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Encyclopedia > Benjamin Travis Laney

Benjamin Travis Laney (25 November 189621 January 1977) was a Democratic Governor of Arkansas.

Ben Laney was born in Camden, Arkansas. Laney attended public schools in Ouachita County, Arkansas and never finished high school. He was, however, admitted to Hendrix College in 1915.

His studies were interrupted by World War I. Laney entered the United States Navy in 1918 and served until the end of the war.

Laney earned a degree from Arkansas Teacher's College in 1924 and took graduate courses from the University of Utah. Laney owned a drugstore in Conway, Arkansas, dealt in real estate, and had interests in cotton gins, feed, and banking . Oil was discovered on Laney's farm near Camden which propelled Laney into the oil industry. Laney gained the nickname "Business Ben" due to his varied business interests.

Laney was elected Mayor of Camden in 1935 and served until 1939. He successfully ran for Governor of Arkansas in 1944. During his administration the Public Utilities Commission was formed and funds were appropriated for a stadium to be built in Little Rock. Plans were also formed for the construction of an official Governor's Mansion. Laney successfully ran for reelection in 1946. He skipped one term and attempted to regain office in 1950 unsuccessfully.

In 1948 Laney was a top choice to serve as the Dixiecrat Presidential pick. Laney at first balked and told reporters he would not attend the breakaway convention, but changed his mind and made the trip to Birmingham, Alabama. Laney remained in his hotel room and did not attend the convention. He formally withdrew his name from consideration before the nomination was made. The nomination ultimately fell to Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.

Former Governor Laney served as a delegate to the 1969 Arkansas Constitutional Convention.

Benjamin T. Laney, Jr. died of a heart attack on 21 January 1977. He is buried at the Camden Memorial Cemetery in Camden, Arkansas.

Preceded by :
Homer Martin Adkins
Governor of Arkansas
Succeeded by:
Sid McMath

  Results from FactBites:
Benjamin Travis Laney, Jr. » Biographies of Arkansas's Governors » Exhibits » Old State House (652 words)
Laney, born at Cooterneck in Ouachita County in 1896, was one of eleven children.
Laney faced another challenge in the 1947 session in the form of the self-styled "economic bloc," a group of fiscal conservatives from rural districts who tended to oppose any measure which did not directly benefit their constituents.
Laney joined the forces opposed to federal civil rights legislation and figured prominently in the third party movement known as the "Dixiecrats," serving for a time as their chairman.
Traveler's Guide to Arkansas | Governors of Arkansas Portrait Gallery | State | 1917-1933 (1149 words)
Laney owned a drugstore in Conway, Arkansas, traded in farm real estate and entered the oil business when oil was discovered on his family farm near Camden, Arkansas.
In his first campaign, Laney called for “efficiency, economy and consolidation” in state government; he followed through by promoting the ultimately adopted Revenue Stabilization Act which proved to be his greatest achievement.
Laney was a consistent supporter of racial segregation and eventually became identified with the “Dixiecrat” states’ rights movement but, notably, during Laney’s administration the University of Arkansas became the first historically white southern public university to admit African-American students.
  More results at FactBites »



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