Home | Background | Lawyers | Wiley Austin Branton | Contact
George Napier Perkins came to Arkansas from Franklin County, Tennessee, where he was born a slave on January 1, 1841, the son of Moses and Millie Perkins. He received a public school education. Perkins served in the Union Army during the Civil War beginning as a Private and becoming a 1st Sergeant in the U.S. 57th Colored Infantry, Company C. He married Maggie A. Dillard of Fort Smith, Arkansas (Sebastian County), on January 30, 1867.
The 1870 Census listed Perkins as 25 years of age and a Justice of the Peace in Little Rock (Pulaski County, Arkansas). His personal worth was stated to be $300. Perkins was admitted to practice in 1871 after having attended a night law school. He was a delegate for Pulaski County to the 1874 Arkansas Constitutional Convention. Before the convention, Perkins was justifiably suspicious that the Democrats intended to constrict or eliminate the rights of Black citizens.
Perkins served as justice of the peace in Little Rock for six years and was a member of the Little Rock City Council for four years. Perkins was listed in Little Rock City Directories as an attorney from 1885 to 1890. Perkins was active in efforts of Black men to collaborate on a national basis following Emancipation. In 1879, Perkins attended a National Conference of Colored Men of the United States in Nashville, Tennessee, as a representative of Arkansas. At that time, he was living in Campbell, Arkansas. Perkins was a substantial landowner. He was a founder of the town of Woodson, Arkansas (Saline County), which was created from parts of two 40-acre tracts that he owned.
Perkins moved to the Oklahoma Territory in 1890, where he served for four years on the City Council of the town of Guthrie. He also served for some years as a justice of the peace in Guthrie. He owned and edited the Oklahoma Guide (a newspaper), which was influential in persuading many Blacks to move to Oklahoma. He was a Republican, of the Missionary Baptist faith, a member of the Masons, the Commercial Business Men’s League (a national Black organization), and the Guthrie Library Board. Perkins died in 1914.
Perkins provided the second illustration of a Black attorney mentoring a younger Black man into the law (see J. Pennoyer Jones). He accepted Stuart C. Pryce as an apprentice sometime during the 1890s.
Sources: Judith Kilpatrick, “(EXTRA)Ordinary Men: African-American Lawyers and Civil Rights in Arkansas Before 1950,” 53 Ark. Law Rev. 299, 302 n7, 307, 311 n71, 320, 327-30, 334, 336, 340-41, 343, 345, 347 n352, 374 (2000); 1 Who’s Who of the Colored Race 214 (1915); 1886, 1890 Little Rock City Directories; “Proceedings of the National Conference of Colored Men of the United States,” 5/6-9/1879, Nashville, TN, pp. 16, 29, 67; R.O. Joe Cassity, Jr., “African-American Attorneys on the Oklahoma Frontier, 27 Okla. City U. L. Rev. 245 (2002); African American Biographical Database, Profile available at http://aabd.chadwyck.com/bbidx/full_rec (last visited 6/21/99)
Copyright ©2003 Judith Kilpatrick, all rights reserved