On October 18, 1820, Territorial Governor James Miller signed legislation designating Little Rock as the new capital for Arkansas. This was a mere 10 months after the first permanent settlement was established in Little Rock.
While Little Rock became the Capital, technically it was not the Capital City, since it would not be incorporated as a City until 1835. It wasn’t even incorporated as a town until 1831.
The Act provided that after June 1, 1821, the sessions of the Legislature and the Superior Court would be held at Little Rock. This caused Arkansas Post, the first territorial capital, to fade from prominence.
The move was made based on the lobbying of Amos Wheeler, Chester Ashley and William Russell. These men all owned land in the Little Rock area and would benefit from the move of the Capital to Little Rock. The official reason given was Little Rock’s geographical center to the Arkansas Territory and that it was elevated land less prone to flooding.
But just as important, Messrs. Wheeler, Ashley and Russell promised to donate land for a capitol building and a guarantee of $20,000 for construction of a suitable building. (That would be the equivalent of $432,000 today.)
Around the time the legislation was approved, several members of the Territorial legislature purchased land around Little Rock. When a subsequent effort to relocate the Capital upstream was launched, it failed due to the financial ties of these legislators to land in Little Rock.