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James M. Johnson Materials

Identifier: MC 1913

Scope and Content Note

The James M. Johnson Materials include correspondence, land deeds, and photographs.


  • Creation: 1968-1918


Access Information

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Use Information

No Use Restrictions Apply.

No Interlibrary Loan.

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical Note

James Madison Johnson was born December 8, 1832, to James M. and Elizabeth Dunigan Johnson in Warren County, Tennessee. Johnson grew up working on his father’s farm and married his first wife Elizabeth Johnson in 1850. The couple had eight kids together. In 1855-1856, Johnson attended Arkansas College at Fayetteville and the Ozark Institute Mount Comfort, Washington County. Johnson transferred to the St. Louis Medical School for the 1857-1858 term. After medical school, Johnson practiced medicine in Huntsville, Madison County, Arkansas until the Civil War. Johnson enlisted in 1862, and took command of the First Arkansas infantry. Johnson became Colonel in command of the 1st Regiment Arkansas Volunteer Infantry. By the end of the war, Johnson was Brevetted Brigadier General over the Third Division. During Johnson’s time in service he participated in the Battle of Cotton Plant and Battle of Fort Pillow.

After the Civil War, Johnson began a career in politics and was elected to Congress from the Third District in 1864, and re-elected in 1866, but never took his seat. In 1867 he was elected lieutenant-governor of the State of Arkansas, and served two years. In 1869 he was appointed by Governor Powell Clayton secretary of State, to fill an unexpired term, and was appointed to the same position in 1870, serving in all about five years. Johnson’s political career almost came to an end in 1869 when the Republican Party split into two controversial factions the “Brindle Tails” and the “Minstrels”. These events led to the conflict between rival candidates leading up to the Brooks Baxter War in 1874. The “Brindle Tails” wanted Clayton out of office for Johnson, a “Brindle Tail”, to succeed him. After a series of events the “Minstrels” targeted Johnson and on January 30, 1871, they introduced articles of impeachment in the General Assembly against him. Johnson avoided being impeached by two votes. The impeachment proceedings severely impacted Johnson’s political career and he never fully recovered.

Johnson left his political career after serving as Secretary of State and took the position on the board of trustees for the University of Arkansas, giving him credit of the origin and the location. After the passing of his first wife in 1883, Johnson married Jennie A. Mullins Wilson on October 15, 1893. Twenty years later, Johnson died on February 15, 1913, in Wesley, Madison County, Arkansas.


.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of the Papers

Materials are arranged by topic

Acquisition Information

The James M. Johnson Materials were donated to the Special Collections Department, University of Arkansas Libraries, on May 8, 2011, by Bill J. Saban of Alamo, California.

Processing Information

Processed by Jordan Frankenburger; completed in April 2012.


James M. Johnson Materials
Jordan Frankenburger
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Department Repository

University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville AR 72701 United States
(479) 575-8444