James M. Hinds

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James M. Hinds
James M. Hinds.jpg
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 – 1860
Preceded by Charles Flandrau
Succeeded by E. P. Davis
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 House of Representatives 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, Hinds 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, Hinds moved to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1865. In 1867, Hinds was elected 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, Hinds and party supporters were threatened and targeted by the Ku 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 sister, Jane.[3] He attended high school at Washington Academy in Salem, New York, college at the Albany Normal School, 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, at age 23, Hinds followed his brother Henry to the Minnesota Territory, settling in 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]

Hinds was building a career in St. Peter during a turbulent time in the region due to conflict between settlers and homesteaders and the Dakota Sioux, culminating in the Dakota War of 1862. He enlisted as a private in the First Minnesota Cavalry's Mounted Rangers, Company E[7] during the conflict.[8] In 1865, Hinds realized that St. Peter would not grow to political prominence and would remain a small farming village. Seeking a fresh start and more opportunity, he relocated to Little Rock in Arkansas, which at the time had not been readmitted to the United States.


Upon reaching Arkansas, Hinds found a state devastated by the Civil War. The impact of Union occupation and guerrilla warfare ravaged a state struggling to provide services to its citizens before the war. Population had declined, millions of dollars of property was lost to burning or stealing and the established labor system had been disbanded. Plantations, the source of most state tax revenues, had been burned and their slaves had been liberated, throwing once-powerful planters into a precarious situation. As Arkansas struggled with the new racial status quo, it also struggled to establish a new labor system.

Hinds found himself referred to as a carpetbagger, a pejorative term used by conservative Southerners to describe Northerners who moved south during Reconstruction. As with many Northerners, Hines likely did not understand the deep-seated feelings of resentment whites held toward freedmen and Northerners supporting civil rights for liberated slaves. He felt that following the Emancipation Proclamation, freedmen in the South should enjoy the same liberties as in the North, and did not anticipate rigid resistance from conservative whites. These sentiments were later eulogized by Logan H. Roots, another transplant from the North who would represent Arkansas during Reconstruction. However, measures to block freedmen from voting and racial violence indicated that many in the state still did not yet accept freedmen's new civil rights.

Hinds quickly formed a law practice with Elisha Baxter, one of the state's leading Unionists. During Reconstruction, the reestablished government was almost entirely Republican, and the few prominent Unionists such as Baxter received important political appointments. Baxter himself had been selected to serve on to the Arkansas Supreme Court by the newly established government, and was later sent to represent Arkansas in Congress, though he would not be seated. In October, 1867, Hinds was elected to be a delegate at Arkansas's 1868 Constitution Convention. An early proponent of suffrage rights for freedmen, when the convention opened in Little Rock in January, 1868, he was made Chairman of the Committee on the Elective Franchise. The new constitution that emerged that February, ratified in March, provided voting rights for black males over 21, and for the creation of public schools for both black and white children. Elected to Congress early that year, Hinds went to Washington D.C. in April, 1868, where he arranged for Arkansas to be the first state to rejoin the union under the 1867 Reconstruction Acts. Returning to Arkansas in August, he campaigned vigorously for Republican presidential candidate Grant, and for civil rights for former slaves. Hinds's views on the latter, particularly voting rights for African Americans, incensed conservative Arkansans and the Klu Klux Klan. He was murdered while traveling to speak at a campaign event near Indian Bay, Arkansas. The killer, George Clark, Secretary of the Monroe County Democratic Committee and suspected Klansman, was never arrested or prosecuted.


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, 1868, while campaigning for Grant in Monroe County, Arkansas, Hinds was shot.[9]

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.[10] Hines is interred in Salem, New York. The Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C. 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. ^ Minnesota Board of Commissioners (1890). Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars 1861-1865. St. Paul, MN: Pioneer Press. p. 531. ISBN 978-1504202732. 
  8. ^ Darrow 2015, pp. 20-21.
  9. ^ Marion, Nancy E.; Oliver, Willard M. (2014). Killing Congress: Assassinations, Attempted Assassinations and Other Violence Against Members of Congress. Lexington Books. p. 18–27. ISBN 9780739183595. 
  10. ^ 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. 


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
James T. Elliott