Arkansas Governor Thomas C. McRae

Thomas Chipman McRae was born on a small farm in Mount Holly, Arkansas on December 21, 1851. Twenty years later he was elected as Democrat to the state house of representatives as the youngest member. In January 1873, twenty-one-year-old McRae was admitted to the Arkansas bar. He opened a law office in Rosston, the county seat of newly created Nevada County and had a successful law practice for 25 years. He held a succession of offices in Prescott city government and in the state Democratic party. Congressman McRae voluntarily retired from office in March 1903, by which time his length of service in the Congress exceeded that of any prior Arkansas representative.

As a private citizen, McRae resumed his residence in Prescott. In 1904 he purchased and became president of the Bank of Prescott, and was active in other banking and federal reserve systems. And in 1917 became president of the Arkansas Bar Association.

On January 12, 1921 McRae was inaugurated as governor of the state of Arkansas. Under his governorship, he managed to get approval by the legislature of a 10 cent per gallon gasoline tax, and increased registration and license fees for state highways, which shifted the burden of road taxes from land owners to road users. Despite opposition, a severance tax was passed and all revenue deriving from it was ear-marked for the public school fund. Within three years, this tax produced some $3.5 million, fulfilling Governor McRae's dream of a reasonably well-financed public school system by state revenues. The general assembly also enacted a personal income-tax law that placed a 0.10 percent tax on all gross incomes exceeding


In light of these and other successes such as an improved National Guard, a tuberculosis sanitorium for blacks, and treasury surplus, McRae was personally satisfied with his performance as governor. On the completion of his term,

January 12, 1925, he returned to Prescott where he persued his legal and banking interests. He died at the age of seventy-eight and was buried in De Ann Cemetery, Prescott.

Thomas Chipman McRae married Ameria Ann White, the daughter of the Nevada County clerk, Rosston, Arkansas, on December 17, 1874. Enduring nearly fifty-five years, their union produced six daughters and three sons, but only five of the nine children survived until adulthood.

In 1877 the McRaes and their growing family moved to Prescott, Arkansas to be near the Nevada County Courthouse, recently located in that community; the new county seat. The house they constructed, The Oaks, was the focus of family activity for the next half century.

Reference from "The Governors of Arkansas", Essays in Political Biography, by Donovan and Gatewood.