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Arkansas Territory
Organized incorporated territory of the United States
Seal of Arkansas Territory

 • Coordinates34°44′10″N 92°19′52″W / 34.73611°N 92.33111°W / 34.73611; -92.33111
 • TypeOrganized incorporated territory
• 1819–1825
James Monroe
• 1825–1829
John Quincy Adams
• 1829–1836
Andrew Jackson
• 1819–1824
James Miller
• 1825–1828
George Izard
• 1829–1835
John Pope
• 1835–1836
William Fulton
LegislatureGeneral Assembly
• Upper house
Legislative Council
• Lower house
House of Representatives
• Affirmed by Congress[1]
March 2, 1819
• Officially became territory
July 4, 1819
June 30, 1834
May 6, 1828
• Statehood of Arkansas
June 15, 1836
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Missouri Territory
Unorganized territory
Today part ofUnited States

The Arkansas Territory was a territory of the United States from July 4, 1819, to June 15, 1836, when the final extent of Arkansas Territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Arkansas.[2] Arkansas Post was the first territorial capital (1819–1821) and Little Rock was the second (1821–1836).[3]


The name Arkansas has been pronounced and spelled in a variety of fashions. The region was organized as the Territory of Arkansaw on March 2, 1819, but the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Arkansas on June 15, 1836. The name was historically pronounced /ˈɑːrkənsɔː/, /ɑːrˈkænzəs/, and had several other pronunciation variants. In 1881, the Arkansas General Assembly passed the following concurrent resolution (Arkansas Statutes, Title 1, Chapter 4, Section 105):

Whereas, confusion of practice has arisen in the pronunciation of the name of our state and it is deemed important that the true pronunciation should be determined for use in oral official proceedings.

And, whereas, the matter has been thoroughly investigated by the State Historical Society and the Eclectic Society of Little Rock, which have agreed upon the correct pronunciation as derived from history, and the early usage of the American immigrants.

Be it therefore resolved by both houses of the General Assembly, that the only true pronunciation of the name of the state, in the opinion of this body, is that received by the French from the native Indians and committed to writing in the French word representing the sound. It should be pronounced in three (3) syllables, with the final "s" silent, the "a" in each syllable with the Italian sound, and the accent on the first and last syllables. The pronunciation with the accent on the second syllable with the sound of "a" in "man" and the sounding of the terminal "s" is an innovation to be discouraged.

Residents of Kansas often pronounce the Arkansas River as /ɑːrˈkænzəs ˈrɪvər/ in a manner similar to the common pronunciation of the name of their state.


The first official use of the name Arkansas came in 1806 when the southern portion of New Madrid County in Louisiana Territory was designated as the District of Arkansas. In 1813, it became Arkansas County in Missouri Territory. When Missouri applied for statehood, it asked for a southern boundary at 36º30′, except for a small portion between the St. Francis River and the Mississippi River where it dropped to 36º. This became the northern boundary of what became Arkansas Territory.[4]

On March 2, 1819, at the penultimate meeting of the 15th United States Congress, Congress passed the Arkansas organic act (3 Stat. L. 493), providing for the creation of the Arkansaw Territory on July 4, 1819, from the portion of the Missouri Territory lying south of a point on the Mississippi River at 36 degrees north latitude running west to the St. Francis River, then following the river to 36 degrees 30 minutes north latitude, then west to the territorial boundary.[5][6] This included all of the present state of Oklahoma south of the parallel 36°30' north. The westernmost portion of the territory was removed on November 15, 1824, and a second westernmost portion was removed on May 6, 1828, reducing the territory to the extent of the present state of Arkansas.

Originally the western border of Missouri was intended to go due south to the Red River. During negotiations with the Choctaw in 1820, however, Andrew Jackson unknowingly ceded more of Arkansas Territory. Then in 1824, after further negotiations, the Choctaw agreed to move farther west, but only by "100 paces" of the garrison on Belle Point. This resulted in the bend in the common border at Fort Smith.[7]

The territory originally had nine counties: Arkansas, Clark, Crawford (which included Lovely's Purchase), Hempstead, Independence, Lawrence, Miller, Phillips, and Pulaskị.[8]


Geographical, Statistical and Historical Map of Arkansas Territory, after Stephen Harriman Long, 1822

In the 1830 United States census, 23 counties in the Arkansas Territory reported the following population counts (after only 7 reported the following counts in the 1820 United States census):[9]

These census counts did not include Native Americans, and the earlier count includes 1,617 slaves. Though a census of Cherokee was to be taken as part of the Jackson and McMinn Treaty in 1818, it was never conducted. Instead, when the treaty was renegotiated in 1819, it used John C. Calhoun's estimate of 5000 Cherokee in Arkansas, despite the Cherokee Nation's estimate of 3,500.[10] The Quapaw were counted at 455 in the mid 1820s.[11]

County 1820
1 Lawrence 5,602 2,806
2 Hempstead 2,248 2,512
3 Crawford 2,440
4 Pulaski 1,923 2,395
5 Washington 2,182
6 Independence 2,031
7 St. Francis 1,505
8 Pope 1,483
9 Arkansas 1,260 1,426
10 Clark 1,040 1,369
11 Crittenden 1,272
12 Izard 1,266
13 Chicot 1,165
14 Phillips 1,201 1,152
15 Conway 982
16 Jefferson 772
17 Lafayette 748
18 Union 640
19 Sevier 634
20 Monroe 461
21 Hot Spring 458
22 Miller 999 356
23 Jackson 333
Arkansas Territory 14,273 30,388

Law and government

See also: Arkansas Territory's at-large congressional district, List of governors of Arkansas § Territorial (1819–1836), and General Assembly of Arkansas Territory

Robert Crittenden was the territorial secretary until 1829 and the de facto territorial governor, preparing Arkansas for statehood. Until present-day Oklahoma received statehood, Fort Smith served as the ostensible legal authority overseeing the Indian Territory. The Army oversaw issues dealing with the Indian Nations.

See also


  1. ^ Stat. 493
  2. ^ "Arkansas". World Statesmen. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
  3. ^ Lewis, Jerry Dale (2005). My Neck of the Woods: The Lewis Families of Southeastern North Carolina and Northeastern South Carolina. Genealogical Publishing Com. ISBN 9780806352664.
  4. ^ "Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood, 1803 through 1860". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  5. ^ "Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Project". Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Project. The Newberry Library. Archived from the original on March 8, 2020. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  6. ^ "A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875". American Memory. Library of Congress. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  7. ^ Stein, Mark (2008). How the States got their Shapes. HarperCollins. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-0-06-143138-8.
  8. ^ Morse, Jedidiah. Geography, Ancient and Modern. Boston: Richardson and Lord, 1826. p 132
  9. ^ Forstall, Richard L. (ed.). Population of the States and Counties of the United States: 1790–1990 (PDF) (Report). United States Census Bureau. pp. 17–19. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  10. ^ Bolton, S. Charles (2005). "Jeffersonian Indian Removal and the Emergence of Arkansas Territory". In Williams, Patrick G.; Bolton, S. Charles; Whayne, Jeannie M. (eds.). A Whole Country in Commotion, The Louisiana Purchase and the American Southwest. Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press. pp. 88–89. ISBN 1557287848. LCCN 2004025295. OCLC 57003621.
  11. ^ Key, Joseph Patrick (2005). ""Outcasts upon the World"". In Williams, Patrick G.; Bolton, S. Charles; Whayne, Jeannie M. (eds.). A Whole Country in Commotion, The Louisiana Purchase and the American Southwest. Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press. p. 100. ISBN 1557287848. LCCN 2004025295. OCLC 57003621.

Further reading

  • "Act of March 2, 1819, ch. 49". Statutes at Large. Acts of the Fifteenth Congress of the United States, 2nd Session. pg. 493–496. From Library of Congress, A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774–1875. (accessed 2007-06-16). This act of Congress established the territory of "Arkansaw".
  • "Act of April 21, 1820, ch. 48". Statutes at Large. Acts of the Sixteenth Congress of the United States, 1st Session. pg. 565. From Library of Congress, A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774–1875. (accessed 2007-06-16). This act of Congress modifies the act of March 2, 1819, and refers to the territory of "Arkansas". Thereafter, federal statutes describe it as the territory of Arkansas, although journals of both the House and Senate both continue to occasionally use "Arkansaw".
Preceded bySouthern part of the Territory of Missouri1812–1819 Arkansas Territory 1819–1836 Succeeded byState of Arkansas1836–presentUnorganized Territory1824–1907