Tom Jefferson Terral

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Thomas Jefferson Terral
27th Governor of Arkansas
In office
January 13, 1925 – January 11, 1927
Preceded by Thomas Chipman McRae
Succeeded by John Ellis Martineau
Arkansas Secretary of State
In office
Personal details
Born (1882-12-21)December 21, 1882
Union Parish, Louisiana, USA
Died March 9, 1946(1946-03-09) (aged 63)
Little Rock, Pulaski County
Resting place Roselawn Memorial Park in Little Rock, Arkansas
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Eula Terral Terral (same maiden and married names)
Children No children
Alma mater University of Kentucky

University of Arkansas School of Law

Profession Attorney

Thomas Jefferson Terral (December 21, 1882 – March 9, 1946) was the 27th Governor of Arkansas.


Terral was born in Union Parish in northern Louisiana. He attended the University of Kentucky at Lexington, Kentucky, and transferred to the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, from which he graduated in 1910.[1] He was admitted to the bar in 1910, and established a private law practice in Little Rock. He also worked as a school teacher.


From 1911 to 1915, Terral worked as an assistant secretary of the Arkansas Senate where he learned the mechanics of state politics. In addition to the Senate position, Terral served as deputy state superintendent of public instruction from 1912 to 1916. These dual positions allowed Terral to assembly a range of statewide political contacts.[2]

State politics[edit]

In 1916, Terral was elected Arkansas Secretary of State and served two two-year terms from 1917 to 1921. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in the 1920 Democratic primary, having lost to Thomas Chipman McRae.

Preparing to run again for governor in 1924, Terral joined the Ku Klux Klan in Morehouse Parish, which adjoins his native Union Parish. Apparently, he was rejected for Klan membership by various chapters in Arkansas but wanted to show his commitment to the organization as he mounted his gubernatorial race.[2][3] In the Democratic primary, prior to the institution of runoff elections in Arkansas, Terral defeated several opponents, including future Lieutenant Governor William Lee Cazort of Johnson County, the original choice of the Ku Klux Klan hierarchy. Terral also defeated John Ellis Martineau, who came back in 1926 to unseat Terral in the primary. In the general election held that year in October 1924, Terral defeated Republican John W. Grabiel, an Ohio native and an attorney from Fayetteville who had also run unsuccessfully against Governor McRae in 1922. Terral received 99,598 votes (79.8 percent) to Grabiel's 25,152 (20.2 percent). Terral served as governor from 1925 to 1927.[4]

During Terral's term the first state park was opened at Petit Jean Mountain. Construction of the state hospital was commenced during his tenure and the post of Commissioner of Insurance and Revenue was created. After one term, Terral was unseated in the Democratic primary by Martineau, who accused him of having previously taken kickbacks from publishers in developing the state-approved list of public school textbooks.[2]


After his term as governor, Terral never again sought public office and returned to his private law practice in Little Rock, where he died in 1946. Terral is interred at Roselawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Little Rock.[5] He and his wife, Eula Terral (same maiden and married names), originally from Pine Bluff in Jefferson County, had no children.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Arkansas Governor Thomas Jefferson Terral". National Governors Association. Retrieved August 21, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Thomas J. Terral". Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  3. ^ Charles C. Alexander, "Defeat, Decline, Disintegration: the Ku Klux Klan in Arkansas, 1924 and After", Arkansas Historical Quarterly, XXII (Winter 1963), p. 317
  4. ^ "State of Arkansas Governors". The US50. Retrieved August 20, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Tom Jefferson Terral". Find A Grave. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Chipman McRae
Governor of Arkansas
Succeeded by
John Ellis Martineau