Date Original

1868 August 28


This is an article from the Arkansas Gazette 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.


We learn through a reliable gentleman of
Pope county, a gentleman of the highest res-
pectability, that the most serious excitement
prevails among the inhabitants of Lewisburg, in
Conway county, and vicinity, occasioned by the
threatening attitude assumed by the radical ne-
groes of that section, incited by the white
scoundrels, who seem careless of life or the
peace of community, if the success of their
party can be achieved. It seems that the ne-
groes of Conway are divided in sentiment politi-
cally, and that the most bitter and proscriptive
sentiments are entertained by each of the op-
posing factions for the other. Report says that
some ten days ago, three radical negroes called
at the house of a democratic negro in the night
time and called him out. While the latter was
putting on his clothes to comply with the re-
quest, the dog barked and was immediately dis-
patched by a gun shot. Knowing from this
what was intended, the occupant of the house
kept in-doors, and those without fearing to en-
ter, finally dispersed. A day or two later, the
miscreants were brought to trial at Lewisburg,
but in making up the jury of colored men, the
radical negroes refused to sit with a conserva-
tive negro who was selected, whereupon a dis-
pute arose, weapons were exhibited and the
court was broken up. Fearing trouble, some of
the prominent citizens of that place, among
whom Dr. Adams, Anderson Gordon, Esq.,
and others were prominent, disarmed the ne-
groes, telling them to go home quietly and re-
main so, and their arms would be returned to
them. Otherwise not. The negroes then re-
tired, but provided themselves, with more arms
and collected in numbers a few miles east of
Lewisburg. The citizens of that place, feeling
insecure from known facts, and from reports
constantly coming in, sent out Mr. Thomas
Burchfield, and Mr. George Bently, to ascertain
the extent of the occasion of alarm, and if pos-
sible, to induce the parties who had assumed
the hostile attitude to desist from the execution
of their threats. Meanwhile some two or three
hundred persons had assembled at Lewisburg to
defend the place if necessary. Burchfield and
Bently left on their mission of peace at an early
hour on the 25th, but when some three or four
miles east of Lewisburg, on the Little Rock
road, they were suddenly fired upon by a party
of nineteen negroes, the volley wounding Burch-
field, it is said by his physicians, mortally,
and killing Bently's horse. Both of these gentle-
men are old and reliable citizens of Conway
county, and undertook the mission for the single
purpose of bringing about a cessation of hostil-
ities and to preserve the peace. Burchfield is
a one-armed man and entirely inoffensive.
When the report of this occurrence reached
Lewisburg, Dr. Menifee, and Messrs. Green and
Hervey went out to take care of the wounded
man and to see if anything further could be
done to avert a collision. These gentlemen met
the negroes together and told them if they
would desist from further carrying out their
threats, they would pass over what had occurred,
and they should go unharmed. All agreed
to do so but three, who were sullen and reticent.
During the conversation it was elicited that
the negroes had been told on what they affirmed
to be good authority, that the white men of the
county were about to take away their property
and kill and drive them from the country. Dr.
Adams was sent for and came to the spot and
endeavored to disabuse them of the idea. They
ahd sent for Hinkle (a prominent and unscrup-
ulous radical) and other preparations were
making to resist the reported outrages about to
be committed upon them. After the last named
gentleman had returned to Lewisburg, the re-
port came variously corroborated, that all had re-
fused to retire, and that reinforcements were ex-
pected from all parts of the country. So the mat-
ter stands -“ two or three hundred white men and
friendly negroes at Lewisburg, all armed and
reinforcements coming, and an indefinite num-
ber of white and black radicals in unknown
places with reinforcements coming. What will
come of it we do not know. We hope nothing
more serious than a point gained in the coming
state and national elections, for which the whole
thing was gotten up. Gibbons, the radical representative from that
county, Hinkle, a prominent so-called union
man, and others are the reputed instigators.
It is reported that Clayton is about to send
up his militia. If so we hope they will not go
as reinforcements to the radical recruits.
In this connection we cannot forbear saying
in all truth and candor, that the way out of
this trouble is not through the sending of an
armed negro militia into Conway county. Any,
the slightest outrage committed by such a force
will most likely be followed by terrible results.
If Gen. Clayton thinks the interposition of an
armed force is necessary, and is seriously de-
sirous of preserving the peace let him call in
the aid of the United States troops, and the peo-
ple of Arkansas will continue, as they have
done heretofore to yield implicit obedience to
its authority. But the teachings of the union
leagues, and the manner of its organization un-
der cover of darkness has so roused the pas-
sions of his black militia that it is impossible
that their presence in the vicinity of the
troubles could do aught else but precipitate a
conflict. We also have it on the authority of our inform-
ant that Dr. Adams, Anderson Gordon and
Eugene Henry have received a joint letter in-
forming them jointly that they cannot be per-
mitted to remain in the county. These gentle-
men are all old citizens of that place, and relia-
ble, responsible men. If these reports are true,
and we are well assured they are, excepting un-
intentional inaccuracies that in haste may have
crept in -“ and if this sort of proceeding is
to be backed up by the radical authorities, there is
little doubt that the 100,000 white men of the
state and the better class of negroes who may
cast their fortunes with such, may be compelled
to find a more speedy way out of this political
thralldom than any yet suggested, and in which
test oaths will not be necessary.

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

Riot in Conway County, August 28, 1868, Newspaper microfilm collection, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


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Riot in Conway County, August 28, 1868