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John McClure collection

John McClure Collection

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Open Finding Aid

Finding aid for the John McClure Collection

MSS.00.32

Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
100 Rock Street
Little Rock, Arkansas, 72201
(501) 320-5700



Repository: Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Creator:McClure, John
Title: John McClure Collection
Dates: 1867-1874
Quantity: 0.21 Linear feet
Abstract:This collection contains a letter and journal belonging to John McClure, an Arkansas Republican politician and judge best known for his actions during the Brooks-Baxter War.
Identification: MSS.00.32
Language: English

Arrangement

This collection is arranged chronologically.


Scope and Contents

This collection contains a letter and journal belonging to John McClure, an Arkansas Republican politician and judge best known for his actions during the Brooks-Baxter War.


Biographical Note

John "Poker Jack" McClure was a Republican politician and judge in Arkansas during Reconstruction, most known for his actions during the Brooks-Baxter War.

McClure was born in Ohio, ca. 1834, and studied law before being admitted to the bar in 1858. During the Civil War, he enlisted as a twenty-seven year old first lieutenant and quartermaster in the 57th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in September 1861, eventually attaining the rank of major in 1863. After his discharge from the Army, McClure relocated to Arkansas in 1865. He was appointed to the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1868 and later served as chief justice for four years beginning in 1870. In 1871, McClure was impeached by the Legislature for malfeasance during a period of Republican infighting. He was found innocent and was awarded $2,000 for his inconvenience. The Brooks-Baxter War was a violent conflict between supporters of two rival candidates for Arkansas governor—Joseph Brooks and Elisha Baxter. The conflict stemmed from the 1872 gubernatorial election when two groups of Arkansas Republicans, the Minstrels and the Brindletails, nominated separate candidates (Baxter and Brooks, respectively). The election was plagued with widespread corruption and, although modern scholarship suggests Brooks was the winner, the state election commission certified Baxter who then took office on January 6, 1873 (despite an impending challenge from Brooks). After Baxter transferred the state printing contract from John McClure's Daily Republican to the Arkansas Gazette to gain the support of Democrats, McClure aligned with the state attorney general and started legal proceedings to instate Brooks as governor. This failed. By March 1874, Baxter had lost the support of the Republican party whose leaders then pushed for Brooks to mount another legal challenge. When Baxter's attorney did not appear before the court, the judge named Brooks as governor and he was quickly sworn in by McClure in his role as chief justice of the Arkansas supreme court (as he had done for Baxter in 1873). Violence broke out in Little Rock and across the state killing approximately 50-200 men. The conflict was only resolved when the federal government intervened. Baxter was declared governor, effectively ending Reconstruction in Arkansas.


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Arkansas -- Politics and government.
Arkansas Supreme Court.
Baxter, Elisha, 1827-1899
Brooks, Joseph, 1821-1877
Little Rock (Ark.)
McClure, John
Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877) Arkansas.

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Restrictions on Use

Non-circulating, in-house use only.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

John McClure Collection, MSS 00-32, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Arkansas Studies Institute

Acquisition Information

Donated, 2000


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