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Encyclopedia of Arkansas Minute: V. V. Smith

A New York carpetbagger attempted a coup d’état amid the political upheaval remembered as the Brooks-Baxter War.

Volney Voltaire Smith came to Arkansas following the Civil War working as a newspaperman, a Freedmen's Bureau agent and as Lafayette County clerk. In 1872 he ran as a Republican for lieutenant governor with Elisha Baxter leading the ticket.

After the confused and confusing Brooks-Baxter War, Baxter and Smith were ousted by the election of Augustus Hill Garland to the governor's post in 1874. Smith, following a theory that Baxter had abdicated, insisted he was governor and went to Washington, D.C. to pursue his claim.

One newspaper described him as “dirty, footsore with cottonseed in his tangled beard," while another reported him "strutting around the Capitol with as much pomposity as a full-fledged peacock." Unsuccessful in those efforts, he served in the consulate at St. Thomas island before returning to Arkansas where he died in the state insane asylum in 1897.

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