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Historical Background

Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

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Explorers and Settlers
Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings


Location: Arkansas County, on Ark. 1 and 169, about 8 miles northeast of Gillett; address, 1741 Old Post Road Gillett, AR 72055.

Arkansas Post, founded near the mouth of the Arkansas River, was the first European settlement in the lower Mississippi Valley and the territory of the later Louisiana Purchase. Established in 1686 among the friendly Quapaw Indians by Henry de Tonty, lieutenant of the famed explorer Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, the first post was small, may not have been utilized continuously, and was probably abandoned during the period 1700-1720. As French activities increased along the lower Mississippi, especially in the decade following the establishment of John Law's colony about 1720, Arkansas Post thrived. In the last half of the century, the Spaniards and Americans took over the post. It flourished under the Americans. After the War of 1812, American settlers rapidly populated the area, and the post became the capital of Arkansas Territory. Although the capital was later moved to Little Rock, the post became a key point in steamboat traffic and a strategic Civil War military site.

Arkansas Post National Memorial.

Because of subsequent changes in location of Tonty's early post and the vagaries of the Arkansas River, the precise location of the site cannot be determined. Formerly a State park, the National Memorial was authorized by an act of Congress on July 6, 1960. On June 23, 1964, it was accepted by the National Park Service, which made plans to enhance the interpretive program.

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Last Updated: 22-Mar-2005