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Arkansas State History

Archeologists believe the first inhabitants of the area that is now Arkansas were people who lived in caves in the Ozark Mountains thousands of years ago.

Related: Arkansas State Facts

Throughout hundreds of years, other North American tribes moved into the area. These tribes were known as the Osage, the Caddo, and the Quapaw.

Flag Of Arkansas

Explorers and Settlers

The first Spanish explorer of the area of Arkansas was the conquistador Hernando de Soto in 1541. De Soto was involved in many expeditions in Nicaragua and the Yucatan in Mexico.

When Pizarro conquered and murdered the Incas in Peru, de Soto was with him and an important soldier.

He and his mounted troops made their way from Florida, through Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to Arkansas.

De Soto

In the 1600s, French settlers arrived to farm the land and learn to trap. The establishment of the Arkansas Post became the centre of fur trading.

The area traded hands from the Spanish to the French a few times but farming and trapping continued.

De Soto Map

The Louisiana Purchase

In 1803, Thomas Jefferson representing the United States of America negotiated with France to purchase a huge amount of land from west of the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains.

Louisiana Purchase

The purchase cost the United States $15 million. The land of Arkansas was part of that purchase.

Arkansas became a separate territory from the Mississippi Territory in 1819 and 1821, the capital was moved from the Arkansas Post to Little Rock.

Arkansas became the 25th state of the United States in 1836.

Thomas Jefferson

A Slave State

When Arkansas became a U.S. Union state, it was admitted as a slave state when slavery was legal. One-quarter of all the people in Arkansas were slaves when the Civil War began in 1861.

Arkansas did not want to go to war at first but soon seceded from the Union and became a member of the Confederate States of America to preserve the practice of slavery.

Several battles were fought between the Union soldiers and the Confederates on Arkansas soil.

In the end, the Confederates lost and a great many cities and towns were left ravaged. But slavery was outlawed.

USA Territorial Growth

Modern Fight for Civil Rights

Arkansas became one of the major centres of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States in the 1950s.

In 1957, nine African-American students decided to attend an all-white high school because segregation was supposed to be unlawful.

Eisenhower official portrait

They became known as the Little Rock Nine. There were violent demonstrations in protest for and against segregation.

President Eisenhower sent U.S. Army troops to protect the nine students and to escort them into the high school and quell the unrest.

Little Rock


What tribes were the early inhabitants of the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas?

What is a conquistador?

Who was Hernando de Soto?

Why did Arkansas secede from the Union of the United States during the Civil War?

Who were the Little Rock Nine?

Map Of The States And Territories


The Osage, the Caddo, and the Quapaw were among the first Native Americans in Arkansas.

A conquistador is a mounted Spanish soldier.

Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer who led his troops on expeditions from Floridathrough Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to Arkansas.

army soldier

Arkansas did not want slavery to be abolished and thus joined the Confederate Army to fight the Union soldiers.

The Little Rock Nine were nine African-American students who wanted to go to an all-white high school because segregation was supposed to be abolished.

US State History Facts


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