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George Campbell Childress (January 8, 1804 – October 6, 1841) was a lawyer, politician, illegal immigrant to Mexico, and a principal author of the Texas Declaration of Independence.
Childress was born in Nashville, Tennessee, to John Childress and Elizabeth Robertson. In 1826 he attended and graduated from Davidson Academy. Two years later, he was admitted to the Tennessee Bar. George C. Childress studied law for two years later he became chief editor for the Nashville Banner which he remained for 10 years. On June 12, 1828, he married Margaret Vance. Seven years later, she gave birth to a son, but died from complications a few years afterward.
After spending some time raising money and volunteers in Tennessee for the Texas army, Childress left permanently for Texas. He arrived at the Red River on December 13, 1835, then illegally crossed the Red River into the nation of Mexico in violation of the Law of April 6, 1830. He reached Robertson's Colony on January 9, 1836. The following February he and his uncle, Sterling C. Robertson, were elected to represent Milam Municipality (formerly known as Viesca) at the Convention of 1836. Childress called the convention to order and subsequently introduced a resolution authorizing a committee of five members to draft a Declaration of Independence. Upon adoption of the resolution, he was named chairman of the committee by Richard Ellis and is almost universally acknowledged as the primary author of the document. The other members of the committee were Edward Conrad, James Fannin, Bailey Hardeman, and Collin McKinney. The committee finished the drafting in only one day, leading many to believe that Childress had gone to the convention with a draft already prepared.
The convention approved the document on March 2, 1836. The document is modeled closely on the United States Declaration of Independence, where most of the signatories had moved from, often illegally. Although the document is dated March 2, the actual signing took place on March 3, after errors were discovered when it was read. On March 19, 1836, Childress and Robert Hamilton were sent to the United States to gain recognition of the new Republic of Texas. They were later replaced by James Collinsworth and Peter W.
On December 12, 1836, Childress married Rebecca Jennings and they had two daughters. Childress attempted three times, in 1837, 1839 and 1841, to start his own law practice, but each attempt failed. In despair at his fortunes, on October 6, 1841 while living in Galveston, Childress took a Bowie knife and committed suicide by cutting open his heart.
CHILDRESS, GEORGE CAMPBELL (1804–1841). George Campbell Childress, lawyer, statesman, and author of the Texas Declaration of Independence, son of John Campbell and Elizabeth (Robertson) Childress, was born on January 8, 1804, at Nashville, Tennessee. In 1826 he graduated from Davidson Academy (later the University of Nashville). He was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1828 and married Margaret Vance on June 12 of that year. Their son was born in March 1835, and Margaret Childress died a few months later. Childress practiced law and for a brief period (September 1834-November 1835) edited the Nashville Banner and Nashville Advertiser. In December 1834 he made his first trip to Texas, where his uncle, Sterling C. Robertson, was organizing Robertson's Colony. After spending some time raising money and volunteers in Tennessee for the Texas army, Childress left permanently for Texas. He arrived at the Red River on December 13, 1835, and reached Robertson's Colony on January 9, 1836. The following February he and his uncle were elected to represent Milam Municipality at the Convention of 1836. Childress called the convention to order and subsequently introduced a resolution authorizing a committee of five members to draft a declaration of independence. Upon adoption of the resolution, he was named chairman of the committee and is almost universally acknowledged as the primary author of the document. On March 19 President David G. Burnet sent Robert Hamilton and Childress, whose family was on friendly terms with President Andrew Jackson, to Washington as diplomatic agents for the Republic of Texas. They were instructed to negotiate for recognition of the republic. In late May 1836 their mission was terminated when they were replaced by James Collinsworth and Peter W. Grayson. On December 12, 1836, Childress married Rebecca Stuart Read Jennings; they had two daughters. Childress returned to Texas three times—in 1837, 1839, and 1841—to open law offices, first in Houston, then Galveston. Each time he was unsuccessful in establishing a practice that would support his family. On October 6, 1841, while living in Galveston, he slashed his heart with a Bowie knife and died soon thereafter. On August 21, 1876, Childress County was formed and named in his honor.
The original Texas Declaration of Independence was not returned to Texas until June 1896. William H. Wharton had taken the original to the United States and dropped it off at the Department of State on May 28, 1836.
- Childress County, located on the edge of the Texas Panhandle, was named for him on August 21, 1876. In addition, its county seat (Childress, Texas) was also named for him.
- Is buried at the Trinity Episcopal Church Cemetery in Galveston
- Is one of four 'founding fathers' of Texas to commit suicide: Anson Jones and Thomas Jefferson Rusk both died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds, and James Collinsworth drowned when he jumped off a boat.
- James L. Haley, Passionate Nation (Free Press, 2006), ISBN 0-684-86291-3.
- H. W. Brands, Lone Star Nation (Anchor Books, 2005), ISBN 1-4000-3070-6.
- "GEORGE CAMPBELL CHILDRESS(1804-1841)." George Campbell Childress. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
- Steen, Ralph W. "Provisional Government". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
- Webb, James; Duvall, Thomas (1849). "Sam Houston v The Administrators of the Estate of Sterling C. Robertson, Appeal from Travis County". Reports of Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of the State of Texas during December term 1847. Vol II. Galveston: The News Office. pp. 1–36.