One hundred and fifty years ago, immigrants were flooding into Arkansas. These immigrants did not hail from a foreign country as one would assume, but from the states of Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, as well as Missouri. Historically, Arkansawyers have traditionally accepted immigrants with open arms, but this is the exception.
In an 1861 newspaper this week 150 years ago, a stigma was attached to these “immigrants”. Though these exiled citizens “claim to be exiles and driven from their homes”, According to a letter sent to Colonel R. H. Johnson, a Little Rock citizen noted that though some of the exiled may be able to support themselves without causing or becoming a burden to the State, “…there are others, men without families, or those having relatives in the State with whom their families reside, who come here and sit down in inglorious ease while their State is overrun by the hirelings of Lincoln.”
The letter continued, “These fellows turn their backs upon their own State, leaving the brave men and patriotic women to defend it- they sulk from danger and like the cravens as they are attempt to magnify the dangers from which they ran.”
Regarding the political arena in the Fall of 1861, these migrants begin seeking political offices in Arkansas. According to the same letter, a strong feeling about these migrants taking office in Arkansas was not exactly condoned: “The Executive who appoints such a man to office, or the elector who votes for one, deserves to be executed.”
The reader must bear in mind that only a few weeks ago, this column outlined the fact that the State government had all but shut down due to most of the State officials’ joining the Confederate Army.