LITTLE ROCK, Ark – June 15 marks Arkansas’ 186th birthday.
Arkansas was the 25th state admitted to the Union and had, at the time a population of about 60,000. The minimum population requirement for statehood at the time was 40,000.
The congressional act admitting Arkansas to the Union was signed by President Andrew Jackson June 15, 1836. The Arkansas Department of Heritage records this as being the result of a state constitutional convention on January 4, 1836.
The convention was held in a church since what was then known as the Arkansas Territory did not have a capitol building. As a result of the convention a four-paged constitution was drawn up and a copy sent to Washington. The result was Jackson’s June signature.
At the time, the Arkansas Territory was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and included a large part of what is now Oklahoma.
The state’s first governor was James Sevier Conway, the former surveyor-general of Arkansas Territory. He served as governor until 1840. The Arkansas Conway presided over was primarily agrarian, with small substance farms to the north and upper west, and plantations in the south and east. Cotton was by far the most important cash crop.
It would be 45 years until the Arkansas General Assembly passed a resolution in 1881 confirming the state’s name be pronounced in its familiar form, we all know, and ending confusion over the “Arkansaw” or a “Kansas” -like pronunciation. “Arkansas” was a name early French explorers used for the Quapaw.
According to U.S. Census records, Arkansas is the 27th largest state at 52,023.8 square miles, with 1,141.2 square miles of water.