Entries - Entry Category: State - Starting with C

Campaign Finance Laws

In the modern era, through a combination of legislation and initiated acts, the state of Arkansas has developed a system of campaign finance laws for state elections. While critics charge that the system has problematic holes within it that allow money to unduly influence policymakers’ decisions, it is a system that is now in the mainstream of American states and is generally strong in terms of the disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures. Such contributions and expenditures were completely unregulated in Arkansas until the mid-1970s, when an initial campaign finance law was passed (Act 788 of 1975). This came a year after the first major federal campaign finance legislation was passed following the Watergate scandal in which quid pro quo …

Campbell, Tom Walter

Tom Walter Campbell was a well-known Arkansas attorney and political figure in the first half of the twentieth century. A member of the Arkansas General Assembly, he also sought election to higher office but was unsuccessful. In his later years, he authored some well-regarded historical works. Tom W. Campbell was born on September 7, 1874, to John Stone Campbell and Alice Hufstedter Campbell on a farm near the Eleven Point River in Randolph County. After receiving his early education in the local schools, he attended Add-Ran Christian University (now Texas Christian University) in Thorp Springs, Texas. Following his sophomore year in 1894, he returned to Randolph County, and, in 1895, he married Jenny Roberts, with whom he would have three …

Carnes, Gressie Umsted

Gressie Umsted Carnes was active in state and national politics as a member of the Democratic Party. She also played major roles in promoting Easter Seals and Girl Scouts in Arkansas. Gressie Umsted was born on August 9, 1903, in Bernice, Louisiana, to Edna Sedalia Edwards Umsted and Sidney Albert Umsted. She had twin sisters, Audrey and Aubrey, and a brother who died in infancy. Her family moved to Arkansas in the early 1920s. Umsted graduated from high school in El Dorado (Union County) and attended Henderson-Brown College in Arkadelphia (Clark County) and Gulf Park College in Gulfport, Mississippi. She was working on a BA in music but did not finish, leaving school after her father died from injuries sustained …

Carter, Vertie Lee Glasgow

Vertie Lee Glasgow Carter is a renowned educator whose doctorate in education paved her way into previously unattainable arenas for an African-American woman of her time in Arkansas. Over her long career in education, she influenced generations of teachers and revolutionized the way Arkansas applied employment and merit systems. She is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Vertie L. Glasgow was born on October 19, 1923, into the sharecropping family of Daisy James Glasgow, who was also a schoolteacher, and Thomas Glasgow in the Antioch community in Hempstead County. To buy books and pay tuition to Yerger High School in Hope (Hempstead County), she raised and sold pigs. After graduating from high school in 1942, she attended …

Cazort, William Lee

William Lee Cazort was a familiar figure in Arkansas politics throughout the 1920s and 1930s. He served several terms in the state legislature and three times as lieutenant governor, but his political ambitions were checked by three unsuccessful gubernatorial bids. The scion of a prominent local family, Lee Cazort was born on December 3, 1887, near Cabin Creek (now Lamar) in Johnson County. He was the son of Belle Gardner and John Robert Cazort. His father was invested in interests as diverse as land, lumber, livestock, cotton, and mercantile trade. Popularly known as Cazort Brothers, the family business was a virtual empire that operated throughout Arkansas and into neighboring states. Cazort grew up in a household of eight children. He …

Cherokee Boundary Line

aka: Old Cherokee Boundary Line
The Old Cherokee Boundary Line served as the eastern border of the first land set aside for Native Americans in Arkansas. The Treaty of the Cherokee Agency of 1817 created the definition for the line as beginning at the confluence of Point Remove Creek and the Arkansas River near present-day Morrilton (Conway County). The line was then to be marked in a northeasterly direction to Shields Ferry on the White River. General William Rector, along with commissioners appointed by the Cherokee, conducted the original survey and filed a report with the Government Land Office in 1819. Rector reported a distance of seventy-one miles and fifty-five chains. Rector’s survey and report were intended to satisfy both some Cherokee residents and some …

Cherry, Francis Adams

Francis Adams Cherry was a chancery judge, Arkansas’s thirty-fifth governor, and chairman of the federal Subversive Activities Control Board. Cherry is most remembered for his political ineptness, which resulted in the election of Orval Faubus as governor in 1954. Francis Cherry was born on September 5, 1908, in Fort Worth, Texas, to Haskille Scott and Clara Belle (Taylor) Cherry. The youngest of five children, he only briefly lived in Fort Worth before his father, a Rock Island Railroad conductor, was transferred. Cherry grew up in El Reno and Enid, Oklahoma, graduating from high school at the latter town. He majored in prelaw at Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Oklahoma State University) from 1926 to 1930. The Great Depression delayed …

Choctaw Boundary Line

Determining the Choctaw Boundary Line and thus the western boundary of Arkansas below the Arkansas River was a process that involved political maneuvering, treaties with the Choctaw tribe, and other negotiations. The line was not even determined for one small strip of land until 1905. The Louisiana Purchase opened up a vast territory for the United States, and a few pioneers began to move into the lands west of the Mississippi River. In 1818, the first treaty was negotiated with the Quapaw tribe for the land west of a line that ran south from the “little rock” on the Arkansas River. The formation of Arkansas Territory in March 1819 brought more settlers. The settlers considered the lands to be in …

Churchill, Thomas James

Thomas James Churchill, the thirteenth governor of Arkansas, led advances in health and education while in office. During his administration, legislation set standards for practicing medicine and established the Medical Department of Arkansas Industrial University (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences) in Little Rock (Pulaski County). In addition to creating a facility for the mentally ill and a state board of health, his administration appropriated funds for purchasing a building for the branch normal school in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), which served African-American students. Born on March 10, 1824, on his father’s farm near Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas Churchill was one of sixteen children born to Samuel and Abby (Oldham) Churchill. The children grew up on the farm and attended …

Clark, John Steven (Steve)

aka: Steve Clark
John Steven (Steve) Clark was the longest-serving attorney general in Arkansas history. After eleven years as attorney general, Clark announced in January 1990 that he would run for the Democratic nomination for governor. A few days later, the Arkansas Gazette reported that his office had spent a suspicious $115,729 total on travel and meals, more than any of the other six constitutional officers, and that his vouchers listed many dinner guests who said they had not been his guests. In February, Clark withdrew from the governor’s race (Governor Bill Clinton would be re-elected). He was convicted of fraud by deception and resigned as attorney general. Steve Clark was born on March 21, 1947, in Leachville (Mississippi County) to John W. …

Clarke, James Paul

James Paul Clarke, eighteenth governor of Arkansas and a United States senator, became an advocate of the silver monetization crusade associated with the William Jennings Bryan wing of the Democratic Party. He was also a defender of white supremacy as the key doctrine of his party. James Clarke was born in Yazoo County, Mississippi, on August 18, 1854, to Walter Clarke, an architect, and Ellen White, daughter of a prominent planter. After editing a paper in Yazoo City, Clarke received a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1878. In 1879, Clarke moved to Arkansas, settling first at Ozark (Franklin County). Within a year he moved to Helena (Phillips County), where he began a successful law practice. Clarke married …

Clayton, John Middleton

John Middleton Clayton was a Union officer, Reconstruction official, county sheriff, and Republican Party activist. His life in Arkansas illustrates the contentious politics in the state and the South of this time, and his politically inspired murder in 1889 may have made him more famous in death than in life. John Clayton and his twin brother, William, were born on October 13, 1840, on a farm near Chester, Pennsylvania, the son of Ann Glover and John Clayton, an orchard-keeper and carpenter. The couple had ten children, six of whom died in infancy. Clayton married a woman named Sarah Ann, and the couple had six children. During the Civil War, Clayton served in the Army of the Potomac and was engaged …

Clayton, Powell

Powell Clayton, a Union general who settled in Arkansas following the Civil War, played a prominent role as a Republican politician in the Reconstruction that followed that conflict. He became the first governor after the state’s readmission in the Union and pursued social, economic, and political policies typical of Republican regimes elsewhere in the South. He subsequently became an important figure in that party’s national politics until the time of his death. Clayton was born in Bethel Township, Pennsylvania, on August 7, 1833, to John Clayton, a carpenter who kept an orchard, and Ann Clarke Clayton. Clayton attended local public schools and the Partridge Military Academy in Bristol, Pennsylvania. As a young adult, he studied civil engineering in Wilmington, Delaware, …

Clendenin, John J.

John J. Clendenin was an influential lawyer and judge in Arkansas before and after the Civil War. He also served a short term as a member of the Reconstruction-era Supreme Court of Arkansas. John Joseph Clendenin was born on September 2, 1813, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Not much is known about his youth beyond the fact that to support his widowed mother, as well as his siblings, he worked as a clerk in a Harrisburg-area post office while also gaining some business experience. He also read the law for several years with prominent attorney (and future vice president) George Mifflin Dallas. He then clerked for future senator and secretary of war Simon Cameron. In 1836, Clendenin made his way to Arkansas, …

Clinton, Bill

aka: William Jefferson Clinton
William Jefferson Clinton, a native of Hope (Hempstead County), was the fortieth and forty-second governor of Arkansas and the forty-second president of the United States. Clinton’s tenure as governor of Arkansas, eleven years and eleven months total, was the second longest in the state’s history. Only Orval E. Faubus served longer, with twelve years. Clinton was the second-youngest governor in the state’s history, after John Selden Roane, and the third-youngest person to become president, after Theodore Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Clinton’s years as governor were marked by extensive efforts to reform the public school system and to spur economic growth. He persuaded lawmakers to enact numerous educational reforms, levy substantial taxes to improve education, and enact an array of …

Cobb, Osro

Osro Cobb was a lawyer who, as state chairman of the Republican Party, helped establish a real two-party political system in Arkansas. He was U.S. district attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas during the 1957 desegregation crisis at Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was also appointed to the Arkansas Supreme Court by Governor Orval Faubus in 1966, becoming the first Republican to hold a position on the court since 1874. Osro Cobb was born near Hatton (Polk County) on May 28, 1904, to Philander Cobb, a businessman in the lumber industry, and Ida Sublette Cobb, a writer, poet, playwright, and songwriter; he had two brothers. Cobb’s family relocated frequently due to his father’s business dealings, …

Collins, Richard D’Cantillon

Captain Richard D’Cantillon Collins is an often overlooked but nevertheless important figure in early Arkansas history. He was cashier of the central branch of the Real Estate Bank of Arkansas in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1837 until he was replaced by former commissioner of Indian Affairs, Carey Allen Harris, in 1838. At the same time he was cashier, Collins also served as chief disbursement agent as well as Arkansas’s last superintendent of Indian Removal and Subsistence west of the Mississippi River, heading the Little Rock Office of Removal and Subsistence from 1837 to 1839. By then, Collins had become president of the Real Estate Bank in Little Rock, with Harris as his cashier. Collins had originally come to Arkansas under orders to survey, take bids …

Commissioner of State Lands, Office of

aka: Office of Land Commissioner
The commissioner of state lands (or land commissioner) is one of seven constitutional officers serving the state of Arkansas. Primarily, the land commissioner oversees the disposition of tax-delinquent property, but the office is also responsible for certain historic preservation initiatives and the leasing of natural resources on state-owned lands. The office of the commissioner of state lands was created in 1868 by the Arkansas General Assembly as the commissioner of immigration and state lands. This title was given to the commissioner of public works and internal improvements until such time as the offices were separated by the legislature. The constitution of 1874 allowed the Arkansas General Assembly to “provide by law for the establishment of the office of commissioner of …

Confederate State Capitol Building (Hempstead County)

aka: Hempstead County Courthouse of 1836
The 1836 Hempstead County Courthouse located in Washington (Hempstead County) was used as the Confederate State Capitol after Little Rock (Pulaski County) fell to Union forces in 1863. Today, it is one of the attractions of Historic Washington State Park. In 1824, Washington was designated the county seat of Hempstead County; the seat had previously been located in the northeastern part of the county. By 1835, local officials recognized the need for a new county courthouse. The circuit court had previously met in a one-room building built by Tilman L. Patterson, who also supervised the construction of the new two-story courthouse. It was built in 1836 for $1,850. Between the time of its construction and the advent of the Civil …

Constitutional Conventions

A constitutional convention is a meeting of delegates to establish a document that serves as the framework for government. Arkansas has had eight conventions. Five conventions resulted in documents being adopted, and three conventions produced documents that were rejected by voters. Arkansas has had at least three failed convention calls. In October 1835, Arkansas’s Territorial Assembly met in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to take steps toward statehood. Legislation calling for a convention was introduced, and the issue of delegate apportionment was raised. An amendment was adopted that provided that convention representation be based on that of the legislature, whose makeup was based upon the number of white men. The legislation called for a convention consisting of fifty-two delegates to be …

Conway, Elias Nelson

Elias Nelson Conway—born into an extended kinship group known as “The Family,” which came to dominate the politics of early Arkansas—was elected the fifth governor of the state of Arkansas. He served in that position longer than anyone until Orval Faubus, a century later. His eight years in office were a time of relative prosperity for the growing state as the government dealt with issues such as internal improvements and debt left from failed banks. The mounting tensions that led to the Civil War began to play out during Conway’s second term, and the voters ended the Family’s political domination in the election of 1860 when they rejected Conway’s choice for a successor. Elias Conway was born on May 17, …

Conway, James Sevier

James Sevier Conway was the first governor for the state of Arkansas, elected in 1836 through strong family ties to both prominent Arkansans and President Andrew Jackson’s administration. His tenure as governor was best known for economic issues, surplus funds in the state treasury, legislation creating the state’s first banks, and a national depression, which consumed the surplus and contributed to a collapse in the banking system. James Conway was born on December 4, 1796, in Greene County, Tennessee, the son of Thomas Conway and Anne Rector. Wealthy by frontier standards, the Conway family grew corn and cotton and raised livestock on their Tennessee plantation. Conway’s father employed private tutors to teach his seven sons and three daughters. In 1818, …

Conway, Polly

aka: Mary Jane Bradley Conway
Mary Jane “Polly” Bradley Conway, the wife of Arkansas’s first governor, was a stable mother, supportive spouse, and respected prominent citizen. She was also a pioneer in what was then a primitive corner of the state. Polly Bradley was born on August 31, 1809, at or near Lebanon in Wilson County, Tennessee, to John Bradley and Jane Barton. Bradley’s father died the year she was born. After the War of 1812, her uncles Captain Hugh Bradley and Fleetwood Herndon moved to Arkansas. Bradley, her mother, her sisters, and her stepfather also migrated to Arkansas Territory, settling on the “Long Prairie” of the future Lafayette County. On December 21, 1826, Bradley married James Sevier Conway, presumably on Long Prairie, where he …

County Judge, Office of

Each county in Arkansas has a county judge, who is the chief executive officer of the county, as well as several other countywide office holders including a quorum court (legislative body) made up of justices of the peace elected from single-member districts. The county judge is custodian of county property and public buildings. Counties are essentially subdivisions of the state government. The Arkansas General Assembly controls them to the extent it desires, except as forbidden by state constitutional law. According to the Arkansas Supreme Court, a county is a political subdivision of the state established for a more convenient administration of justice and for purposes of providing services for the state. The highest county executive office is that of county judge. …

Crank, Marion Harland

Marion Harland Crank was a member of the Arkansas General Assembly for eighteen years; he lost narrowly to Governor Winthrop Rockefeller in 1968 in his only race for statewide office. Crank’s defeat ended conservative dominance of the Democratic Party in Arkansas. A government agriculture specialist, farmer, teacher, and businessman, Crank became influential in the dominant rural faction of legislators when he entered the state House of Representatives in 1951. He was the speaker of the House in 1963–64 and often managed legislative programs for Governor Orval E. Faubus during Faubus’s twelve years in office. He was the choice of the old political organization of conservative businessmen and planters to oppose the Republican Rockefeller for a second term, defeating five Democrats …

Crittenden, Robert

Robert Crittenden was the first secretary and acting governor of the Arkansas Territory; subsequently, he was the first person to serve in the role now known as the lieutenant governor of Arkansas. He was a prominent member of the Arkansas bar, candidate for territorial delegate to Congress in 1833, and political powerbroker in territorial Arkansas. Robert Crittenden was born on January 1, 1797, in Woodford County, Kentucky, near Versailles. He was the son of John Crittenden, a major in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, and Judith Harris. His brother, John Jordan Crittenden, served as a United States senator from Kentucky and was attorney general under presidents William Henry Harrison …

Cunningham, Charles E.

During the 1870s and 1880s, Little Rock (Pulaski County) resident Charles E. Cunningham played a leading role in farmers’ organizations and in third-party politics both in Arkansas and at the national level. His political career included third-party nominations for a seat in U.S. House of Representatives, the governor’s office, and the vice presidency. Although he failed to win election to any of these offices, he nevertheless played an important role in building the Union Labor Party in Arkansas, which may well have wrested control of the state government away from the Democratic Party during the late 1880s and early 1890s had Democrats not resorted to election fraud and violence to maintain their power. Charles E. Cunningham was born on July …