The first meeting of Arkansas territory’s elected legislators convened at Montgomery’s tavern in Arkansas Post in February 1820.
The quarrelsome first session produced a bill calling for the territory’s capital to be relocated to Cadron, a small settlement near present-day Conway.
The bill was amended to substitute Little Rock for Cadron, and then tabled until the fall session. By the time the solons reassembled in October, tempers cooled and Little Rock emerged as the favorite site for the territorial capitol.
First claimed in 1814 by a trapper, the Little Rock site was acquired by land speculators in 1818. They divided it into town lots even before the creation of the territory, believing that its central location would make it an ideal seat of government.
The leading speculator, William Russell of St. Louis, promoted Little Rock’s prospects during and after the February session. He and his Arkansas partners sold town lots at low prices to men of influence, including Territorial Secretary Robert Crittenden and House Speaker Joseph Hardin.
When the bill was brought up on October 10, it was approved with a margin of three votes; Governor Miller signed the measure and the move was on!