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. The central vignette, printed in dark red ink, features a representation of the state seal enclosed in a circle, atop which is printed the beginning of the financial obligation. This fiscal statement guarantees that “THE STATE OF ARKANSAS” (the portion printed across and beside the state seal) “Five Years After 1st July, 1861, promises to pay SOLON BORLAND or Bearer Twenty Dollars, with interest at the rate of EIGHT per cent per annum, payable at the Treasury on the 1st of January and July each year. This will be received at par for State Revenue, for Lands, and any debt due the State, in her own right or as Trustee.” This obligation is printed in dark blue ink, except for the name of the recipient and the value of the bond (these were added in black ink). Below this is printed the date, “September 25th, 1861”, followed by the signatures of “W. R. Miller” and “O Basham”, the “Auditor” and “Treas.” (Treasurer), respectively (Basham’s signature appears on a light red scroll design, probably for anti-counterfeiting). The imprint of “J. D. BUTLER. PRINT. LIT. ROCK” can be seen at the lower left, while “ARKANSAS WAR BOND.”, in ornate red letters, appears in a wavy pattern atop the financial obligation. A decorative rectangular border, boldly printed in red and blue ink (the same used in the body of the piece), encloses all of the above material, neatly separating it from the seven remaining interest coupons. Each coupon was redeemable for “$80/100” (80 cents) and carried the date of redemption, the serial number of the bond, a stamped signature of “O Basham” and the reminder that this was a “WAR BOND”. The back of the bond, as with most documents of this era, was left blank. This interesting and historic document measures approximately 5.65 x 8.75 inches and would frame nicely with an Arkansas Treasury Warrant.
Solon Borland was born in Suffolk, Virginia on September 21, 1808, was educated in North Carolina, studied medicine, opened a practice, and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1843, where he founded the Arkansas Banner newspaper. During the Mexican War, he was commissioned as a major in the Arkansas Volunteer Cavalry, and served faithfully until captured on January 23, 1847. He escaped, was officially discharged with his regiment, but voluntarily served as a aide-de-camp to General William J. Worth during the remainder of the war. After the war, Borland was elected as a United States Senator to fill the unexpired term of Ambrose Hundley Sevier. He was quite unpopular with his peers in Congress (he even physically attacked Senator Henry Foote), as well as his constituents at home. Borland resigned in 1853, after which he was appointed United States Minister to Nicaragua, serving until the following year (he caused a diplomatic situation which led to the naval bombardment of a town). He returned to Little Rock in October, 1854 and resumed his medical practice, though he remained active in local politics. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Borland was appointed commander of the state militia, a position he held for approximately one month. He was subsequently commander for Northeast Arkansas, responsible for troop deployments and supplies. He helped raise, and became the first colonel of the 3rd Arkansas Cavalry, but due to his physical condition he never left Arkansas. He resigned in June, 1862, and moved to Dallas County, Arkansas. Solon Borland died on January 1, 1864 in Harris County, Texas and was buried in Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock.
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 exhibits moderate period wear and adequate long term storage. Light to moderate toning is present across the entire surface, giving the piece an overall off-white appearance. Minor soiling, as well as several darker foxing spots, can be found scattered throughout the design. Several folds, both horizontal and vertical, are present, the heaviest being between the principal instrument and the coupons. Four small pinholes, apparently made by two pins attaching this piece to another, can be seen when the bond is held up to the light. The top left edge is slightly ragged, with minor paper loss and a small tear. Several additional small tears are present at the edges, each neatly repaired with a small piece of archival tape. The bond’s Criswell identification is written in pencil at the upper right on the back. As noted with another bond, this piece would look great framed with a $20.00 Arkansas note, especially since the matting would cover the paper issue at the upper left and some of the scattered spotting. A nice example of this popular issue.