James M. Hinds

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James M. Hinds
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 2nd district
In office
June 22, 1868 – October 22, 1868
Preceded by No representation due to Civil War
(Albert Rust prior to March 3, 1861)
Succeeded by James T. Elliott
Representative for Pulaski County at Arkansas Constitutional Convention of 1868
In office
January 7, 1868 – March 13, 1868
District Attorney for Nicollet County, Minnesota
In office
November 1856 – ??
District Attorney for Minnesota Territory
Personal details
Born (1833-12-05)December 5, 1833
Hebron, New York, U.S.
Died October 22, 1868(1868-10-22) (aged 34)
Near Indian Bay, Arkansas, U.S.
Political party Democrat, later Republican
Spouse(s) Anna Pratt
Children 3
Alma mater Cincinnati Law School
Profession Lawyer
Real estate owner
Website house%20website

James M. Hinds (December 5, 1833 – October 22, 1868) of Little Rock, represented Arkansas in the United States Congress from June 24, 1868 until his death on October 22, 1868. Hinds was the first sitting member of Congress assassinated.

Originally from upstate New York, Hines moved to Minnesota after graduating from Cincinnati Law School in 1856. He was elected district attorney of his county, and began a successful political career as a Democrat. Looking for a fresh start, Hines moved to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1865. In 1867, Hinds was selected to represent Pulaski County at the Arkansas Constitutional Convention tasked with rewriting the constitution to allow Arkansas's readmission to the Union following the Civil War. At that convention, Hinds successfully advocated for constitutional provisions establishing the right to vote for adult freedmen (former slaves) and public education for both black and white children. During the convention, he was selected to represent Arkansas's second district in the United States House of Representatives.

Upon arriving in Arkansas in 1865, his views realigned to Republican on many issues. While touring the state to campaign for the Republican party in 1868, Hines and party supporters were threatened and targeted by the Klu Klux Klan and others who opposed full civil rights for former slaves. In October, 1868, while travelling to a political meeting with Joseph Brooks in Monroe County. Hinds was shot to death by a Democrat and member of the Klan in a politically motivated assassination.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Hinds was born in Hebron, New York on December 5, 1833 to Charles and Jane Hinds. The youngest of six children, his brother Henry also became an attorney. Hinds other siblings were brothers William, John, and Calvin, and his and sister Jane.[3] He attended high school at Washington Academy and read law at a school in St. Louis, Missouri before graduating from Cincinnati Law School four years after his brother Henry.[4]



In 1856, now 23, Hinds continued to follow in his brother Henry's footsteps, relocating to St. Peter, the county seat of Nicollet County, Minnesota 40 miles (64 km) west his brother in Shakopee, Minnesota.[4] During this time, there was discussion of moving the Minnesota Territory capitol from St. Paul, Minnesota to St. Peter. James purchased several lots and opened a law practice. Ultimately, a bill was sent to the governor to make St. Peter the capital of the future state, but an adversary hid the bill until the end of the session. As a result, the capitol became St. Paul.[5] Shortly after opening a law practice, James Hinds was elected district attorney for the county, and began to foster an interest in politics.[6]

Although Hinds was building a career in St. Peter, it was during a turbulent time in the region due to settlers and homesteaders ignoring the covenants of the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux made with the Dakota Sioux in 1851. A violent conflict, later named the Dakota War of 1862, broke out in the region. Hinds enlisted as a private in the militia during the conflict.[7]


Hinds was the first sitting U.S. Congressman killed in office. He was murdered during the 1868 presidential election, which was a contest over civil rights and suffrage for freedmen. The Republicans, led by presidential candidate Ulysses S. Grant, favored those measures, while the Democratic Party opposed them. On October 22, 1869, while campaigning for Grant in Monroe County, Arkansas, Hinds was shot.

Governor Powell Clayton feared that the murder of Hinds was a precursor to general attack on state officers to seize control of the government and the polls prior to the election and sought to have the colored militia armed, but the insurrection did not take place and the election went smoothly.[8] Hines is interred in Salem, New York. The Congressional Cemetery in Washington DC also holds a memorial in his honor.

See also[edit]

Preceded and followed by in congressional office[edit]

40th United States Congress

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Foner, Eric (March 1989). Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877. HarperCollins. p. 342. 
  2. ^ http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=4630
  3. ^ Darrow 2015, p. 18.
  4. ^ a b Stevens 1904, p. 188.
  5. ^ Witt, Mason (Spring 2009). "St. Paul vs. St. Peter The conflict between the saints" 22 (1). Houston County Historical Society. ISSN 1092-8863. 
  6. ^ Darrow 2015, p. 19.
  7. ^ Darrow 2015, pp. 20-21.
  8. ^ Connelly, Donald B. (December 8, 2006). John M. Schofield and the Politics of Generalship. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 9780807830079. 


  • Darrow, William B. (Spring 2015). "The Killing of Congressman James Hinds". Arkansas Historical Quarterly 74 (1): 18-55. 
  • Foner, Eric (March 1989). Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877. HarperCollins. p. 342. 
  • Stevens, Hiram Fairchild (1904). History of the Bench and Bar of Minnesota 1. Minneapolis and St. Paul Legal Publishing and Engraving Company. pp. 188–190. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
District inactive
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 2nd congressional district

June 22, 1868 - October 22, 1868
Succeeded by
District inactive