Although Arkansas was generally considered a slave state by the early 1860’s, there was still a large portion of the population that were opposed to secession. The wealthier lowland plantation owners, however, held the majority of the political power, and the state seceded from the Union on May 6, 1861. Because of its geographic position, and the somewhat divided loyalties of its people, the state suffered heavily from numerous military incursions and local guerilla warfare. Never one of the wealthiest states in the nation, this in-fighting put a tremendous burden on the state’s finances and led to the issuance of a significant amount of war bonds and treasury warrants. Executed by a local printer, these fiscal items are among the crudest issued by any of the Southern states. This particular issue bears no vignette or design of any kind, simply a financial obligation, attached coupons, and the signatures of the state authorities who guarantee the validity of the bond. The financial obligation states that “The State of Arkansas, Five Years after 1st July, 1861, promises to pay B. T. Duval, or Bearer, TEN DOLLARS, with interest at the rate of Eight per cent per annum, payable at the Treasury on the 1st of January and July of each Year.” It also guarantees that “This will be receivable at par for State Revenue, for Lands, and any debt due the State, in her own right or as Trustee.” These statements are followed by the signatures of “W. R. Miller” and “O Basham” who “COUNTERSIGNED” this bond as “Auditor” and “Treasurer” respectively. The date of issue, “December 12, 1861”, is stamped in black ink between the two signatures, though it is significantly closer to that of Miller. Above and below this obligation were originally 10 interest coupons (one was removed at the time for redemption), each valued at “$40/100” and bearing printed dates six months apart (1st January, 1st July) in successive years. Each coupon also bears a manuscript serial number that corresponds to the principal instrument, as well as a stamped signature of “O Basham”. A rectangular border encloses all of the above material, with “War Bond” printed at select intervals. The imprint of “J. D. BUTLER, PRINT. LIT. ROCK.”, a local printer and the producer of this piece, appears to the right of the financial obligation. All of the printed information is accomplished in red ink on white paper, with a bright yellow protectorate added for security. The signatures were added in period ink, while the recipient, date, and Basham’s guarantee on the coupons were stamped in black ink. The back of this piece was left blank, as were most other financial instruments of the period. This interesting piece measures approximately 3.75 x 8.35 inches and would look great by itself, or framed with some Arkansas currency or other types of bonds.
Cursory research indicates that Benjamin Taylor DuVal, the recipient of this bond, was born sometime in the early 1820’s, and moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas with his family in 1822. He was a graduate of St. Joseph College in Bardstown, Kentucky, studied law under Jesse Turner and Albert Pike, and was admitted to the bar in 1849. He served in the state legislature in 1857, and during the Civil War, was a quartermaster (listed in different sources as a major or colonel) under Confederate General James F. Fagan (DuVal would be linked with Fagan after the war as well). Following the war, DuVal was appointed Special Prosecutor of the U. S. Marshal’s Office, and apparently used some questionable practices to secure his positions. Further research should uncover a wealth of information regarding his legal activities, as he remained prominent in Arkansas politics for many years. Benjamin T. DuVal died in 1905 and was buried in the Calvary Cemetery, Fort Smith, Arkansas.
It is assumed that DuVal’s position as quartermaster may have led to the large number of bonds issued in his name (how many bonds does one have to buy to have a special stamp made).
Oliver Basham was born in Tazewell County, Virginia on April 12, 1820. Cursory research seems to indicate that he was elected State Treasurer of Arkansas in 1860, though his actual term is listed as February 2, 1861 through April 18, 1864. It is noted that during the early part of this period, Basham served as a captain in Company C, 1st Arkansas Mounted Rifles. Research also indicates that he served as lieutenant colonel of the 7th Arkansas Cavalry, presumably from the time the regiment was formed in July, 1863. He was killed in action on September 27, 1864 at the battle of Pilot Knob during General Sterling Price’s Missouri Raid (research gives two dates for his death, September 23 or 27, though the latter is probably correct). He is buried in the Rebel Cemetery in Iron County, Missouri.
The presently offered piece is in un-circulated condition, with great color and wonderful eye appeal. No folds are present, and the paper is solid throughout. Numerous scattered foxing spots can be seen on the top quarter of this bond, easily visible in the margin, but partially hidden in the design on the coupons. Adequate margins are present on all sides, though they are a little wider at the top. Very minor paper loss is noted at the edge in the lower left corner, not affecting any of the design (this could easily be hidden if the bond was matted and framed for display). As mentioned earlier, this bond exhibits great color and eye appeal, with the red printing providing a sharp contrast to the yellow protectorate. While Civil War era Arkansas bonds are not particularly rare, examples this nice are becoming difficult to locate in today’s community. This is a wonderful opportunity to add one of these pieces to your own collection.