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2012 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III - Session IV

The Civil War in Arkansas, Part II

Abstract Arkansas was, like the other states of the former Confederacy, on the brink of chaos in the years following the American Civil War. The federal government’s mandate that slaves be emancipated, allowed suffrage, and that former Confederates be alienated from the political process generated a society entirely turned upside-down. In reaction to the “Radical Republican” program, white supremacists and ex-Confederates flocked to the Democratic Party. Many joined secret societies, such as the Ku Klux Klan, through which they pursued their political agenda of stopping social reforms. Klan members organized attacks to intimidate voters and otherwise subvert the electoral process in an attempt to reestablish the pre-war status quo. Their criminal activities often went unpunished and likely would have continued in Arkansas without bold and dramatic action. This paper argues that without a man such as Powell Clayton in power, politically motivated violence in Arkansas would have continued. Further, if the example Clayton set in Arkansas had been followed and supported by the federal government elsewhere in the South, the later triumph of white supremacists may have been averted. The process of racial integration and civil rights could not have been accomplished quickly; perhaps it still would have taken two generations or more. However, that process would have accelerated had there been more men with Clayton Powell’s determination in the South and in the federal government.

Presenter: Paul Constantine (The College at Brockport) -- pcons1@brockport.edu
Topic: History/Religious Studies
Location: 217 Hartwell
Time: 3:15 pm (Session IV)