One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansawyers were buckling down for a potential invasion of the state from Missouri. As with any war, among the chief concerns is the potential for treasonous activity in civilians aiding the enemy. The War Between the States west of the Mississippi River was no exception.
North West Arkansas was known for its pro Union sentiment. Peace Societies were beginning to appear for the “purpose of giving aid and comfort to the enemy; that upon the approach of Lincoln’s troops the houses of the members were to be distinguished by a mark on the doorfacing [sic] and were to be unmolested…” The 1862 edition of the True Democrat continued, “that arms from the Federals in Missouri had been placed in their hands with which to fight against the South; that besides the oath already known, there was another and reasonable one, in which the members swore hostility to the Southern Confederacy and that the leaders were abolitionists.”
As the propaganda heated up on both sides of the conflict, Arkansas newspapers were feeling the unceasing economic impact of the illegal Federal blockade initiated by Lincoln. Most advertisers pulled their support from the newspapers for lack of funds to pay for their ads, leaving the print media almost exclusively at the mercy of subscribers:
“The public printing, owing to the reduction in prices made at the last session of the General Assembly, and the great increase in the cost of paper and labor, has become an expense to us instead of a profit… Even if the paper was no so high priced, we shall be compelled to economize, because of its scarcity… we are forced to reduce our issues within paying limits, and strike off only the number of sheets for which we are paid.”