Benjamin Travis Laney

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Grave of Benjamin Travis Laney

Benjamin Travis Laney (born November 25, 1896 in Camden , Arkansas , † January 21, 1977 in Magnolia , Arkansas) was an American politician and governor of Arkansas between 1945 and 1949 .

Early years and political advancement

Laney attended the public schools in his home country without finishing high school. Because of his talent, he was accepted into Hendrix College in 1915 . During the First World War , he served in the US Navy . After the war ended, Laney continued his education. He then attended Arkansas Teacher College and the University of Utah . After completing his education, he bought a drugstore in Conway, Arkansas, and dealt with real estate and other business transactions. When oil was discovered on his family's farm, he got into the oil business. Laney was a member of the Democratic Party . Between 1935 and 1939 he was mayor of his hometown Camden. In 1944 he was nominated by his party for the office of governor and then elected by the electorate.

Arkansas Governor

Laney took up his new office on January 9, 1945. After re-election in 1946, he was able to serve until January 11, 1949. The end of the Second World War falls during his term of office . Now industrial production in the country had to be converted back to civilian needs and the returning soldiers had to be reintegrated into society and working life. Laney promoted the economic and business development of his country. At that time there were also restructuring within the administration. For example, a separate department for natural resources and development was created. The War Memorial Stadium was built in Little Rock and work began on a new official residence for the Arkansas governors. Also worth mentioning is a new tax law that came into force at the time. Basically Laney was a supporter of racial segregation , yet were African-American students at his time as governor, the first University of Arkansas admitted.

Further life

After the end of his second term, the governor planned to skip one term and then run again in 1950. In the meantime he has been toying with a conservative split from the Democratic Party, the so-called Dixiecrats . They even wanted to name him their presidential candidate for 1948. Laney changed his mind and did not join this party. Their top candidate was Strom Thurmond from South Carolina . He then lost the gubernatorial election of 1950, which meant that his return to power in Arkansas had failed. He continued to watch political events. In 1969 he was a delegate to a meeting to revise the Arkansas constitution. He died of heart failure in January 1977. Benjamin Laney was married to Lucile Kirtley, with whom he had three children.


  • Robert Sobel and John Raimo (Eds.): Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789–1978. Volume 1, Meckler Books, Westport, 1978. 4 volumes.

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