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Isaac Murphy was born Oct. 16, 1799, in Pennsylvania. A teacher and lawyer, he moved to Fayetteville in 1834 and became involved in politics. Murphy took part in the 1849 Gold Rush, but lost his farm to creditors. He, his wife and daughters moved to Huntsville in 1854. Murphy was elected to the February 1861 convention to consider secession, which declined to leave the Union. It reconvened in April after Ft. Sumter was attacked, and all but five members voted for secession. Four of them changed their votes. Murphy alone stood against disunion.
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After the 1861 secession convention, Isaac Murphy returned to Huntsville, receiving many death threats. He fled to the Union army that invaded Arkansas in early 1862, and accompanied the U.S. troops that took Little Rock Sept. 10, 1863. Murphy was named provisional governor in early 1864, and inaugurated to the post April 18, 1864. The staunch Unionist served until 1868, through the early stages of Reconstruction. He lived in Huntsville until his death on Sept. 8, 1882. Gov. Orval Faubus built his house on Murphys home site near here in 1964.