Thursday, January 31, 2019

Euphrates Garrett (1844-1924)

Portrait from the Arkansas Democrat, December 25, 1904.

  Sharing a name with an important river in world history should entitle one to more than just a passing glance, and Euphrates Garrett, a two-term Arkansas state representative and minister from Cleveland County is in all likelihood the only American political figure to share their first name with that famous river in ancient Mesopotamia. Arguably the most obscure Arkansan profiled in the last few weeks, Euphrates Garrett was born in Tennessee in June 1844. The son of South Carolina natives McDaniel and Mary Ann Garrett, Euphrates Garrett is recorded as a six-year-old resident of McNairy County, Tennessee in the 1850 census.
  Little is known of Garrett's early life or education in the state of his birth. Military records indicate Garrett was a Confederate veteran and following the war became a Methodist minister, work that would later see him settle in Arkansas in 1875. A member of the Little Rock Methodist Conference, Garrett was an itinerant minister, traveling throughout the Little Rock district, and by 1889 held a pastorate in the "Maumelle circuit", which contained three hundred parishioners and was partially located in the neighboring county of Pulaski.
  Remarked as a "lifelong Democrat", Euphrates Garrett entered the political life of his state in 1902 when he was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives from Cleveland County. He took his seat at the start of the 1903-05 session and during that term sat on the committees on Public Buildings, Public Printing, and Retrenchment.  He would win a second term in November of 1904 and that December was briefly profiled in the Arkansas Democrat, being described as a "hard worker, doing conscientious service for his people and the state." In this profile, Garrett responded to fourteen leading issues that were hot button items facing the Arkansas legislature, amongst which was legislation that would complete the construction of the state capitol and the "question of the segregation of the school tax, according to the proportionate amount paid by the races". In regards to the last-named issue, Garrett is revealed to be a product of his time, stating that:
"We have helped the Negro nearly 40 years and I think that long enough. Those we have educated are the meanest of all."
  Garrett's stance on the issue of race and segregation notwithstanding, his time in state government saw him gain press as a firm backer for the passage of a new state constitution, with Garrett himself stating that:
"Yes, I am very much in favor of a new state constitution. I am the man that introduced in the last legislature the bill calling a constitutional convention, to frame and give our great state a new organic law. I fought hard for it, but it failed; but it will go through all right this time."
From the Arkansas legislative composite of 1903-04.

  Euphrates Garrett's second term concluded in January 1907 and despite his leaving government service continued to serve the legislature in a different capacity, that of Chaplain of the Arkansas House of Representatives. Elected to that post in early 1907, Garrett continued to serve through the duration of that session of the legislature. A resident of Stamps, Lafayette County, Arkansas, in the latter portion of his life, Garrett died in that town sometime in 1924, when he was around 80 years of age. He was later interred alongside his wife Jennie (who predeceased him in 1921) at the Lakeside Cemetery in Stamps.

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