Study Guide

Executive Order 10730: Little Rock Nine Main Idea

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  • Main Idea

    The Feds are in control to uphold the law and remove barriers to integration of Central High School.

    The Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 made segregated schools illegal. So when Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus refused to allow nine African American students entrance to Little Rock's Central High School, and mobs of rioters surrounded the kids, Eisenhower had to act to uphold the law and ensure those students' constitutional rights under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

    Executive Order 10730 ordered the Arkansas National Guard to come under the control of the federal government, and ordered the Guard and the Army to restore order and allow the Little Rock Nine to enroll at Central High. Whether they liked it or not, Little Rock was going to admit the students or Eisenhower would send in the troops.


    Questions About Main Idea

    1. Who were the "certain persons in the state of Arkansas" that Eisenhower referred to in the order and how did they "wilfully obstruct" justice in Little Rock?
    2. What did Eisenhower mean by authorizing the secretary of defense to "take all appropriate steps" to enforce the court orders?
    3. Is the idea that a president can act on his or her own authority, without the approval of Congress, contrary to democracy?

    Chew on This

    If Eisenhower hadn't put down this obstruction of justice, then the rule of law would mean nothing.

    This bottom line in Little Rock wasn't states' rights; it was racism.

  • Brief Summary


    The Set-Up

    In a less-than-classy move, Arkansas refused to enforce federal court orders to integrate public schools in Little Rock, and the governor used the National Guard to keep Black students out of an all-white high school. Bottom line: protestors and Governor Faubus were obstructing justice by making it impossible to carry out the court order.

    The Text

    President Eisenhower ordered protesters against integration to…stop it this minute. When they refused and the National Guard did nothing, Eisenhower ordered the Guard under federal control and authorized the use of the U.S. armed forces to remove the justice-obstructing protestors and enforce the law, i.e., let the students enroll in school.


    The president will enforce federal law even if he has to use a lifeline and "phone-a-friend" (a.k.a. the military).

  • Questions

    1. If the people of Arkansas didn't want to integrate, why did the federal government force them to do so?
    2. What would have happened in Little Rock if the president hadn't intervened?
    3. Was Faubus's argument really about states' rights or was he just a racist trying to justify his views?
    4. How do you think the Little Rock Nine felt about everything that was going on?
    5. Why can states decide some things (like gun laws or right-to-die laws) for themselves and not other things? When do things become a federal matter?
    6. In addition to protecting the students from the mob, what else was the point of Ike sending in the troops?
    7. Can the states' rights argument be used to justify plain old discrimination?
    8. How might the Little Rock crisis have affected other standoffs over integration that came after it?
    9. What do you think happened between 1896 and 1954 that made the Supreme Court overturn the earlier Court's decision in Plessy v. Ferguson?

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