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Clarksville is the seat of Red River County, east of Paris on US 82 and Hwy 37.

In recent decades, heavily dependent on agriculture and oil for its livelihood, Clarksville saw a dramatic fall in its business and tax proceeds. During the 1980s one of the town's banks folded under the weight of bad farm and energy loans.

The town was also rocked by scandal after a former Clarksville police chief was jailed for shooting a prisoner in the back, and a piece, aired nationally by CBS News, reported that the local housing authority was segregating white and black residents.

In 1990 Clarksville had a population of 4,311, and ninety-five businesses. Leading industries in 1991 included livestock raising, light manufacturing, and oil and gas production.

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