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Archibald Yell: Wikis


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Archibald Yell

In office
1840 – 1844
Preceded by James S. Conway
Succeeded by Samuel Adams

Born August 9, 1797(1797-08-09)
North Carolina
Died February 23, 1847 (aged 49)
Buena Vista, Mexico
Political party Democratic

Archibald Yell (August 9, 1797 – February 23, 1847) was a member of the United States House of Representatives, second Governor of the State of Arkansas, and a Brigadier General in the United States Army serving in the Mexican-American War.


Early life

Archibald Yell was born in North Carolina, but moved to Tennessee with his parents, as a child. They first settled in Jefferson County, Tennessee, later moving to Rutherford County and finally to Bedford County.

As a youth, Yell participated in the Creek War in 1813 and early 1814 under future President Andrew Jackson, who became a special friend of Yell's. In 1814 and 1815, he served with Jackson in Louisiana during the War of 1812 and participated in the Battle of New Orleans.

Yell returned to Tennessee and was admitted to the bar in Fayetteville, Tennessee. In 1818 he joined Jackson's army during the First Seminole War in Florida.

Marriages and children

It was in Bedford County that he met and married his first wife, Mary Scott, in 1821. She had one daughter, also named Mary (born January 5, 1823) and died in childbirth on that day. Within a few years, he had married Nancy Moore of Danville, Kentucky, and they would have four more children, before her death. He then married the widow Mariah (McIlvaine) Ficklin, but they had no children.

Political career

Yell became a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives and received several Federal appointments during the Jackson administration. He was appointed to head the Federal land office in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1831. Yell was offered the governorship of the territory of Florida in 1832 but declined. In 1835 he received an appointment as an Arkansas territorial judge. He is reported to have single-handedly retrieved a criminal from a local saloon and physically brought him to his court.

He was a strong supporter and personal friend of President James K. Polk. Just prior to taking office in 1835, Polk sent Yell to Texas to advocate for its annexation to the Union. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1836 when statehood was granted to Arkansas and served until 1839. While in Washington, he was a strong supporter of Texas statehood and favored a stronger military.

It was around this time that Yell formed the first Masonic lodge in Arkansas at Fayetteville, Arkansas.

In 1840 Yell was elected Governor of Arkansas and focused on internal improvements and better control of banks. He was also a supporter of public education. In 1844 Yell resigned his post as governor to run again for Congress. Yell is reported to have been the consummate campaigner. At one stop during the campaign he is reported to have won a shooting match, donated the meat to the poor, and bought a jug of whiskey for the crowd.

Death and burial

Soon after taking his seat in Congress, the Mexican-American War broke out and Yell returned to Arkansas and formed the 1st Arkansas Volunteer Cavalry. Yell's cavalry compiled a record of insubordination. On February 23, 1847 Yell fell in combat at the Battle of Buena Vista. Several other famous Arkansans served under Yell in Mexico including future governor John Selden Roane, and future Confederate Generals Albert Pike, Solon Borland, and James Fleming Fagan.

Yell was originally buried on the field where he fell at Buena Vista. His body was soon removed and returned to Arkansas for burial at Waxhaws Cemetery in Fayetteville. When Evergreen Cemetery (Fayetteville, AR) was established his body was moved permanently to the Masonic section of that cemetery.


Yell County, Arkansas, and the town of Yellville, Arkansas, are both named for Archibald Yell. During the American Civil War, a Confederate unit named after Yell was formed in Helena, Arkansas, and known as the "Yell Rifles." Yell's nephew, James Yell, became a Major General of the Arkansas state militia during the Civil War.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
James Sevier Conway
Governor of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Samuel Adams


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