Wallace Townsend

Last updated
Wallace Townsend
Republican National Committeeman
for Arkansas
In office
Succeeded by Winthrop Rockefeller
Personal details
Born(1882-08-20)August 20, 1882
DeWitt, Clinton County, Iowa, USA
DiedJanuary 7, 1979(1979-01-07) (aged 96)
Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas
Political party Republican
Spouse(s)(1) Bess Voss Townsend (married 1914-1958, her death)
(2) Floy Smith Plunkett Townsend (married 1962)
ChildrenTwo daughters
ResidenceLittle Rock, Arkansas
Alma mater Hendrix College
William H. Bowen School of Law
Occupation Attorney; Educator

Wallace Townsend (August 20, 1882 January 7, 1979) was an Iowa-born lawyer who was from 1928 to 1961 the Republican national committeeman for the U.S. state of Arkansas. When he left his party's national committee, he was succeeded by Winthrop Rockefeller, who was elected five years thereafter in 1966 as the state's first Republican governor since the Reconstruction era.

Iowa State of the United States of America

Iowa is a state in the Midwestern United States, bordered by the Mississippi River to the east and the Missouri River and Big Sioux River to the west. It is bordered by six states; Wisconsin to the northeast, Illinois to the east, Missouri to the south, Nebraska to the west, South Dakota to the northwest and Minnesota to the north.

Lawyer legal professional who helps clients and represents them in a court of law

A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney, attorney at law, barrister, barrister-at-law, bar-at-law, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, counsellor, counselor at law, solicitor, chartered legal executive, or public servant preparing, interpreting and applying law, but not as a paralegal or charter executive secretary. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who hire lawyers to perform legal services.

Republican National Committee top institution of the U.S. Republican Party

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is a U.S. political committee that provides national leadership for the Republican Party of the United States. It is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican political platform, as well as coordinating fundraising and election strategy. It is also responsible for organizing and running the Republican National Convention. Similar committees exist in every U.S. state and most U.S. counties, although in some states party organization is structured by congressional district, allied campaign organizations being governed by a national committee. Ronna Romney McDaniel is the current committee chairwoman.



Townsend was born in DeWitt in Clinton County in easternmost Iowa, a son of John R. Townsend and the former Italia James. In 1894, Townsend moved with his family to the capital city of Little Rock, where his brother, A. E. "Jack" Townsend, was the long-term assistant postmaster. In 1902, Wallace Townsend obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, and became an educator for eight years. From 1906 to 1910, he was principal of Little Rock High School, in which capacity he obtained the first accreditation of the institution. [1]

DeWitt, Iowa City in Iowa, United States

De Witt is a city in Clinton County, Iowa, United States. The population was 5,322 at the 2010 census, which is a 5.2% increase from the 2000 census, making it the fastest growing city in Clinton County.

Clinton County, Iowa County in the United States

Clinton County is a county located in the U.S. state of Iowa. As of the 2010 census, the population was 49,116. Its county seat is Clinton. Its name is in honor of the seventh Governor of New York State, DeWitt Clinton.

Little Rock, Arkansas Capital of Arkansas

Little Rock is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Arkansas. It is also the county seat of Pulaski County. It was incorporated on November 7, 1831, on the south bank of the Arkansas River close to the state's geographic center. The city derives its name from a rock formation along the river, named the "Little Rock" by the French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe in the 1720s. The capital of the Arkansas Territory was moved to Little Rock from Arkansas Post in 1821. The city's population was 198,541 in 2016 according to the United States Census Bureau. The six-county Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is ranked 78th in terms of population in the United States with 738,344 residents according to the 2017 estimate by the United States Census Bureau.

In 1906, Townsend received his LLB degree from the William H. Bowen School of Law of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. In 1910, he began a legal practice chiefly concerned with revenue bonds and that same year vacated the principalship in Little Rock and ran unsuccessfully as the Republican nominee for Arkansas superintendent of public instruction. He became an integral part of the GOP legal counsel active in the Lily White faction, which sought to recruit white Conservative Democrats into the Republican Party, then previously the domain of the relatively few African-American voters registered in the state. In 1914, Townsend joined Augustus Caleb Remmel, chairman of the Pulaski County Republican organization, to take control of the state party for the Lily Whites. [1] A. C. Remmel (1882-1920), known as "Gus" Remmel, was the father of later Republican figure Pratt C. Remmel, who was the mayor of Little Rock from 1951 to 1955, and ran unsuccessfully in 1954 against Orval Faubus for the governorship. [2]

William H. Bowen School of Law

The UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law is a public law school, part of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The school is both American Bar Association (ABA) accredited and a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).

University of Arkansas at Little Rock national public research university located in Little Rock, Arkansas

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is a metropolitan public research university located in Little Rock, Arkansas, United States. Established as Little Rock Junior College by the Little Rock School District in 1927, the institution became a private four-year university under the name Little Rock University in 1957. It returned to public status in 1969 when it merged with the University of Arkansas System under its present name. The former campus of Little Rock Junior College is now (2019) tge campus of Philander Smith College.

Lily-white movement

The Lily-White Movement was an anti-African-American movement within the Republican Party in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The movement was a response to the political and socioeconomic gains made by African-Americans following the Civil War and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which eliminated slavery.

Townsend was the unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial nominee in both 1916 and 1920, having been defeated by the Democrats, Charles Hillman Brough and Thomas Chipman McRae, respectively. In the 1916 race, Townsend polled 43,963 votes (25 percent), compared to Brough's 122,041 (69.5 percent). Another 9,730 votes were cast for the Socialist William Davis. [3]

Charles Hillman Brough American academic and politician

Charles Hillman Brough was the 25th Governor of the U.S. state of Arkansas from 1917 to 1921.

Thomas Chipman McRae American judge

Thomas Chipman McRae was an American attorney and politician from Arkansas. He served as a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives and the 26th Governor of Arkansas, from 1921 to 1925.

In the 1920 race, McRae polled 123, 637 votes (66.6 percent) to Townsend's 46,350 (25 percent). An Independent, Josiah H. Blount, the principal of an African-American school in Helena, Arkansas, defected from the Republicans and received the remaining 15,627 (8.4 percent). Blount was formerly affiliated with the former Black-and-Tan faction of the GOP. [4] The gains predicted by Townsend and the Lily Whites never materialized, and the Black and Tans, as they became known in other southern states as well, were reconciled for several more decades with the regular GOP. In time though Arkansas black voters swung solidly Democratic by the 1970s. [1]

Helena, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

Helena is the eastern portion of Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, a city in Phillips County, Arkansas. As of the 2000 census, this portion of the city population was 6,323. Helena was the county seat of Phillips County until January 1, 2006, when it merged its government and city limits with neighboring West Helena.

Townsend attended each Republican National Convention from 1912 to 1960. From 1916 to 1962, he served on the state party’s executive committee. He was the state party’s vice chairman from 1920 to 1928 and the national committeeman for thirty-three years, 1928 to 1961. During the Warren G. Harding administration, Townsend was named registrar of the U.S. land office at Little Rock from 1922 to 1924. The Hoover administration named him United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, a patronage appointment that he held from 1930 to 1934, when he was replaced in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. Townsend's career at times paralleled that of another veteran Little Rock attorney, Osro Cobb, a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1927 to 1931 for Montgomery County. Cobb served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas in the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration.

The Republican National Convention (RNC) is a series of presidential nominating conventions of the United States Republican Party since 1856. Administered by the Republican National Committee, the stated purpose of the convocation is to nominate an official candidate in an upcoming U.S. presidential election, and to adopt the party platform and rules for the election cycle.

1912 Republican National Convention

The 1912 National Convention of the Republican Party of the United States was held at the Chicago Coliseum, Chicago, Illinois, from June 18 to June 22, 1912. The party nominated President William H. Taft and Vice President James S. Sherman for re-election.

1960 Republican National Convention

The 1960 National Convention of the Republican Party of the United States was held in Chicago, Illinois, from July 25 to July 28, 1960, at the International Amphitheatre. It was the 14th and most recent time overall that Chicago hosted the Republican National Convention, more times than any other city.

As the trustee of the Little Rock Stave Company, which declared bankruptcy in April 1912, Townsend filed suit over payment of 10 percent dividends to stockholders. The payments were made after the firm had already become insolvent. [5] Townsend was active in many organizations, such as the Little Rock Boys Club and the Chamber of Commerce. [6]


Townsend and his wife, Bess Voss, whom he married in 1914, had two daughters. She died in 1958, and four years later, Townsend wed Floy Smith Plunkett. Townsend continued to practice law until 1974, when he retired at the age of ninety-two. He died some five years later in Little Rock. [6]

The Special Collections section of the Ottenheimer Library at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock houses the Townsend papers.

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  1. 1 2 3 "Wallace Townsend (1882-1979)". encyclopediaofarkansas.net. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  2. Marvon Johansen Browning, "Pratt Remmel dies; GOP mayor of LR ran against Faubus", Arkansas Democrat , May 16, 1991.
  3. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections, Vol. 2, 6th ed., p. 1601
  4. The Republican Party in Arkansas, 1920-1982 (College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University, 1983), pp. 25-30.
  5. The Southwestern Reporter, Volume 195. See Penzel v. Townsend, p. 25. St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Company, 1917. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  6. 1 2 "'Mr. Republican' Dies at Age 96," Arkansas Gazette , January 8, 1979, pp. 1A, 3A.