Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BAXTER, Elisha, governor of Arkansas, born in Rutherford County, North Carolina, 1 September 1827. He was educated in the common schools of his native county, and moved to Arkansas, where he was mayor of Batesville in 1853. He was a member of the legislature in 1854 and 1858, and in 1863 served as colonel of the 4th Arkansas mounted infantry in the national army. He was elected United States senator in 1864, but not allowed to take his seat, on the ground that the state had not been legally recon-strutted. From 1868 till 1872 he was judge of the third judicial district court of Arkansas. In the spring of 1872 Mr. Baxter was nominated for governor by the wing of the republican party that approved President Grant's administration, the liberal, or Greeley wing, nominating Joseph Brooks. The democrats made no nomination, but favored Brooks. On 6 January 1873, the vote was canvassed by the general assembly, and Baxter was declared elected. Meanwhile Brooks had alleged fraud at the polls, and after unsuccessfully applying to the United States circuit court, the legislature, and the state Supreme Court, brought suit against Baxter in a state circuit court, and on 15 April 1874, Baxter's counsel being absent, obtained judgment in his favor, and proceeded at once forcibly to eject Baxter from office. It was claimed by Baxter that the taking up of the case in the absence of his counsel was in violation of an express agreement. Both Brooks and Baxter now issued proclamations and each had armed adherents. There was some bloodshed, and more was prevented only by the presence of federal troops. Both parties appealed to the president, but he refused to interfere until 15 May when, acting on an elaborate opinion of Attorney-General Williams, he recognized Baxter as governor, and Brooks immediately disbanded his forces. In a message to congress on 8 February 1875, however, President Grant expressed the opinion that Brooks had been legally elected. Baxter continued to hold the governorship until the adoption of a new state constitution in the autumn of 1874. This reduced the term of office from four to two years, and the republicans condemned Baxter for giving up his office before the expiration of the term for which he had been elected.
His brother, John, judge of the United States circuit court for the sixth judicial circuit, died in Hot Springs, Ark., 2 March 1866.
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