Read ARKANSAS, A NARRATIVE HISTORY, Chapter 11 pp. 263-292
Read ARKANSAS, A NARRATIVE HISTORY, Chapter 12 pp. 293-324.
Michael Dougan, Arkansas Odyssey. Rose Publishing Com. Little Rock, 1994,684pp.
"The Progressive movement in the United States covered the period of 1901-1918. This was a reforming movement of young men and women of the post Civil War generation. National profiles showed that Progressives were middle-class men and women who were traditionally Republican in their party alliance. Their orientation was primarily urban, their outlook consciously modern. Progressivism would be a part of the Democratic party by 1912.
"Progressive sentiment was present in Arkansas but made little headway until the death of Jeff Davis marked the return to more rational and less emotional politics. The Progressive movement came late to Arkansas but remained a force throughout the 1920s.
"The Republicans lost every statewide race during the late 19th century. It mattered little whether the candidate was an old-line Southern Unionist like Thomas Boles or the Party was in alliance with revolting farmers. Perhaps because the Party was such a hopeless minority, especially after the disfranchisement of Blacks, Republican leaders led in articulating some progressive issues. H.F. Auten, the Republican gubernatorial condidate in 1898 was from Michigan. As an early real estate developer, Auten had created Arkansas's first streetcar suburb, the segregated Pulaski Heights. Wallace Townsend, candidate in 1916 and 1920, strongly endorsed women's suffrage, tax reform and good roads. More enigmatic was James A. Comer, a strong Roosevelt supporter and Progressive, who became state grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. After Progressivism captured the Democratic Party in 1908 the Republicans could not make gains in Arkansas.
The Socialist Challenge
"The cooperative aspects of socialism appealed to agrarian radicals who had inherited the tradition of the Populism and to workers who saw first hand the exploitation that resulted from the factory system. Because many workers were drawn from the farm, agrarian issues figured prominently in Arkansas socialism.
"The state Socialist Party was organized on May 23,1903 in Little Rock. Prominent in the early group were Ernest W.M. Perrin, Father Thomas Hagerty of Van Buren, Dan Hogan, editor of the first state Socialist newspaper the Huntington Southern Worker, George E. Mikel, the Socialist mayor of Hartford and president of the State Federation of Labor and teacher Ida Callery. The first platform called for the collective ownership of industry; reduced working hours; a natinal insurance and pension programs; full employment; free, compulsory and non-sectarian education; equal rights for women; initiative, referendum and proportional representation and recall of elected officials. xxxxx Eugene V. Debs , the national leader of the Party came to Arkansas in 1903 for the first of several appearances and the Party claimed 28 locals by the end of the year. The Party claimed 121 locals by 1910 and the support of a number of newspapers. Most Socialist newspapers like the one at Jonesboro,were short lived, but Clarendon, Green Forest, Hot Springs, Judsonia, Maddock, Piggott, Pine Bluff and Van Buren readers got the Socialist message for a brief period. J.S. Faubus of Coms, father of future Governor Orval E. Faubus, was an important hill-country organizer.
"Some Socialists unhappy with the conservative policies of established labor unions supported the new Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a radical group that claimed Father Hagerty's allegiance. Splits in the Party followed. Wartime persecution, because of the Socialists' opposition to the war [the United States entered the Great War in 1917]. The Socialist Party was dead in Arkansas after 1920. Socialist won few victories, but they did provide a focus for radical rhetoric. Parts of their platform even became law during the life of the Party. Because Arkansas Socialism owed much to immediate conditions and little to theoretical Marxism, it may be considered as a continuation of agrarian radicalism.
Women's Rights Movement
"One successful progressive movement was the granting of legal rights to married women and the adoption of women's suffrage. Judge James Butler had urged the cause of women in the 1874 Constitutional Convention. The Constitution gave a married woman the right to own property that "may be devised, bequeathed, or conveyed by her the same as if she were a femme sole." The Act for the Protection of Married Women allowed women to insure a man's life, not be liable for his debts "expect such as may have been contracted for the support of herself."; was granted the right to bargain, sell, assign or transfer property, could carry on a trade or business; sue or be sued; and her husband was not liable for her separately contracted debts. The Supreme Court took a dim view of the liberation of women and emasculated the law in a number late 19th century court decisions. Chrisman v Partee (1881)held that a woman's contract was not binding on her, thus prohibiting women from making contracts and thus excluding women from the business world and business transactions. Felkner v. Tighe (1882) the court set aside both the Constitution and the law ruling "It is the settled doctrine of this court, that the disabilities which the common law has thrown around married women for her protection remain..." The women's rights movement was reborn in the wake of these decisions. Mary W. Loughborough started the publication of the Arkansas Ladies Journal in 1884. The paper was not overly pro-suffrage, but it did score men on a number of issues. When it was suggested that politics was too dirty for women, the editor answered "Why wouldn't it be a good idea to change politics so that it shall be fit for women?"
"Lizzie D. Fyler a Massachusetts native who settled in Eureka Springs and organized the local suffrage society. In 1884 she was the first Arkansan to attend the National American Women Suffrage Association meeting in Washington D.C. Interest in the suffrage movement declined following her death in 1885.
"The next leader was Clara A. McDiarmid, wife of a carpetbagger Republican. Clara had been a lawyer in Kansas City but was barred from practicing in Arkansas. She opened an office to give free legal advice to women. She organized the second suffrage movement in Little Rock in 1888 and began the publication of the Woman's Chronicle. In addition to the franchise, the paper supported equal pay, temperance and "true womanhood, both in the home and before the world." The Chronicle became the official paper of the Arkansas chapter of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU)
"Repeated efforts to spread the suffrage gospel outside Little Rock proved unsuccessful. The group did bring Susan B. Anthony (Biography) to give addresses at Helena, Fort Smith, and Little Rock. Anthony was introduced at the Capitol by Governor James P. Eagle, whose wife was active in Baptist women's circles.
"In 1894 the Arkansas Women Suffrage Association made a pointed call for ministerial support "in as much as the churches are largely made up of and supported by women."
"The Prohibition Party in 1890 adopted the first resolution in the state supporting women's rights, but the WCTU was divided on the question. A bill to give the vote to white women failed in 1891.Several bills to give women the vote in school elections failed also. After the death of Clara McDiarmid in 1899 the Chronicle ceased publication and organized activity disappeared.
"The Arkansas Federation of Women's Clubs was organized in 18976 and by 1914 had 126 clubs with 15,047 members. The organization supported more that cultural and artistic ideas. Kindergartens, the Mother's Pension Law, and pure food were among their causes.
"The state Supreme Court continued to render decision restrictive of the rights of women. Women's lobbying did win some victories. An 1893 act gave women the power to make legal conveyances of property. An 1895 law gave married women the power to make contracts and execute powers of attorney. The women's rights movement came back to life with the Progressive era. In 1913 Arkansas law required women workers be provided with seats and limited their work day to 9 hours, six days a week. Charles Brough was the first governor to support women's suffrage. The proposed 1918 Constitution would have given women the vote. When the 1918 Constitution failed women were given the right to vote in party primaries. After women acquired the vote in primaries every Arkansas Congressman supported women's suffrage. The Arkansas General Assembly was one of the first Southern states to approve the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution giving the vote to women. Women began to be elected to public offices but men generally did not vote for women. Pearl Peden Oldfield and Effiegene Wingo to fill congressional seats left vacant by the deaths of their husbands provided the precedent for Hattie W. Caraway to serve in the Senate after the death of her husband. The three women did insist they were "just wives and not professional, troublemaking women." Women did not serve on juries until the late 1940s.
"St. Vincent Infirmary, a Roman Catholic hospital in Little Rock, appears to have opened in 1888. St.John's Hospital in Fort Smith was founded by the local Episcopal priest in 1884. Fort Logan Roots Hospital in North Little Rock opened in 1894. Fort Smith Charity Hospital opened in 1897 and St. Bernard's in Jonesboro opened in 1900. Early hospitals usually began nursing programs. Early hospitals founded by Roman Catholics were subject to Protestant prejudices.
State Board of Health
"A more powerful board of health was created in 1913 with a state health officer charged with supervising county health officials. The Bureau of Vital Statistics was established in 1914 to record births and deaths; marriages had to be reported to the state in 1917 and divorces in 1921. A state tuberculosis sanitarium was established in Booneville. With the spread of information about good hygiene, the communal water glass at school was replaced with individual cups, and many religious bodies retired the community communion chalice."