Alexander Watkins Terrell
Civil War Soldier, Texas Lawmaker, American Diplomat
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: University of Texas Press
Title Page, Copyright
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In the spring of 1998, George C. Morris III of Houston, Texas, a great-great-grandson of Alexander Watkins Terrell, asked me to write a biography of his distinguished ancestor. Knowing of Terrell’s central role in key aspects of Texas politics during the period...
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My first debt is to George C. Morris and James McCartney, who asked me to undertake this study and funded it with such unstinting generosity. They provided family documents not available to earlier students of Terrell’s life; they gave me leads to other sources; and they were always encouraging. They gave...
1. From Missouri to Texas
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Alexander Watkins Terrell never really knew his father. In August 1833, Dr. Christopher Johnson Terrell, his wife Susan, their three young sons, and their seven slaves lived in the frontier community of Boonville, Missouri. Alex, the oldest boy, was still three months short of his sixth birthday. The...
2. The District Judge
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During his first eleven years in Austin, Texas, from 1852 to 1863, Alexander W. Terrell established the political reputation and standing in the community that he would retain for sixty years. Within three years he played a decisive role in revitalizing the Democratic Party to meet the challenge of the...
3. Civil War, Mexico, and Reconstruction
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It was one of those small, apparently unimportant moments in the fog of war. At the Battle of Pleasant Hill on April 9, 1864, Alexander Terrell and the men of his Company H rode ahead of the others in their regiment as the unit moved toward the Union lines. The Confederates were proceeding down a...
4. The Senator from Austin
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Alexander W. Terrell and his family returned to a more vibrant and expansive Austin than the one he had left nine years earlier. The city’s population was booming, from 4,400 in 1870 to 10,400 by 1875. A steam railroad, the Houston and Texas Central line, had arrived on Christmas Day of 1871. The...
5. More Laws for Texas
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Although the racial issues that dominated Texas politics during Reconstruction remained a key element in Terrell’s career through the late 1870s and beyond, newer economic concerns were reshaping the policy debates for the state’s Democrats. The hard times growing out of the Panic of 1873 caused...
6. The Foe of Railroads
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In the winter of 1884, Alexander W. Terrell wrote his brother Joe in Fort Worth, “State politics is a dirty business. If ever I start again it will be in Washington City.” Colleagues in the Texas Senate had told him of their support for a United States Senate bid, but he added, “That is a long way off & I don’t...
7. At the Court of the Red Sultan
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Alexander W. Terrell’s chances for a diplomatic appointment in the second Cleveland administration were much better than they had been six years earlier. As one of the larger southern states in its electoral votes, Texas merited recognition in early 1893. A cabinet selection from the Lone Star State...
8. The Elder Statesman
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When he returned from Turkey in the summer of 1897, Alexander W. Terrell was a few months short of his seventieth birthday. He was still vigorous, and his health had even improved during his stay in Constantinople. During the next five years, he and his wife traveled to spas and cooler climates during...
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Page Count: 239
Illustrations: 16 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2004
Series Title: Focus on American History Series, Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin