Elisha Baxter (1827 - 1899)

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Birthplace: Rutherford County, North Carolina, United States
Death: Died in Batesville, Independence, Arkansas, United States
Managed by: Doug Robinson
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Immediate Family

About Elisha Baxter



Elisha Baxter (September 1, 1827 – May 31, 1899) was the tenth Governor of the State of Arkansas.


Baxter was born in Rutherford County, North Carolina. He sought and obtained an appointment as a cadet to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Baxter's father strongly opposed his appointment, and Baxter resigned his appointment.

Baxter ran a successful mercantile business in Rutherford County with his brother-in-law Spenser Eaves.


In 1852, Baxter moved to Arkansas and opened a mercantile business that soon failed. Baxter joined the Whig party and was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1854. He studied law and, in 1856, was admitted to the Arkansas bar. He was reelected to the House in 1858 and served two terms for Independence County leaving in 1860.

At the start of the American Civil War, Baxter refused to fight for the Confederacy and attempted to flee to Missouri. He was captured and tried for treason. He escaped north and joined the 4th Arkansas Mounted Infantry (USA) and served as colonel of that regiment.

He was appointed as Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court in the Reconstruction government in 1864. The state legislature elected him and Andrew Hunter to the US Senate in 1868, but he was not seated due to disenfranchisement of the southern states. From 1868 to 1872, he served as a judge on the 3rd Circuit Court.

In 1872, Baxter was elected Governor of Arkansas over Joseph Brooks in a controversial election that led to the Brooks-Baxter War. Baxter was physically removed from the governor's office by Brooks and state militia loyal to him. Baxter was not restored to the governorship until a month later.

During his term a new constitution was formed which shortened his term and returned voting rights to ex-Confederates. Baxter declined to accept the 1874 nomination for governor and was the last Republican governor to be elected in Arkansas until Winthrop Rockefeller in 1967.

After leaving office Baxter returned to his farm near Batesville, Arkansas. He ran for a position in the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1878 but was unsuccessful.

Family life

Baxter married Harriet Patton, and they had three sons and three daughters. Baxter was a brother of federal judge John Baxter, and an uncle of Wyoming territorial governor George W. Baxter.

Death and legacy

Baxter died in Batesville, Arkansas and is buried at Oaklawn Cemetery in Batesville, Arkansas.

Baxter County, Arkansas was named after Elisha Baxter.

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Elisha Baxter, Governor's Timeline

September 1, 1827
Rutherford County, North Carolina, United States
May 31, 1899
Age 71
Batesville, Independence, Arkansas, United States