Date Original

1868 September 2


This is an article from the Morning Republic newspaper, published in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1868, regarding the recent racial tensions and its escalation in Conway County, which required intervention by the governor and armed forces.


Morning Republican September 2, 1868
An Account of Affairs in Conway
We have heretofore given our readers an
account of the troubles in Conway county,
as detailed to us by various parties who had
come to the capital from that county. The
rumors were somewhat conflicting, but
enough appeared in them to convince Gov.
Clayton that a state of affairs existed in
said county, sufficiently alarming to call for
prompt attention at his hands.
Gov. Clayton being anxious to know
the true state of affairs, chartered the
steamer Hesper and invited a number of
the leading citizens of this place to accom-
pany him to Lewisburg. Among the party
were such men as C.G. Scott, Hon. A.H.
Garland, S.H. Tucker, Col. Sandy
Faulkner, S.L. Griffith, Col. Ryan,
Hon. O.A. Hadley, Jas. Wolf, Esq.,
Col. W.S. Oliver, and the Editor of this
paper. The party left the city on Friday,
the 28th, and reached Lewisburg about
2 o'clock, A.M., on Saturday.
We are glad to state that the accounts
heretofore published of the disturbances at
that place, were somewhat exaggerated. We
are now prepared to give the public an ac-
curate and authentic account of the cause
and extent of the disturbance:
It appears that two colored men got into
a law suit, growing out of the shooting of
a dog, by one of them, at the house of the
other, in the night time. The case was
brought before a Justice of the Peace.
The defendant was acquitted by the
prosecution taking a non-suit. The Jus-
tice being of the opinion that the suit was
illegally brought -“ and further, that the pa-
pers in the case were informal, issued a
new process and again brought the defend-
ant before him for trial. Both litigants
being black, a colored jury was empaneled -“
by agreement of their counsel -“
to try the issues raised. Now comes the
trouble. While this second suit was pend-
ing, a rumor became current upon the
streets that the colored men who composed
the jury, and others in attendance upon
the trial, had arms with them. A noisy
and turbulent party of whites, headed by a
Dr. Adams, with pistol in hand, proceeded
to the Justice's office and demanded of him
an immediate dismissal of the case, which
he did, after several threats had been made
against him if he did not. After this,
those who dispersed the court and jury,
commenced disarming the colored men
who had come into town, and sent out
squads to disarm those who were in the
county. At this, the negroes became
alarmed for their safety, and some eighteen
or twenty of them, took their arms and
proceeded to the woods to await further de-
velopments. The whites had collected to-
gether about 250, fully armed, and at the
instance of Col. Gordon, a party of men
were sent that night to watch the ferries and
report. These men disobeyed their in-
structions, and commenced going from
house to house disarming all the colored
men they could find. While engaged at
this piece of unauthorized work, the col-
ored men who had assembled in the woods,
not knowing but that an attack was to be
made upon them, fired upon the party from
an ambush and severely wounded one man.
After this, the whites sent out a delegation
of their number, who had a conference with
the colored men who had taken to the woods.
The demands made by the white citizens
were that the colored men should stack their
arms until after the Presidential
election. This the blacks would not
then agree to do, unless the whites
would do the same, and strictly ob-
serve the terms imposed. The colored
people however, did the second day there-
after, after due reflection, stack their arms
as requested, but were to have them for
purposes of hunting, to be returned at the
general rendezvous every night.
The colored and white citizens agreed
that they would all meet and Lewisburg, on
Saturday, the 29th, for a more perfect un-
derstanding, if possible.
Gov. Clayton and party were at this
meeting. The Governor and the Hon. A.H.
Garland addressed the assemblage,
making eloquent and impressive speeches,
a synopsis of which we give below, and we
can assure our readers that they had a tell-
ing effect upon all parties.
While the Governor was investigating
the causes of the disturbance, and ascer-
taining from the parties themselves -“ par-
ticipants in the outbreak -“ as to where the
responsibility rested, he received a message
from the sheriffs of Conway and Perry coun-
ties, that they were on their way to Lewis-
burg with three hundred and fifty armed
men, as a posse for the purpose of arresting
the ring leaders and bringing them to jus-
tice. Governor Clayton, not wishing to
compromise himself or those who had ac-
companied him by bringing armed men into
the place, very promptly sent a courier back
to the sheriffs instructing them to come no
further, just to return home, as the troubles
seemed to be at an end. The excitement
in the counties of Conway, Perry and Yell
was becoming so intense, and rumors be-
coming so thick and threatening, that it is
our opinion that, had not the counsels of
good men been heeded, before the arrival
of the Governor's party, that part of the
State would have been in the throes of an-
other civil war.
We were told on our arrival in Lewisburg,
by some of the very best citizens there, be-
longing to both parties, that a courier had
been sent there from Little Rock to spread
the word that Governor Clayton was com-
ing up the river with an armed force of one
hundred and twenty-five negroes, to quell
the disturbance. We ask what was the ob-
ject of this, and who is responsible for it?
The Governor never contemplated taking
any kind of troops with him, but did intend
to use all the power placed in his hands,
serve the peace otherwise. The people of
this State may rest assured, that the Gov-
ernor intends that peace shall reign
throughout the State, if it is in his power
to secure it; and further, that if insurrec-
tion and war must come, he will be pre-
pared to meet it, and that, too, successfully.
He wants peace, as do all the leading citi-
zens of the State, with but few exceptions;
and as an evidence of this, we ask our
readers to note well the two speeches ac-
companying this report, which we cordiall
commend to the people of Arkansas -“ the
spirit and tendency of these two addresses,
coming as they do from leading representa-
tives of the two contending parties, ought
to do much good. If the counsel and ad-
vice they give are properly appreciated and
heeded by the people, much trouble may
be averted, and our State saved from the
horrors of internecine strife and bloodshed.
Again we say, -'Let us have peace.'

Physical Description



Civil rights; Race discrimination; Race relations; Racism; Race Riots; Discrimination

Geographical Area

Conway County, Arkansas.





Resource Type



Newspaper microfilm collection


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

Account of affairs in Conway County, Newspaper microfilm collection, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


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Account of affairs in Conway County