Overview

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Law

Law develops out of the customs practiced by groups of people. In Arkansas, as in other places, the law has evolved over time with different cultures and interest groups within them. In the early eighteenth century, French colonizers replaced the familial and village-wide chiefdom systems of law developed by the natives with legal rules and regulations developed in France. These new rules appeared more sophisticated and complex than those developed by small groups of native hunter-gatherers. However, in many respects, they reflected a similar hierarchical structure with a hereditary ruler at the top. Given the geographical distance from which these laws were applied, they had to be adapted to fit the circumstances of frontier living. As had the natives, local …

Literature and Authors

Arkansas’s place in Southern American literature is partly a result of its place on the map. The eastern border, the Mississippi River, isolated Arkansas from the rest of the South, and the western border, in Indian Territory, pulled it toward the western frontier. The Arkansas River, slicing the state diagonally from northwest to southeast, further divided the region culturally and economically. Arkansas contains six natural divisions ranging from the Ozark Plateau (commonly called the Ozark Mountains) to the flat and fertile Delta on the eastern border. The combination of isolation from without and cultural diversity within its borders continues to influence Arkansas writers and writing. Even those whose association with the state is temporary or tenuous often bear the stamp …

Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood, 1803 through 1860

A century of French and Spanish imperial control had little permanent effect on Arkansas, leaving it with fewer than 500 European-born inhabitants when it became part of the United States. The most significant change of the eighteenth century had been the decimation of the Quapaw Indian population, which ended the period only slightly more numerous than did the white settlers who had always been their friends and allies. Even after the Louisiana Purchase, change came slowly. Arkansas became a separate territory in 1819, but not until the 1830s did it begin to grow rapidly, a process that led to statehood in 1836. By that time, it was becoming a distinctly Southern state, the production of cotton and the ownership of …