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Yell, Archibald

Born: 1797-08-09 Tennessee

Died: 1847-02-23 Buena Vista, Mexico

Flourished: Arkansas

Archibald Yell was an attorney, army officer, U.S. representative, and governor of Arkansas. Though his gravestone reads that he was born in North Carolina, Yell was actually born in Tennessee. He moved with his parents and siblings throughout Tennessee, finally settling in Bedford County in late 1810 or early 1811. In 1813 and 1814, he participated in the Creek War, and during the War of 1812, he served under General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. In 1818, he joined General Jackson during the First Seminole War. Like his fellow Tennesseans Jackson and James K. Polk, Yell gravitated to the legal profession, reading law and earning admission to the Tennessee bar. He commenced practicing law in Fayetteville, Tennessee. In 1821, Yell married Mary Scott, who died in January 1823 after giving birth to twin daughters. In 1825, he married a second time to Ann (Nancy) Moore Jordan, with whom he had four children. In 1827, Yell moved into politics, winning election as a Jacksonian Republican to the Tennessee General Assembly. Yell also became prominent in the Masonic movement in Tennessee, helping to revive the society in Tennessee after the anti-masonic movement collapsed in the late 1820s and early 1830s. In 1832, President Jackson appointed Yell judge of the Arkansas Territory, and Yell moved his family to Fayetteville, Arkansas. He remained on the judge's bench until 1835, when he won election as a Jacksonian Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives. Two years later, Arkansas voters returned him to the House as a Democrat; he remained in the House from August 1836 to March 1839. In 1840, Arkansas voters elected Yell as governor of the state, a position he held until his resignation in April 1844. He won election back to the U.S. House, serving from March 1845 to July 1846, when he resigned to volunteer for service in the Mexican War. Yell became colonel of the First Regiment, Arkansas Volunteer Cavalry. He died in action at the Battle of Buena Vista.

William W. Hughes, Archibald Yell (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1988), 17, 20-25, 26, 27, 29, 165; Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996(Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1996), 2100; Gravestone, Evergreen Cemetery, Fayetteville, AR.