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Arkansas in the Progressive Era

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1 Arkansas in the Progressive Era

2 Change The frontier ways of life are fading.
People across America are moving to the cities in large numbers.

3 Industry Arkansas began to see its first major industries.
The main industries in Arkansas became timber and mining.

4 Inventions of the Progressive Era
There were many inventions during this time that greatly affected the way people lived. Automobiles Airplanes Electric lights Motion pictures Science and medicine

5 Progressive Movement The urge to adjust America’s institutions to match the modern way of life. The urban middle-class wanted changes. The need for change was called “progressive”. More people began to have more time and money to spend on civil reforms The results in AR were impressive.

6 The Need for Government Intervention
Problems such as big business, low wages, bad working conditions, and the need for more schools, seemed to need government action. Many Progressives believed the state governments should step in and take responsibilities.

7 Farmers in Politics Farmers in Arkansas felt like they were being left out of politics. They thought no one in power paid any attention to them. The city-dwellers were seen as “rich folks” by the common farmer. The farmers’ anger at being left out found an outlet in Jeff Davis.

8 Jeff Davis Although he was a lawyer raised in the city, Davis had a way of reaching the small farmers. They were his “wool hat boys” vs. the silk-hat crowd of the city. Davis dominated Arkansas politics for 10 years as the champion for the poor whites over the rich.

9 Davis expressed ideas from both the populist movement and the new progressive movement.
However, his main goal was to get in office and stay in office, so his actual accomplishments were few. He was almost a demagogue, a person who gains power by stirring up the fears and biases of the public. He was also a racist.

10 Jeff Davis was not related to the former president of the Confederacy, but he didn’t mind if voters thought he was. In fact, he often dressed in Confederate gray suits to make sure everyone noticed.

11 As the state’s attorney general in 1898, he dug up the state anti-trust law that prevented monopolies, but had never been enforced. He knew that the common people of AR blamed many of their troubles on trusts. So, he filed a law suit against the insurance companies, which people disliked the most. The insurance companies cancelled their policies in AR as a result.

12 The city merchants in Arkansas were shocked and afraid Davis would run all business out of Arkansas.
But the more the high collar crowd attacked him, the more the wool hat boys supported him. Since Reconstruction there was a primary system in Arkansas allowing the people to nominate their party candidates. In 1900, Davis became the Democratic candidate for governor even though the party leaders didn’t like him.

13 Davis as Governor Davis was to serve three terms as governor from He achieved little, stirred up a lot of conflict, and couldn’t work with the General Assembly. At one point Davis vetoed the bills for an entire session of the legislature.

14 Davis and the Prison System
One area in which Davis made some headway was with the state’s disgraceful prison system. By leasing out convicts the state had no control over them and they were abused. In some years the annual death rate among inmates was 25%. This system earned the state $25,000 a year.

15 No politicians had the courage to raise taxes to pay for a better system.
A report on some of the conditions that inmates lived in caused such a scandal that the state was forced to adopt a penal farm system. The state bought two plantations for the inmates to work on. This way the state was taking back control of the inmates, but having them still pay for themselves.

16 Davis didn’t like spending the money to buy the farms, but he raised his voice against the horrors of the convict-lease system. He also started a reform school for boys so that children in trouble with the law didn’t have to serve in prison with grown men. He pardoned hundreds of African-American convicts. But, at the same time he became more and more racist in his speeches.

17 Davis in the Senate In 1906 Davis was elected to the U.S. Senate.
His methods of manipulation did not work as well here, so he spent most of his time at home with his family in Little Rock. He won a second term in Senate in 1912, but only by a small margin. Dismayed, Davis died of a heart attack at his home, January 1, 1913.

18 The Arkansas Progressive
The Progressive movement did come to Arkansas after Davis. It came mostly in the persons of George W. Donaghey and Charles H. Brough.

19 George W. Donaghey Born in Louisiana, Donaghey worked in Texas as a cowboy before moving to Conway, AR. In Arkansas he worked as a carpenter and became a major builder. He was named to the state capitol building commission, and that sparked his interest in politics. He became governor in 1909 and served until 1913.

20 Joseph T. Robinson Donaghey lost his bid for a third term to Joseph T. Robinson, a member of congress. But Davis died just three days before Robinson was to take office. The legislature promptly chose Robinson to be senator.

21 For a space of two weeks Robinson was congressman, governor, and senator at the same time.

22 George W. Hays Hays was a lawyer and county judge from Camden with little taste for reform. He served two terms as governor from 1913 to 1917.

23 Charles H. Brough He was a professor at the U of A.
Had a Ph.D. in History. Ran for governor in 1916 on a reform platform. He served two terms from

24 Nationwide Nearly half of American states had some form of reform government during this time. Republican President Teddy Roosevelt ( ), and Democratic President Woodrow Wilson ( ) showed that government actions could improve the lives of people.

25 Progress in Arkansas Thanks to Donaghey, Robinson, and Brough, Arkansas began to make real progress in providing: Schools Roads Health Prison Reform State services

26 Improvements in Education
In 1904 Arkansas was at the bottom of the list in education. In 1900 fewer than half of the school aged children attended school. Teachers were paid half of what other states paid. School would run three months in summer and three months in winter if they had a stove.

27 The state began to address some of these problems.
New laws required all children between seven and fifteen years of age to attend school. They called for standard textbooks in the grade schools. The number of high schools more than doubled between 1909 and 1919.

28 Because of efforts of the Arkansas Farmers’ Union, four technical high schools opened in 1909.
They taught farming and textile making. In 1911, the state formed a State Board of Education. By 1920 over half of school aged children were going to school.

29 In 1907 the state opened the State Normal School at Conway to prepare teachers.
This later became the University of Central Arkansas. Because of bad roads, students in Arkansas could not travel far to go to school. This caused an extremely large number of school districts. In 1912, there were 5,143 school districts.

30 Segregation in Schools
The state school systems were still racially segregated and far from equal. The state spent about twice as much on white schools as it did on black schools. There were very few African American high schools in the state.

31 Literacy Rate In 1900 about 20% of people in Arkansas could not read.
In 1920 the number was down to 9.4% who could not read.

32 Automobiles The coming of automobiles to Arkansas brought the start of a road system. In 1903 there were only 50 cars in the state, but the owners formed the Arkansas Good Roads Association. They started to lobby for new laws to promote road building.

33 In 1909 the legislature passed a law that allowed local improvement districts to levy local taxes to pay for roads. In 1913 the State Department of Lands, Highways, and Improvements, was started. In 1914 there were 4,800 cars in Arkansas, and the state required drivers to have a license. In 1913 the Ozark Trails Association began marking roads clearly by painting white rings around the trees on the side of the roads.

34 In 1916 the Federal Road Act passed.
With this act the U.S. government paid half the cost of road building. By 1921 Arkansas had 7,000 miles of roads. But, along with the road system came a large debt that would cause trouble later on. Less than two hundred miles of state’s highways were all-weather, hard surfaced roads.

35 A Healthier State Nothing improved life in Arkansas more than new knowledge and action on how to prevent and cure diseases. Progress in science gave government workers the ability to control many of the diseases that had given Arkansas the reputation of being an unhealthy state. For example, Malaria had weakened Arkansans through the year.

36 Medical research discovered that malaria was caused by a germ carried by mosquitoes.
This meant malaria could be controlled. Draining swamps to make more land for farming and spraying areas of standing water could prevent breeding. Devises as simple as window screens could keep out insects and help prevent malaria.

37 The progress of medical research also led to the end of hookworm and pellagra, diseases that made a person tired all the time. People began to suspect that the image of the “lazy south” was because of these diseases. The state joined the nationwide public health movement by forming the state Board of Health in 1913

38 New laws required doctors of all types, dentists, nurses, midwives, and embalmers to be licensed.
The state built a tuberculosis hospital. Arkansas also passed the nation’s first law requiring children to have a smallpox shot. Towns began to build pure water systems and sewer systems.

39 Women began to form the Red Cross, Arkansas Tuberculosis Association, and the Arkansas Society for Crippled Children. The Arkansas Federation of Women’s Clubs began to sponsor “healthy baby” contests to promote and reward concern about health in the home.

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