Capitol Snapshots
1:20 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Territorial Governor James Miller Arrives at Arkansas Post

When territorial governor James Miller arrived at Arkansas Post in late December 1819, he was not impressed by what he found: a small settlement whose residents seemed more interested in gambling and socializing than community building. In a February 1820 letter to the Secretary of War, Miller wrote, “I should not have resigned, if I had known as much about this country as I now do.”

When, in October 1820, the Territorial legislature voted to move the capital to Little Rock, the site was even less developed than Arkansas Post. A handful of modest wooden buildings stretched from the riverbank south as far as today’s Seventh Street; at least two sold whiskey.

But, the Little Rock town site offered several advantages over Arkansas Post: it was close to the geographical center of the new territory; it was less swampy and flood-prone than the Post and it also lay at the point where the Southwest Trail, a long-established route through the woods, crossed the Arkansas River.

Even before the town of Little Rock was laid out, two competing ferries operated in the vicinity. Thus, the new capital occupied a vital crossroad of the major transportation routes through the territory, boding well for its future prospects.