Isaac Murphy

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Isaac Murphy was the seventh governor of the State of Arkansas, serving from April 18, 1864, to July 2, 1868.

Isaac Murphy was born outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Hugh and Jane Murphy on October 16, 1802. His father manufactured paper. Murphy taught school in Montgomery County, Tennessee, before resettling his wife and children in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Murphy taught in Fayetteville and Mount Comfort for some years there. Murphy also studied the law and was admitted to the Arkansas State Bar in 1885. He split his time between educating young people, the law, and surveying public lands.

Murphy was elected to the state legislature in 1848 before following the Gold Rush to California. After four years he returned to Arkansas, leaving some otherwise rich claims to the mismanagement of others. Murphy settled this time in Huntsville where he taught high school for two years. He gained a seat in the Arkansas State Senate in 1856. In the spring of 1861 he voted against secession in a special state convention and in April 1862 enlisted with federal troops in Missouri under General Curtis. He marched with major general Frederick Steele and brigadier general John W. Davidson in their attacks on Little Rock in the Civil War. Murphy became provisional governor in January 1864, and was elected in a popular vote held in March of the same year. He was inaugurated on April 18, 1864.

In 1868 Murphy returned to Huntsville and his law practice. He died there on September 8, 1882.


  • The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography: Being the History of the United States as Illustrated in the Lives of the Founders, Builders, and Defenders of the Republic, vol. 10 (J.T. White, 1900), 187-188.

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