ous economic development incentive programs into one package, plus added some additional incentives for investment and regional development. The six programs consolidated in the Act were the Enterprise Zone program (Advantage Arkansas), which provides incentives for investments in areas with high poverty and/or unemployment); the Economic Investment Tax Credit program (InvestArk Program); the Economic Development Incentives Act (CreateRebate); the Arkansas Economic Development Act (AEDA), which offers tax reductions for investments of at least $5 million dollars creating at least 100 new permanent jobs; plus incentive programs for improvements in energy technology and biotechnology. By the act, companies would be allowed to sell tax credits earned in order to realize the benefits earlier. The act seeks to promote regional development by rewarding counties which enter into binding compacts with each other to further economic development.

In 2006, the rubber and plastics industry was a targeted industry for the state, due, in part, to the influx of a large number of automotive parts suppliers to the state. Arkansas is home to approximately 200 plastics and rubber companies. Because of its central location in the country, halfway between Canada and Mexico and between the two US coasts, Arkansas provides a valuable transportation advantage. A billion-dollar program to improve approximately 380 mi (600 km) of interstate highways was scheduled to be completed in 2005.


The infant mortality rate in October 2005 was estimated at 7.6 per 1,000 live births. The birth rate in 2003 was 14 per 1,000 population. The abortion rate stood at 9.8 per 1,000 women in 2000. In 2003, about 81.3% of pregnant woman received prenatal care beginning in the first trimester. In 2004, approximately 82% of children received routine immunizations before the age of three.

The crude death rate in 2003 was 10.2 deaths per 1,000 population. As of 2002, the death rates for major causes of death (per 100,000 resident population) were: heart disease, 307.4; cancer, 231.8; cerebrovascular diseases, 82.4 (the highest in the nation); chronic lower respiratory diseases, 53.2; and diabetes, 29.3. The mortality rate from HIV infection was 3 per 100,000 population. In 2004, the reported AIDS case rate was at about 6.7 per 100,000 population. In 2002, about 58.9% of the population was considered overweight or obese. As of 2004, Arkansas ranked sixth in the nation for the highest percentage of resident smokers, with 25.5%.

In 2003, Arkansas had 88 community hospitals with about 9,900 beds. There were about 388,000 patient admissions that year and 4.6 million outpatient visits. The average daily inpatient census was about 5,700 patients. The average cost per day for hospital care was $1,130. Also in 2003, there were about 242 certified nursing facilities in the state with 24,791 beds and an overall occupancy rate of about 72.6%. In 2004, it was estimated that about 60.9% of all state residents had received some type of dental care within the year. Arkansas had 205 physicians per 100,000 resident population in 2004 and 729 nurses per 100,000 in 2005. In 2004, there was a total of 1,120 dentists in the state.

About 30% of state residents were enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare programs in 2004; the state had the third-highest percentage of Medicare recipients in the nation (following West Virginia and Maine). Approximately 17% of the state population was uninsured in 2004. In 2003, state health care expenditures totaled $3 million.


In 2004, about 85,000 people received unemployment benefits, with an average weekly unemployment benefit of $228. In fiscal year 2005, the estimated average monthly participation in the food stamp program included about 373,764 persons (152,916 households); the average monthly benefit was about $89.47 per person. That year, the total benefits paid through the state for the food stamp program was about $401.2 million.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the system of federal welfare assistance that officially replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1997, was reauthorized through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. TANF is funded through federal block grants that are divided among the states based on an equation involving the number of recipients in each state. Arkansas's TANF program is called Transitional Employment Assistance (TEA). In 2004, the state program had 22,000 recipients; state and federal expenditures on this TANF program totaled $22 million fiscal year 2003.

In December 2004, Social Security benefits were paid to 546,080 Arkansas residents. This number included 310,790 retired workers, 58,020 widows and widowers, 95,960 disabled workers, 28,060 spouses, and 53,240 children. Social Security beneficiaries represented 20.1% of the total state population and 93.1% of the state's population age 65 and older. Retired workers received an average monthly payment of $888; widows and widowers, $795; disabled workers, $846; and spouses, $429. Payments for children of retired workers averaged $451 per month; children of deceased workers, $554; and children of disabled workers, $249. Federal Supplemental Security Income payments in December 2004 went to 87,928 Arkansas residents, averaging $361 a month.


In 2004, there were an estimated 1,233,203 housing units in Arkansas, of which 1,099,086 were occupied. In the same year, 65.5% of all housing units were owner-occupied. It was estimated that about 98,716 units were without telephone service, 1,709 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 5,662 lacked complete kitchen facilities. Though most units relied on gas and electricity for heating fuels, about 40,890 households used wood for a primary heating source. About 69% of all units were single-family, detached homes; 12.7% were mobile homes. The average household had 2.43 members.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $39.6 million in grants to the Arkansas state program in 2002, including $24.9 million in community development block grants. About 15,900 new housing units were authorized in 2004. The median home value in 2004 was $79,006, the lowest in the country. The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was $773 while the monthly cost for renters was at a median of $517. In September 2005, the state was awarded grants of $680,321 from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for rural housing and economic development programs. For 2006, HUD allocated to the state over $19.3 million in community development block grants.


In 2004, 79.2% of all Arkansans 25 years of age and older were high school graduates. Some 18.8% had obtained a bachelor's degree or higher.

In some ways, Little Rock was an unlikely site for the major confrontation over school integration that occurred in 1957. The school board had already announced its voluntary compliance with the Supreme Court's desegregation decision, and during Governor Faubus's first term (195556), several public schools in the state had been peaceably integrated. Nevertheless, on 5 September 1957, Faubus, claiming that violence was likely, ordered the National Guard to seize Central High School to prevent the entry of nine black students. When a mob did appear following the withdrawal of the National Guardsmen in response to a federal court order later that month, President Dwight Eisenhower dispatched federal troops to Little Rock, and they patrolled the school grounds until the end of the 1958 spring semester. Although Faubus's stand encouraged politicians in other southern states to resist desegregation, in Arkansas integration proceeded at a moderate pace. By 1980, Central High School had a nearly equal balance of black and white students, and the state's school system was one of the most integrated in the South.

Public school enrollment in fall 2002 totaled 451,000. Of these, 319,000 attended schools from kindergarten through grade eight, and 132,000 attended high school. Approximately 69.9% of the students were white, 23.1% were black, 5.3% were Hispanic, 1.1% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 0.6% were American Indian/Alaskan Native. Total enrollment was estimated at 449,000 in fall 2003 and expected to be 449,000 by fall 2014, a decrease of 0.5% during the period 2002 to 2014. There were 27,500 students enrolled in 189 private schools in fall 2003. Expenditures for public education in 2003/04 were estimated at $3.5 billion. Since 1969, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has tested public school students nationwide. The resulting report, The Nation's Report Card, stated that in 2005, eighth graders in Arkansas scored 272 out of 500 in mathematics compared with the national average of 278.

As of fall 2002, there were 127,372 students enrolled in college or graduate school; minority students comprised 21.4% of total postsecondary enrollment. As of 2005, Arkansas had 47 degree-granting institutions. The largest institution of higher education in the state is the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (established in 1871). The state university system also has campuses at Fort Smith, Little Rock, Monticello, and Pine Bluff, as well as a medical school. Student aid is provided by the State Scholarship Program within the Department of Higher Education, by the Arkansas Student Loan Guarantee Foundation, and by the Arkansas Rural Endowment Fund, Inc.


The Arkansas Arts Council was established in 1971 as one of seven agencies of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, which include the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Delta Cultural Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, and the Old State House Museum. Major funding comes from the state and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded seven grants totaling $616,200 to Arkansas arts organizations, and the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded eight grants totaling $1,739,430 to Arkansas organizations. Arkansas is also affiliated with the regional Mid-America Arts Alliance.

Little Rock is the home of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO). The ASO celebrated 41 years of performance with its 2006/07 season. Little Rock is also home to the Arkansas Festival Ballet, the Arkansas Repertory Theater, and the Arkansas Arts Center, which holds art exhibits and classes, as well as children's theater performances.

The best-known center for traditional arts and crafts is the Ozark Folk Center at Mountain View. The Ozark Folk Center offers workshops in music and crafts as well as weekly evening concerts that focus on preserving "mountain music" from the Ozark region. As of 2006, the Annual Arkansas Folk Festival was held in Mountain View in April. The Regional Studies Center of Lyon College at Batesville presents an annual Ozark history and culture program.


In calendar year 2001, Arkansas had 35 public library systems, with a total of 209 libraries, of which 169 were branches. In that same year, the state's public libraries held 5,497,000 volumes of books and serial publications, while total circulation amounted to 10,452,000. The system also had 112,000 audio and 101,000 video items, 5,000 electronic format items (CD-ROMs, magnetic tapes, and disks), and five bookmobiles. Important collections include those of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (1,556,572 volumes), Arkansas State University at Jonesboro (544,326), the Central Arkansas Library System of Little Rock (528,982), and the News Library of the Arkansas Gazette, also in Little Rock. The total operating income of the public library system was $38,704,000 in 2001. Arkansas received $72,000 in federal grants, while state grants that year came to $4,106,000. The state spent 59.3% of this income on staff and 17.7% on the collection.

There were 78 museums in 2000 and a number of historic sites. Principal museums include the Arkansas Arts Center and the Museum of Science and History, both at Little Rock; the Arkansas State University Museum at Jonesboro; and the University of Arkansas Museum at Fayetteville, specializing in archaeology, anthropology, and the sciences. Also of interest are the Stuttgart Agricultural Museum; the Arkansas Post County Museum at Gillett, whose artifacts are housed in recreated plantation buildings; Hampson Museum State Park, near Wilson, which has one of the largest collections of Mound Builder artifacts in the United States; the Mid-American Museum at Hot Springs, which has visitor-participation exhibits; and the Saunders Memorial Museum at Berryville, with an extensive collection of firearms.

Civil War battle sites include the Pea Ridge National Military Park, the Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, and the Arkansas Post National Memorial. The Ft. Smith National Historic Site in-cludes buildings and museums from the days when the town was a military outpost on the border of Indian Territory.


In 2004, 88.6% of the state's occupied housing units had telephones, the lowest rate in the nation. In addition, by June of that same year there were 307,323 mobile wireless telephone subscribers. In 2003, 50.0% of Arkansas households had a computer and 42.2% had Internet access, the second-lowest in the nation (after Mississippi) for both categories. By June 2005, there were 258,564 high-speed lines in Arkansas, 236,325 residential and 22,239 for business.

There were 63 major radio stations (7 AM, 56 FM) and 17 major television stations in 2005. A total of 23,195 Internet domain names had been registered in Arkansas as of 2000.


The first newspaper in Arkansas, the Arkansas Gazette, established at Arkansas Post in 1819 by William E. Woodruff, ceased publication in 1991. In 2005, there were 14 morning dailies, 14 evening papers, and 16 Sunday papers. In 1992, Little Rock's two major dailies, the Arkansas Democrat and the Democrat Gazette, merged.

The following table shows the 2005 circulations of the leading dailies:

Fort Smith Southwest Times Record (m, S) 37,462 43,322
Jonesboro Jonesboro Sun (m, S) 23,156 26,481
Little Rock Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (m, S) 182,391 280,529
Springdale-Rogers Morning News (m, S) 37,669 43,289

In 2005, there were 97 weekly publications in Arkansas. Of these there are 87 paid weeklies, 2 free weeklies, and 8 combined weeklies. The total circulation of paid weeklies (288,228) and free weeklies (43,482) is 331,710.


In 2006, there were over 2,190 nonprofit organizations registered within the state, of which about 1,478 were registered as charitable, educational, or religious organizations. Among the national organizations with headquarters in Arkansas are the American Crossbow Association in Huntsville; the American Fish Farmers Federation in Lonoke; and the Ozark Society, the American Parquet Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, and the Civil War Round Table Associates, all located in Little Rock. The national headquarters of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is in Harrison.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was founded in Little Rock in 1970 and has since spread to some 20 other states, becoming one of the most influential citizens' lobbies in the United States. Heifer Project International, a social welfare organization that provides agricultural and community development assistance in third world countries, is headquartered in Little Rock. The Arkansas Arts Council and the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas are based in Little Rock.


In 2004, Arkansas received 218,000,000 visitors and generated 57,300 jobs in the travel industry. Pulaski and Garland counties accounted for the most visited by tourists.

Leading attractions in Arkansas are the mineral waters and recreational facilities at Hot Springs, Eureka Springs, Mammoth Spring, and Heber Springs. The Crater of Diamonds, near Murfreesboro, is the only known public source of natural diamonds in North America. For a fee, visitors may hunt for diamonds and keep any they find; more than 100,000 diamonds have been found in the area since 1906, of which the two largest are the 40.42-carat Uncle Sam and the 34.25-carat Star of Murfreesboro. The World's Championship Duck Calling Contest is held at the beginning of the winter duck season in Stuttgart. The city of Hamburg hosts the Armadillo Festival.

In support of the industry, the Arkansas Tourism Development Act of 1999 provides incentives for qualified new or expanding tourism facilities and attractions. The program applies to cultural or historical sites; recreational or entertainment facilities; natural, theme, and amusement parks; plays and musicals; and gardens. To qualify, the project must cost more than $500,000 and have a positive effect on the state. The state has 14 tourist information centers. In 2002, the state had some 19.9 million visitors with travel expenditures reaching over $3.9 billion (a 2.8% increase from 2000). The new William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock has the largest collection of presidential artifacts. The University of Alabama recently opened the Clinton School of Public Service.


Arkansas has no major professional sports teams but it does have a minor league baseball team, the Travelers. Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs has a 62-day thoroughbred-racing season each spring, and dog races are held in West Memphis from April through November. Several major rodeos take place in summer and fall, including the Rodeo of the Ozarks in Springdale in early July.

The University of Arkansas has competed in the Southeastern Conference since 1990, when it ended its 76-year affiliation with the Southwest Conference. The Razorback football team won the Cotton Bowl in 1947, 1965, 1976, and 2000; the Orange Bowl in 1978; the Sugar Bowl in 1969; and the Bluebonnet Bowl in 1982. The men's basketball team won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I basketball championship in 1994; won or shared the Southwest Conference championship in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, and 1982; and won the Southeastern Conference in 1994 and 2000.


Arkansas has produced one president of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton (b.1946). Clinton, a Democrat, defeated President George H. W. Bush in the 1992 presidential election and was reelected in 1996. Clinton's wife is the former Hillary Rodham (b.Illinois, 1947). Arkansas has yet to produce a vice president or a Supreme Court justice, although one Arkansan came close to reaching both offices: US Senator Joseph T. Robinson (18721937) was the Democratic nominee for vice president in 1928, on the ticket with Al Smith; later, he was Senate majority leader under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the time of his death, Robinson was leading the fight for Roosevelt's bill to expand the Supreme Court's membership and had reportedly been promised a seat on the court if the bill passed. Robinson's colleague, Hattie W. Caraway (b.Tennessee, 18781950), was the first woman elected to the US Senate, serving from 1931 to 1945.

After World War II (193945), Arkansas's congressional delegation included three men of considerable power and fame: Senator John L. McClellan (18961977), investigator of organized labor and organized crime and champion of the Arkansas River navigation project; Senator J. William Fulbright (b.Missouri, 190595), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Representative Wilbur D. Mills (190992), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee until scandal ended his political career in the mid-1970s.

Other federal officeholders include Brooks Hays (18981981), former congressman and special assistant to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, as well as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination; and Frank Pace Jr. (191288), secretary of the Army during the Truman administration.

General Douglas MacArthur (18801964), supreme commander of Allied forces in the Pacific during World War II, supervised the occupation of Japan and was supreme commander of UN troops in Korea until relieved of his command in April 1951 by President Harry Truman.

Orval E. Faubus (191094) served six terms as governor (a record), drew international attention during the 1957 integration crisis at Little Rock Central High School, and headed the most powerful political machine in Arkansas history. Winthrop Rockefeller (b.New York, 191773) was Faubus's most prominent successor. At the time of his election in 1978, Bill Clinton was the nation's youngest governor.

Prominent business leaders include the Stephens brothers, W. R. "Witt" (190791) and Jackson T. (19232005), whose Stephens, Inc., investment firm in Little Rock is the largest off Wall Street; and Kemmons Wilson (19132003), founder of Holiday Inns.

Other distinguished Arkansans are Edward Durrell Stone (190278), renowned architect; C. Vann Woodward (190899), Sterling Professor Emeritus of History at Yale University; and the Right Reverend John M. Allin (192198), presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States. John H. Johnson (19182005), publisher of the nation's leading black-oriented magazinesEbony, Jet, and othersis an Arkansan, as is Helen Gurley Brown (b.1922), former editor of Cosmopolitan.

Harry S. Ashmore (b.South Carolina, 191698) won a Pulitzer Prize for his Arkansas Gazette editorials calling for peaceful integration of the schools during the 1957 crisis; the Gazette itself won a Pulitzer for meritorious public service that year. Paul Greenberg (b.Louisiana, 1937), of the Pine Bluff Commercial, is another Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. John Gould Fletcher (18861950) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. Other Arkansas writers include Dee Brown (b.Louisiana, 19082002), Maya Angelou (b.Missouri, 1928), Charles Portis (b.1933), and Eldridge Cleaver (193598).

Arkansas planter Colonel Sanford C. Faulkner (180374) is credited with having written the well-known fiddle tune "The Arkansas Traveler" and its accompanying dialogue. Perhaps the best-known country music performers from Arkansas are Johnny Cash (19322003) and Glen Campbell (b.1938). Film stars Dick Powell (190463) and Alan Ladd (191364) were also Arkansans.

Notable Arkansas sports personalities include Jerome Herman "Dizzy" Dean (191174) and Bill Dickey (190793), both members of the Baseball Hall of Fame; Brooks Robinson (b.1937), considered by some the best-fielding third baseman in baseball history; and star pass-catcher Lance Alworth (b.Mississippi, 1940), a University of Arkansas All-American and member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame.


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Clinton, Bill. My Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.

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FDIC, Division of Research and Statistics. Statistics on Banking: A Statistical Profile of the United States Banking Industry. Washington, D.C.: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 1993.

Gatewood, Willard B., and Jeannie Whayne (eds.). The Arkansas Delta: Land of Paradox. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1993.

Hamilton, Nigel. Bill Clinton: An American Journey. New York: Random House, 2003.

McDougal, Jim, and Curtis Wilkie. Arkansas Mischief: the Birth of a National Scandal. N.Y.: Henry Holt, 1998.

Newman, Katherine S. Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings. New York: Basic Books, 2004.

Norman, Corrie E., and Don S. Armentrout (eds.) Religion in the Contemporary South: Changes, Continuities, and Contexts. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2005.

Paulson, Alan C. Roadside History of Arkansas. Missoula, Mont.: Mountain Press, 1998.

Polakow, Amy. Daisy Bates: Civil Rights Crusader. North Haven, Conn.: Linnet Books, 2003.

US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, US Census Bureau. Arkansas, 2000. Summary Social, Economic, and Housing Characteristics: 2000 Census of Population and Housing. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 2003.

US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Digest of Education Statistics, 1993. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1993.

US Department of the Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service. Endangered and Threatened Species Recovery Program. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1990.

Whayne, Jeannie M. A New Plantation South: Land, Labor, and Federal Favor in Twentieth-Century Arkansas. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996.

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ARKANSAS. Arkansas, located just west of the Mississippi River, straddles a border between the South and the West and encompasses something of both those regions in its history and customs.

Throughout most of the eighteenth century, the small white population was concentrated at Arkansas Post, located on the Arkansas River just a few miles above where it feeds into the Mississippi River. Arkansas Post was established by Henri de Tonti in 1686, but it was a small and primitive affair that had a difficult time surviving. It was abandoned in 1699, founded again in 1721, and then moved several times between 1749and 1780.

While Arkansas Post clearly had importance as a place for reprovisioning boats on the long journey on the Mississippi River, it had political and economic importance as well. Politically, it gave the French—and, after the Seven Years' War, the Spanish—a foothold in an otherwise undermanned region, and it provided them a means for establishing relations with Native Americans in the area, particularly the Quapaws.

Other native groups in Arkansas had less contact with whites at the post, but the Osages did make themselves known. While their home villages were in southwestern Missouri, the Osages claimed most of northern and western Arkansas as their hunting grounds and ferociously protected their prerogatives there, effectively inhibiting white settlement in western Arkansas until the early nineteenth century. When the Americans took over and began to resettle Cherokee and Choctaw Indians in west Arkansas, the Osages resisted and were themselves resettled to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma).

The American Era in Arkansas

The Louisiana Purchase ushered in the American era in Arkansas, and it had implications for the Indians there, some of whom had moved to Arkansas voluntarily in the late eighteenth century to escape the Americans. Cherokees, for example, settled along the Black and St. Francis rivers in the 1780s and 1790s. Although some eastern Indians, particularly the Cherokees, were "removed" to Arkansas in the late 1810s, they were later resettled in Indian Territory. Native groups would find themselves at a distinct disadvantage as the Americans spread across the Mississippi River; established plantation agriculture, particularly on Quapaw lands in southeastern Arkansas; and placed the state on a certain economic trajectory and a collision course with the Civil War.

As white settlers swept into the region in the first three decades of the nineteenth century, they found ample fertile land to develop in Arkansas and secured the cooperation of the federal government in removing all Indians from the territory by the mid-1830s. By the time that Arkansas applied for separate territorial status in 1819—it had been part of Missouri Territory until then—slavery was firmly established, and it came as a shock when New York Representative John Taylor proposed effectively banning slavery. The debate that ensued became intertwined with Missouri's application for statehood, and, in fact, the idea of a dividing line (36 degrees, 30 minutes—the border between Missouri and Arkansas), which became one of the key features of the great Missouri Compromise, was first articulated by Taylor in connection with the Arkansas bill. In the end, of course, slavery remained intact in Arkansas and became an important element in the delta's economy and in the state's political history.

Other differences existed between the southeast and northwest. While the southeast was given over to cotton cultivation, plantation agriculture, and a higher concentration of land ownership, a mixed agriculture of wheat, corn, livestock, and orchards predominated in the northwest, where land holdings tended to be much smaller. Part of the Arkansas Ozark Mountain range, northwest Arkansas was simply not suitable for plantation agriculture. The northwest was predominantly Whig in political orientation, and although some Whigs had interests in the delta, most planters there were Democrats.

A crucial factor in the ability of southeastern planters to control Arkansas politics was their influence upon the capital city. The first territorial capital, Arkansas Post, proved to be an inadequate location, and in 1820 a centrally located site farther up the Arkansas River, known as the "little rock," was chosen as the new territorial capital. Little Rock developed rapidly, and with significant ties to the southeastern Arkansas planters, Little Rock businessmen and politicians could be counted upon to support issues of importance to them.

Conflicts over Statehood

Its central role in the political struggle between the southeast and the northwest became manifest when Arkansas drafted its first state constitution in early 1836. The drive for statehood in Arkansas had been influenced by the desire to maintain a balance on the national level between slave and free states. When it became clear in 1834 that the territory of Michigan was preparing to apply for state-hood in the near future, Arkansas territorial delegate Ambrose Sevier was determined that Arkansas would be paired with Michigan.

When delegates met in Little Rock to draft a state constitution, southeastern planters were defeated in their attempts to apply the three-fifths rule in counting slaves for purposes of representation, but they succeeded in carving out a three-district political structure: one made up of southeast counties, one of northwest counties, and one of three counties in the center of the state. The largest of those three counties in the central district was, of course, Pulaski, where Little Rock was located. Northwestern delegates largely opposed this arrangement because it was clear that this central district would support the southeast, but enough northwestern delegates voted in favor of it to secure its passage.

Arkansas in the Civil War

When the secession crisis of 1860 took place, some Southerners believed that President Abraham Lincoln's election to the presidency alone was sufficient to justify immediate secession, but most Arkansans were willing to give Lincoln a chance to prove that he was not, as he insisted, opposed to slavery where it existed. Those most in favor of immediate secession were from the southeastern delta; those most opposed were from the northwest. A secession convention was called in March 1861, just as Lincoln was taking the oath of office. The northwestern delegates succeeded in defeating the immediate secessionists, but the convention scheduled an election to take place the following August that would allow voters to decide the issue. Before that election could be held, however, Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, and in response Lincoln put out a call for troops to all the states. Arkansas's moment of truth had arrived. The secession convention called itself back into session and voted 69to 1 to secede and join the Confederate cause.

Although few important battles were fought in the state, the Civil War brought devastation to Arkansas. It was ill-positioned to fight a war. Due to banking problems, the state was in poor economic standing at the time the Civil War broke out. Meanwhile, state officials feared—with justification—that Arkansas troops would be transferred east of the river, leaving Arkansas relatively defenseless. Although the Confederate military never fully abandoned Arkansas, it remained a lower priority and suffered as a consequence.

Ironically, the largest battles fought in the state took place in northwest Arkansas, the area least in favor of secession. On March 7–8, 1862, Federal forces pushed into the state from Missouri, hoping to wipe out Confederate resistance in the northwest counties and possibly reach the Arkansas River valley. Confederate forces met the Union forces at Pea Ridge (or Elkhorn Tavern). After a seesaw battle with heavy losses on the Federal side, the Confederates were ultimately forced to retire south to the Boston Mountains, but the Federals failed to follow them. Neither side truly won the battle as neither achieved its objectives. Much of Arkansas was then embroiled in a relentless guerrilla war from which many civilians, particularly in northwest Arkansas, fled.

The Reconstruction Era

The Reconstruction history of Arkansas is similar to that of other southern states. Initially Confederates regained political office under President Andrew Johnson's mild Reconstruction policies, only to be removed and disfranchised under congressional (or radical) Reconstruction. The Republican Party of Arkansas, like that of other southern states, attempted to build railroads, founded an educational system, and fell victim to charges of corruption. Ultimately, Reconstruction was overturned and a Redeemer Democrat, Augustus Garland, took over as Democratic governor in 1874.

One major issue emanating from the Civil War was what to do about the freedmen. The Freedmen's Bureau functioned in Arkansas during its brief life, but planters soon regained the upper hand and reduced the Arkansas freedmen to a kind of peasantry through the sharecropping system. Meanwhile, the cotton economy sank into a long decline, although Arkansas planters remained locked into it through the system of advances they received from cotton factors, who demanded they grow cotton. The state legislature, now controlled by Democrats, forswore an activist role in addressing the economic problems facing farmers. By the early 1880s farmers in Arkansas were in such dire straits that they formed the Agricultural Wheel, an organization determined to influence the legislature to address their problems. By 1886 they mounted a candidate for governor who very nearly defeated the Democratic candidate.

The fact that blacks had voted for the "Wheel" candidate did not escape the attention of leading Democrats, and fearful of the threat from below, Democrats were motivated to conquer by dividing their enemies along racial lines. In 1891 the legislature enacted both segregation and disfranchising legislature. The Separate Coach law prohibited blacks from riding in first-class coaches within the state. The election law of 1891 discriminated against illiterate voters (by allowing only election officials to mark their ballots) and imposed a poll tax. A final disfranchising piece of legislation became effective in 1906 when the state Democratic Party declared a "white only" policy, whereby only whites could vote in the Democratic primary.

Industrial Development Emerges

The end of the nineteenth century also marked something of an economic renaissance in Arkansas, albeit of a very limited kind. Despite efforts on the part of Arkansas boosters to attract industry and development to the state, the only industries that emerged were extractive in nature. The lumber industry, for example, became extraordinarily important all over Arkansas, from the eastern delta to the Ouachita and Ozark mountains in the west. Northern financiers and entrepreneurs, eager to reach the wealth of the Arkansas forests, extended hundreds of miles of railroad into a state that on the eve of the Civil War had less than a hundred miles of rail line. Deforestation in eastern Arkansas led directly to the expansion of the plantation system there and an explosion of population growth in the early twentieth century. By the end of that century, coal mining had become important. In central Arkansas, meanwhile, bauxite mining emerged near Benton. But efforts to move beyond these extractive industries and broaden the economy past its dependence on agriculture failed.

Progressivism, Riots, and Flood

Just as the urge to reform and perfect swept across the rest of the country during the Progressive Era, it touched Arkansas as well. It was during the first decades of the twentieth century that the convict leasing system was eliminated, women got the right to vote, and the educational infrastructure was improved. Both the initiative and the referendum were adopted in Arkansas. Prohibition was implemented in 1916, three years before the national ban. As the automobile became a more important means of transportation, roads expanded. Unfortunately, many road improvement districts went bankrupt during the economic downturn following World War I. The governors of the 1920s and 1930s struggled with this legacy of debt.

But those two decades brought other significant problems that captured the attention of the state's governors and legislators. In 1919 a race riot in Phillips County brought unfavorable publicity. This was "red summer," when labor strife and race riots occurred across the country. In the Arkansas case, black sharecroppers had formed a union and hired an attorney to represent them in suits they planned to file against planters for whom they worked. The planters learned of the union and purportedly concluded that the union was planning to murder them and appropriate their lands. After an incident outside a union meeting left a white man dead, a full-fledged race riot resulted, and Governor Charles Brough called on the president to dispatch troops from Camp Pike. Five whites and at least twenty-five blacks were killed, although unofficial reports suggest the number of blacks killed greatly exceeded that number.

While the Elaine Race Riot brought unfavorable publicity to the state, the sharp decline in prices paid for agricultural products that persisted throughout the 1920s brought ruin to farmers and many of the merchants and bankers who depended upon the agricultural economy. As if their economic woes were not problem enough, the great flood of 1927 inundated Arkansas. More than two million agricultural acres were flooded within the state. Arkansas had hardly recovered from this disaster and was reeling from the deteriorating economic conditions faced by Americans after the stock market crash of 1929 when the drought of 1930–1931 struck. Crops withered in the fields and livestock died while the Red Cross ruminated over whether a drought was the kind of natural disaster they should respond to. Finally, the Red Cross stepped in, but it was New Deal programs fostered under Franklin Roosevelt's presidency that began to improve the agricultural economy. The Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) launched its crop reduction program in 1933 and secured the cooperation of planters and farmers throughout the state in "plowing up" up to 30 percent of the planted cotton acres. Farmers were given a check for "renting" the plowed-up acres to the government, although they were free to raise certain unrestricted crops on those lands.

As it worked out, the AAA greatly advantaged planters and large farmers and brought further devastation to tenant farmers. Planters who no longer needed the services of tenant farmers simply evicted them. Many planters refused to share the crop payments with the tenants remaining on their plantation.

Some historians have credited the AAA program with being largely responsible for the demise of the tenancy and sharecropping system and the emergence of capital-intensive agriculture. But World War II played an important role in pulling labor away from agricultural areas—sending them to the military or to work in defense industries—and, in any case, the transition from labor-intensive to capital-intensive agriculture in the Arkansas delta depended upon the creation of a marketable mechanical cotton harvester. Those were developed during the war and began to come off assembly lines in sufficient numbers by the late 1940s to begin a revolution in southern agriculture. As chemicals, some of them developed during the war for other purposes, were put to use on the delta plantations to keep weeds down, the shift was further augmented. By the end of the 1950s the transition was all but complete, leaving in its wake a massive depopulation of the Arkansas delta that wreaked havoc on small-town economies.

Attracting Industry to the State

The state was not quiescent in the face of the changes transforming the delta. At Governor Orval Faubus's suggestion, the legislature created the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission in 1955. Despite more than fifty years of efforts to expand industrial production in the state, no industrial base of any significance had been established. Faubus appointed Winthrop Rockefeller, scion of the famous New York Rockefellers, who had settled in Arkansas after World War II, as the first director of the AIDC. He served as director for nine years and pursued industrial development with zeal and energy. He had some successes, but the kinds of industries that ultimately settled in Arkansas were of a character that did not promote further development. In fact, with more than six hundred new industrial plants located in the state during his tenure, providing more than ninety thousand new jobs, those factories paid low wages to largely unskilled workers. By the mid-1960s, moreover, it was clear that Arkansas was serving as a way station for those industries on a trek south in search of lower wages. Towns that secured factories in 1955 would likely be looking for replacement factories a decade later.

Ironically, it was in part the fear of losing industrial development possibilities that influenced Little Rock businessmen to take a stand on the Central High School crisis that began in 1957. Governor Orval Faubus had taken an extreme segregationist position just when it seemed the Little Rock school board had worked out a reasonable plan of gradual integration. He called out the National Guard to prevent nine black children from entering the school in the fall of 1957, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower was ultimately forced to nationalize the state guard and send in troops to enforce integration. The next year, Faubus elected to close the schools rather than allow them to be integrated.

For their part, the businessmen recognized that the crisis had drawn national and international attention that threatened their efforts to encourage industrial development in the city. They wanted an end to the bad publicity. By the early 1960s, even Faubus was changing his tune. With black voters gaining strength, particularly in the Arkansas delta, he began courting them and forswearing his segregationist past. When he decided not to run for office in 1966, his former AIDC director, Winthrop Rockefeller, secured the Republican nomination and defeated Jim Johnson, an avid race baiter. Clearly, Arkansas had had enough of the politics of race.

The Republican Rise to Power

The last six decades of the twentieth century witnessed a dramatic economic and political transformation in Arkansas. The emergence of the Republican Party and an economic boom in northwest Arkansas, two events that were not entirely unrelated, changed the face of the Arkansas political and economic landscape. While the delta struggled economically in the wake of the transformation of the plantation system, it reinvented itself politically as black voters made themselves felt at the polls. For the first time since Reconstruction, blacks were elected to important political positions on the local level in Arkansas.

Meanwhile, the rise of four economic giants in northwest Arkansas put that region on a phenomenal growth trajectory. Sam Walton, a retail genius, founded Wal-Mart, with its headquarters in Bentonville. John Tyson began his chicken business in Springdale, and his son, Don Tyson, expanded it dramatically and made it a worldwide enterprise. J. B. Hunt, who began as a simple trucker, founded a trucking empire and moved his headquarters to northwest Arkansas. John A. Cooper, who had founded a successful retirement community known as Cherokee Village, worked his magic in Bella Vista beginning in the 1960s, at approximately the same time that Walton, Don Tyson, and Hunt were laying the foundation for their businesses. The three business enterprises attracted a number of vendors and allied industries, and the population growth that followed generated an unprecedented construction boom.

Most of those who moved into northwest Arkansas and crowded into the growing suburbs of Little Rock were conservative in orientation. Only the presence of three moderate Democrats who could speak the language of fiscal conservatism kept the state otherwise in the hands of the Democrats. Dale Leon Bumpers, David Pryor, and Bill Clinton all served as governor between 1972 and 1992 (with the exception of a two-year period when a maverick Republican, Frank White, occupied the state house). Bumpers and Pryor would go on to have distinguished careers in the Senate, and Clinton, of course, went to the White House. In fact, his departure may have played a significant role in the Republican resurgence in Arkansas. Not only did he take with him many young Democrats who might have positioned themselves for elective office had they remained in Arkansas, but he also left the state in the hands of his Democratic lieutenant governor, Jim Guy Tucker, who proved to be more vulnerable than any one could have imagined. Within two years, Tucker faced serious charges arising from the Whitewater investigation and resigned, giving the seat over to Mike Huckabee, a popular Republican. Meanwhile, Republicans were experiencing a political renaissance elsewhere in the state, claiming a congressional seat in 1992 and a Senate seat in 1996. Clearly, by the end of the twentieth century, the Republican Party had become a force to be reckoned with, and the massive demographic changes that had occurred in the previous fifty years were a major factor in bringing that about.


Bolton, S. Charles. Arkansas: Remote and Restless, 1800–1860. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1998.

Donovan, Timothy P., Willard B. Gatewood, and Jeannie Whayne, eds. Governors of Arkansas. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1995.

Dougan, Michael B. Arkansas Odyssey: The Saga of Arkansas from Prehistoric Times to the Present. Little Rock, Ark.: Rose, 1993.

Johnson, Ben F. III. Arkansas in Modern America, 1930–1999. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2000.

Moneyhon, Carl. Arkansas and the New South, 1874–1929. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1997.

Reed, Roy. Faubus: The Life and Times of an American Prodigal. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1997.

Whayne, Jeannie, Tom DeBlack, George Sabo, and Morris S. Arnold. Arkansas: A Narrative History. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2002.

Whayne, Jeannie, and Willard B. Gatewood, eds. The Arkansas Delta: A Land of Paradox. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1993.


See alsoDesegregation ; Plantation System of the South .

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Arkansas (state, United States)

Arkansas (är´kənsô´, ärkăn´zŭs), state in the south-central United States. It is bordered by Tennessee and Mississippi, across the Mississippi River (E), Louisiana (S), Texas and Oklahoma (W), and Missouri (N).

Facts and Figures

Area, 53,104 sq mi (137,539 sq km). Pop. (2010) 2,915,918, a 9.1% increase since the 2000 census. Capital and largest city, Little Rock. Statehood, June 15, 1836 (25th state). Highest pt., Magazine Mt., 2,753 ft (840 m); lowest pt., Ouachita River, 55 ft (17 m). Nickname, Land of Opportunity. Motto,Regnat Populus [The People Rule]. State bird, mockingbird. State flower, apple blossom. State tree, pine. Abbr., Ark.; AK


The Arkansas River flows southeast across the state between the Ozark plateau and the Ouachita Mountains and runs down to the southern and eastern plains to empty into the Mississippi River. The other rivers of the state also flow generally SE or S to the Mississippi; these include the Saint Francis (which forms part of the E Missouri line), the White River, the Ouachita, and the Red River (which forms part of the Texas line). The state's transportation network is based on rivers as well as roads, railroads, and air travel. The 440 mi (708 km) Arkansas River Navigation System links Oklahoma and Arkansas to the Mississippi River.

The capital and largest city is Little Rock; other important cities are Fort Smith, North Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Hot Springs, and West Memphis.

The climate of Arkansas is marked by long, hot summers and mild winters. The state's many lakes and streams and its abundant wildlife provide excellent hunting and fishing. The mineral springs at Hot Springs also attract many visitors to Arkansas, where tourism is an important industry.


A major cotton-producing state in the 19th cent., Arkansas has since diversified its agricultural production and overall economy. Cotton is still an important crop, but ranks below soybeans and rice. Arkansas has become a leading producer of poultry, raising over one billion broiler chickens a year; turkeys, dairy goods, and catfish are also important. The state's most important mineral products are petroleum, bromine and bromine compounds, and natural gas, and it is the nation's leading bauxite producer. Principal manufactures are food products, chemicals, lumber and paper goods, electrical equipment, furniture, automobile and airplane parts, and machinery. The Pine Bluff Arsenal is among military installations contributing to the Arkansas economy.

Government and Higher Education

The state constitution (1874) provides for an elected governor and bicameral legislature, with a 35-member senate and a 100-member house of representatives. Arkansas sends two senators and four representatives to the U.S. Congress and has six electoral votes.

Bill Clinton was elected governor five times between 1978 and 1990. Jim Guy Tucker, a Democrat, succeeded Clinton but resigned in 1996 when he was convicted of fraud in a Whitewater-related scheme; Republican Mike Huckabee, the lieutenant governor, became governor, and was reelected in 1998 and 2002. In 2006, Mike Beebe, a Democrat, was elected to the post; he was reelected in 2010. Republican Asa Hutchinson was elected governor in 2014.

Among the institutions of higher education in the state are the Univ. of Arkansas, at Fayetteville; Arkansas State Univ., at Jonesboro; Hendrix College and the State College of Arkansas, at Conway; Ouachita Baptist College and Henderson State College, at Arkadelphia; the College of the Ozarks, at Clarksville; Arkansas College, at Batesville; and Harding College, at Searcy.


Early History to Statehood

A people known as the Bluff Dwellers, who inhabited caves, probably lived in the Arkansas area before 500. They were followed by the Mound Builders, who received their name from the mounds they constructed, apparently for ceremonial purposes. The first Europeans to arrive in Arkansas (1541–42) were probably members of the Spanish expedition under Hernando De Soto. Later the French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet came S along the Mississippi to the mouth of the Arkansas River. A number of Native American groups, such as the Osage, Quapaw, and Caddo, lived in the vicinity.

In 1682, Robert La Salle's lieutenant, Henri de Tonti, established Arkansas Post, the first white settlement in the Arkansas area. La Salle claimed the Mississippi valley for France, and the region became part of the French territory of Louisiana. The French ceded the Louisiana territory to Spain in 1762 but regained it before it passed to the United States under the Louisiana Purchase (1803).

Arkansas became part of the Territory of Missouri in 1812. The cotton boom of 1818 brought the first large wave of settlers, and the Southern plantation system, moving west, fixed itself in the alluvial plains of S and E Arkansas. In 1819 the area was made a separate entity, and the first territorial legislature met at Arkansas Post. The capital was moved to Little Rock in 1821. Arkansas achieved statehood in 1836.

The Civil War

As the Civil War began, poorer farmers were generally indifferent to questions of slavery and states' rights. The slaveholding planters held the most political power, however, and after some hesitation, Arkansas seceded (1861) from the Union. In the Civil War, Confederate defeats at Pea Ridge (Mar., 1862), Prairie Grove (Dec., 1862), and Arkansas Post (Jan., 1863) led to Union occupation of N Arkansas, and General Grant's Vicksburg campaign separated states W of the Mississippi from the rest of the Confederacy. In Sept., 1863, federal troops entered Little Rock, where a Unionist convention in Jan., 1864, set up a government that repudiated secession and abolished slavery. Because the state refused at first to enfranchise former slaves, Arkansas was not readmitted to the Union until 1868, when a new constitution gave African Americans the right to vote and hold office.


Reconstruction in Arkansas reached a turbulent climax in the struggle (1874) of two Republican claimants to the governorship, Elisha Baxter and Joseph Brooks. Baxter's apparent success in the election was not accepted by Brooks, and followers of the two men resorted to violence in what became known as the Brooks-Baxter War. After President Ulysses S. Grant declared Baxter to be governor, Baxter called a constituent assembly dominated by Democrats to frame a new state constitution. The convention adopted (1874) the constitution that, in amended form, still remains in force.

During Reconstruction the so-called carpetbaggers and scalawags were detested by most Arkansas whites, but their administrations brought advances in education and (at exorbitant costs caused by corruption) railroad construction. Because of high cotton prices and the failure to give the freed slaves any economic status, the broken plantation system was replaced by sharecropping and farm tenancy. The lives of the people of the Ozarks remained largely unchanged; they retained the customs, skills, and superstitions that have given the hill folk their distinctive regional characteristics. In the late 19th cent., as railroad construction proceeded, Arkansas's population grew substantially, and bauxite and lumbering industries developed. Oil was discovered in Arkansas, near El Dorado, in 1921.

Hard Times

Disaster struck in 1927 when the Mississippi River overflowed, flooding one fifth of the state. With the fortunes of the state pegged to the price of cotton, the depression of the early 1930s (see Great Depression) struck hard. Dispossessed tenants, black and white, formed (1939) the Southern Tenant Farmers Union; after trouble with the authorities, it moved its headquarters to Memphis, Tenn. A strike called in 1936 spread to other regions before its strength waned. Other impoverished farmers migrated west to California as "Arkies" —like the "Okies" from neighboring Oklahoma. After World War I, African Americans left the state in a steady stream to the industrial North. World War II brought further loss of population as workers left Arkansas for war factories elsewhere. The war, however, created a boom for new industries in the state, notably the processing of bauxite into aluminum.

The Postwar Era

The decline of industrial output after the war was offset by the vigorous efforts of a state development commission formed in 1955 to attract new industry to Arkansas. Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas became a center of national and world attention in 1957 when he resisted the desegregation of public schools in Little Rock (see integration). Arkansas has long been dominated by the Democratic party, but in 1966 Winthrop Rockefeller (see under Rockefeller, John Davison was elected the state's first Republican governor since Reconstruction. Although reelected in 1968, Rockefeller lost the governorship to a Democrat, Dale Bumpers, in 1970.

In 1971, Arkansas and Oklahoma joined in the Arkansas River Navigation System, a project that developed the Arkansas River basin to provide water transportation to the Mississippi. In the early 1990s, the Arkansas-based Wal-Mart merchandise chain, founded by Arkansan Sam Walton in 1962 as a small-town discount store, became the largest retailer in the United States. Bill Clinton, the governor of Arkansas (1979–81, 1983–92), was elected president of the United States in 1992. In the mid- to late 1990s national attention focused on Arkansas as Clinton associates, including Jim Guy Tucker, his successor as governor, were embroiled in Whitewater and other scandals.


See L. J. White, Politics on the Southwestern Frontier: Arkansas Territory, 1819–1836 (1964); H. S. Ashmore, Arkansas (1984); I. J. Spitzberg, Racial Politics in Little Rock, 1954–1964 (1987); G. T. Hanson and C. H. Moneyhon, Historical Atlas of Arkansas (1989).

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Arkansas has maintained a certain backwoods reputation in spite of its attempts to modernize and industrialize. At first totally dependent on the cotton crop grown on slaveholding plantations, the state was forced to diversify its agriculture after the Civil War. Today agriculture is only a small part of the state's economic output; such sectors as manufacturing, mining, and services are far more important to the state's economy. Arkansas continues to struggle to provide employment for its poorest citizens, many of whom lack education and job skills.

Hernando de Soto (c.14961592) led the first Spanish expedition into Arkansas in 1541. In 1673 a French expedition headed by Father Jacques Marquette (16371675) and Louis Jolliet (16451700) entered the territory, as did Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle (16431687) in 1682. La Salle claimed the whole Mississippi valley for France. The first permanent European settlement was at Arkansas Post, at the confluence of the Arkansas and White Rivers. France held onto the territory until 1762 when it was ceded to Spain, although it was later returned to French control. The French sold Arkansas to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Initially, part of the Missouri Territory, Arkansas, became an independent territory in 1819 and entered the Union as a slave state in 1836.

Southern and eastern Arkansas fast became cotton-growing areas, with the large plantations run by slave labor which characterized other southern states. The northern and western counties in the Ozark and Ouachita mountains were populated by smaller, poorer white farmers.

In the mid-nineteenth century the state was beset by credit problems. The state's two largest banks failed in the 1840s, the government defaulted on bonds issued by one of the banks. A measure of the fatalism and distrust of banks on the part of the rural population is evident in the fact that the state constitution was amended to prohibit all banking in the state. After the American Civil War (18611865) banking was restored, but the state again defaulted on its obligations to pay off railroad bonds. Until 1917 Arkansas securities were not honored by New York banks.

Transportation was slow to develop in Arkansas. Before the Civil War, commerce developed along the rivers where freight was shipped by hand-propelled keelboats and later, by steamboat. Thus the major towns in the state, such as Little Rock, Camden, Fort Smith, and Pine Bluff, grew along the waterways. Little Rock boasted over 300 steamboats docking in 1859. In the later nineteenth century towns were founded not only by the rivers but also in the interior. This happened in the 1870s, when the railroads begin to traverse the state, laying 2,200 miles of track by 1890.

In 1861 after a period of hesitation the state voted to secede from the Union. After the South's defeat in 1865 a Reconstruction (18651877) government was established that was led by Governor Powell Clayton and other northern Republican politicians. The people in Arkansas hated the corruption and exploitation they suffered under these profiteering outsiders, whom they called carpetbaggers. They ruled the state until 1874 and left such a bad reputation that after Reconstruction, the Democratic Party was in power for many decades to come.

When the Confederacy collapsed property values in the South deflated rapidly. In order to restore agricultural productivity in Arkansas after the war a system of "sharecropping" was developed. According to historian Harry S. Ashmore "It would prove a blight to whites and blacks alike in the years to come, and at its worst it properly could be condemned as the replacement of slavery with a form of peonage. But it provided a means of survival for both races in a desperate time. . . ."

After Reconstruction Arkansas railroads promoted immigration from other states and from abroad, hoping for settlers to establish themselves on the land the railroads had received through government grants. The railroads also controlled large stands of virgin timber. By the 1880s the two largest landowners in Grant County were the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad and the Muskegon Lumber Company of Michiganthe latter evidence that most of the lumbering profits were going out of state.

Arkansas was slow to modernize and did not really emerge from its agricultural past until after the Great Depression (19291939). Its farm economy gradually changed from total dependence on cotton to the growing of crops like rice and soybeans and the production of poultry. Cotton, formerly grown only on large plantations, began to appear in the northwest hill country. Tenant farming was the norm for several decades after the Civil War. Coal mining began in the late nineteenth century; the state also mined bauxite and produced oil. Lumbering was important until around 1909, when it decreased until reforestation began in the 1920s. Pulaski County's industrial development was slowed down by the controversy over school integration in Little Rock in 1957, but development continued in the following decades.

In 1966 Winthrop Rockefeller became the first Republican governor since Reconstruction, bringing a new, businesslike image to the state. Though he warred constantly with a Democratic legislature he did encourage investment in the state. In the early 1970s the Arkansas River navigation system opened up a water route between the Mississippi River and Oklahoma, helping to promote industrial expansion in several river ports along the Arkansas River. By this time the tenant farmer economy had been virtually eliminated by farm mechanization and industrialization.

A later governor, William Jefferson Clinton, who became U.S. President in 1992, brought a number of reforms to the state in areas such as health insurance, education funding, and investment tax credits for corporations. Arkansas's constitution, however, requires a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature for new state income taxation and this had hampered the state government's efforts to improve the state's standard of living.

In the mid-1990s Arkansas's important industries were manufacturing, especially lumber and wood products, agriculture, forestry, and tourism. Over 40 percent of the state's annual gross product was now based on commercial, financial, and professional services. Some industries such as chicken processing, enjoyed close relations with the state's regulatory system. The state's per capita income was under $17,000 in 1996, ranking it only 47th in the nation. Although a number of important labor reforms were passed at the beginning of the century Arkansas is not a strong union state, with only eight percent of workers claiming union membership.

See also: Keelboats, Reconstruction, Sharecropping, Steamboats


Ashmore, Harry S. Arkansas: A Bicentennial History. New York: Norton, 1978.

Du Vall, Leland. Arkansas: Colony and State. Little Rock, AR: Rose, 1973.

Fletcher, John Gould. Arkansas. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1989.

Gatewood, Willard B., and Jeannie Whayne, eds. The Arkansas Delta: Land of Paradox. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1993.

Whayne, Jeannie M. A New Plantation South: Land, Labor, and Federal Favor in Twentieth-Century Arkansas. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1983.

deep in the arkansas consciousness is a tragic sense that across three centuries of existence as a colony, territory, and state its people have been misunderstood and put upon.

harry s. ashmore, arkansas: a bicentennial history, 1978

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Fort Smith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

Little Rock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

The State in Brief

Nickname: Land of Opportunity

Motto: Regnat populus (The people rule)

Flower: Apple blossom

Bird: Mockingbird

Area: 53,179 square miles (2000; U.S. rank: 29th)

Elevation: Ranges from 55 feet to 2,753 feet above sea level

Climate: Long hot summers, mild winters, ample rainfall

Admitted to Union: June 15, 1836

Capital: Little Rock

Head Official: Governor Michael D. Huckabee (R) (until 2007)


1980: 2,286,000

1990: 2,350,725

2000: 2,673,398

2003 estimate: 2,725,714

Percent change, 19902000: 13.7%

Percent change, 20002003: 2.0%

U.S. rank in 2003: 32nd

Percent of residents born in state: 63.9% (2000)

Density: 51.3 people per square mile (2000)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 112,672

Racial and Ethnic Characteristics (2000)

White: 2,138,598

Black or African American: 418,950

American Indian and Alaska Native: 17,808

Asian: 20,220

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 1,668

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 86,866

Other: 40,412

Age Characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 181,585

Population 5 to 19 years old: 578,924

Percent 65 years and over: 14.0%

Median age: 35.3 years (2000)

Vital Statistics

Total number of births (2002): 37,437

Total number of deaths (2001): 27,124 (infant deaths, 307)

AIDS cases reported through 2003: 3,581


Major industries: Food products, agriculture, tourism, manufacturing

Unemployment rate: 5.6% (November 2004)

Per capita income: $24,296 (2003; U.S. rank: 50th)

Median household income: $33,259 (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Percentage of persons below poverty level: 18.5% (3-year average, 2001-2003)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 1.0% to 7.0%

State sales tax rate: 5.125%

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Arkansas (river, United States)

Arkansas (ärkăn´zəs, är´kənsô´), river, c.1,450 mi (2,330 km) long, rising in the Rocky Mts., central Colo., and flowing generally SE across the plains to the Mississippi River, SE Ark.; drains 160,500 sq mi (415,700 sq km). The Canadian and Cimarron rivers are its main tributaries. It is the chief waterway for the state of Arkansas, where it drains a broad valley. The upper course of the Arkansas River has many rapids and flows through the Browns Canyon National Monument and Royal Gorge, one of the deepest canyons in the United States. More than 25 dams on the river provide flood control, power, and irrigation. During the warm months, because of its extensive use for irrigation, the middle course of the Arkansas is reduced to a trickle. The John Martin dam and reservoir in Colorado is one of the largest water-storage and flood-control units in the river basin. The Arkansas River Navigation System, opened in 1971, makes the river navigable to Tulsa, Okla., 440 mi (708 km) upstream. The Spanish explorers Coronado and De Soto probably traveled along portions of the river in the 1540s. In 1806, Zebulon Pike, an American army officer, explored the river's upper reaches in Colorado. The Arkansas River was an important trade and travel route in the 19th cent.

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Arkansas State in s central USA, bounded on the e by the Mississippi River. The capital (and only large city) is Little Rock. It was acquired by the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and was admitted to the Union as the 25th state in 1836. Arkansas was one of the 11 Confederate states during the American Civil War. Noted for its resistance to black equality in the 1960s, Ex-President Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas (1978–80, 1983–92). In the e and s the land is low, providing excellent farmland for cotton, rice, and soya beans. The principal waterway is the Arkansas river which (like all the state's rivers) drains into the Mississippi. The nw of the state, including part of the Ozarks, is higher land. Little Rock is located on the Arkansas, where the hills meet the plains. Forests are extensive and economically important. Bauxite processing, timber, and chemicals are the main industries. Area: 137,539sq km (53,104sq mi). Pop. (2000) 2,673,400.

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Arkansas River with its source high up in the Rockies of central Colorado, USA, and flowing 2335km (1450mi) to the Mississippi River in se Arkansas. Fourth-longest river in the US, it flows e through Kansas, se across the ne corner of Oklahoma, and then se to Arkansas.

Statehood :

June 15, 1836

Nickname :

The Land of Opportunity

State bird :


State flower :

Apple Blossom

State tree :

Pine tree

State motto :

The people rule

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Arkansas (indigenous people of North America)

Arkansas, Native North Americans: see Quapaw.

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Arkansas •Nassau • hacksaw • heartsore •bedsore • Ensor • fretsaw • chainsaw •Esau, seesaw •jigsaw •ripsaw, whipsaw •eyesore • Warsaw • bowsaw •footsore • Luxor • plesiosaur •stegosaur • Arkansas • Chickasaw •dinosaur • brontosaur

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"Arkansas." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . 11 Dec. 2017 <>.

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