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  About the State of Arkansas
An excerpt from the 1889 edition of Chambers Encyclopedia

Arkansas is one of the larger states of the American Union, taking its name from the Arkansas River. Throughout the entire length, it occupies the right bank of the Mississippi, being separated by that stream, towards the east, from Tennessee and the North half of Mississippi. Its boundaries to the South West and North are purely arbitrary and conventional and are best learned from a map. With a length of 240 miles, and an average breadth of about 225, the area of Arkansas is 53,850 square miles, being nearly 3000 miles larger than England (without Wales). In 1870, out of 34,000,000 acres, only 1,860,000 were cultivated, very little more than one seventeenth of the whole. This area had increased to 3,595,000 in 1880. In 1879, the agricultural productions of the state were 22,432,800 bushels of Indian corn, 1,384,000 of wheat, 1,603,120 of oats, 696,500 of potatoes, and 323,872,500 bales of cotton. Pop. (1820) 14,273; (1870) 484,471; (1880) 872,564, of whom 210,593 were colored, Indians and Chinese. Though nominally colonized by the French in 1685, it was still virtually a wilderness, when purchased as a part of Louisiana by the United State in 1803. It was only in 1819 and 1836 respectively that it became first a territory, and then a state of the Union. The towns of Arkansas are small, the principal being Little Rock, the seat of government, with 12,380 inhabitants, which about four times as populous as any other of the principal towns, which are Camden, Fort Smith, Pine Bluff, Helena, Hot Springs, and Princeton.

In climate and productions, Arkansas occupies, as it were, an intermediate position between the states of the west and those of the south. Arkansas is rich in minerals, particularly in manganese, zinc, and gypsum. It also contains the principal varieties of coal - cannel, anthracite, and bituminous. It likewise possesses lead-ores, which are said to contain a large proportion of silver. The manufactures of the state are comparatively insignificant.

The internal improvements of Arkansas consist in great measure of plank roads and levees or embankments against the Mississippi. In 1880, there were about 500 miles of railway in Arkansas. The state, however, is comparatively independent of works of this description, penetrated as it is by so many navigable rivers - the Arkansas, the White River, the St. Francis, the Red River, the Washita, &etc.

In 1880, the public indebtedness of Arkansas contracted mainly in support of banks, amounted to $5,096,405 dollars, nearly half of it representing interest accrued and unpaid. The taxation for the same year was $613,957 dollars, chiefly the result of a direct assessment on property of almost every description - lands, houses, furniture, horses, mules, cattle, stock-in-trade of all trades, gold watches, jewelry, &etc.

The state legislature meets only once in two years. To the Lower House of Congress Arkansas, in the proportion of its population, sends four representatives; while, like every other state, it has two senators in the Upper House.

This article is excerpted from the Chambers's Encyclopedia, Volume 1, published by Collier Publisher, NY - 1889.