Although Arkansas was generally considered a slave state by the early 1860's, there was a still large portion of the population who 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 richest states in the nation, this fighting put a tremendous burden on the state’s finances and led to the issuance 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 of the offered piece features a portrait of Henry Massey Rector, the state’s governor during the momentous years from 1860 through 1862. Rector was born in Louisville, Kentucky on May 1, 1816, and moved to Arkansas in 1835 to manage some land left to him by his father. Studying law and passing the bar, Rector opened a highly successful practice in Little Rock. He served as U. S. Marshal from 1842 to 1843, was elected to the state senate in 1848 and the state house of representatives in 1854, and served on the state supreme court from 1859 through 1860. The latter year, though an ardent secessionist in a divided state, he was elected governor. He served in that position until removed by the state supreme court, two years before the end of his term. He returned to his law practice, and participated in the constitutional convention in 1874. Henry M. Rector died in Little Rock on August 12, 1899. Rector’s portrait is enclosed in a circular and decorative frame, as well as the wording “ON AUDITOR’S WARRANT”. Immediately above this portrait is printed “ARKANSAS TREASURY WARRANT”, while to the right and left are ovals bearing the denomination. Below this is the financial obligation stating “THE STATE OF ARKANSAS Will pay FIVE DOLLARS to bearer to be paid in the order of their number”, with the number referred to being written near the top. The signature of “L. B. Cunningham” appears at the lower right, in his capacity as “Treas” (Treasurer), separated from the written date - “July 31 1863 - by the small vignette of a recumbent dog (dogs symbolized fidelity and trust). Along the left end, printed in a vertical rectangle, is a small vignette depicting a slave carrying a basket of cotton, with others hard at work in the background. The denomination appears above and below this scene, as well as vertically along the opposite edge. These notes were printed by J. D. Butler in Little Rock, with part of his imprint being visible below the slave vignette. The back, unlike many notes of this era whose reverses were left blank, bears a printed statement reading “ARKANSAS TREASURY WARRANT” within a geometric design, executed in a lovely light green ink.
This note, printed in black ink on light blue paper, is in uncirculated condition, with no harsh folds or wrinkles present. Areas of light toning are noted at the edges, especially the left, with some noticeable foxing spots widely scattered throughout the design. The note is cut tight along the left hand edge, touching the frameline in the upper corner. The contrast is about average for a note of this series, with all designs and printing being legible and defined. The note measures approximately 3.25 x 7.00 inches at its widest, tapering to 3 x 7 at the left (the note was cut off the sheet at an odd angle). A nice example of these crude but popular notes.