People inhabit the geographic region now known as Arkansas as early as 9500 BCE
5000– 4000 BCE
Native populations flourish due to abundant wildlife and fertile soil.
Tens of thousands of Native Americans live in the area when the first Europeans arrive in the late 16th century.
The Noden and Parkin tribes vanish shortly after the Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto passes through their territories, probably due to the spread of European disease. De Soto is the first European to explore the area.
1600–1800 EUROPEAN EXPLORATION AND SETTLEMENT
French explorers and missionaries Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet descend the Mississippi River to the mouth of the Arkansas River. Warned by Native Americans of hostile tribes farther south, the explorers turn back.
René Robert Cavelier reaches Arkansas on his way to the mouth of the Mississippi. He visits a Quapaw village and claims the land in the name of King Louis XIV of France.
Henri de Tonti founds Arkansas Post. Established near the mouth of the Arkansas River, it is the first permanent European settlement in the state. Arkansas Post serves as a trading post, a way station for travel on the Mississippi River, and the home of a Jesuit mission for a few years.
French Catholic missionaries arrive in present-day Arkansas.
French explorer Jean Baptiste Benard de la Harpe discovers distinct rock formations along the south bank of the Arkansas River, naming them "La petite roche" ("Little Rock") and "la grande roche" ("Big Rock"). He bases a trading post at Little Rock, near a native Quapaw settlement.
France cedes the Louisiana Territory—including Arkansas—to Spain, but French soldiers continue to man Arkansas Post.
The Revolutionary War. The Colbert Incident occurs at Arkansas Post. It's the only skirmish of the war in the state and only one of two battles fought west of the Mississippi River. A small force of Chickasaws and Englishmen, led by trader James Colbert, attacks Arkansas Post. The Spanish defend the fort.
1800–1849 INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
France retakes the Louisiana Territory from Spain as part of the secretly negotiated Treaty of San IIdefonso. The treaty, however, doesn't specify the territory's exact boundaries.
The United States purchases the Louisiana Territory, a vast swath of 828,800 square miles (2,147,000 sq km), from France for $11,250,000 plus cancellation of almost $4 million of debt. The area encompasses 14 modern-day states, including all of present-day Arkansas, which becomes a territory of the United States.
(March 24) President Thomas Jefferson approves an Act of Congress to divide the newly acquired Louisiana Territory into two parts: the Territory of Orleans and the District of Louisiana (which includes Arkansas).
The southern part of the Louisiana Territory is split off and named "District of Arkansaw."
(June 4) Congress creates the Missouri Territory, which includes Arkansas. The following year, the Missouri Legislature creates "Arkansas County."
(March 2) President James Monroe signs an act to create the Territory of Arkansas, which becomes independent of the Missouri Territory.
The capital of the territory moves from Arkansas Post to Little Rock.
The Cherokee are forced to sign a treaty giving up their Arkansas land for a new home in the area that would become Oklahoma. It leads to a split in the tribe as one group moves to Oklahoma and another stays behind, becoming known as the "Lost Cherokee."
Removal of the "Five Civilized Tribes" (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole) of Native Americans from the Southeast and Arkansas to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). The tribes are considered "civilized" because they have adopted many of the colonists' customs and have good relations with the settlers. Still, the settlers, eager to use native land for raising cotton, pressure the federal government to acquire the tribal lands.
Arkansas sends troops and materials to Texas to help fight the war for Texas' independence from Mexico.
(June 15) Arkansas is the 25th state admitted to the Union, entering as a slave state.
1850–1900 THE CIVIL WAR AND RECONSTRUCTION ERAS
Arkansas legislation orders all "free Negroes" out of Arkansas by the end of the year. They must either choose exile or slavery.
(May 6) The Civil War. Arkansas becomes the ninth state to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy. Approximately 60,000 Arkansas residents join the Confederate Army, while 9,000 whites and more than 5,000 African Americans fight on the Union side.
(March) Confederate forces surprise the Union army at the Battle of Pea Ridge in northwest Arkansas. Although it is one of the few battles where Confederate troops outnumber Union ones, the Union still emerges victorious. The battle shores up Union control of Missouri.
(October) Union troops push 5,000 Confederate soldiers out of Maysbille in the Second Battle of Pea Ridge.
(January 11) Union forces capture Little Rock. Union troops now occupy all of Arkansas except for the southwest portion. The government is exiled to the small settlement of Washington.
(January 1) The Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect. Union-occupied northwestern Arkansas frees its slaves.
(March 4) A Unionist convention abolishes slavery in Arkansas and adopts a new constitution for the state. The constitution provides for a Unionist state government even while the Confederate government still exists. It does not, however, explicitly state the rights of former slaves.
Former Confederates gain control of the legislature and pass laws denying rights to African Americans, including the right to sit on juries, to serve in the militia, and to attend white public schools.
Congress passes the First Reconstruction Act, which voids the government of Arkansas and nine other southern states. As part of the act, Arkansas is put under federal military supervision and forced to give African Americans suffrage.
(June 22) Arkansas becomes the second Confederate state readmitted to the Union.
Racially motivated Ku Klux Klan violence against African Americans sweeps the state. The Klan disrupts voter registration, and the governor's office receives reports of 200 murders in the three months leading up to the November election. Thirteen Arkansas counties are placed under martial law, which is lifted February 6, 1869.
(April 15-May 15) The Brooks-Baxter War. Republicans Elijah Baxter and Joseph Brooks each claim the governorship, and an armed conflict in Little Rock between factions of the Republican party erupts. Baxter is eventually recognized as governor.
(October 13) The ratification of a new constitution, which is still in use today, guarantees full civil rights to African Americans and ends the Reconstruction era. The new constitution also bans gambling in the state.
The mineral bauxite is discovered southwest of Little Rock. The state reaches peak output by 1918, by which time almost all U.S. bauxite is mined in Arkansas.
The state legislature enacts a bill adopting an official pronunciation for the state, AR-kan-saw.
Legislators pass a statute requiring a literacy test for voter registration and then pass a poll tax and residency requirements for voting. These combined barriers greatly reduce the numbers of African Americans and poor whites on the voter rolls, and voter participation drops significantly.
1900–1929 EARLY 20TH CENTURY
William H. Fuller grows 70 acres of rice near Ulm, establishing one of the state's leading crops.
Diamonds are found near Murfreesboro, and the site becomes the only diamond mine in the U.S. at the time.
Arkansas mines produce more than 2,750,000 tons of coal.
The Arkansas General Assembly passes a statewide prohibition of liquor sales and manufacturing.
Arkansas legislature grants women the right to vote in primary elections but not in general elections. African American women are still not allowed to vote.World War I. Approximately 72,000 people from Arkansas serve, including African Americans and women.
(July 28) Arkansas is the 12th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.
(October 1) Black sharecroppers gather at a church in Elaine, Arkansas in an attempt to secure a more equitable price for their products. When a white deputy sheriff and a railroad detective arrive, a fight breaks out. The detective is killed and the sheriff wounded. The incident results in three days of fighting and the killing of five white men and 200 African American men, women, and children.
Over 40 percent of the land cultivated in Arkansas is now used for cotton, the state's leading crop.
Discovery of oil near El Dorado triggers an oil boom. Arkansas is forth in production among states with oil by 1924, but production peaks the following year.
The Mississippi River floods one-fifth the state, causing 246 deaths and $350 million in damages. The floods ruin much of the Delta farmland, creating a dire economic situation that the coming Great Depression further exacerbates.
1930–1950 THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND WORLD WAR II
The worst drought of the 20th century hits Arkansas. A "food riot" in early 1931 is reported in Lonoke Country. Hundreds of farmers swarm the local Red Cross office demanding unavailable food ration forms. Local merchants end up handing over their wares to the mob.
(July 5) Hot Springs National Park becomes the smallest national park in the U.S. People have been using the hot spring waters in therapeutic baths for 200 years, and the resort attracts wealthy health seekers from around the world.
The Waterbury Clock Company opens a facility in Little Rock. It is later renamed U.S. Time and then Timex. It is the last remaining American wristwatch manufacturing plant when it closes in 2001.
World War II. Two hundred thousand Arkansans serve, and 16,000 Japanese-Americans are relocated to the two internment camps in the state.
1950–PRESENT MODERN ARKANSAS
Arkansas businessman Sam Walton founds Wal-Mart. The chain incorporates in 1969, and by 2002, the Benton-based company is identified as the world's largest corporation.
The community of Charleston, Arkansas is the first in the South to end segregation in its schools, in response to the Supreme Court ruling on Brown vs. the Board of Education.
Governor Orval Faubus calls out the National Guard in support of segregationists to prevent nine African-American students from entering Central High School in Little Rock. President Eisenhower sends Federal troops, who escort the beleaguered students to class.
The Arkansas Legislature votes 94-1 to pass a law allowing the governor to close public schools rather than integrate. The Federal Court annuls the law.
Winthrop Rockefeller is the first Republican governor elected since Reconstruction. The party had long been associated with Lincoln and abolition.
The McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, an inland waterway system running southeast through Arkansas to the Mississippi River, is completed. The system allows for commercial river traffic throughout the year.
Following the end of the Vietnam War, a significant number of Vietnamese immigrants are relocated to Camp Chaffee, near Fort Smith, where many settle permanently.
Governor Bill Clinton becomes the first Arkansas native to be elected president of the United States.
A jury convicts President Clinton's former business partners, James and Susan McDougal, and Jim Guy Tucker, the governor of Arkansas, in the Whitewater real estate scandal. Tucker pleads guilty to a felony charge of fraud and steps down as governor.
Click to enlarge an image
1541: Hernando de Soto
1673: Father Jacques Marquette
1682: 19th-century engraving of René Robert Cavelier
1686: Henri de Tonti
1722: Quapaw moccasins
1819: James Monroe, 5th president of the United States
1832: Gallery of the "Five Civilized Tribes"
1862: Plan of the Battlefield of Pea Ridge
1863: Emancipation Proclamation
1874: Joseph Brooks
1887: Bauxite with a U.S. penny
1907: Chemical structure of coal
1920: Prison inmates farming cotton
1920: Cotton ready for harvest
1933: Hot Springs National Park circa 1900
1945: Map of WWII internment camps and institutions
1950: Sam Walton as he appears in David H. Hickman High School's yearbook
1954: Seal of Supreme Court of the United States
1957: Members of the 101st U.S.-Airborne Division escorting the Little Rock Nine to school
1957: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States
1957: Governor Orval Eugene speaking to a crowd protesting the integration of Little Rock schools
1966: Winthrop Rockefeller, 37th governor of Arkansas
1971: Newt Graham Lock and Dam on the Verdigris River in Wagoner County, Oklahoma
1992: Bil Clinton, 42nd president of the United States