Date Original



The Thomas C. McRae Papers include five cubic foot boxes of correspondence during his tenure as Governor of Arkansas from 1921-1925. The correspondence includes appointments, pardons, paroles, and furloughs. Also included in the collection are speeches and writings by and about Governor McRae.

Biographical/Historical Note

Thomas C. McRae was born at Mount Holly, Union County, Arkansas, on December 21, 1851. He studied at Soule's Business College in New Orleans in 1869, then transferred to Washington and Lee University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Law degree in 1872. Returning to Arkansas, McRae married Amelia Ann White of Nevada County in 1874, and they had nine children. In 1877, the family moved to Prescott, the site of the new Nevada County courthouse. In politics, McRae was a member of the Arkansas State House of Representatives from Nevada County from 1877 - 1879. He served as a U.S. Congressman from 1885 to 1903 and he was also a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1917-1918. McRae served as Governor of Arkansas from 1921-1925. Thomas McRae defeated Smead Powell for the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary election in 1920, and later that year defeated Wallace Townsend and J.H. Blount to become the 26th Governor of Arkansas. McRae was inaugurated on January 12, 1921. He worked for the abolishment of the State Corporation Commission, and the reestablishment of the Railroad Commission, as well as the return of control of public utilities to local municipalities. Governor McRae, however, had problems passing his state highway program early in his tenure as governor. The improvement districts were near bankruptcy as Federal funds were withdrawn for highway construction. The governor called a special session in 1923 to pass the Harralson road Law in October 1923. It created an honorary State Highway Commission, which would have sole supervision over construction and maintenance of highways. It also raised the state gasoline tax by four cents. Another special session in 1924 provided help for the state public school system. State income tax was established in 1923, but it was quickly challenged in the courts. Other improvements included the construction of a tuberculosis sanitorium for African-Americans, an improved National Guard, and a state treasury surplus. After his tenure as governor, Thomas McRae returned to Prescott, where he lived and worked until his death on June 2, 1929, at the age of seventy-eight.

Physical Description

Document, 8.5" x 11"

Geographical Area






Resource Type



Thomas C. McRae papers, MS.000415


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

Thomas C. McRae papers, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


Use and reproduction of images held by the Arkansas State Archives without prior written permission is prohibited. For information on reproducing images held by the Arkansas State Archives, please call 501-682-6900 or email at


United States History