ORVAL EUGENE FAUBUS was born in Combs, Arkansas, on January 7, 1910. He briefly attended Commonwealth College, the radical labor school at Mena, Arkansas. He worked as an itinerant farmer, a lumberjack and a schoolteacher before enlisting in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946 during World War II, with two years in the European Theater. He was decorated with the Combat Infantry Badge and the Bronze Star. After the war, Faubus served on the Arkansas State Highway Commission from 1949 to 1951 and as director of highways from 1952 to 1953. He was postmaster at Huntsville from 1946 to 1947 and from 1953 to 1954. Elected to the governorship in 1954 after a runoff, Governor Faubus initially pursued a liberal course in office, but to combat his political opponents who were staunch segregationists, he adopted a hard-line civil-rights position. In 1957, Governor Faubus gained national attention when he called out the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, but he was eventually forced to withdraw the Guard. After rioting broke out, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent U.S. troops to Little Rock and put the National Guard under federal command to ensure the integration of the school. Faubus’s political expediency resulted in his repeated re-election as governor but also prevented him from moving into the national political arena. During his six, two-year terms, he served on the National Governors’ Conference Executive Committee from 1957 to 1958 and chaired the Southern Governors’ Conference from 1962 to 1963). In 1970, 1974, and 1986 he sought reelection as governor of Arkansas but was unsuccessful in each attempt at a political comeback, the last time losing to Bill Clinton. He passed away on December 14, 1994.
Governors of the American States, Commonwealths and Territories, National Governors Association, 1966.