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TERRELL, GEORGE WHITFIELD (1803–1846). George Whitfield Terrell, early settler, jurist, and diplomat, was born in Nelson County, Kentucky, in 1803, the son of Col. James Terrell. As a youth he moved to Tennessee, where he was admitted to the bar in 1827 and in 1828 was appointed district attorney by Sam Houston, then governor of Tennessee. Terrell was Houston's attorney general when Houston resigned the governorship. He served in the Tennessee legislature from 1829 to 1836 and moved to Mississippi, where he met financial reverses that caused him to move to Texas in 1837. Mirabeau B. Lamar appointed him district attorney of San Augustine County in 1840; he later served as district judge. Terrell was secretary of state of the Republic of Texas under David G. Burnet for a short time in 1841 and in December 1841 was made attorney general of the republic by Sam Houston. From 1842 to 1844 Terrell was Indian commissioner and as such negotiated the Indian treaty at Bird's Fort on September 29, 1843. He was appointed chargé d'affaires to France, Great Britain, and Spain in December 1844 and continued in that capacity under President Anson Jones. Upon his return to Texas in 1845, Terrell was again made Indian commissioner. He was known as an opponent of annexation. He died on May 13, 1846.


Shelby S. Cox, The Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas (Dallas, n.d.). Texas Democrat, May 20, 1846. Telegraph and Texas Register, June 3, 1846. Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).

Melvin B. Jaschke

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Melvin B. Jaschke, "TERRELL, GEORGE WHITFIELD," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 30, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.