During the early statehood period, Arkansas faced a multitude of social, economic and political problems. There existed financial instability in the state owing to marginal tax rates on land property, which formed the primary source of revenue. The economic slide of the state in 1837 was fueled by heavy debts, corruption in banks, depression in England, and failure in cotton and wheat crops. The prevailing Jackson administration added fuel to fire through short sighted policies. Specie circular, introduced to contain situation, further spoiled condition as people lost faith in paper currency. Arkansas had become synonym to crime, hostility, poverty etc. Duels between high officials and killing each other had become common during the period.
However, there was an influx of a number of settlers which was primarily due to the donation law of 1840 under which the state provided every member of the family with 160 acres plot. About three and half a million acres of land was distributed under the law. The population rose to three times from 1930 to 1940. The people were generally farmers who either owned the land or worked on donated land. Lack of schooling infrastructure was another drawback in the Arkansas owing to general poor conditions. Among the rich, education was through private tutors. River travel formed the major mode of transport in the absence of bridges over rivers.
Texas, with cheap real estate, was an imminent threat to Arkansas. Political pressure built up which led to annexation of Texas in 1845, infuriating Mexico. Gold rush of 1949 to California started the westward emigration. Prices of daily commodities shot up in the region. People underwent long journeys in search of gold and majority of them failed miserably. Those who traded were successful. Later, westward migration was for settlers or seekers of permanent home in the west. However, "Massacre in Meadows" brought westward emigration to an abrupt halt and Texas remained the main destination for emigrats.
Chapter Seven: Prosperity and Peril: Arkansas in the Late Antebellum Period
This period saw a new trend in economic growth mainly attributable to cotton based plantation style agriculture. Expansion of such economy needed a number of working hands and thus slavery became the order of the day. The population of slaves grew rapidly between 1840 and 1850 to 1860. White’s population fell to mere twenty percent from sixty percent, as was existent in the past.
Christianity was the religion followed. however, the black slaves hardly had the privilege to attend churches. The sermons to slaves were planned by the masters to suit their interests. Slaves were repeatedly preached about obedience. There was certain illicit or informal prayer meeting conducted among the slaves guided by their inner self, during the week nights. Here, slaves discussed their exploitation and oppression at the hands of their masters and prayed for equality of men.
The political scenario was also changing with the new and young politicians emerging owing to the demise of prominent state leadership by 1855. Slavery controversy was emerging again after being contained by the Missouri compromise of 1820. California’s demanded ‘Free State’ status after gold rush of 1849. Federal elections saw Abraham Lincoln emerging as the