Saturday, March 24, 2018

Little Rock's Last Reconstruction Mayor

Frederick Kramer Beats Herbert H. Rottaken in the 1873 Election
To Become Mayor During a Time of Financial Distress and Political Strife,
Then to Abandon the Republican Party

Part 1:  The 1873 Election


Two days before the November 6, 1873 election in Little Rock, the Daily Arkansas Gazette reported that a “well-informed gentleman” was taking bets that Herbert H. Rottaken, the mayoral candidate of the newly created Citizens’ Party, would beat Frederick Kramer, the republican nominee, by a two-to-one margin. The next day, the Morning Republican responded with its opinion that the Gazette’s well-informed gentleman taking bets on a Rottaken landslide “will never die of an excess of brains.”[1]

The results of the election showed that, indeed, the gentleman was not afflicted with an abnormally large brain, but rather had let his druthers skew his information. Kramer won the election by a wide margin. In fact, the entire republican ticket was swept into office.[2]

Kramer and local republicans celebrated their decisive victories, but their joy might have been muted had they known what the next few months had in store for them. First, they had to cope with a deteriorating financial situation. Barely six weeks before the election, the city had been slammed by the front edge of the 1873 Depression, and this economic storm had caused a sharp decline in city revenues that would continue with each passing month of the Kramer administration. Due to the shrinking revenues, the city would be unable to pay salaries for months at a time or to fix even the worst of its deplorable street, bridge, and drainage problems.

To make matters worse, as the city scrambled to deal with falling revenues, it would face unexpected costs when it became the center of a military conflict that would change the direction of its history. Five months after Kramer was sworn in as mayor, the city was engulfed in an armed conflict, known as the Brooks-Baxter War, over who should be governor. The war’s front line was in the middle of Little Rock’s downtown, and the city was filled with armed men from throughout the state. The city was challenged to keep order and protect property during this difficult time.
Frederick Kramer, Picture published in the
Arkansas Echo
Although Kramer did not know it when he took office, he would be – thanks largely to result of the armed conflict -- the city’s last Reconstruction mayor. When the conflict was over, the victors – democrats and conservatives – dismantled the constitutional and legal provisions that had enabled republicans to dominate state and local politics. The changes came largely through a new state constitution approved by voters on October 13, 1874. At that election, voters also ejected most republicans from state government, electing a democratic-conservative (D-C) governor and a state legislature dominated by D-C Party members. With the new constitution and D-C’s holding major state offices, the state was “redeemed” from Republican Party rule. However, Little Rock democrats and conservatives had to wait until local elections were held in April 1875 before they could replace republicans in office.

As the 1875 city election approached, each party met to select its candidates for city offices. At the D-C Party convention, Mayor Kramer – with behind-the-scenes maneuvering – was one of four nominees to be the party’s candidate for mayor. He came in distant second; delegates instead chose Capt. John G. Fletcher.[3]  A few days later, Kramer was picked by the Republican Party to again be its candidate for mayor.

After considering his options for a few days, Kramer declared that he was not a candidate for mayor and that he supported his friend Capt. Fletcher for the position.[4] His name still appeared on the ballot as the republican nominee, but, having urged people to vote for Fletcher, he got only 7.5 percent of the vote.

On the night of the election, a group of democratic and conservative celebrants, accompanied by a band, paraded through city streets to fete the heroes and victors of the election. One of their stops was at the house of Little Rock’s last Reconstruction mayor, located on the corner of Second St. and Rector Ave., where the merry group serenaded Kramer and thanked him for his “straightforward and manly course in the present campaign.”[5] Kramer courteously returned the thanks of his fellow democrats. 

The following tells more of the story of Kramer’s election as Little Rock’s last Reconstruction mayor, his turbulent seventeen months in office, and his abandonment of the Republican Party in April 1875 as the post-Reconstruction era began in Arkansas and Little Rock.  


The 1873 mayoral contest in Little Rock featured two candidates, both of them German immigrants. One candidate, Frederick Kramer, was nominated by the Republican Party. The other candidate, Herbert H. Rottaken, was the nominee of the Citizens’ Party, which had been created by democrats and conservatives, but was presented as a “non-partisan” party in order to attract the votes of disaffected republicans. As the election approached, members of the Democratic-Conservative (D-C) Party were optimistic, for the first time since the start of Congressional Reconstruction, they would win because many of the electoral advantages enjoyed by the Republican Party in previous years had been eliminated by the actions of republican Governor Elisha Baxter in cooperation with his democratic and conservative allies..

Kramer and Rottaken: The Years before the Election

On June 15, 1872, Frederick Kramer and his two daughters, 14-year-old Louise and 12-year-old Mattie, along with a few other Arkansans, crossed a gangplank at the New York Harbor to board the Weser, an 880-passenger steamship of the Norddeutscher Lloyd Shipping Co. The five-year-old ship was departing that day for the German port of Bremen, and Kramer was taking his daughters on it to visit relatives in and near Halle, a university town in Saxony.[6]  This trip was his daughters’ first to Europe, and it was Kramer’s first since the formation of the unified country of Germany in 1871.
Postcard Picture of the Steamship "Weser"
For Kramer, the journey marked the beginning of the new phase of his life that he was starting at age 42. Earlier in 1872, he had sold his share of the Kramer, Miller, and Co. grocery store that in its eight-plus years of operation had made him a wealthy man [7]. Also, he had requested a long leave of absence from the Little Rock school board of which he was the chairman, and he had announced he would not run for re-election as ward 1 alderman.

One reason Kramer was changing in his life was his desire to withdraw, at least temporarily, from the ever bubbling and often rancid cauldron of reconstruction politics. It was time for a break. Kramer had first run for office in February 1869 when he was the republican-supported candidate for the Little Rock school board. Later that year, in November 1869, the Republican Party had nominated him for ward 1 alderman. Kramer had accepted republican support in these two elections, and again in his November 1870 bid for re-election as alderman, even though he was – he repeatedly told everyone – not a republican. He explained that “he was but one man, and was powerless to do any good; that by keeping in with the ring he could do a little for the people.”[8]
June 4, 1865 Advertisement for
Kramer and Miller Family Grocery Store
His three years as an alderman had been rough ones. A few days after he had first been elected ward 1 alderman in November 1869, he was shaken when Little Rock’s mayor and fellow Saxon, Mayor A.K. Hartman, had demanded the city council remove him from office. After that demand was ignored, Kramer was dismayed when Mayor Hartman, still trying to unseat him, had tried unsuccessfully to rig the 1870 election against him. More recently, in November 1871 when Kramer was a candidate for president of the city council, he was deeply offended when the Arkansas Gazette cuffed him, accusing him of lying, betraying old friends, and perhaps covering up corruption. The newspaper had even urged customers to boycott his grocery store.[9] With that attack, Kramer had his fill of abuse. He started preparing for his long trip to Germany and the new life that would follow.

Five-months abroad did wonders for Kramer. When he returned to Little Rock in early November, he was healthy, refreshed, and eager to re-enter local politics to assist his adopted hometown in its continued recovery from the effects of the Civil War. About six weeks after his return, in late December, he ran for re-election to the Little Rock School Board, and narrowly won in a crowded field. Then he settled into his new work developing real estate and investing, and he renewed his civic activities, including holding daily office hours for school district business.[10]

A couple of months after Kramer and his daughters had departed for Germany, another man who had been born a German, Herbert H. Rottaken, was appointed by Arkansas’s governor to the position of Pulaski County registrar.[11] That patronage position was a key one in the county because the registrar decided who could register to vote and who would be kept off voter rolls. In the past, the sometimes unscrupulous exercise of such power had disenfranchised many democrats and conservatives, helping republicans win elections.[12]

When Rottaken started working as registrar in the middle of August, he kept his job as deputy sheriff.  He had been hired as a deputy by Sheriff W. S. Oliver, a republican, earlier in 1872. Before he joined the Sheriff’s department, Rottaken had been a businessman. He had moved from St. Louis to Little Rock in 1868 to open a wholesale liquor store, H. H. Rottaken & Co. The store had started with great promise, and during his first months in the city, Rottaken had been an active citizen. For example, shortly after he opened his doors for business in Autumn 1868, he had convinced state fair officials to include a pigeon shooting contest as a fair event, then he had won the competition. After only a year in the city, he had been elected foreman of the Defiance Hook and Ladder Company, No. 1. In the following year, he had been elected first assistant engineer, one of the top city-wide volunteer fire department positions.[13]

H. H. Rottaken & Co.'s First
Advertisement, Oct. 7, 1868,
In the Gazette

Rottaken’s store had been located on East Markham St, a door down from the offices of the Arkansas Gazette, and that newspaper brought his name to the attention of potential customers by publishing his frequent advertisements and several lively tales of Rottaken’s prowess as a sportsman. It proclaimed him to be a Nimrod of the highest order, describing him as a man with inordinate hunting and fishing skills who ran an impressive pack of dogs and who kept a young bear chained in the back of his liquor store where he – Rottaken, not the bear – was generous in pouring drinks.[14] In one story, the Gazette enthused about him:

Our neighbor Rottaken is an acquisition. He is an acquisition to us who live near him. He is an acquisition to the block and street in which he lives. He is an acquisition to the state. He is an acquisition in himself, in the first place. In the second place, he is an acquisition in his wines and brandies, which he dispenses with a free hand. He is an acquisition, in the third place, in his boat and oars, whereby he was enabled to return to the distressed mother, the day after his death, the bright little boy that was drowned at the foot of Scott street, a few days ago.[15]

Busy trying to make his new business a success, Rottaken was not involved in politics during his first years in Little Rock. However, by accident he had endeared himself to the regular republicans when he, in November 1870, used his position as foreman of the Defiance Hook and Ladder Company to help thwart the scheme to “usurp” the city election. The plan had been formulated by the leaders of the republican’s reform faction, the brindle-tails, and Mayor Hartman had signed on to help “usurp” ward 1 in hopes of defeating Kramer, who was running for re-election as alderman. On election day, the brindle-tails would take over Little Rock’s wards and precincts by installing their own election judges to replace the regularly appointed ones. The substitute judges would ensure a “fair” election was held.[16]

Early on election day, the usurpation was going as planned in Ward 1. About 25 brindle-tails led by Mayor Hartman had occupied the polling place, which was a large room in the Truck House where the Defiance Hook and Ladder Company kept its equipment. At about 7:00 a.m., the regular election judges came to open the polling place, but the brindle-tails occupying it denied them entry. About that time, Rottaken had passed by and, wondering why a crowd had assembled in front of the building, he stopped to see what was going on. When he tried to enter the building, he was told to go away. At that point, Rottaken demanded to be let in:

…[I told the man that] I was foreman of the [Defiance Hood and Ladder] company and the proper custodian of the room and responsible for everything in the house, and that no one had any right to enter without my permission. I opened the door and found other parties inside, some asleep – some were colored men. I admitted the judges regularly appointed by the board of review, as I had previously given them permission to occupy the room for election purposes, and ordered all others to vacate the room.[17]

This spontaneous action likely provided the credential Rottaken needed to get a republican patronage appointment, and it came in handy in 1872 when he needed a job. His liquor store had closed in late December 1870, the victim of fierce competition. After working for other merchants in 1871, he was ready for a change. It came with his appointments as sheriff deputy and registrar.

Unfortunately, Rottaken’s work as voter registrar did not go well. Because Rottaken, like Kramer, was a man of rectitude, he refused to do many things republican leaders told him to do[13]. In testimony to a Congressional committee that in 1874 investigated the political situation in Arkansas, he described what he had been expected to do: 

I was told to register in Campbell and Eastman townships all who came; that I might find in each 200 or 300 voters from Little Rock. I refused to do it….

It was desired that I should register parties in one precinct whom I had registered in another. I refused to register such parties, and was told by W. S. Oliver, the sheriff, that unless I did so, I would be kicked out. I resigned then…I resigned because I was a deputy sheriff under Oliver, receiving a good salary and the support of myself and family depended upon the salary.[18]

Before the end of 1872, he left his position as registrar. Also in late 1872 or early 1873, he quit (or was fired from) his job as deputy sheriff. Likely during 1873 prior to the election, he eked out a living as a sales clerk for some business in town.

Prelude to the 1873 City Election

Little Rock began 1873 with a divided, under-financed government. The city’s mayor, Robert F. Catterson, had been elected in November 1871 with the support of the bindle-tail faction of the republican party and was serving the second year of his undistinguished two-year term. In the city’s legislative branch, the minstrels had a one-vote majority that had elected Daniel P. Upham, the leader of Little Rock’s minstrel faction, to be the city council president.  As the brindle-tails and minstrels jockeyed for primacy in the city government, their lack of unity insured that the city operated in its usual moribund manner.

During the first months of 1873, republican leaders of both factions watched with growing alarm as the political foundations of their party’s power were being dismantled by republican Governor Elisha Baxter in cooperation with D-C’s. First, Gov. Baxter supported a state constitutional amendment to eliminate restrictions on voting by former confederate soldiers. The amendment, approved by voters in March, 1874, enabled more D-C’s to register to vote.  Then the governor started appointing D-C’s to patronage positions that minstrels thought were their due. Beyond that outrage, Baxter announced he would appoint voter registrars in consultation not only with republicans, but also with D-C’s.[19]

Minstrel leaders could hardly believe what Baxter was doing. They had nominated Baxter, had supported his campaign, and, most likely, had stolen the election for him.[20] As he embraced D-C’s ever more closely, minstrel incredulity turned to anger, and by April the state’s leading minstrel office holder, Supreme Court Chief Justice John McClure, decided that Baxter had to be removed from office for the good of the party. McClure, nicknamed Poker Jack, was also part owner of the Daily Republican, and he wrote in his newspaper, “There is no blood in a turnip, nor is there any republicanism in Elisha Baxter.”[21] And he made clear his position: “We are making war on Elisha Baxter, and before we get through both he and his aged mistress (the Gazette) and his other concubines will find that we are in earnest.”[22

McClure threw his support to brindle-tail leader Joseph Brooks, who had started challenging Baxter’s 1872 election “victory” the day it was announced.[23] Brooks had tried to convince the state legislature, the U.S. Congress, and state courts to overturn the election, but his efforts had so far been rejected. Thus, he was glad to have the help of the Chief Justice -- an old enemy who likely had helped steal the election from him -- to strengthen his crusade to replace Baxter as Arkansas’ governor. The new McClure-Brooks alliance brought rumors of a planned coup d’état and heightened tension in the state’s capital. In response, Gov. Baxter had stationed militia soldiers loyal to the D-C Party to protect his Statehouse office.[24]

The McClure-Baxter standoff was not the only source of tension in Little Rock in 1873. An economic panic spread in the city on Monday, September 22, the day Arkansas newspapers dubbed “blue Monday.” On that day, banks quit accepting “city money” in exchange for U.S. dollars. Until then, city money – bonds and certificates of indebtedness printed on bank note paper – had been treated as valid currency that substituted, without discount, for scarce U.S. greenback dollars.[25]

After Little Rock banks announced they would no longer accept city currency for exchange into U.S. dollars, several large merchants stopped accepting city money for purchases. Within a week, no merchant would take city currency at its face value, and only a few would accept it at a discount. This collapse of city currency impeded commerce, and it was especially hard on wage workers, including city employees, whose salaries were paid in this scrip, which they used to purchase necessities.[26]  

In response to the crisis, following the recommendations of the chamber of commerce, the city council passed ordinances requiring the destruction of city currency as soon as the city collected it and prohibiting the issuance new city money.[27] It even ordered the destruction of the plates in New York City used to print city Letters of Indebtedness.

Two weeks after blue Monday, a new reality was in place. City money was back in circulation, but it could be exchanged for greenbacks only at a discount of twenty-five to fifty percent.[28] In the coming weeks, the value of city currency would continue to decline, settling at about forty percent. Although the worst of the city’s financial crisis had passed, its underlying causes were still at work in the state and nation and would financially cripple the city for years to come.

Nominations for the 1873 Mayor’s Race

October 1873 was a lousy month in Little Rock. It started with the city’s financial crisis at its peak, featured a brief quarantine to keep a yellow fever outbreak in Memphis from reaching the city, and ended with the city’s newest and best school – widely known as the Kramer School – burning down.[29] Fortunately, during the middle of the month city residents were able to briefly set aside the bad news to participate in the State Fair, dragging their horses, chickens, cows, pigs, pies, bread loaves, drawings, needlework, quilts, apples, pears, and other animals, foods, handicrafts and fruits to be judged while men raced their horses and competed in shooting contests, women tested their riding abilities, and local teams competed in baseball games. When the flush of the fair had faded, the political parties began seriously preparing for the upcoming election.

As election day approached, the editors of the Gazette – the D-C Party mouthpiece – were almost giddy about the prospects of their preferred candidates for city office. They were sure, thanks to the actions of Gov. Baxter with his new D-C friends, victory was in sight. Not only had he helped demolish the constitutional voting restrictions, he also had appointed registrars in every county who were not controlled by the Republican Party. These registrars would appoint election judges, who presumably also would not be republican agents. 

While keeping up a brave front, city republicans had understood for many months that Gov. Baxter had bolstered their opponents, and they moved to unite the brindle-tail and minstrel factions to fight together against the common foe. Their first step was to eliminate the separate city executive committees that the two factions had set up in Little Rock: on April 6, the two merged to form a single city executive committee with Upham as it head.[30]

This new executive committee set October 25th as the date and O’Hara Hall on Main Street as the place for the Republican Party city convention. Early in the convention proceedings, first-ward delegate George Taylor moved that Frederick Kramer be nominated by acclamation to be the republican candidate for mayor. He was. After that, the convention nominated candidates for other citywide offices, selecting a carefully negotiated combination of former minstrels and brindle-tails and of black and white nominees.[31] Unlike in the previous three years, in November 1873 the Republican Party presented a single nominee for each city office.

Another political party, which called itself the Citizens’ Party, had sprung up in 1873. It was formed under the guidance of D-C Party leaders who understood they needed the support of some disaffected republicans to win city elections. The new party was described in the Gazette as an “anti-ring” movement opposed to “Upham and his strikers.” In this movement, according to the Gazette, “politics have been entirely ignored” and candidates were being selected based on “fitness and capacity.” The movement was open to all who opposed the ring including “colored as well as white.” All of the candidates were required only to support “retrenchment and reform in city finances.”[32]

The party’s ward meetings were held in early October, and its convention convened on October 27 at the meeting hall in the Fletcher-Hotze mercantile house. Early in the proceedings, four men were nominated to be the party’s candidate for mayor:  C. J. Krebs, Sam L. Griffith, Dr. William Thompson, and Herbert H. Rottaken.[33]

Three of the four nominees had much in common. Krebs, Griffith, and Thompson were over forty years old:  Krebs was 62, Griffith was 56, and Thompson was 43. All three had settled in Arkansas before the civil war, and two of the three had lived in Little Rock before 1860: Krebs, a German immigrant, had opened a grocery store in Little Rock in the middle 1840s and Thompson had arrived in the city to practice medicine in the 1850s. The third man, Griffin, had been a merchant in Fort Smith and Van Buren before the war, and had settled in Little Rock soon after the war to open a large dry goods store. Two of these potential candidates had held public office: Krebs had been elected an alderman in January 1867, and Griffin had been a state legislator before the war and had been elected as a unionist to attend the secession convention.[34] All three of these candidates had supported the South in the Civil War, and one – Thompson – had served in the confederate army.

The fourth candidate, Rottakan, had little in common with the other three men, At 34, he was the youngest of the four candidates and had lived in Arkansas and Little Rock for the shortest time. He had the least impressive business record. He had not held an elective office. And most striking, he had not supported the Southern cause and, in fact, had served with distinction as a Union army officer.

Also, unlike the other three candidates, Rottaken had not been active in the D-C Party. In fact, as noted earlier, he had been friendly with republicans, and the republican sheriff had hired him as a deputy and the state’s republican governor had appointed him Pulaski County’s registrar. However, Rottaken’s actions as registrar had estranged him from the Republican Party and made him a credible opponent of the “ring.”

Perhaps to prove that the Citizens’ Party was not just the D-C Party with another name, convention delegates voted on the third ballot to nominate Rottaken for mayor. In doing so, the delegates made a bold choice they hoped would attract enough voters away from the republican candidate to win the election. The choice was not welcome by some conservatives who saw in the former Union officer little to like. After the election, an “old-line conservative” wrote in a letter to the Gazette that democratic-conservatives should nominate their best candidates, not hide behind other parties they create to “disorganize and discourage the opposition.” He stated that the party should have candidates who are “truly representative men of the party and principles they pretend to represent” instead of putting up “a mongrel ticket on a sham platform.”[35]

The Campaigns, their Narratives, and Beyond

With candidates nominated on October 25 (Republican Party) and October 26 (Citizens’ Party), the parties had only a few days to campaign before the November 4th election. Newspapers hinted that the candidates were busy during this time, but reported in detail only the republicans’ last campaign event, an election eve torchlight parade up Markham Street from Commerce Street to the Statehouse. The organs of the two parties saw different parades. The Gazette witnessed a “complete fizzle”:

About half past 7 o’clock last night a colored band, followed by one hundred Chinese lanterns and transparencies borne by about twenty-five colored voters, fifty boot blacks and other small boys and twenty-five fast colored women, passed up Markham street to the state-house. This was intended as a grand republican demonstration, but was the most complete fizzle we have witnessed since the war.[36]

In contrast, the Morning Republican viewed a glorious event:

…the independent republicans of Little Rock turned out en masse last night to celebrate the victory which to-day will light upon their standards…[Assembled at the corner of Second and Commerce Streets] the band struck up a lively tune and the column commenced its line of march amid the deafening cheers of the assembled thousands.  Something less than two thousand transparencies had taken position in the moving column and as the mass of human beings swayed and surged to the sound of martial music, [they] presented a scene at once unique and beautiful.[37]

Whichever description of the march was accurate and whatever other campaigning took place, neither affected the issues addressed by the candidates or their comparative qualifications. In regard to issues, the two candidates likely differed little in their views on the major issues facing Little Rock. The most important was the empty city treasury. (Probably neither mentioned that, as discussed later, the city’s mayor had little direct influence on city taxation and expenditures). Another important issue was an increase in crime, much of it linked to confidence men preying on gullible visitors and residents.

The candidates did differ in qualifications, with Kramer having a clear edge. He had been a successful businessman and solid citizen of the city for over fifteen years. He had served three years on the city council, one as its president. Further, he had been a school board director for nearly five years, four of them as its president. In contrast, Rottaken, almost ten years younger than Kramer, had lived in Little Rock less than six years. Although known as a sportsman and volunteer fireman, he had a spotty employment record because of his failed liquor store and his short tenure as the county’s voter registrar and as a deputy sheriff. Nevertheless, even though Rottaken’s résumé was comparatively thin, he had proven as a Union Army artillery officer -- and would show in the future --that he was an intelligent, energetic and fearless man of substance. In this contest, he was not a candidate to be taken lightly.

Overshadowing the issues and the candidate qualifications were the campaign narratives pushed by the Gazette and the Morning Republican, the propaganda organs for the two parties. Their narratives were shaped to influence voters to favor their preferred candidates.

The Gazette’s Case Against Kramer

The Gazette was unrelenting in its attacks on the republican “ring,” D.P. Upham, and Kramer. The attacks formed a narrative that can be summarized as follows:

The “ring” and its city leader, D. P. Upham, are evil. They continue to do terrible things that harm the city. Because of them, the city has a high tax rate with little to show for it. The ring candidate, Kramer, is not a reformer even though he pretends he is. He cannot be trusted. Rottaken can be trusted.

According to this narrative, the election was a largely a referendum on the diabolical ring and on Upham, its boss. Voters would decide whether “the ring is to continue in control of our city and county.”[38] With Kramer as mayor, the ring would be in charge.

The Gazette found Upham to be a good target to demonize because many voters knew him as the controversial brigadier general who commanded the Arkansas militia in the northeastern part of the state during the 1868-69 “Militia Wars.” He and his militia, in the course of successfully carrying out their mission, had been accused of numerous misdeeds and crimes.[39] More recently, in March 1873, Upham had voted – with three other minstrel aldermen -- to refuse a seat on the city council to the candidate who had won a special election in ward 1 to fill a vacant seat. Their decision had stirred outrage expressed at large mass meetings featuring angry speeches calling Upham a tyrant, suggesting he had the city in his pocket, even warning that arms might be taken up to reverse the decision.[40]

The Gazette made Upham the embodiment of the Republican Party, writing about “Upham and his subservient tools,” “Upham’s gang,” and “Upham’s ring.” It referred to the republican convention as “Upham’s City Convention” and described it in terms that reflected badly on him and blacks that supported him:

At 12 O’clock yesterday the colored delegates, with a few stray whites, began to assemble in O’Hara’s Hall in obedience to the command of Gen. Upham, chairman of the city consolidated republican central committee. About a quarter past 12 o’clock, Gen. Upham came marching into the hall, with his high hat, kid gloves, and nonchalant air. City Clerk Barnes soon followed. A high tile adorned his classic brow also, and also lavender kids covered his tiny hands. Those two city officials were quite a contrast to the horny handed colored men present, and who always do the voting to keep such men in power.[41]

To hit its message home, the Gazette disingenuously blamed Upham for the city’s financial problems, “Let laboring men remember that Upham and his ring are responsible for the deprecations of city money.”[42]

In addition to its nasty words about the Upham and the ring, the Gazette devoted a considerable effort to disparaging Kramer, but in less harsh language. As mentioned, the paper had attacked him in November 1871, accusing him of lying and dishonorable behavior when Kramer ran for president of the city council.[43] It continued those attacks even before Kramer became the republican candidate for mayor. In August, 1873, the paper lambasted Kramer, former alderman Dan Ottenheimer, and Alderman H. T. Gibb, complaining they “failed to bring about – we believe they never even attempted to – those reforms in city affairs to which the people who elected them had a right to expect.”

Continuing, the Gazette noted that Kramer and the others were often praised as being successful businessmen and large property owners. The paper argued that voters should not “look alone” among large property owners to “truly and faithfully administer the affairs of the city.” It continued, “It is certainly no discredit to be poorer than either of these three – and we do not see what the amount of their worldly gear has to do with their acts while in public position….They are not the kind of men to reform the city government. They have been tried and found wanting.[44]

Right after Kramer was nominated, the Gazette commented,

Mr. Kramer, the candidate for mayor, has held various local offices, but never did he exhibit any desire for true reform, but rather pushing forward of self at the expense of his position….The ticket is not a strong one and will not poll republican strength by several hundred.[45]

The Gazette saved its harshest attack on Kramer for page one on the Saturday before the election. It noted that Rottaken had commanded a battery of light artillery in the federal army and was highly regarded as an officer. In contrast, the Gazette pointed out, Kramer had not fought for either side, and while he “claims to have sympathized with the confederates, [he] never showed his faith by his works.” The article concluded:

A true solider, no matter what side he espoused in the late war, can never be a bad man. We would much rather support a man who openly and manfully opposed us then than one who claimed to be our friend, but embraced every opportunity to stab us in the back. What Rottaken says can be relied upon. Not so with Kramer. He promised to do certain things when a member of the city council, but “went back” on his word. When Rottaken tells you anything you can believe him.[46]

The conclusion of the Gazette’s narrative in support of its candidates was that the Citizens’ Party had nominated a “non-political ticket -- one embodying representatives of all creeds and colors,” and that its candidate for mayor, “a German and prominent resident of this city for the past six years,” was “an honest man in the true sense of the word.”[47]  The Gazette warned, “Should the republican ticket be elected we will have no hope of relief.[48

The Morning Republican Case Against the Gazette

In support of the republican candidate for mayor, the Morning Republican put forth its own narrative:

Republicans have an excellent set of candidates. Its candidate for mayor, Kramer, is beyond reproach and is being unfairly attacked by the Gazette. The citizens’ party is really the democratic party in disguise, and behind it is the “Bourbon ring”, evil power seekers abetted by the Gazette. The election of republicans will continue the progress that has been made. 

In building the republican narrative, the Morning Republican responded quickly, emphatically, and sometime intemperately to Gazette attacks on Kramer and the “ring.”  For example, after the Gazette attack on Kramer in August, the paper countered:  

Mr. Kramer is one of the wealthiest men of the city, and has as much property to tax as most men, and a great deal more than is owned by the entire Gazette outfit…. For many years he has been one of the largest merchants in the city, in his line, and has done as much as any man we know to build up our town and bring trade to it. At no time have we heard it charged that Mr. Kramer was a violent partisan. When the war closed, he accepted in good faith the settlement of the issues that had been placed in the scales, and did all in his power to bury the dead past and heal the wounds and allay the feeling engendered by the late war. This, in the eyes of the Gazette, was one of the unpardonable sins – hence its attack on Kramer. [49]

The Republican continued to respond with similar words to Gazette attacks on Kramer throughout the campaign. After the Gazette editorial on November 1st accusing Kramer of being a back stabber, the Republican made its strongest case for him and included a subtle disparagement of his opponent:

Mr. Kramer comes in for a share of their venom because he will not bow his knee to their behests. Mr. Kramer is one of our oldest and most successful business men…who…by strict commercial integrity and hard work, accumulated a handsome competency in city property. If he has been so successful in managing his own affairs, it it not likely that he will be equally successful in managing the affairs of the extent of the mayor’s jurisdiction? Is is not better to trust such a man that one who has shown himself incapable of doing his own business successfully?[50]

The last sentence reminded readers that Rottaken’s wholesale liquor business had failed.

In response to the Gazette’s constant invocation of the “ring” and Upham as evils, the Republican argued that no ring existed other than the “Bourbon ring,” which it defined as the old confederate aristocracy, served by the Gazette, who wanted to return their evil ideas to power. In an editorial, the paper described the Gazette as an “old worn-out prostitute” serving the Bourbon ring.[51] Later, the paper described its enemy as follows:

…[T]he Bourbon ring is located in and about the Gazette building. That is the meanest, most proscriptive and malignant “ring” which we wot of in these parts….The sort of democracy represented by that paper is worse than an epidemic and more fatal than the yellow fever.”[52]

The Morning Republican’s final point in its narrative was that Little Rock had made much progress in the previous four years under republican rule and that electing the party’s candidates – men of “honesty and integrity” – would put it city in good hands for the future.[53]

               Beyond the Narratives: The Partisan Makeup of the Voters

In putting forth its narrative to influence voters, the Gazette had a harder task than the Republican: It needed to change the minds of many voters who had previously voted for republican candidates. Without substantial changes to past voting patterns, especially among African-Americans, the republicans had an edge in the election.

This edge is apparent in voter registration information published in the Gazette (see table 1). According this information, in 1873 about 52.4 percent of Little Rock voters were registered as republicans and another 10.5 percent were “doubtful,” apparently meaning they claimed neither party. Only 37.1 percent were registered as democrats.  

Table 1
The 1873 Registration of Voters
by Political Affiliation
Voting Places                    Democrat           Republican      Doubtful        Total     
                                  No.  Pct.          No.    Pct.        No.  Pct.         No.    Pct.
First Ward                290 (50.0)         206    (35.6)    84   (14.4)       580    (100)        
Second Ward            201 (43.5)         236    (51.1)    25   (5.4)         462    (100)
Third Ward*             262 (27.2)         666    (68.9)    38   (3.9)         966    (100)
Fourth Ward             170 (36.4)         181    (37.8)    116 (24.8        467    (100)
State House              41   (33.0)          74     (59.7)    9      (7.3)       124    (100)
Total                          964 (37.1)        1,363 (52.4)    272 (10.5)       2,599 (100)

* A great majority of voters in the Third Ward was African Americans.
How it stands, Daily Arkansas Gazette, July 1, 1874 p2

The information in table 1 shows that about half of all registered republicans (666 of 1,393 voters) lived in the third ward, the part of Little Rock in which most residents were African American. Thus, keeping the support of ward 3 voters was critical for Kramer’s electoral success. Presumably, much of his campaign effort was devoted to that task. His understanding of the importance of black voters was obvious in an interview the Gazette conducted with him on election day:

Reporter – I understand you are of the opinion you will be elected mayor.
Candidate – I think so, though Rottaken will get at least half of the German vote. I think I’ll get most of the negros [sic].
Reporter – Oh! Then you think you will be elected?
Answer—If the colored voters stick with me
Reporter – Suppose they don’t?
Answer – Then I’m beat.[54]

The voter registration information in table 1 raises the question of why the Gazette and the citizens’ party candidate, Rottaken, were so confident of winning. In his interview with the Gazette on election day, Rottaken expressed his certainty that he would win by a two-to-one margin:

Reporter—I understand you are of the opinion of all candidates, that is, that you will be elected.
Answer—Yes. I not only think I will be elected, but that I will beat my opponent two to one.
Reporter – Do you think you will get any of the German vote?
Answer – At least half.
Reporter -- Then you feel no doubt about your election?
Answer – None whatever.
Reporter --- But suppose you are counted out?
Answer – Then I shall not only do all I can to claim the position which belongs to me, but shall endeavor to have every one committing frauds indicted by the grand jury.[55]

Likely Rottaken was so confident because he joined the Gazette in its belief that republicans had won in Little Rock previously because (1) they had cheated, (2) they had near unanimous support of black voters, and (3) many democratic and conservative voters had been unable or unwilling to vote. At this election, he and Gazette editors expected that the governor’s appointment of a fair voter registrar (who would appoint fair election judges) would end voting fraud. Also, the creation of the “non-political” citizens’ party – a thin veil to cover past transgressions of democrats against African Americans -- would separate many black voters from the Republican Party. In addition, they likely believed that the amendment eliminating voting restrictions would bring more democrats and conservatives to the polls, inflating Rottaken’s vote totals. 

Their confidence and reasoning were misguided. The vote results (table 2) show that black voters in the third ward stayed with the Republican Party and Kramer (he received 80 percent of the vote in that ward). Also white republicans must have given him a large majority, and perhaps he even attracted the votes of some democrats. Kramer won an overwhelming victory, almost the two-to-one majority Rottaken had predicted for himself.

Table 2
1873 Mayor Election
Vote Results

                     Ward 1               Ward 2            Ward 3           Ward 4           Total
                     No.  Pct.             No.  Pct            No.  Pct.      No.  Pct.         No.     Pct.
Kramer        436 (58.8)          164 (74.2)        544 (79.9)      283 (54.3)     1,427 (65.9)
Rottaken      305 (41.2)          57   (25.8)        137`(20.1)     238 (45.7)      737    (34.1)
Total            741 (100)           221 (100)         681 (100)       521 (100)       2,164 (100)

Source:  Election Return. Daily Arkansas Gazette, November 5, 1874, p. 4.

The Gazette attributed Kramer’s victory to fraud. Such assertions were nothing new for the Gazette; it had claimed after every local election since the start of Congressional Reconstruction that it was fraudulent. This time, according the Gazette, “The frauds were bolder and more reckless than any heretofore committed, for it was a death struggle with the ring.”[56] It elaborated the next day on its complaint:

… the de facto attorney general rendered a decision that anyone could vote, whether registered or not, upon taking an oath that he was a qualified elector…. Railroad hands to the number of two or three hundred recently discharged at Fulton, and who were neither registered voters nor citizens of this state even, were permitted to vote, not only once, but as often as they could get around to the different polls. Negroes were brought from the country and voted in the same manner.”[57

The Gazette said the fraud occurred because “The city judges paid no attention to any registration, either old or new. But permitted everybody to vote and in many instances without question.”

The veracity of Gazette charges cannot be fairly judged with available evidence. However, one remarkable thing about the election was the high voter turnout, especially in Ward 1, where Kramer lived, and in Ward 3, where most African-Americans lived. In this election, the vote total (2,164) was nearly double the vote total at the previous mayoral election in 1871 (1.084) and greatly exceeded the total in the November 1869 mayoral election (972). In fact, Kramer alone got more votes in the 1873 election than the total votes cast at each of the previous three elections.

If this vote surge were a one-time event, the high number of votes would provide some support for the contention that illegal voting had padded the total number of vote. However, the vote total in 1873 differed little from the vote totals in 1875 (2,063), 1877 (2,316), and 1879 (2,401). The best explanations for the increase in voting in 1873 and afterwards are the end of disenfranchisement, less restrictive registration, and a growing interest in elections as men recovered from the trauma of the Civil War.[58]

The official record shows that following the 1873 election no one was arrested for voter fraud and the grand jury mentioned by Rottaken in his interview brought no indictments. The Morning Republican dismissed the Gazette’s fraud allegations, claiming that voting at the election had been “very peaceable and amicably conducted in each ward, and harmony reigned supreme.[59] The paper observed, “A more quiet election, and we believe a fairer one, was never witnessed.”[60]


[1] “Local Jottings.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, November 2, 1873, p. 4 and “Local Paragraphs.” Morning Republican, November 3, 1873, p. 4. Throughout the paper, Gazette is used as the shortened name of the Daily Arkansas Gazette.

[2] Kramer received 65.9 percent of the vote.  “Election Results.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, November 5, 1874, p. 4. During this time, the party that soon reverted to the name “Democratic Party,” was officially the “Democratic-Conservative Party” in deference to some members, mainly former Whigs, who refused to label themselves as democrats.

[3] Fletcher received the votes of 19 delegates while Kramer got 8 votes. “On to Victory.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, March 23, 1873, p. 4.

Kramer attended the Ward 1 convention of the D-C Party on March 18th and was elected it chairman (“The Ward Meetings.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, March 13, 1875, p. 4).  Several of attendees were dissatisfied with the ward 1 meeting and Kramer’s role in it. The “bolters” held their own Ward 1 convention on the following day, electing a different set of people to be delegates to the city convention (“The First Ward.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, March 20, 1875, p. 5).  The events at the ward 1 convention, and Kramer’s role in them, particularly upset M. L. Kumpe, who had been elected Ward 1 alderman in November 1874 and was not nominated at the convention for re-election. A few days after the convention, he announced in the Gazette that he would be a candidate for ward 1 alderman and complained about the conduct of the convention, which, Kumpe said, was attended by many men who did not live in the ward. Kumpe described Kramer’s actions at the convention as “anti-democratic, utterly repugnant to republican principles and the spirit of the government bequeathed to us by our fathers…” (“Announcement.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, March 27, 1873, p. 4).  The main complaint was that Kramer had engineered the selection of ward 1 delegates to the city convention who would vote to make him the party’s candidate for mayor..

[4] Fletcher had been officer in Capitol Guards as the Civil War neared. Kramer had joined the guards as a volunteer after he left the service of the U.S. army in Nov. 1859. When the Civil War started, the Capital Guards were incorporated into the Confederate Army. Before that happened, Kramer left the Guards. Fletcher stayed and later became the second commanding officer of the unit, which suffered heavy losses in several major battles. Fletcher was badly wounded at the Battle of Murfreesboro. Calvin L. Collier. 1961. First-In – Last Out: The Capitol Guards. Pioneer Press.

[5] “Yesterday’s Election. The Radicals Routed Horse, Foot, and Dragons.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, April 7, 1874, p. 4 and “Out on a Hurrah.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, April 8, 1875, p. 4.  Kramer told the celebrating group, “I could never run against Capt. John G. Fletcher. He is my old, tried, and true friend.” In turn, Fletcher said he “presented [to Kramer] his hand for a thousand years, to the second”

[6] “Boggy Johnson at Home.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, June 21, 1872, p. 1. Also traveling were Lena Miller, daughter of Charles Miller, Kramer’s brother-in-law and former business partne,r and August Struve, an older little Rock merchant.
For more information on Kramer and his life, see the following entry in the Arkansas Encyclopedia of History and Culture:

[7] The announcement of the dissolution of the partnership of Kramer, Charles Miller, and Charles Penzel was dated May 6, 1872 and was published several times in the month that followed. The announcement stated that Kramer was retiring, but Miller and Penzel would continue operating the business. See “Announcement.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, May 16, 1872, p. 4.

[8] “Alderman Fred Kramer.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, November 15, 1871, p. 4.

[9] For the story of Hartman’s efforts to remove Kramer from office, see Dan Durning (forthcoming). “Mayor A.K. Hartman and the Brindle-tails Usurp Little Rock’s 1870 Election, To No Avail,” Pulaski County Historical Review. (An earlier version is available at ) For more information on Mayor Hartman, see 

The story of the Gazette’s attacks on Kramer are in Dan Durning (2017). “Little Rock’s City Council Votes 701 Times to Elect its President in 1871.” Pulaski County Historical Review, 65(4), Winter, pp. 110 – 124. (A less edited version is available here: )  Also see “Alderman Fred Kramer.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, November 15, 1871, p. 1; The Municipal Muddle. Daily Arkansas Gazette, Nov. 16, 1871, p.1; and Municipal Affairs. Daily Arkansas Gazette, Nov 17, 1871, p. 1. 

[10] A newspaper reporter who saw Kramer soon after he returned on November 9th told his readers, “He has gained twenty-five pounds and is looking extremely well. “Splintered Factions.” Morning Republican, November 12, 1872, p. 4. In the school board election held on December 21st, ten candidates ran for three seats, two regular positions and one vacancy. Kramer received the second most votes after D. P. Upham, who at the time was president of the Little Rock City Council. The notification concerning Kramer’s office hours was in “Capital Chips.” Morning Republican, May 14, 1873, p. 3. In June 1872, Kramer handed out diplomas to the first graduating free-school class in the city (“Little Rock High School.” Morning Republican, June 14, 1873, p. 4).

[11] “In and about the Capital.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, August 10, 1872, p. 4.

[12] The best explanation of the bases of Republican power after the adoption of the 1868 constitution is found in George Thompson. 1976. Arkansas and Reconstruction. Kennikat Press. He asserts that republican power depended on the disenfranchisement and voter oath requirement in the 1868 constitution and the power given to the governor to appoint county registrars and assessors and to fill vacant state and county positions, plus his control over such things as which newspaper would print legal notices in each county and final authority in granting state credit to railroads.

[13] The pigeon shooting competition is reported in “Daily Fair.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, November 22, 1869, p. 3. Rottaken also won the pigeon shooting competitions in 1869 and 1870 (“The Fair.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, Oct. 15, 1870, p. 4). He started a local shooting club in Little Rock soon after the 1868 fair, and it periodically held competitive pigeon shooting matches ([Item], Daily Arkansas Gazette, Dec. 16, 1868, p.3).  Concerning the fire department, see “The Sixteenth Anniversary.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, Feb 25, 1870, p. 4 and “First Assistant Engineer Resigned.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, April 25, 1871, p. 4.

[14] “Rottaken.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, July 8, 1870, p. 4. From that article, “Our next door neighbor, Rottaken, is ‘a mighty hunter’—as great as ever Nimrod was; as a fisherman he possesses natural skill equal to that of Izaac Walton, and uses besides all the modern appliances.

[15] “Our Neighbor Rottaken.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, August 31, 1869, p. 4

[16] The usurpation effort is described in Dan Durning. Forthcoming, “Mayor A.K. Hartman and the Brindle-tails Usurp Little Rock’s 1870 Election, To No Avail.” Pulaski County Historical Review. An earlier version of this article is available at

[17] See Rottaken’s affidavit in “The Charges Against the Mayor.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, December 3, 1870, p. 4.

[18] See Rottaken’s testimony in “The Investigation Committee.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, July 29, 1874, p. 4.

[19] See Chapter 7 in Thompson, Arkansas and Reconstruction.

[20] The belief that Brooks won the election was widespread, even among the men, such as William E. Woodruff Jr., editor of the Gazette, who became Baxter’s strongest supporters.  Thompson, in Arkansas and Reconstruction, believe that voting patterns and irregularities pointed strongly to a Brooks’ victory. He wrote: “That Brooks was actually elected would be impossible to prove but the testimony of men of integrity  such as David Walker, Hugh G. Thomason, Isaac Murphy, and James Mitchell of the northwest, U. M. Ros of Little Rock, and Harris FFlanagin and John R.Eakin in the southwest would argue he was.” (p. 101).

The chairman of Poland Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives that investigated the political situation in Arkansas prior to and after the Brooks-Baxter War stated his view, with which other members agreed, that Brook had won the 1872 election.  

[21] “A Queer Kind of an Article.” Morning Republican, August 20, 1873 p. 2.  Another major reason for growing republican dissatisfaction with Baxter was his opposition to exchanging worthless railroad bonds for state bonds and his opposition to issuing additional railroad bonds.
[22] “Men Living in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones.” Morning Republican, July 10, 1873 p 2.  Gov. Baxter kept the support of Sen. Powell Clayton, the head of the minstrel faction, throughout 1873. Clayton, who watched events from Washington D.C. finally broke with Baxter after the governor opposed issuing more railroad bonds, a project dear to the hearts and pocketbooks of many minstrel leaders.

[23] The different attempts of Brooks to get a hearing on his claim to office are discussed in Thompson, Arkansas and Reconstruction; Thomas Staples. 1929. Reconstruction in Arkansas. Columbia University Press, reprinted by Forgotten Books; and John Harrell. 1893. Reconstruction in Arkansas: A History. Slawson Printing Co.     

[24] In May 1873, there were rumors that Chief Justic McClure was going to use a legal ploy to get the Supreme Court to issue and order that would at least temporarily remove Baxter from office. To defeat any attempt to physically remove Baxter from office, he revamped the state militia, adding men loyal to the D-C Party and replacing D.P Upham as commander of the militia by Col. Robert C. Newton, a man loyal to the governor. The militia guarded the governor’s office until the end of September, when the threat no longer was credible. See Thompson, Arkansas and Reconstruction, pp. 124 – 125.

[25] “Our City Currency.” Morning Republican, September 23, 1873, p. 4.

[26] “The Mechanics and Laborers.” Morning Republican. Sept, 27, 1873, p. 4.

[27] “City Money.” Morning Republican, October 10, 1873, p 4.

[28] “Money Matters.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, Oct. 7, p. 4.

[29] “The Quarantine.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, October 7, 1873, p. 1 and “Destructive Fire.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, Nov. 1, 1873, 4.

[30] “Mass Meeting.” Morning Republican, October 7, 1873, p. 4 and “The Re-Union.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, Oct 7, 1873, p. 4.

[31] “Republican City Convention.” Morning Republican. October 27, 1873 p. 4 and “Upham’s City Convention.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, Oct. 26, 1873, p. 4.

[32] “The City Canvass.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, Oct. 15, 1873, p. 2.

[33] “Citizen’s Convention.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, October 28, 1873, p. 4. The Morning Republican referred to the convention as the “Democratic convention.” “The ‘Citizens,’ So-Called, Make Nominations.” Morning Republican, October 28, 1873, p. 4

[34] “An Old Citizen Gone” [Sam L. Griffith]. Daily Arkansas Gazette DAG. January 17, 1893, p. 6; Death Claims Dr. Wm Thompson. Daily Arkansas Gazette DAG. October 27, 1909, p. 9.

[35] “The Lesson of Last Tuesday’s Election” (Letter to editor by Old Line Democrat). Daily Arkansas Gazette, Nov. 7, 1873, p. 1.

[36] “A Complete fizzle.” Daily Arkansas Gazette DAG Nov 4, 1873, p. 4.

[37] “Grand Republican Rally.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, November 4, 1873, p. 4.

[38] “Today’s Election.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, Nov. 4, 1873, p. 2.

[39] Upham and his militia were accused of extorting money from “helpless victims who were subjected to his merciless exactions – exactions conducted with an ingenuity of rapacity unparalleled since the campaign of Alva in the Netherlands. Harrell, The Brooks-Baxter War, p. 81. For a positive view of his command, see Powell Clayton. 1915. The Aftermath of the Civil War in Arkansas. Neal Publishing Co. (Reprinted by Negro Universities Press, 1969). For more on Upham, see

[40] On March 17, 1873, an election was held in Little Rock to fill a vacant city council seat. The winner was William J. Murphy whose 239 votes were substantially more than G. Ehman’s 116 votes. Murphy was president of the Little Rock Gas Light Co. He had supported brindle-tail candidates in previous elections. His candidacy was supported by the Gazette and most democrats and conservatives. The Morning Republican supported Ehman, a tradesman.

When the city council met on March 21, it voted by a 4-3 margin against seating Murphy, claiming that he was a city contractor and council rules did not allow contractors to be aldermen. This reason made little sense, but it was the best excuse that Upham and the other three council members could come up with. The real reason they did not want Murphy on the council was that he would provide the brindle-tails their fourth vote. If he were seated, the council split would be 4 to 4, instead of 5 – 3 as it had been.

The vote against seating Murphy stirred outrage, especially among the increasingly vocal democrats and conservatives, and the Gazette, their organ. On the day after the council action, the Gazette raged against the decision and the aldermen who made it: “With the hand of the tyrant and dictator, the arm of a usurper, and the will of a despot, the people’s will was trodden underfoot.” After railing against the decision at length, the Gazette hinted darkly that violent might be in the offing: “That it may yet lead to something worse than mere words of denunciations is greatly feared.” (“The Last Outrage.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, March 23, 1873, p. 2)

On the day after the council decision, a thousand people showed up to protest at the corner of Markham and Main Streets. The indignant speakers verbally abused Upham, presumed to be the architect of the perfidy. One speaker called the action "one of the grossest outrages ever attempted to be perpetrated on a people claiming to be free." The meeting attendees passed resolutions condemning the alderman who voted against Murphy, demanding their ouster and action to reverse the decision. (The Council's Outrage. Daily Arkansas Gazette, March 23, 1873, p. 4) 

A Gazette editorial on March 27 (p. 2), demanded action to reverse the decision: 

We have never witnessed a more deep-seated determination on the part of any people to right the wrongs committed on the part of usurper Upham, than is displayed on the part of our citizens…The wrong must be righted – that’s all. The heads of kings have been severed for less crimes that that committed by Upham and his crew.

The protest continued for another couple of weeks with another rally on April 5th. (The People Indignate. Daily Arkansas Gazette. April 6, 1873, p. 4) The Morning Republican published several articles defending the decision and the aldermen who made it, including “The Facts in the Case.” Morning Republican. March 27, 1873, p. 1 and “The Indignants. Morning Republican, April 7, 1873, p. 4.  By the middle of April, the uproar had died down, but memories remained of the Murphy Affair and Upham’s role in it.

[41] “Upham’s City Convention.” Daily Arkansas Gazette DAG. Oct. 26, 1873, p 4.  While the Gazette likely stoked anger at Upham among democrats and conservatives for whom he long been a source of hatred, the paper’s emphasis seems strange if its purpose was to persuade black and white men who had previously voted republican to vote for candidates of the citizen’s party. While Upham was an anathema to solid democrats, African-Americans viewed him as a hero who had defended them and their brothers in the militia wars against the Ku Klux Klan.  

[42] Daily Arkansas Gazette , Nov. 4, 1873, p. 4.

[43] See footnote 9.

[44] “The City Election.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, Aug 15, 1873, p. 2.

[45] “The Republican Ticket.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, Oct. 26, 1873, p. 1.

[46] [Editorial]. Daily Arkansas Gazette, November 1, 1873, p. 1.

[47] “The Citizens’ Ticket.” Daily Arkansas Gazette DAG October 28, 1873, p. 1.

[48] “Today’s Election.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, Nov. 4, 1873, p. 2.
[49] “The City Election.” Morning Republican, August 14, 1873, p. 2.

[50] “The Ancient Damsel.” Morning Republican. Nov. 4, 1874, p. 4.

[51] “A Chance for Sarber and Upham.” Morning Republican, September 27, 1873, p. 2. 

[52] “A Hungary Ring.” Morning Republican, November 4, 1873, p. 2.

[53] “The Victory.” Morning Republican, Nov. 6, 1873, p. 4.
 With such a board of aldermen … may we not look for the most auspicious events in public matters; may we not predict a continued series of uninterrupted prosperity for our beautiful City of Roses – that prosperity which will invite immigration and capital to our shores, and which has in years past given to Little Rock the reputation of being the most prosperous city in the southwest.

[54] “Interviewing.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, Nov. 4, 1873, p. 4. With the obvious importance of black voters in the election, the Gazette’s campaign narrative seems misguided. To most black voters, Upham was the hero of a great effort to protect reedman from harassment and murder by the Ku Klux Klan. Thus, while the focus on demonizing Upham might have stirred some white voters, it was unlikely to attract black voters to the citizens’ party.

[55] “Interviewing.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, Nov. 4, 1873, p. 4.

[55] “Yesterday’s Fraud.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, Nov. 5, 1873, p. 1.  

[57] “Tuesday’s Election.” Daily Arkansas Gazette. Nov. 6, 1873, p. 1.

[53] Total votes for mayor: January 1869 -- 1,106; November 1869 -- 972; November 1871 -- 1,084; November 1873 -- 2,164;
April 1875 -- 2,063; April 1877 --  2,316; April 1879 -- 2,401

[59] “The Municipal Election.” Morning Republican, Nov. 5, 1873, p. 4. It is possible the lack of law enforcement action was due to the fact that the city police, the offie of the county sheriff, and the state court system were under the control of republicans.

[60] The Significance of the City Election. Morning Republican, Nov 7, 1873, p. 2.