On April 17, 1891, Benjamin Harrison became the first sitting president to visit Arkansas. He was on a cross-country railroad trip having left DC on April 13.
The morning of the 17th he spoke in Memphis and then took the train to Little Rock. Accompanying him from Memphis to Little Rock were a delegation which included Governor and Mrs. James P. Eagle, Mayor H. L. Fletcher and Col. Logan H. Roots. Also in the party was Mrs. W. G. Whipple, a former first lady of Little Rock.
They arrived in Little Rock in the afternoon. A parade took them from the train station to the State House (now the Old State House Museum) where the Governor formally welcomed the President and his party.
In his brief remarks, President Harrison spoke of the hospitality and the natural resources available in Arkansas. He also touched on the Civil War, which at the time was less than 30 years in the past. He noted “The commonwealth rests upon the free suffrage of its citizens and their devotion to the Constitution and the flag is the bulwark of its life. We have agreed, I am sure, that we will do no more fighting among ourselves.” These remarks were met enthusiastically by the crowd assembled.
The President concluded is brief remarks thanking the State officials and the citizenry. He then took the train to Texarkana where he made his third set of remarks of the day.
Benjamin Harrison was on the Presidential ticket two times. The first time he lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College defeating incumbent Grover Cleveland. The second time he lost both the popular and electoral votes to Cleveland. He did not carry Arkansas in either election. Though he was the first sitting president to visit Little Rock, there is nothing here named for him. Since there was already a Harrison Street named after his grandfather, he is skipped between Cleveland and McKinley in the presidential streets.