Little Rock Look Back: General Grant in Little Rock

On April 15, 1880, former president Ulysses S. Grant spoke in Little Rock as part of his world tour. While here he made a couple of appearances and participated in a parade. It was General Grant’s first visit to Arkansas either as a soldier or a politician.

(At the time, and through much of the 20th Century, former US presidents were not referred to as President after leaving office. He was referred to as General Grant or Mr. Grant during his time in Little Rock.)

At his outdoor speech, his remarks followed brief comments by Governor William R. Miller and Mayor John Gould Fletcher (erroneously referred to as John C. Fletcher in the Memphis Appeal story the next day). Grant’s comments were brief and flowery. He thanked Arkansans for a warm welcome, praised the future prospects of Arkansas and discussed the demise of what he termed “sectionalism” which was undoubtedly a reference to the division between the Union and and former Confederate states.

Also that day, Grant addressed a banquet in Concordia Hall (now part of the Arkansas Studies Institute complex on the Central Arkansas Library downtown campus). His was one of fifteen toasts that evening. It was simply “The United States of America, forever United.” He expounded briefly on the theme of unity of citizens from all states. He also discussed immigration noting, “All foreigners find a welcome here. We make them American citizens. After we receive them, it is but one generation until they are Americans.” He noted that he could speak much more on the topic, but that since he was but one of fifteen toasts and that there was to be music after each toast, “It will be to-morrow (sic) morning when we get through if we all take as much time as the subjects admit of.”

Not everyone was thrilled to have the former commander of the Union Army in Little Rock. The story goes that when he was parading down the street, some Little Rock women (in a display of Souther un-hospitality) sat in chairs with their backs to the parade route. But all in all, it appears to have been a successful visit for the man who was the only Republican in the 19th Century to win Arkansas’ Electoral votes.

Grant arrived in Little Rock on the night of April 14 and lodged at the Capital Hotel. He undoubtedly enjoyed some whiskey and cigars while at the Capital. Grant had originally planned on departing in the afternoon of April 15, but Little Rock leaders pled with him to stay so that he could be honored at the banquet. He assented.

Incidentally, there is an urban myth that, while in Little Rock, General Grant rode his horse in the oversized elevator of the Capital Hotel.  This is a relatively recent story. The oversized elevator was not installed until the 1980s, over 100 years after Gen. Grant was a guest of the facility.


Tonight at the Ron Robinson Theater – Lyon College Jazz Band with special guests

Arkansas Sounds presents the Lyon College Jazz Band with special guests tonight (April 11) at the Ron Robinson Theater.

Join them for an evening of jazz with co-presenters the Lyon College Jazz Band and their special guests, the Maumelle High School Jazz Band, the Bryant High School Jazz Band and vocalist Leslie Oden.

This event is FREE and open to the public. Doors open at 6:00pm with general admission seating on a first come, first served basis.

Presented by Arkansas Sounds and Lyon College Jazz Band.

CALS Butler Center presents Page Harrington “Women’s Suffrage and Race Relations: A Divided Legacy” today at Noon

Today (March 29), Page Harrington will present the 2019 Betsey Wright Distinguished Lecture on the topic “Women’s Suffrage and Race Relations: A Divided Legacy.”  The event is co-sponsored by the CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and the Arkansas Women’s History Institute.

The program begins at 12 noon at the Ron Robinson Theatre on the CALS Library Square campus.

As the Centennial of the 19th Amendment approaches in 2020, promoters and writers of history must be aware that an authentic narrative of the suffrage should be inclusive and respectful of the roles of all who worked to ensure women’s suffrage. Women and men of color worked for women’s suffrage for more than 70 years in multiple organizations. Some of the organizations were integrated and open to all, while others supported a culture of racial bias.

How, then, can today’s audiences interpret an accurate and honest representation of the campaign for suffrage without focusing on applying negative labels to any individual or organization? The centennial is an opportunity to reframe the public narrative of suffrage in a relevant and racially transparent way. Learn techniques and resources to navigate the politically divisive rhetoric and find the honest and productive tone for your community, organization, or historic site or project.

Page Harrington is a consulting public historian specializing in early 20th Century women’s history. As President of Page Harrington & Company, LLC, she advises museums on creative and practical strategies to integrate women’s history into existing museum interpretation, exhibits, and programs. Harrington’s forthcoming book, INTERPRETING THE LEGACY OF SUFFRAGE AT MUSEUMS AND HISTORIC SITES, will be released in fall of 2019.

Harrington is the former Executive Director of the National Woman’s Party at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, the founding Co-Chair of the Women’s History Affinity Group for the American Association for State and Local History, and Co-founder of the Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative. She also served on the Scholar Committee to advise the U.S. Congressional Commission on their exploratory study for an American Museum of Women’s History. Harrington holds two master’s degrees from the University of San Diego: one in Public History & Historic Preservation and the second in Non-Profit Management & Leadership.

The Betsey Wright Distinguished Lecture focuses on matters of politics, government, and public policy of special interest to women. It pays tribute to the long political career and advocacy work of Betsey Wright, who served as chief of staff for Governor Bill Clinton for seven years and as deputy chair of the Clinton 1992 Presidential Campaign. She also served as executive director of the National Women’s Political Caucus and as campaign manager for Bill Clinton’s successful gubernatorial campaigns in 1982, 1984, and 1986.

Tonight at CALS Ron Robinson Theater – Arkansas Sounds presents Big Piph’s “The Glow”

big piphTonight at 8pm, Arkansas Sounds presents Big Piph’s “The Glow” at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater at 8pm.

Epiphany “Big Piph” Morrow is a Stanford-educated international emcee and community builder. This noted TEDx speaker is a solo artist and front man for the 7pc jazz and funk infused, hip-hop ensemble, “Big Piph & Tomorrow Maybe”.

His music, talks, and workshops have taken him abroad to countries such as Morocco, The Gambia, Seychelles, Thailand, Myanmar, and more.

After a decade plus in the industry, his unique entertainment is relayed through the lenses of purpose, humor, creativity, race, and a global perspective. His latest project is a new age narrative, one-man show entitled, “The Glow”, with Corey Harris as music director.

Ticket prices are $15. Doors open at 7:00 pm with general admission seating

10 Years of UA Little Rock and CALS Collaborating on Arkansas History

UA Little Rock and the Central Arkansas Library System partnered 10 years ago to make accessible an extensive collection of Arkansas historical documents through a joint catalogue and a well-equipped research room in the CALS Roberts Library.

The UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture and the CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies have worked together over the decade to provide more historical collections and expanded services to better serve Arkansans.

Celebrate with them at a reception in the Galleries at Library Square on March 8, 2019 from 5 pm until 8 pm.

Live music will entertain and celebratory cupcakes will be served.

2nd Friday Art Night at CALS Library Square

On Friday, February 8, the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) will open three exhibitions, Back to the Garden, Made in America: Vintage Film Posters from the Ron Robinson Collection, and Au Pair Don’t Care, and host one of the authors ofAbandoned Arkansas: An Echo From the Past.

Events will be held at the CALS downtown Little Rock campus, Library Square, 100 Rock Street, and are free and open to the public.

The Galleries at Library Square (formerly Butler Center Galleries) will host the opening reception for Paintings by Charles Henry James: Back to the Garden with featured musician Bluesboy Jag (solo acoustic and cigar box blues guitar & vocals). Artist and musician Charles Henry James, who has split his time between Little Rock and his native New York for nearly thirty years, takes a humorous, free-wheeling approach to socio/political engagement, filtered through the lens of pop culture tropes, op art, surrealism, and psychedelia. The exhibition is on view in the Concordia Hall Gallery through April 27, 2019.

Also opening is Made in America: Vintage Film Posters from the Ron Robinson Collection, in the Loft Gallery. The Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, a department of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS), holds an extensive collection of Arkansas-related and other movie posters. The late Ron Robinson of Little Rock, an avid collector who was the president of Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods (CJRW) and also served as a U.S. Air Force officer in Vietnam, generously donated these film posters, which are mostly related to Arkansas history, U.S. politics, and American popular culture. The exhibition is on view through May 25, 2019.

The Bookstore at Library Square (formerly River Market Books & Gifts) is proud to present the new show, Au Pair Don’t Care, by artist Amily Miori. Also in the bookstore, visitors will be able to talk with Ginger Beck, co-author of Abandoned Arkansas: An Echo from the Past. Copies of the book will be available for purchase. Events at the Galleries and the Bookstore are part of 2nd Friday Art Night (2FAN), 5:00-8:00 p.m.

Call the Butler Center at 320-5700, the Galleries at Library Square at 320-5790, or the Bookstore at Library Square at 918-3093 to learn more about the concert and exhibitions. View the full calendar at