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Native Americans lived in
Arkansas when Europeans arrived in the valley.
There were three principal tribes—the Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw.
In 1541, Hernando de Soto of
Spain was the first European to explore Arkansas. In 1682, the French claimed the entire Mississippi Valley for
France. The French founded
the first permanent settlement, Arkansas Post, in 1686.
1763, Spain received the land west of the Mississippi River, which
included the Louisiana Territory. In
1800, this territory returned to French control.
Three years later the United States bought the Louisiana
Purchase, which included Arkansas.
1819, about 14,000 settlers had moved into Arkansas.
Fort Smith had been established to keep peace among Indian tribes
in the region. People mined
lead, iron, and coal. They built large cotton plantations along the
Mississippi River, and lumbered in the forests.
That same year, the Arkansas Territory was organized.
It included Arkansas and part of Oklahoma.
became the 25th state on June 15, 1836, with Little Rock as
its capital. At that time,
many people began debating over slavery.
1861, the Civil War began. Arkansas
withdrew from the United States and joined the Confederacy.
Many battles took place in Arkansas, the most important at Pea
Ridge in March 1862. When
the war was over in 1865, Arkansas had to accept the laws against
readmitted Arkansas into the United States in 1868.
1954, the Supreme Court ruled that public schools should not be
segregated. Most people in
Arkansas did not want to stop segregation.
In 1957, President Eisenhower had to send US troops to help
African Americans attend Central High School in Little Rock. By the 1970s most schools were open to all students.