Alexander Terrell's career placed him at the center of some of
the most pivotal events in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century
history, ranging from the Civil War to Emperor Maximilian's reign
over Mexico and an Armenian genocide under the Ottoman Empire.
Alexander Watkins Terrell at last provides the first
complete biographical portrait of this complex figure.
Born in Virginia in 1827, Terrell moved to Texas in 1852, rising
to the rank of Confederate brigadier general when the Civil War
erupted. Afterwards, he briefly served in Maximilian's army before
returning to Texas, where he was elected to four terms in the state
Senate and three terms in the House. President Grover Cleveland
appointed him minister to the Ottoman Empire, dispatching him to
Turkey and the Middle East for four years while the issues
surrounding the existence of Christians in a Muslim empire stoked
violent confrontations there. His other accomplishments included
writing legislation that created the Texas Railroad Commission and
what became the Permanent University Fund (the cornerstone of the
University of Texas's multibillion-dollar endowment).
In this balanced exploration of Terrell's life, Gould also
examines Terrell's views on race, the impact of the charges of
cowardice in the Civil War that dogged him, and his spiritual
searching beyond the established religions of his time. In his rich
and varied life, Alexander Watkins Terrell experienced aspects of
nineteenth-century Texas and American history whose effects have
continued down to the present day.
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