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James Sevier Conway

Personal data
Date of birthDecember 9, 1798
Place of birthGreene County, Tennessee
Date of deathMarch 3, 1855(age 56)
Place of deathArkansas, United States
Political partyDemocrat
1st Governor of Arkansas
In office1836 - 1840
Succeeded byArchibald Yell
Preceded byNone

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James Sevier Conway (December 9, 1798 March 3, 1855) was a Democratic Governor of the State of Arkansas, the first elected governor of the state.

James Sevier Conway was born in Greene County, Tennessee and was educated by private tutors and attended public schools. In 1820 he moved to Arkansas where he worked as a surveyor. He formed a surveying business with two of his brothers. Conway's company took over the land that would later become the city of Little Rock, Arkansas and he is known as the founder of that city. Conway purchased a large cotton plantation named Walnut Hill in what is now Lafayette County (then part of Hempstead County). It was here he met Mary Jane Bradley, who had also migrated with her family from Tennessee. They were married December 21, 1825.

In 1832 Conway became the surveyor-general of the Arkansas Territory and served in that position until 1836.

Conway became the first elected Governor of Arkansas when it became a state in 1836. His administration focused on developing schools and roads. He established a state military to patrol the western frontier and worked to have a federal arsenal built in Little Rock. He worked to get funding for a state penitentiary. He pushed for the establishment of a state library and university but was unsuccessful.

Conway left office in 1840 and returned to his plantation. He continued to be active in public affairs.

James S. Conway died from the complications of pneumonia on March 3, 1855. He is buried at the Conway Cemetery Historic State Park, at the site of the old Walnut Hill plantation, near Bradley, Arkansas.

James Sevier Conway was the brother of Arkansas Governor Elias Nelson Conway, brother of Congressman Henry Wharton Conway, first cousin of Senator Ambrose Hundley Sevier and Governor Henry Massey Rector. He was third cousin of Confederate General and Virginia Governor James Lawson Kemper. The city of Conway, Arkansas is named after him.




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