University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the Alexander Watkins Terrell Papers, 1877-1912

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Terrell, Alexander Watkins
Title: Alexander Watkins Terrell Papers
Dates: 1877-1912
Abstract: Correspondence, legal papers, mementos, literary productions, broadsides, clippings, and photographs concerning the career of Alexander Watkins Terrell (1827-1921), lawyer, judge, legislator, soldier, and diplomat.
Accession No.: 2000-287; 98-327; 84-45
Extent: 6 ft., 8 in.
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Alexander Watkins Terrell (1827-1921), jurist, Civil War officer, and statesman, attended the University of Missouri. After being admitted to the bar in 1849, he practiced law in St. Joseph, Missouri, before moving to Austin, Texas, in 1852. Terrell served as judge of the state's Second District from 1857 to 1863, when he enlisted in the First Texas Cavalry Regiment, Arizona Brigade, of the Confederate Army, as a major. He fought in the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill. After the war he briefly lived in Mexico.

After returning to Houston, Terrell practiced law privately in 1866. In 1871 he and Judge A. S. Walker formed a law partnership in Austin. He served four terms in the Texas Senate (1876-1884), and two in the House of Representatives (1891-1892 and 1903-1905). Terrell helped pass a number of important acts during his terms, including the Terrell Election Law, and a bill requiring jurors to be able to read and write.

Between Terrell’s two House terms, President Grover Cleveland appointed him minister plenipotentiary to the Ottoman Empire, a post he held until 1897 when he returned to Austin to resume private practice. Governor Thomas Campbell appointed Terrell a regent of the University of Texas in 1909 and Terrell worked to design and raise money for a new library building. Terrell authored a number of volumes of Texas Supreme Court decisions as well as articles, and served as president, in 1912, of the Texas State Historical Association. Terrell died in Mineral Wells, Texas, and was buried in the State Cemetery in Austin. Terrell County is named in his honor.

Source: Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Terrell, Alexander Watkins," (accessed June 2, 2010).

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, legal papers, mementos, literary productions, broadsides, clippings, and photographs comprise the Alexander Watkins Terrell papers, 1877-1912. The papers relate to Terrell’s activities as United States minister to the Ottoman Empire (1893-1897), including his actions during the Armenian massacres of 1895-1896; as benefactor, regent, and advisor for the University of Texas; and as legislator for the revision and passage of new election laws. Additionally, the papers include reminiscences of his years in Mexico after the Civil War; and speeches upon political and social occasions in Texas from 1870-1921.

Also included in the papers are a will, a scrapbook, a bound memoriam to Terrell, and a file containing letters, notes, and reports relating to Alexander Watkins Terrell and his family. Furthermore, the papers include articles on John Jenkins and O. Henry, as well as a photocopy of a letter from W. W. Houston to Alexander W. Terrell dated February 15, 1897. The letter is Houston’s response to Terrell’s inquiry about a bill authorizing construction of the Texas State Capitol, which Terrell had authored.


Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Terrell, Alexander Watkins, 1827-1912--Archives
Brackenridge, George Washington, 1832-1921
Austin, Stephen F. (Stephen Fuller), 1793-1836
Walker, Alexander Stuart, 1826-1896
Subjects (Organizations)
Texas Legislature. Senate
United States. Congress.
University of Texas. Board of Regents
Armenian massacres, 1894-1896
Istanbul (Turkey)--Ethnic relations--Political aspects--History--19th century
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Austin (Tex.)
Houston (Tex.)
Robertson County (Tex.)
Texas--Politics and government
United States--Foreign Relations--Turkey

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Alexander Watkins Terrell Papers, 1877-1912, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project, 2009-2011.

Detailed Description of the Papers



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