ISAAC MURPHY, Arkansas’s eighth governor, was born near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 16, 1802. He attended Washington College, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1825. Murphy taught school and practiced law in Clarksville, Tennessee. He migrated to Arkansas in 1834, and entered politics, serving in the Arkansas General Assembly in 1846 and 1848. He was elected to serve in the Arkansas Senate in 1856, and was a delegate to the 1861 State Convention, where he was the only delegate to go on record and vote against secession. In March 1864, Murphy was elected Provisional Governor of Arkansas, and on April 18, 1864, he was sworn into office. During his term, he managed the affairs of the state wisely and economically and achieved a viable state government. Legislation passed that enabled the first statewide public school system to be created, and the Morrill Act passed, leading to the eventual establishment of the University of Arkansas. When he left office on July 2, 1868, there was a surplus of $270,000 left in the state treasury. Retiring from public life, Murphy returned to Huntsville where he farmed and practiced law until his death on September 8, 1882.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
Donovan, Timothy P., and Willard B. Gatewood, Jr., The Governors of Arkansas, Essays in Political Biography, Fayetteville; The University of Arkansas Press, 1981
Herndon, Dallas T., Centennial History of Arkansas, Vol. 1, Chicago, Little Rock, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1922. 3 vols.
Old State House Museum