Political Landscape of Craighead County, Arkansas: A Historical Overview

Craighead County, located in the state of Arkansas, has a long and varied history. It was part of the territory claimed for France by René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1682, and was later transferred to the Spanish crown as a result of the Seven Years' War. In 1803, the land that would become Craighead County became the possession of the United States. At the time, the territory that includes present-day Arkansas was attached to the Territory of Missouri.

In 1813, the area was included in a new political subdivision known as Arkansas County, which was a political subdivision of the Arkansas District of Missouri Territory. In 1815, the county was further subdivided and Lawrence County was formed with headquarters in Davidsonville. This new county included most of what is now northern Arkansas. Modern Craighead County is partially within Arkansas County and partially within Lawrence County. In 1819, the Territory of Arkansas was formed.

In 1838, Poinsett County was formed and included most of present-day Craighead County. This situation persisted until 1850, when residents of the area complained about the distance to the Poinsett County seat. The new county would be formed from land taken from Greene, Mississippi and Poinsett Counties, and would be named Crowley County in honor of Crowley's Ridge, which runs through the center of the county. Senator Thomas Craighead represented Mississippi County and opposed the bill because the farmland he took from Mississippi County (commonly known as the Buffalo Island area) was a major source of property taxes for the county. One day, while Senator Craighead was out of the room, Senator Jones modified the bill to change the name of the county to Craighead County.

The Senate, thinking it was a compromise, passed the bill as amended; when Senator Craighead returned, the bill had already left the Senate and took no further action. In the early 20th century, Clay, Greene, and Craighead counties had municipal nightfall policies that prohibited African-Americans from living in the area. Reformist Governors When he took office in January 1967, Winthrop Rockefeller, the first Republican governor since Reconstruction, promised to dismantle the Old Guard regime of Orval Faubus, who had retired after twelve years as governor. The Rockefeller program included the appointment of trained professionals to restructure government agencies, increase taxes to support education, and defend civil rights for African Americans. In 1970, Dale Bumpers defeated Faubus in the Democratic primary and Rockefeller in the general election. The improved relationship between Bumpers and legislature was due not only to shared party identification but also to redistricting based on federal court standards for equitable representation.

This brought younger and more reformist legislators to urban constituencies to General Assembly. The 1971 session expanded public spending and services to more closely reflect responsibilities commonly fulfilled by other state governments. Faced with an economic recession at end of his first term Governor Pryor proposed reducing income tax by twenty-five percent and letting local governments decide whether to increase new taxes to support programs that state government could no longer afford. Local officials had little interest in this revival of decentralized authority dubbed Plan Arkansas and pressured legislators to hide initiative. The post-war expansion of state programs and expenditures was ingrained in political culture. This federal project became valuable subsidy when communities formed pact to obtain additional grants and obtain local support to build infrastructure needed to transport water from lake to burgeoning housing estates. The separate location of main employers in each major cities facilitated formation and continuation of effective regional planning and coordination council. Neighboring localities in other sections state rarely duplicated similar combination resources and sense common purpose.

Same cooperative approach that had ensured reliable supply drinking water paid off 1998 when President Bill Clinton inaugurated what is now Northwest Arkansas National Airport. Latino families heading Little Rock generally found homes near working-class African-American neighborhoods southwestern section city. For decades public officials real estate developers had designed racial demarcation that channeled white families western northern precincts. White people had packed their bags moved west before full integration public schools 1970s. When federal government began enforcing civil rights laws late 1960s Craighead County like many other counties shifted Republican presidential elections since 1960 before that it was solidly Democratic. Craighead County has two county seats Jonesboro Lake City. It is included Jonesboro-Paragould Combined Statistical Area has total area 713 square miles (1 850 km) 707 square miles (1 830 km) land 5 5 square miles (14 km) (0 8%) water Crowley's Ridge county's most prominent geological feature region served Jonesboro Municipal Airport. According Census Bureau 24 10% county's population under 18 years age 14 00% between 18 24 years old 28 70% between 25 44 years old 21 40% between 45 64 years old 11 80% 65 years old older average age 33 years. For every 100 females there were 93 80 males for every 100 females age 18 over there were 90 50 males Craighead County voted Republican most presidential elections since 1960 before that it was solidly Democratic. Reformist Governors When he took office January 1967 Winthrop Rockefeller first Republican governor since Reconstruction promised dismantle Old Guard regime Orval Faubus who had retired after twelve years governor.

Cindy Frantum
Cindy Frantum

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