Political Issues and Controversies

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Labor Movement

Soon after Arkansas’s 1836 admission to the Union, wage workers in the state began uniting for their mutual economic and political benefit. Throughout the nineteenth century, these associations—commonly called trade unions—tended to be short lived and unstable, reflecting the dominance of agriculture in Arkansas’s economy. But in the twentieth century, as industry began gaining a toehold in the state, the labor movement began improving the lives of wage workers through collective bargaining and by securing passage of legislation in the interest of all workers. Although weak when compared with their counterparts in more industrialized states, Arkansas’s trade unions were at the forefront of every significant wave of reform in the state during the twentieth century—the Progressive Era, the New Deal, …

Little Rock Censor Board

aka: Little Rock Board of Censors
The Little Rock Censor Board operated in Arkansas’s capital city for nearly seventy years trying to regulate forms of entertainment—from literature to movies—to protect citizens from influences perceived to be immoral. As social mores changed and the legality of the board was challenged, it saw its influence diminish, until it quietly disbanded. In the early twentieth century, officials around the country attempted to censor salacious or obscene materials. For example, Memphis’s Board of Censors, created in 1911, was notorious for its harsh rulings, and Maryland established its censor board in 1916, which remained influential until its demise in 198l. The Little Rock Censor Board was created in 1911 by Mayor John S. Odom and the city council in response to …

Logan County Draft War

aka: Franklin County Draft War
The Logan County Draft War was an episode of armed draft resistance in Arkansas during World War I. Following on the heels of the more infamous Cleburne County Draft War, the Logan County incident—which actually took place predominately in Franklin County, and later in the wooded area near Mount Magazine—followed the familiar pattern of previous draft skirmishes in which a local posse encountered suspected draft evaders, resulting in a shootout, a death, and then a wider manhunt. On August 5, 1918, authorities from Ozark (Franklin County) assembled a posse of seven men led by a Constable Horton to investigate the farmhouse of J. H. Benson near Cecil (Franklin County). It is unclear from the sources whether this posse was formed …