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Joseph M. Terrell Papers

Joseph M. Terrell Papers

Descriptive Summary

Title: Joseph M. Terrell Papers
Creator: Terrell, Joseph Meriweather, 1861-1912.
Inclusive Dates: 1882-1912
Language(s): English
Extent: 5 box(es) (4.25 linear feet) and 21 photographs
Collection Number: RBRL134JMT
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: The Joseph M. Terrell papers reflect Terrell's political career at the state and, to a lesser extent, national levels. The majority of the collection consists of scrapbooks and photographs.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Georgia's "educational governor," Joseph Meriwether Terrell, was born June 6, 1861 in Greenville, Georgia. Terrell attended Greenville public schools until he was fourteen, at which time he began to manage his father's plantation. He did pursue a career in law, however, studying under Major John W. Park. In 1882, he was admitted to the bar and began to practice in Greenville. Only two years later, Terrell became the youngest member of the Georgia General Assembly when he was elected to the House of Representatives at age 23. He was re-elected to this office in 1886.

Terrell's early career in politics continued with his election to the Georgia Senate in 1890 where he served as chairman of the finance committee. He remained in the office until 1892 when he was elected as Georgia's Attorney General (1892-1902) by a two-thirds vote. Terrell distinguished himself in this position by bringing more cases before the United States Supreme Court than any of his predecessors. He is further distinguished by the fact that he won all twelve cases he brought before the judicial body. After serving ten years, Terrell resigned in order to run for governor.

In the election of 1902, Terrell defeated both Dupont Guerry of Macon and John H. Still of Savannah, receiving more county unit votes than his opponents combined. Prohibition had been an important issue during the race, with both Terrell and Still favoring local option, while Guerry was a staunch prohibitionist. In the general election, Terrell defeated the Populist candidate, J.K. Hines, becoming Georgia's governor. He was re-elected in 1905 with no opposition.

During his term as governor, Terrell established a court of appeals, regulated child labor, enacted a pure food and drug law, established a new tax on businesses and corporations and curbed speculation in agricultural futures. Although he was not a college graduate, Governor Terrell was most interested in education. Terrell proposed a $500,000 loan fund to pay Georgia's teachers, and an amendment to prohibit the taxation of an educational institution's funds and investments. Terrell also proposed the establishment of an agricultural school in each state congressional district. In 1906, the Georgia General Assembly passed many of Terrell's proposals including the development of the College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts in Athens.

When his second term as governor ended, Terrell retired into private practice. This did not last long, however. On November 17, 1910, Governor Joseph M. Brown appointed Terrell to fill US Senator Alexander S. Clay's vacant seat. He was soon forced to resign this position on July 14, 1911 after suffering a stroke. At the time of his sudden illness, he had been working on a bill that would provide more government aid for the development of agricultural and mechanical arts schools.

Joseph Meriwether Terrell died at his home in Atlanta on November 17, 1912. He was survived by his wife, Jessie Lee Spivey. The couple had no children.

Scope and Content

The Joseph M. Terrell papers reflect Terrell's political career at the state and, to a lesser extent, national levels. The majority of the collection consists of scrapbooks and photographs.

Organization and Arrangement

There are two series: I. Scrapbooks and II. Photographs.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

User copies of the scrapbooks are available on microfilm.

Preferred Citation

Joseph M. Terrell Papers, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.

Processing Notes

Some photographs have been rehoused between lignin-free board to provide protection and stability for each item.

User Restrictions

Library acts as "fair use" reproduction agent.

Copyright Information

Before material from collections at the Richard B. Russell Library may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permissions. Persons wishing to quote from materials in the Russell Library collection should consult the Director. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared on: 2000.

Related Materials and Subjects

Subject Terms

Brown, Joseph M., 1851-1932.
Georgia -- Politics and government -- 1865-1910.
Governors -- Georgia.
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919.
Terrell, J. M. (Joseph Meriweather), 1861-1912.

Related Collections in this Repository

Thomas D. Hardwick Papers

Lamartine G. Hardman Collection

William J. Harris Papers

Dudley M. Hughes Collection

Richard B. Russell, Sr. Collection

Hoke Smith Papers

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing


I. Scrapbooks

2 box(es)
(2 linear feet)
The scrapbook series consists of three scrapbooks. The first book is dated June 6, 1907, when a tribute dinner was held in honor of Governor Terrell on his birthday and the fifth anniversary of his nomination as governor. A scrapbook with copies of the toasts and letters from those attending was made for this special occasion. Two hundred prominent men from all walks of life from Georgia were invited to this festivity.The other two scrapbooks reflect Terrell's political career from his election as attorney general to his appointment to the United States Senate. There are materials related to Terrell's influence over the election of Governor Joseph M. Brown, as well as tributes and obituaries to Terrell at the time of his death. Of interest, there are articles, photographs and printed items related to President Theodore Roosevelt's visit to Atlanta in October 1905.User copies of the scrapbooks are available on microfilm.
11A few letters of tribute to Honorable Joseph Meriwether Terrell, Governor of Georgia on the occasion of a banque, Thursday, June 6, 1907
21Scrapbooks, 1882-1905, 1912
22The Silent Man, 1908-1912

II. Photographs

21 photograph(s)
Photographs include President Theodore Roosevelt's visit to Atlanta as a guest to the state fair, portraits of Terrell and Terrell's swearing in as governor of Georgia. There is also a photo album of images of the governor's mansion and a copy of Terrell's acceptance speech.
3Photograph album--Governor's mansion and its staff. [Included is Terrell's 1902 acceptance speech and a black ribbon with USS Georgia on it], circa 1904
4 JMT-PF-01 Governor Terrell and his staff on the steps of the Georgia Building, "Georgia Day," Jamestown Exposition, Jamestown, VA (3 copies), 1907. ((7"x9"))
4 JMT-PF-02 Portrait of Governor Joseph M. Terrell, 1904. ((8"x10") NEGATIVE)
4 JMT-PF-02 Governor and Mrs. Jessie Lee Terrell with group of men and women in Savannah, GA., circa 1905. ((9"x7") NEGATIVE)
4 JMT-PF-04 Terrell on bridge with group of people, Chester, PA., undated. ((9"x7"))
4 JMT-PF-05 Woman's Board of Commissioners to the Jamestown Exposition (2 copies), 1907. ((9 1/2"x7 1/2"))
4 JMT-PF-06 Terrell signing bill with W. B. Roddenberry, J. B. Crawford, H. W. Hopkins, J. C. Stone, J. K. Godwin, W. A. Walker, Wm. Carr and R. R. Terrell, Adin Powell, J. R. Singletary and S. A. Roddenberry observing (2 copies), circa 1905. ((7 1/2"x9 1/2"))
4 JMT-PF-07 Governor Terrell, former Governor Allen Candler, Chief Justice Simmons, Clerk John Boifeuillet, President of the Senate Clark Howell and Speaker Newton Morris at Terrell's swearing in. Location: Georgia State Capitol, General Assembly, 1902. ((7 1/2"x9 1/2"))
4 JMT-PF-08 Governor's mansion after winter ice storm, Atlanta, GA, circa 1905. ((7 1/2"x9 1/2"))
4 JMT-PF-09 President Theodore Roosevelt, guest of state fair, in Atlanta. Roosevelt is waving hat, Governor Terrell is wearing a top hat. Both riding in a horse drawn carriage together. photo by C. F. Bozarth, October 1905. ((4 1/2"x6 1/2") NEGATIVE)
4 JMT-PF-10 Governor Terrell seated and President T. Roosevelt speaking to a crowd at state fair, Atlanta, GA. photo by C. F. Bozarth, October 1905. ((4 1/2"x6 1/2"))
5 JMT-PF-11 Governor and Mrs. Jessie Lee Terrell riding in a carriage with another couple, 1905. ((8" x 9 1/2"))
5 JMT-PF-12 Governor and Mrs. Terrell with a group on the steps of the state capitol, circa 1905. ((8"x10"))
5 JMT-PF-13 Terrell with a group of men. Atlanta, circa 1904. ((8"x10"))
5 JMT-PF-14 Terrell with a group of children, women and men wearing uniforms, circa 1904. ((7 1/2"x9 1/2"))
5 JMT-PF-15 Terrell sitting with group of men around a dinner table, circa 1905. ((8"x10"))
5 JMT-PF-16 Terrell with ?????, circa 1906. ((6"x8"))
5 JMT-PF-17 Formal dinner with men dressed in tuxedos, circa 1907. ((10"x13 1/2"))
5 JMT-PF-18 Formal dinner with men dressed in tuxedos, circa 1907. ((10"x13 1/2"))
5 JMT-PF-19 Terrell, Joseph Brown and others in a group photograph, circa 1908. ((8 1/2"x16 1/2"))
5 JMT-PF-20 Dinner in honor of the governor-elect of Georgia Honorable Joseph M. Brown on the evening, June 12, 1908
5 JMT-PF-21 Portraits of Terrell (2 copies), circa 1902. ((15 1/2"x12"))