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Arkansas Colonial Legal System, 1686-1766

@ University of Arkansas

Arnold, Morris S.


Article by Morris Arnold on the Arkansas Legal System during the Colonial Period. THE ARKANSAS COLONIAL LEGAL SYSTEM, 1686-1766 Morris S. Arnold* Except for the silence of its final letter, there is nowadays noth­ing very French about Arkansas. Yet before the American takeover in 1804 the great majority of the European inhabitants of the area presently occupied by the state were of French origin. There is s9me visible proof of this in the names, many now mangled beyond e:asy recognition, which eighteenth-century voyageurs and coureurs de bois gave to a good many Arkansas places and streams; 1 and there are, as well, a number of Arkansas townships which bear the names of their early French habitants .2 While these faint traces of a remote European past survive, ab­solutely nothing remains of the laws and customs which the ancient residents of Arkansas observed. This is no accident. It was a favor­ite object of Jefferson to introduce the common law of England into the vast Louisiana Territory as quickly as he could. In the lower territory he waited too late. New Orleans had had a large French population and a somewhat professionalized legal system for some time, and the civilian opposition, given time to congeal, proved to * Ben J. Altheimer Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Arkansas at Little Rock. B.S.E.E. 1965, LL.B. 1968, University of Arkansas; LL.M. 1969, S.J.D. 1971, Harvard Law School. This article is the first chapter of Professor Arnold's book, UNEQUAL LAWS UNTO A SAVAGE RACE: EUROPEAN...
Created Date:
1726; 1743; 1749
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Colonial Arkansas Post Ancestry

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University of Arkansas