Lt. Governors

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Bailey, Bob

aka: Robert Ballard Bailey
Robert Ballard (Bob) Bailey was a prominent early to mid-twentieth-century lawyer and political figure who served two terms in the state Senate and three terms as lieutenant governor. He frequently served as acting governor when the governor was out of state. Bob Bailey was born on August 7, 1889, in Knott County, Kentucky, to John Marshall and Mollie (or Mallie) French Bailey. His father served as a district judge in the Hindman, Kentucky, area. Bailey attended high school in Hindman and acquired his early knowledge of law by accompanying his father to court. He later studied law under his father and attended Kentucky Wesleyan College in Winchester and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. On May 2, 1909, Bailey …

Bliss, Calvin Comins

Calvin Comins Bliss was in search of challenges when he and his new wife Caroline came to Arkansas from New England in 1854. He was involved in many business and other ventures including real estate, publishing, and politics. During the Civil War, he served for a time in the Union army, became the first lieutenant governor of Arkansas, and participated in establishing the new constitution that abolished slavery. His resourceful wife taught school and took care of the family, even traveling back across the front lines to New England in wartime. Calvin Bliss was born on December 22, 1823, in Calais, Vermont, the son of farmers William and Martha Bliss. He was the first of their four children. He attended …

Britt, “Footsie”

aka: Maurice Lee Britt
aka: Morris Britt
Maurice Lee “Footsie” Britt was an Arkansas native who rose to fame as an athlete, soldier, businessman, and state politician. He played football and basketball at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and then advanced to professional football, until the attack on Pearl Harbor propelled the country into World War II. Britt became an exemplary soldier as the first person in American history to earn all the army’s top awards, including the Medal of Honor, while fighting in a single war. After suffering numerous wounds, including one that caused his right arm to have to be amputated, Britt returned to Arkansas and undertook a career in business management. Later in life, he served two terms as the …

Cazort, William Lee

William Lee Cazort was a familiar figure in Arkansas politics throughout the 1920s and 1930s. He served several terms in the state legislature and three times as lieutenant governor, but his political ambitions were checked by three unsuccessful gubernatorial bids. The scion of a prominent local family, Lee Cazort was born on December 3, 1887, near Cabin Creek (now Lamar) in Johnson County. He was the son of Belle Gardner and John Robert Cazort. His father was invested in interests as diverse as land, lumber, livestock, cotton, and mercantile trade. Popularly known as Cazort Brothers, the family business was a virtual empire that operated throughout Arkansas and into neighboring states. Cazort grew up in a household of eight children. He …

Darr, Mark

Mark Darr served as lieutenant governor of Arkansas from 2011 to 2014. Elected as part of a wave of political newcomers in 2010, he quickly became embroiled in a series of investigations relating to alleged ethics violations. In January 2014, with almost a year left in his term, Darr resigned his office. Mark Darr was born on July 3, 1973, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), the youngest of five children born to the Reverend Johnnie Darr, who was a Southern Baptist minister, and his wife, Patsy Darr. Darr grew up in Mansfield (Sebastian and Scott counties), graduating from Mansfield High School in 1991. In 1997, he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia (Clark …

Gordon, Nathan Green

Nathan Green Gordon was a naval pilot in World War II, Medal of Honor recipient, and lawyer. He served as lieutenant governor from 1947 to 1967, the longest tenure of one person in that office in Arkansas history. Nathan Gordon was born on September 4, 1916, in Morrilton (Conway County), the second of four children of Edward (Ed) Gordon Sr., a lawyer and one-time state representative, and Ada Ruth Gordon. Noted as “a boy who couldn’t pass up a challenge or a dare,” he showed excellence at a young age. Growing up in Morrilton, he attended public school through the tenth grade before finishing high school at Columbia Military Academy in Tennessee, where he played baseball and football and was …

Halter, Bill

William Amos (Bill) Halter served as Arkansas’s lieutenant governor. He had previously worked as a congressional staffer and served in the administration of President Bill Clinton. He is most known for promoting the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. Bill Halter was born on November 30, 1960, in North Little Rock (Pulaski County). His father, William Halter, was a businessman and his mother, Nancy Halter, a nurse. Raised and educated in Little Rock (Pulaski County), Halter was valedictorian of the class of 1979 at Little Rock Catholic High School. He received his undergraduate degree in economics and political science from Stanford University in 1983. He then studied in England as a Rhodes Scholar, earning an economics degree from Oxford University in 1986. Returning …

Hamby, Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus Hamby of Prescott (Nevada County) was an attorney and political figure who served as acting governor of Arkansas for four months in the summer of 1892 during Governor James P. Eagle’s illness and absence from the state. Born on September 14, 1851, in Calhoun County, Mississippi, C. C. Hamby was the son of Thomas Jefferson Hamby, a farmer who served in a Mississippi regiment of the Confederate army, and his wife, Nancy Elizabeth Byars. Because of the hardships during the Civil War, Hamby’s education was limited. He went to work as a brakeman for the Mississippi Central Railroad at the age of eighteen. In 1872, Hamby moved to Logan County, Arkansas, where he attended school and worked on …

Johnson, James Madison

James Madison Johnson migrated to Arkansas shortly after statehood in 1836. He rose to the rank of brevet brigadier general in the Union army during the Civil War, was twice elected to the U.S. Congress (though he was never seated), and served as the state’s second Reconstruction-era lieutenant governor. James Madison Johnson was born in Warren County, Tennessee. The year of his birth is uncertain, with sources listing 1829, 1832, or 1833; however, 1833 is recorded on the headstone marking his grave, and December 8 is the agreed-upon day. He was the son of James Martin Johnson and Elizabeth Dunagin Johnson. In about 1836, Johnson and his family moved to Arkansas, settling in Madison County. He attended Arkansas College and …

Lieutenant Governor, Office of

The office of lieutenant governor did not exist in territorial Arkansas or in the Arkansas constitution of 1836. Instead, the office was first added in 1864 with the Unionist government led by Governor Isaac Murphy. Governors and lieutenant governors (along with several other statewide offices) were to be elected by the voters of the state to four-year terms. The Reconstruction-era constitution of 1868 also included the office of lieutenant governor. The two principal tasks of the lieutenant governor are to preside over the Arkansas Senate and to replace the governor should the governor die in office or resign (as several governors have resigned to assume other elected offices, most often United States senator). On the first occasion when this provision …

Parnell, Harvey

Harvey Parnell was the first lieutenant governor of the twentieth century and twenty-ninth governor of Arkansas. During his term as governor, he appointed Hattie Caraway to the U.S. Senate. She later became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate. Harvey Parnell was born in Orlando (Cleveland County) on February 28, 1880, to William Robert Parnell, a farmer, and Mary Elizabeth Martin. He shared farm chores with four brothers and two sisters. He was educated in the one-room schoolhouses of rural Arkansas. At the age of eighteen, he moved to Warren (Bradley County), where he attended high school and worked in the local hardware store. Parnell’s early career as a small business owner and farmer influenced his later career as …

Purcell, Joe Edward

Joe Edward Purcell was a lawyer and politician who shocked the political establishment in 1966 by defeating the state’s colorful attorney general, Bruce Bennett, in the Democratic primary. Although Purcell never realized his dream of becoming governor, he was elected attorney general twice and lieutenant governor three times during his political career. Joe Purcell was born on July 29, 1923, in Warren (Bradley County). He was the oldest of three children of Edward L. and Lynelle Cunningham Purcell. His father, known as “Buddy,” remarried and moved to Texas. His mother worked in her father’s grocery store in Warren and, many years later, at the Arkansas Department of Education at Little Rock (Pulaski County). His grandfather, Fred Purcell, was the town’s …

Riley, Bob Cowley

Bob Cowley Riley was a politician and educator who overcame debilitating World War II injuries to serve with distinction in both arenas. His career in state and local politics spanned four decades and culminated in two terms as lieutenant governor (1971–1975) and eleven days as governor (1975). He taught social sciences at Little Rock University (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock) and Ouachita Baptist University (OBU). On the political stump and in the classroom, Riley was a legendary raconteur. A black patch covering his blinded left eye was his trademark. Bob Riley was born on September 18, 1924, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the son of Columbus Allen and Winnie (Craig) Riley. He attended Pulaski County Rural School …

Rockefeller, Winthrop Paul

Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, known in his adopted state of Arkansas as Win (or Win Paul to differentiate him from his father, Winthrop Rockefeller), was a scion of Rockefeller family, which made its fortune with Standard Oil. Like his father, who was the first Republican to be elected governor of Arkansas since Reconstruction, Winthrop Paul Rockefeller abandoned his East Coast roots and established a life in the more rural environs of Arkansas before making a name for himself in Republican politics, eventually being elected lieutenant governor. However, his political career was cut short when, at the age of fifty-seven, he died of complications related to a rare blood disorder. Win Rockefeller was born on September 17, 1948, in New York, the …

Smith, V. V.

aka: Volney Voltaire Smith
The last Reconstruction Republican lieutenant governor, known for attempting a coup d’état aimed at displacing a sitting governor, Volney Voltaire Smith was also the most distinguished nineteenth-century figure to have died in the state insane asylum. V. V. Smith was born in 1842, apparently in Rochester, New York. His father was Delazon Smith, a noted Democratic newspaperman and politician. Delazon Smith attended Oberlin College and then wrote an exposé on it for its support of abolition, was lost for eleven months while on a diplomatic assignment in Ecuador (thus becoming known as “Tyler’s Lost Commission”), and served less than three weeks as one of Oregon’s first U.S. senators. V. V. Smith’s mother, Eliza Volk, died in 1846. Two years later, …

Tucker, Jim Guy, Jr.

aka: James Guy Tucker Jr.
James Guy Tucker, the forty-third governor of Arkansas, had a brief gubernatorial career that abruptly ended due to criminal conviction. His administration carried Arkansas from the end of the Bill Clinton administration, during which Tucker essentially acted as governor the last year because of Clinton’s campaigning for president, to the beginning of the Mike Huckabee gubernatorial administration, which remained in power long enough to be stopped only by term limits. In his personal life, Tucker weathered political challenges, survived health problems, and faced a criminal indictment. Jim Guy Tucker was born on June 13, 1943, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to James Guy and Willie Maude (White) Tucker. His family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) when he was a child, …