Alexander William Terrell
Alexander Watkins Terrell

November 23, 1827
DiedSeptember 9, 1912 (aged 84)
Resting placeTexas State Cemetery
Alma materUniversity of Missouri
OccupationLawyer, planter, diplomat
Spouse(s)Ann Elizabeth Boulding
Sarah D. Mitchell
Parent(s)Christopher Joseph Terrell
Susan Kennerly
Military career
Allegiance Confederate States
Service/branch Confederate Army
Years of service1863–1865
Unit1st Texas Cavalry Regiment
34th Texas Regiment
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Alexander Watkins Terrell (November 23, 1827 – September 9, 1912) was an American lawyer, judge, planter, Confederate officer, and diplomat. He served as the U. S. minister to Turkey and a Confederate military officer. He helped pass influential legislation including the Terrell Election Law,[1] served as president of the Texas State Historical Association and on the board of regents for the University of Texas

Early life

Alexander Watkins Terrell was born on November 23, 1827 in Patrick County, Virginia.[2][3] His father was Christopher Joseph Terrell and his mother, Susan Kennerly. His Quaker family moved to Boonville, Missouri in 1831.[2]

Terrell graduated from the University of Missouri and was admitted to the bar in 1849.[2]


Terrell practiced law in St. Joseph, Missouri.[2] In 1852, he moved to Austin, Texas.[3][4] He served as a district court judge from 1857 until 1863.[2][4]

On July 4, 1861, Terrell gave a speech on the Texas State Capitol in defense of the Confederate States of America.[5] He drew a parallel between George Washington and the secession of the Confederacy.[5]

When his term as judge came to an end, Terrell joined the First Texas Cavalry Regiment of the Confederate States Army as major.[2][4] He fought in several major battles as part of the Red River Campaign including the Battle of Mansfield.[6] On May 16, 1865, Terrell was assigned to duty as a brigadier general by General E. Kirby Smith. He was never officially appointed by Confederate President Jefferson Davis and confirmed by the Confederate Senate to that grade.

Davis was captured by Union forces on May 10, 1865 and Smith soon accepted the Appomattox surrender terms agreed to by Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner on May 26, 1865, pending Smith's approval.[7]

Terrell fled to Mexico after the war and briefly served Emperor Maximilian as a battalion commander. In 1866 he returned to Texas, where he practised the law in Houston. Subsequently, he spent time on his plantation in Robertson County, Texas.[2]

After Reconstruction, he served in both the Texas Senate and House of Representatives, serving sixteen years in the state legislature.[2] From 1893 until 1897, he was minister plenipotentiary to the Ottoman Empire during U.S. President Grover Cleveland's second administration.[2][3] From 1909 to 1911, he was a member of the University of Texas board of regents. He also served as the president of the Texas State Historical Association.

Personal life

Terrell married Ann Elizabeth Boulding. They had five children. After she died in 1860, he married Sarah D. Mitchell. They had three children.[2]

Death and legacy

Terrell died on September 9, 1912 in Mineral Wells, Texas.[3][4] He was buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas. Terrell County, Texas is named in his honor.[2]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Nichols, Irby C., Jr. (June 15, 2010). "TERRELL, ALEXANDER WATKINS". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d "Judge A. W. Terrell Died Suddenly At Mineral Wells". The Houston Post. Houston, Texas. September 10, 1912. p. 1. Retrieved December 28, 2015 – via open access
  4. ^ a b c d "Judge Terrell Dies At Mineral Wells. Was Author of Terrell Election Law and One Time Ambassador to Turkey". The Liberty Vindicator. Liberty, Texas. September 13, 1912. p. 4. Retrieved December 28, 2015 – via open access
  5. ^ a b Lang, Andrew F. (July 2010). "Memory, the Texas Revolution, and Secession: The Birth of Confederate Nationalism in the Lone Star State". The Southwestern Historical Quarterly. 114 (1): 20–35. JSTOR 25745919.
  6. ^ Winters, John D. The Civil War in Louisiana. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963. ISBN 978-0-8071-0834-5. pp. 340-347
  7. ^ Jamieson, Perry D. Spring 1865: The Closing Campaigns of the Civil War. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2015. ISBN 978-0-8032-2581-7. pp. 211-214.