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Elias Nelson Conway

Gov. Elias Nelson Conway

  • November 15, 1852 - November 15, 1860
  • Democrat
  • May 17, 1812
  • February 28, 1892
  • Tennessee


ELIAS NELSON CONWAY, brother to Arkansas’s first governor, James Sevier Conway (1836-1840), was born at Greenville in Greene County, Tennessee, on May 17, 1812. He moved with his family to Missouri where he attended the Bonne Femme Academy. In 1833 Conway moved to Little Rock, studied surveying, and served as Arkansas’ auditor from 1835 to 1849. Conway declined the 1844 Democratic gubernatorial nomination, but accepted it in 1852. He was sworn into office on November 15, 1852, as Arkansas’s fifth governor, and was reelected to a second term in 1856. During his administration, the office of state geologist was created, major physical improvements were made in the state and also in the state penitentiary, and large grants were given to the state’s railroad system. His greatest accomplishment was restoring the state’s solvency, which he did by creating a court of chancery. The treasury held a surplus when Conway left office on November 15, 1860. Conway retired from public life, nearly becoming a recluse. Governor Conway died on February 28, 1892, and is buried at the Mount Holly Cemetery, Little Rock, Arkansas.


Donovan, Timothy P., and Willard B. Gatewood, Jr., The Governors of Arkansas, Essays in Political Biography, Fayetteville; The University of Arkansas Press, 1981

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.

Herndon, Dallas T., Centennial History of Arkansas, Vol. 1, Chicago, Little Rock, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1922. 3 vols.

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