Joseph Brooks (politician)
April 15, 1874 – May 15, 1874
November 1, 1812|
Cincinnati, Ohio, US
|Died||April 30, 1877
Little Rock, Arkansas, US
Joseph Brooks (November 1, 1812 – April 30, 1877) was a Republican politician in Arkansas after the Civil War. He is mainly remembered for losing the 1872 gubernatorial race in Arkansas and then leading a coup d'état, now referred to as the Brooks–Baxter War, in 1874.
Joseph Brooks was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and worked as a minister, preacher, and Methodist church official in Illinois and Missouri from 1840 to 1862. He also worked as a newspaper editor for the Central Christian Advocate in St. Louis.
In 1862 he joined the Union Army as a chaplain. In 1863 Brooks, an ardent abolitionist since the 1850s, became the chaplain to the African American Third Arkansas Infantry. He remained with this regiment until February 1865.
Arkansas and Reconstruction
Brooks leased a cotton plantation near Helena, Arkansas after the Civil War. He helped organize African Americans in Arkansas and tried to get them active in the Republican Party. He was a delegate at the Arkansas Constitutional Convention in 1868. His strong advocacy of voting rights for African Americans won him strong support from them. However, it eventually alienated other parts of the Republican Party.
During Reconstruction Joseph Brooks was the leader of the Liberal Republicans of Arkansas. The party was nicknamed "The Brindle Tails" because it was said that when he spoke he sounded like a Brindle-Tailed Bull. He is most remembered for his candidacy in the 1872 Gubernatorial Election. Both Brooks and his opponent, Elisha Baxter, were Republicans and both apparently used fraud. Baxter was sworn in in 1873. Baxter alienated his Republican supporters by restoring former Confederate officers their voting rights. This move gave the Democratic Party a majority.
In 1874 disputes about the validity of the election led to the so-called Brooks–Baxter War. Brooks put together a militia of over 600 men and then took over the state house in Little Rock. He declared himself Governor. Baxter gathered about 2000 armed men and fought Brooks' men. Federal troops stationed themselves between the two parties. After an armed conflict and intervention from President Grant, he was removed from office. That same year, Grant appointed him the postmaster of Little Rock.