# 2: Right to Instruct [Meek]


Meek, Melinda. The Life of Archibald Yell. The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 2 (Summer, 1967), pp. 162-184Published


“All the candidates for major offices in this first election addressed the voters of Arkansas in circular letters which delineated their political beliefs and were published by their party’s political organ. Yell’s circular was written July 1, 1836, and appeared in the Gazette July 5. He began by reminding the citizens that Arkansas’ new role as a state would bring responsibilities, as well as privileges. He upheld the right of instruction of an elected official by the people. However, if this instruction clashed with personal or party principles, he would resign his seat if unable “with justice to myself carry Into effect” the people’s wishes. Yell declared himself firmly in favor of preemption, the construction of new roads, and continued improvements for the Red, Arkansas, St. Francis, and White Rivers. He promised to urge the general government to protect the western border of the new state from the “powerful and warlike” Indians, and he strongly opposed a protective tariff. Yell closed by promising to give his attention to the interests of every citizen” (167).

“William Cummins of Little Rock was selected by the anti-administration forces to oppose Yell.25 He was the law partner of Albert Pike, the Advocate editor, and a native of Kentucky. In 1832 he had led an unsuccessful attempt to impeach Superior Court Judge Benjamin Johnson. Johnson was the father-in-law of Ambrose H. Sevier, and Cummins’ efforts had firmly placed him in opposition to the administration Sevier faction. His circular first appeared in the Advocate on July 15, 1836. Cummins asked for amiable relations between Arkansas and her southern and western neighbors, called for protection of the frontier from Indians, and advocated abolishing the sale of public lands by making such lands free. He also favored improvements on the Red and St. Francis Rivers. While expressing a preference for Hugh Lawson White for President, Cummins promised to follow the instructions of the people on this issue. He ended by pledging his ‘undivided efforts’ to the service of Arkansans, should he be elected” (168, italics mine).


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