Featherstonhaugh Arrives in Little Rock

During this time in 1834, British explorer George William Featherstonhaugh (pronounced “Fanshaw”) arrives in Little Rock where he meets William Woodruff and “Colonel A*****, a clever good-looking lawyer.” Featherstonhaugh does not give the exact date of the meeting, nor does he give the Colonel’s name as Ashley, but one can safely assume he’s describing Chester Ashley. The meetings happen between November 12 and 22, 1834.

He wasn’t greatly impressed with Little Rock, or the town’s abundance of “cheap” newspapers and lack of Bibles. “In this part of the country, it has struck me as the worst of all signs that I have never seen a Bible in the hands of any individual even on a Sunday,” he wrote. However, he did meet a few good folks.

Featherstonhaugh writes: 

“It was my good fortune to become acquainted with a few respectable and agreeable individuals here.Governor Pope, the governor of the territory, is an unaffected worthy person: he was once a conspicuous politician in Kentucky, and by some accident has lost one of his arms. This gentleman has been of great service here in various ways, especially in the judicious use he has made of the funds entrusted to him by the general government for the erection of a legislative hall, which is a very handsome building, placed in an advantageous situation, on the brink of the river, and one of the neatest public buildings I have seen in North America. The Governor showed it to me with great exultation, and I complimented him sincerely on the taste he had shown. He lives amongst the inhabitants in an unpretending and plain manner, encouraging them to use no ceremony in talking to him and appearing to me to carry his affability and familiarity with them quite as far as it was expedient to do. Ceremony and circumlocution seem to have found no resting-place amongst the inhabitants of Little Rock; if they have anything to say to you, they come to the point (pynt as they pronounce it) at once and are not very shy of their expletives.”

Pictured: John Pope, territorial governor of Arkansas from 1829 to 1835, circa 1819 Courtesy of the Arkansas History Commission.The “legislative hall” Featherstonhaugh praises is the Old State House. [Source: “Excursions Through the Slave States,” Vol. 2, pages 51-52.]Visit the Encyclopedia of Arkansas to learn more about John Pope andGeorge William Featherstonhaugh.