Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History


History & Political Science


College of Arts & Humanities

Committee Chair

Dr. Kelly Jones

Second Committee Member

Dr. Aaron McArthur

Third Committee Member

Dr. Gregory Michna

Program Director

Dr. Kelly Jones

Dean of Graduate College

Dr. Sarah Gordon


Little Rock, Arkansas offered unique political opportunities in the late nineteenth century. Unlike the rest of the state, Little Rock housed a prominent middle-class black community that earned political office positions in local and state government. The current historical scholarship on the state’s African American political power in these years lacks detailed treatment of the political power of black Arkansans in Little Rock. Using newspapers, census data, and local and state government documents, this thesis argues for the unique position of the state’s capital for black Arkansans. In the late nineteenth century, the black middle class was especially strong in Little Rock, which helped the city’s black community gain political influence. Black officeholding in Little Rock ad Pulaski County was strong enough not to have to rely on fusion tickets. Using the city’s unique position, African Americans of Little Rock seized political opportunities at the local and state level throughout the latter nineteenth century.