BENJAMIN TRAVIS LANEY JR., Arkansas’s 33rd Governor, was born in the Jones Chapel community in Ouachita County, Arkansas, on November 25, 1896. He attended the public schools in Ouachita County, never finishing high school. However, his ability earned him admission to Hendrix College in 1915 but left in 1916 to teach before serving in the U.S. Navy during World War I. In 1918 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and served until the Armistice. After the war, Laney returned to his studies, earning a degree from the Arkansas Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) in 1924, and taking graduate courses at the University of Utah. Laney owned a drugstore in Conway, Arkansas, transacted real estate specializing in farmland, and entered the oil business when oil was discovered on his family farm near Camden, Arkansas. He entered politics in 1935, when he was elected Mayor of Camden. He was reelected in 1937 and served until 1939 and served on the Arkansas Penitentiary Board from 1941 to 1944.
Laney ran for governor and won both the 1944 and 1946 elections. During his tenure, the Revenue Stabilization Law was enacted, which proved to be his greatest achievement. The Arkansas Resources and Development Commission was formed and the Corporation and Utilities Commissions were consolidated into the Public Service Commission. Also during his tenure, a law passed providing for construction of the War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, and for a governor’s mansion. Laney did not seek reelection for a third term and left office on January 11, 1949. Laney ran unsuccessfully in the 1950 gubernatorial race, but remained active in politics, serving as a delegate to the 1969 Arkansas Constitutional Convention. Governor Benjamin T. Laney Jr. died of a heart attack on January 21, 1977, and is buried at the Camden Memorial Cemetery.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
Donovan, Timothy P., and Willard B. Gatewood, Jr., The Governors of Arkansas, Essays in Political Biography, Fayetteville, The University of Arkansas Press, 1981
Old State Museum House