Arkansas History

Both the wild west frontier and thick roots of deep south America are woven into Arkansas history. Growing and changing from a sweeping, and mostly deserted wilderness landscape into a flourishing American state, the history of Arkansas spans less than six hundred years, only a drop in the immense pool of world history. Arkansas was first discovered in 1541 by Hernando de Soto, an intrepid Spanish immigrant. This same year Oklahoma was discovered by another Spanish pathfinder known as Coronado. Though there are several interesting facts about Arkansas throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The most significant events take place in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In the later seventeenth century, French explorers traveled up the mighty Mississippi River all the way to the Arkansas River delta where they turned back after threats by Arkansas's Quapaw tribe. Two decades later, land from a Quapaw village was claimed on behalf of King Louis XIV and later still, Arkansas Post was founded by Henri de Tonti at the lowest part of the Mississippi River. Significant Arkansas history throughout the eighteenth century is fairly brief. Arkansas Post was abandoned after an intense scheme to take over the Mississippi Valley backfired. Forty years later both Arkansas and the Louisiana Territory was surrendered by France, yet French soldiers stay on at the Arkansas Post, the capital of the region.

During the nineteenth century there are many interesting facts about Arkansas and several events that helped shape the state into modern times. At the turn of the century, the United States acquired the Louisiana Purchase and not two decades later Arkansas was officially a territory. In 1821, the territory's capital was transferred to Little Rock from the original capital at Arkansas Post. The history of Arkansas denotes more than 60,000 people resided in Arkansas by 1836 throughout the prairies, mountains, and by the lakes. After a noteworthy constitution was drafted and accepted by the people, Arkansas became the 25th state of America. Growing by leaps and bounds, Arkansas was home to almost half a million people by 1860, a quarter of which were slaves.

The Civil War came into play in Arkansas history in May of 1861 because of the state's decision to withdraw from the Union. Prairie Grove and Pea Ridge were two of the most significant Civil War battles fought in Arkansas during the war. In 1863, the Confederate government relocated its headquarters to Washington and the Union government was founded in Little Rock. There are so many interesting facts about Arkansas around this period in history that it's worth a trip to some of the region's museums for a broader illustration of the most notable events. With the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, the onslaught of the Reconstruction days, as they were called, commenced and many prominent changes occurred. The next three decades in the history of Arkansas saw great steps forward in industry, inventions, city utilities, transportation, and most importantly, the establishment of the railroad. Both public schools and universities were built, opening the doors to more opportunity while the population soared to more than one million strong.

The twentieth century has been another extremely era in the history of Arkansas. Transportation methods excelled with the airplane, radio and television changed the face of media, and the popularity of the new automobile erupted. Natural gas and oil discoveries brought a new way to supply abundant sources of energy. More and more farms were established, rice became a popular and profitable crop and dairy and livestock became much more plentiful. Industrialization happened quickly after WWII and today goods manufactured in Arkansas include aircraft segments, communications equipment, aluminum, paper, and pulp products.

Arkansas has also become an important tourist destination offering a wide scope of attractions appealing to many different likes. The outdoor scene is ripe with cabins, lake lodging, and plenty of opportunity for hiking, camping, fishing, and more. The state boasts the best of the arts, incredible festivals and events and exciting casinos. From Arkansas history at the Clinton Presidential Library to magnificent scenery along the Talimena Scenic Byway, both indoors and the outdoors showcase the best of Arkansas to curious, adventure-bound tourists.

Compare Travel Sites and Save!

Edgefest

Edgefest brings some of the biggest names in rock to Arkansas—really putting ...

Arkansas Forum

Civil Rights bike tours

Starting this spring, and in celebration of the National Park Service's centennial celebrati...

More Forum Posts »