Joseph M. Terrell

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Joseph M. Terrell
United States Senator
from Georgia
In office
November 17, 1910 – July 14, 1911
Preceded by Alexander S. Clay
Succeeded by M. Hoke Smith
57th Governor of Georgia
In office
October 25, 1902 – June 29, 1907
Preceded by Allen D. Candler
Succeeded by Hoke Smith
Member of the Georgia Senate
In office
Member of the Georgia House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born (1861-06-06)June 6, 1861
Greenville, Georgia, CSA
Died November 17, 1912(1912-11-17) (aged 51)
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Political party Democratic

Joseph Meriwether Terrell (June 6, 1861 – November 17, 1912) was a United States Senator and the 57th Governor of Georgia.


Born in Greenville, he was the son of Dr. Joel Edgar Green and Sarah Rebecca (Anthony) Terrell.[1] He attended the common schools, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1882, commencing practice in Greenville.

On October 19, 1886, he married Jessie Lee Spivey. They had no children.[1]

Terrell was a self-declared "uncompromising friend of common school education."[2]

Terrell was of entirely English ancestry and is of partial Norman descent.[3] He was a fourth generation great-grandson of William and Susannah (Waters) Terrell.[1] As a result, he was distantly related to presidents Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter.[4]


Terrell was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives from 1884 to 1887, and a member of the Georgia Senate in 1890. He served as state attorney general from 1892 to 1902, and Governor of Georgia from 1902 to 1907, marred by the Atlanta race riot of 1906.[5] He resumed the practice of law in Atlanta, and was appointed to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Alexander S. Clay, serving from November 17, 1910 to July 14, 1911, when he resigned. Terrell suffered a stroke in February 1911.

Death and Legacy[edit]

He again resumed the practice of law in Atlanta although in poor health and died there from Bright's Disease on November 17, 1912. He was survived by his wife.[2]

Interment was in the City Cemetery, Greenville.

The Liberty ship Joseph M. Terrell was named for him.[6] Terrell Hall, on the campus of Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, was also named for him.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Dicken, Emma. Terrell Genealogy. San Antonio, Texas: The Naylor Company. pp. 159–160. He was a member of the Georgia Legislature 1884- 1890; Attorney General of Georgia 1892-1902; governor of Georgia 1902-1907; a U. S. Senator in the 61st Congress. 
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Further Genealogical Notes on the Tyrrell-Terrell Family of Virginia and Its English and Norman-French Progenitors page 40
  4. ^ Reitwiesner, William Addams. "Ancestry of Barack Obama". William Addams Reitwiesner Genealogical Services. Washington, DC. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Georgia National Guard correspondence regarding the Atlanta Race Riot". Incoming Correspondence, Adjutant General, Defense, RG 22-1-17, Georgia Archives. Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 19 June 2016. 
  6. ^ "Photograph of the Liberty ship Joseph M. Terrell at the docks of J.A. Jones Construction Company shipyard, Brunswick, Georgia, 1944". Vanishing Georgia. Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 19 June 2016. 
  7. ^ "Terrell Hall (Milledgeville, Ga.)". Vanishing Georgia. Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 19 June 2016. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Allen D. Candler
Governor of Georgia
Succeeded by
Hoke Smith
United States Senate
Preceded by
Alexander S. Clay
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Georgia
Succeeded by
Hoke Smith