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James Guy Tucker, Jr., Papers

James Guy Tucker, Jr., Papers

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Finding aid for the James Guy Tucker, Jr., Papers UALR.MS.0004

UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture
401 President Clinton Avenue
Little Rock, AR, 72201

March 23, 2017

Profile Description

Creation: This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2017-03-23T13:45-0500
Language: English

Repository: UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture
Title: James Guy Tucker, Jr., Papers
Dates: Bulk, 1952-1997
Dates: 1821-2016
Quantity: 542.8 linear feet; 1,087 document boxes, 13 half document boxes, 8 record cartons, 51 flat boxes, 22 memorabilia boxes, 9 box albums, 6 videocassette boxes, 7 audio reel boxes, 2 CD boxes, 2 video reel boxes, 1 U-matic box
Identification: UALR.MS.0004


This collection is arranged in thirteen series: This collection is arranged in thirteen series: Series 1: White and Tucker family papers Series 2: Legal career Series 3: Congress Series 4: White House Conference on Families Series 5: Lieutenant Governor Series 6: Governor Series 7: Whitewater Series 8: Photographs Series 9: Scrapbooks Series 10: Memorabilia Series 11: Audiovisual Series 12: Personal library Series 13: Post-gubernatorial Some series have been further arranged into subseries and sub-subseries. These are indicated at the relevant level. Some series have been further arranged into subseries and sub-subseries. These are indicated at the relevant level.

Scope and Contents Note

This collection documents the personal life and political career of Jim Guy Tucker, Jr., who served as the 43rd Governor of Arkansas from 1992 December 12 to 1996 July 15. His papers include correspondence, photographs, memorabilia, books, and audiovisual material from his time as prosecuting attorney, attorney general, U. S. Congressman, chairman of the White House Conference on Families, lieutenant governor, governor, and post-gubernatorial activities.

Additionally, there are materials from the Tucker and White families and items from Jim Guy Tucker, Jr.’s, early life, including letters written by his mother during the Little Rock Central High School integration crisis, Harvard University ephemera, and the manuscript of Arkansas Men at War.

Biographical Note

James Guy “Jim Guy” Tucker, Jr., was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on 1943 June 13, and raised in Little Rock. He is the son of James Guy Tucker (1894-1964) and Willie Maude White (1906-1982), both natives of Arkansas. Jim Guy Tucker's grandfather was Guy Beckwith Tucker (1870-1924), a city marshal, who took part in the 1902 shoot-out in El Dorado, Arkansas, that was part of the Tucker-Parnell feud.

Tucker attended Forest Heights Junior High School and Hall High School. At the beginning of his sophomore year, in 1958, Governor Orval Faubus closed high schools in the Little Rock School District in order to delay integration. Due to this closure, Tucker and his classmates had to find their education elsewhere. Tucker travelled to Tampa, Florida, to live with an aunt. While there, he enrolled for a semester at Hillsborough High School and later Harding Academy in Searcy, Arkansas. Tucker returned to Hall High School in August 1959 and graduated in 1961.

Upon graduating, he was hired as an associate at the firm of Rose, Barron, Nash, Williamson, Carroll and Clay (as of 2016, Rose Law Firm) in Little Rock. In 1970 March, Tucker went undercover at Cummins Prison Farm in Lincoln County, Arkansas. Using the alias James Gus Turner, he spent 36 hours in Cummins at the request of the chairman of the Arkansas State Board of Corrections. He saw firsthand the breakdown in guard administration and the poor living conditions of the prisoners. He used this experience to advocate for prison reform when he entered elected office.

At the age of 27, Tucker began his life in public service as one of the youngest people to hold an elected office in Arkansas. He campaigned against Arkansas State Representative H. Allan Dishongh for prosecuting attorney of the Sixth Judicial District (Perry and Pulaski Counties). Tucker won the 1970 primary with 61% of the vote. With no Republican challenger for the general election, Tucker assumed office in 1971 January. During his tenure he made the office a 24/7 position, decreased case backlog wait times, and established a public defenders’ office.

Just two years later, Tucker ran for the open Arkansas attorney general seat against Republican Ed Bethune. Tucker won with 60% of the vote and served two terms. Despite challenges, he increased the activity of the Consumer Protection Division and created a full-time Criminal Justice Division. He also helped to curtail pollution in the state by supporting legislation that limited coal-fired plants and sand and gravel mining.

Jim Guy Tucker married Betty Allen Allworth on 1975 November 8 in Little Rock. In 1976, Tucker won the 2nd Congressional District seat in the United States House of Representatives against Ed Bethune. He served on the House Ways and Means Committee, the Social Security Subcommittee, and the Speaker's Task Force on Welfare Reform.

In 1978 May, while still in Congress, Tucker ran for the United States Senate. In the Democratic primary, Tucker faced opposition from Governor David Pryor and U. S. Representative Ray Thornton. Each candidate received approximately 33% of the total vote with Tucker and Pryor being the top two candidates. A run-off election was held 13 June and Pryor won with 54.9%. Pryor would go on to be elected to the Senate in the general election in November.

With his defeat for Senate, Tucker did not seek re-election to the House. But Tucker did not have to wait long to find another position. In 1979 April, President Jimmy Carter appointed him chairman of the White House Conference on Families. This position allowed him to travel the country speaking and hearing from the public about the state of the family in America.

In 1982, Tucker ran unsuccessfully against William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton for the governorship of Arkansas. Following his first run for governor, Tucker entered private practice as a partner at the law firm of Mitchell, Williams, Selig, and Tucker in Little Rock. He also served as chairman of Cablevision Management Inc., a cable television company that had national and international reach. In addition, Tucker was active in such national organizations as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, the United States Junior Chamber, the American Legion, and the National Advisory Committee of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

In 1990, Tucker again ran for public office. He campaigned for governor but after Bill Clinton decided to seek another term, he ran for lieutenant governor, which he won. During Tucker’s tenure as lieutenant governor, he frequently became acting governor when Clinton was campaigning for president. Ultimately, Clinton was elected 42nd president of the United States, thus resigning as governor on 1992 December 12. Tucker assumed the office of governor on this date.

In his first two years in the governor's office, Tucker worked to improve Arkansas's prison system. He advocated for stricter sentencing guidelines and putting an end to "good time" paroles. In addition, he signed into law the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993, sought to increase money for education without raising taxes, and toughened laws against youthful offenders.

Tucker won election to the governorship in 1994 November against Republican Sheffield Nelson. He received 60% of the popular vote and won 73 of 75 counties. In his first elected term as governor, however, Tucker was unable to enact his political agenda. He failed to gain support to rewrite the Arkansas Constitution or to obtain funds for highway construction. At the same time, he garnered national attention when he was swept up in the Whitewater controversy involving Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, who investigated President Clinton and his associates. The case stemmed from their involvement in the Whitewater Development Corporation, a company created to develop a tract of land in Arkansas. For his part, Tucker was convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy relating to his association with the Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan and filing a sham bankruptcy for his Texas cable television company. Amid these legal problems, Tucker resigned on 1996 July 15.

Since leaving public office, Tucker has served on a variety of boards including Arkansas Heart Hospital, Board of the Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency, and Steering Committee for the Study of Racial Disparities in the Arkansas Criminal Justice System at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Tucker is co-founder and director of Pacific GenTech Ltd. As of 2016, he is a partner in Witt Global Partners and resides in Little Rock with his wife, Betty. They have four children.

Arkansas. General Assembly
Attorneys general--Arkansas
Capital punishment
Carbonated beverages--Taxation--Arkansas
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Central High School (Little Rock, Ark.)
Civil rights--Arkansas
Clinton, Bill, 1946-
Criminal justice, Administration of--Arkansas
Economic development--Arkansas
Educational change--Arkansas
El Dorado (Ark.)--History--20th century
Harvard University--Students.
Juvenile justice, Administration of--Arkansas
Legislators--United States
Lieutenant governors--Arkansas
Little Rock (Ark.)--History--20th century
Political campaigns--Arkansas
Prison reformers--Arkansas
Tucker family
Tucker, Betty
Tucker, Guy Beckwith, 1870-1924
Tucker, James Guy, 1894-1964
Tucker, Jim Guy
Tucker, Willie Maude White, 1906-1982
United States. Congress. House.
University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Personal narratives, American
White family
White House Conference on Families
World War, 1914-1918--Personal narratives, American


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for viewing at the Arkansas Studies Institute. Boxes 297-393 in Subseries 6.5: Criminal justice are closed pending legal review.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17-U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. The person using this material is liable for any infringement.

Copyright for correspondence in the collections belongs to those correspondents or their beneficiaries. Persons wanting to re-use those materials are advised to obtain permission from copyright holders.

Administrative Information

Citation Notes

Bibliographic citation:

James Guy Tucker, Jr., Papers, UALR.MS.0004. UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture, Arkansas Studies Institute, Little Rock, AR.

Footnote or Endnote info:

Description of item, series number, box number, file number, James Guy Tucker, Jr., Papers, UALR.MS.0004.

Acquisition Information

Received from Jim Guy Tucker in 1996, 1997, and 1998.

Processing Information

The manuscript portions of this collection were processed by John Jones, Colin Woodward, and Garret B. Kremer-Wright, 2014-2016. Audio-visual materials and photographs were processed by Shannon Lausch and Bridget Wood, 2014-2016. Additional assistance was provided by Sarah Bost, Kaye Lundgren, Jessica Erwin, Michael Fondren, Blake Gilliam, A. J. Walker-Carter, and Chad Garrett. The processing of this collection was made possible in part by funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

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