Notes on Quaker History in Arkansas

In addition to being an archaeologist deeply interested in conflict, I am a born-and-raised Quaker, and spend some of my meager free time reading about Quaker history. This might be an odd set of interests, but they get along in my head well enough. Indeed, the background in the latter has fed the interest in the former. On a whim (probably born of a weekend spent at the Arkansas Historical Association meetings), I took a few minutes at lunch and searched The Arkansas Historical Quarterly for references to the Religious Society of Friends, as we’re more properly called.

There were a number of hits (fewer when I removed “oats” from the search), that clustered around a couple of topics, as follows:

  • Civil War and Reconstruction-era schools for African Americans, particularly in Little Rock and Helena (Kennan 1950; Kennedy 1996, 2009).
  • Senator George Waltham Bell, an African-American Quaker, proposed a bill in 1891 that would have provided pensions for ex-slaves as well as for ex-Confederates (Kousser 1975:156).
  • The 1928 election for the U.S. presidency. Herbert Hoover’s Quakerism produced marked opposition in Arkansas, particularly from Thaddeus Caraway (Ledbetter 2005:139).

There were a few passing comments about Quakers influencing or parenting people who were prominent in various corners of Arkansas history, such as the foundation of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union, and the Civil War (in the case of Powell Clayton). There’s a lot more to look at, but there are interesting tidbits everywhere.

References

Clara B. Kennan
1950 The First Negro Teacher in Little Rock. The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 3 (Autumn, 1950), pp. 194-204
Thomas C. Kennedy
1996 Another Kind of Emigrant: Quakers in the Arkansas Delta, 1864-1925. The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 2 (Summer, 1996), pp. 199-220.
J. Morgan Kousser
1975 A Black Protest in the “Era of Accommodation:” Documents. The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 2 (Summer, 1975), pp. 149-178.
Calvin R. Ledbetter Jr.
2005 The Other Caraway: Senator Thaddeus H. Caraway. The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 2 (Summer, 2005), pp. 123-145.
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