HENRY MASSEY RECTOR was born at Fountain Ferry near Louisville, Kentucky, on May 1, 1816. He received his primary education from his mother and attended school in Louisville, Kentucky for one year. He studied law for several years, and was admitted to the bar in 1854. After moving to Arkansas in 1835, Rector became interested in politics, and served as the U.S. Marshall for the district of Arkansas. He served in the Arkansas Senate from 1848 to 1850, and was the U.S. surveyor-general of Arkansas for four years. Rector also served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1855 to 1859, and he served on the bench for the Arkansas Supreme Court for one year. On November 16, 1860, Rector was elected Arkansas’s sixth governor and the state’s first war governor. During his term, Arkansas was admitted to the Southern Confederacy on May 20, 1861, after the convention passed the Ordinance of Secession. The convention also rewrote the state constitution, with one provision shortening the governor’s term to two years. Rector left office on November 4, 1862, and then volunteered in the state’s reserve corps, as a private, for the duration of the war. He also was a delegate to the 1874 Constitutional Convention. Henry Massey Rector died in Little Rock, Arkansas, on August 12, 1899.
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
Herndon, Dallas T., Centennial History of Arkansas, Vol. 1, Chicago, Little Rock, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1922. 3 vols.
Old State House Museum