April 15, 1874 – May 15, 1874
|Born||November 1, 1812|
Cincinnati, Ohio, US
|Died||April 30, 1877 (aged 64)|
Little Rock, Arkansas, US
Joseph Brooks (November 1, 1812 – April 30, 1877) was a Republican politician in Arkansas during the Reconstruction era after the American Civil War. He is mainly remembered for losing the 1872 gubernatorial race, after which he led in 1874 a coup d'état, now referred to as the Brooks–Baxter War. The confrontation failed, as his intra-party rival, Elisha Baxter remained in office.
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, Missouri.
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.
Brooks leased a cotton plantation near Helena, Arkansas, after the Civil War. He helped organize African Americans and tried to recruit them to the Republican Party. He was a delegate to the Arkansas Constitutional Convention of 1868. His strong advocacy of voting rights for African Americans alienated other parts of the Republican Party, as the state was majority white.
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 Brooks spoke he sounded like a Brindle-Tailed Bull. In the 1872 gubernatorial campaign, both Brooks and Baxter ran as Republicans. Sworn into office in 1873, Baxter alienated his Republican supporters by restoring voting rights to former Confederate officers. This made Arkansas a majority Democratic state.
In 1874, continued disputes about the validity of the 1872 election prompted the Brooks–Baxter War. Brooks put together a militia of more than six hundred men and took control of the state house in Little Rock. He declared himself Governor. Baxter gathered about two thousand to fight the supporters of Brooks. Federal troops were stationed between the two forces, After an armed conflict and intervention from U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, Brooks was removed from office. That same year, however, Grant appointed him as the postmaster at Little Rock, a patronage position.