Arkansas Governors who Served at the Old State House:
Governor, Powell Clayton
Governor, James Conway
The Wilson-Anthony Fight
In 1836, Speaker of the House John Wilson killed Rep. Joseph Anthony in the original House of Representatives Chamber of the Old State House. The incident happened during a special session that was called to take action on, among other things, a bitterly disputed banking issue -- a matter on which Wilson and Anthony disagreed.
After the banking issue was debated, a member introduced an amendment that proposed accepting wolf pelts as payment for county taxes. Wilson and Anthony disagreed on this issue as well. Offended by a remark made by Anthony, speaker Wilson ruled him out of order and commanded him to sit down. However, Anthony refused to be seated and a knife fight between the two men started, resulting in Anthony's death. Stunned by the killing, the representatives left the hall and assembled in the Senate Chamber to appoint a committee to arrange for Anthony's burial. Wilson was expelled from office and indicted for murder, but was later acquitted on the grounds of "excusable homicide."
The Brooks-Baxter Affair
The "Brooks-Baxter Affair" holds an important place in the history of the Old State House. In 1872, Elisha Baxter was declared governor following a disputed election in which fraud and corruption abounded. Joseph Brooks, Baxter's opponent, protested the decision, saying that he had been cheated out of the governorship.
Seventeen months later, in April 1874, Brooks and his followers went to the Old State House and forced Baxter out of the governor's office. For approximately one month they occupied the capitol grounds. Baxter and his supporters soon established their headquarters down the street, and minor skirmishes between the two groups occurred.
Finally, President U.S. Grant intervened and declared Baxter as the rightful governor. The rare Civil War naval cannon now on the museum's lawn was fired in celebration of Baxter's return to office, and since that time has been nicknamed "Lady Baxter." For additional information, please contact the Old State House Museum at 501-324-9685.
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