Orval Eugene Faubus (January 7th, 1910 - December 14th, 1994) was the 36th governor of Arkansas from 1955 to 1967.
Early life and career
Orval Eugene Faubus was born in the northwest corner of Arkansas near the village of Combs to John Samuel and Addie (née Joslen) Faubus.
Faubus's first political race was in 1936 when he contested a seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives, which he lost. He was urged to challenge the result but declined, which earned him the gratitude of the Democratic Party. As a result, he was elected circuit clerk and recorder of Madison County, a post he held for two terms.
When the United States entered World War II, Faubus joined the United States Army and served as an intelligence officer with the Third Army of General George Patton. He rose to the rank of major and was in combat several times. His book, In This Faraway Land, documents the military period of his life. He was active in veterans' causes for the remainder of his life.
When Faubus returned from the war, he cultivated ties with leaders of Arkansas' Democratic Party, particularly with progressive reform Governor Sid McMath, leader of the post-war "GI Revolt" against corruption, under whom he served as director of the state's highway commission. Meanwhile, conservative Francis Cherry defeated McMath's bid for a third term in the 1952 Democratic primary. Cherry became unpopular with voters, and Faubus challenged him in the 1954 primary.
Little Rock crisis
In 1957, the US Supreme Court ruled that the separation of schools for Black and White people was unlawful, and that schools should be racially integrated. As a result, nine Black students known as the Little Rock Nine were allowed to attend the Little Rock Central High School, a White school, for the first time. However, Faubus, in direct conflict with the orders of the Supreme Court, illegally deployed the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the Black students from entering. He later defended his actions and claimed that he was concerned that the Federal government would have him arrested.
President Dwight Eisenhower assured him that the Constitution would be upheld, and entered into talks with Faubus, who ultimately withdrew the National Guard after Eisenhower sent the state police to make sure the students could attend. However, a mob soon formed threatening to attack the school if the Black students continued to attend. Faubus then dismissed the state police when they attempted to protect the students, leading many to suspect he had organised the attack. As a result, Eisenhower used his power to take control of the Arkansas National Guard and have them protect the students. Faubus retaliated by shutting down all high schools in Little Rock for the entire academic year.
In 1960, the segregationist political party known as the National States' Rights Party nominated Faubus as a presidential candidate, alongside John G. Crommelin for vice president. However, Faubus lost the election by a landslide to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. George Wallace later considered running alongside him in the 1968 election, but ultimately selected General Curtis LeMay due to public hostility towards Faubus, later losing the election to Richard Nixon anyway.
Faubus died of prostate cancer on December 14th, 1994. He is buried in the Combs Cemetery in Arkansas.