Nancy Johnson Hall (1904–1991)
Nancy Pearl Johnson Hall was the first woman to be elected to a constitutional office in Arkansas. A staff member to several agencies and constitutional officers of state government, she was appointed to succeed her husband as secretary of state upon his death and went on to be elected state treasurer by the voters.
Nancy Pearl Johnson was born in Prescott (Nevada County) on October 5, 1904, to George Sim Johnson and Minnie Bryan Johnson. When she was six years of age, her family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County), where she attended Little Rock’s public schools.
Her career in state government began in 1925 with work for the Legislative Council. She later served as a member of the staff of Herbert R. Wilson, who was commissioner of state lands, highways, and improvements.
It was around this time that she met C. G. Hall as she distributed campaign literature at the election polls. They were married on October 5, 1929, in Little Rock at the Pulaski Heights Presbyterian Church. They had one daughter.
With the election of her husband as secretary of state in 1936, Hall served on the staff in that office, not an uncommon practice at that time. She served there until his death in 1961, when she was appointed by Governor Orval Faubus to succeed her husband for the remainder of his term.
Her tenure as secretary of state was marked by routine care and maintenance of the Arkansas State Capitol as well as some larger improvement projects that included restoration of murals, a dome in need of significant repair, and the replacement of the storm-damaged outer glass that protects the stained-glass domes above the legislative chambers.
More controversial issues included discussions concerning the location of a proposed prayer room at the capitol and her position that sunrise Easter services on the steps of the capitol should be cancelled if the service program were to be desegregated. On the latter issue, she cited the potential for incident or disturbance along with her responsibility for the capitol building as her reasons for her position (the services were later called off by the sponsor of the event).
A constitutional prohibition made Hall ineligible to run for secretary of state in 1962. She did, however, seek the Democratic nomination for state treasurer; she won the primary handily, defeating J. H. (Johnny) Mitchum. Unopposed in the general election, she became the first woman elected to a constitutional office in Arkansas.
Hall served for the next eighteen years as treasurer. As treasurer, Hall served on the boards of the Public Employees Retirement System, the Teacher Retirement System, and the Highway Employees Retirement System. She also served as chair of the State Employees Board in 1968 and, in 1974, served as secretary of the Arkansas Rural Endowment Board.
Although often unopposed, Hall utilized a memorable biennial campaign slogan that became her trademark: “I’ll take care of your money.” A lifelong Democrat, Hall was named “Mrs. Democrat” in 1966.
In 1978, she was opposed by Ray Clinton for a ninth term. Citing accomplishments of having placed “state fund accounting on a computer system, reducing her staff as a result of automation and investing $ 240 million in state funds each year,” she went on to defeat Clinton with over seventy percent of the vote.
In 1980, Hall announced that, “with mixed emotions,” she would not seek a tenth term as treasurer, and she retired from public life in January 1981.
Hall died on January 1, 1991. She is buried in Roselawn Memorial Park in Little Rock.
For additional information:
Johansen, Marion. “Ex-state Treasurer Nancy Hall Dies at 86.” Arkansas Democrat. January 2, 1991, pp. 1, 9A.
“Won’t Seek 10th Term As State Treasurer, Mrs. Hall Confirms.” Arkansas Gazette. February 21, 1980, p. 6A.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Last Updated: 02/24/2010