He was known as Georgia’s education governor, though he never attended college himself.
Joseph Terrell was born in Meriwether County in 1861 and became a lawyer by studying with a Greenville, Ga., attorney. At 23, he won a seat in the Georgia House and was in the Georgia Senate before he turned 30. Terrell supported funding the Georgia State Industrial College for Colored Youth, which became Savannah State University, and using property taxes to fund public schools.
From the legislature, Terrell moved on to serve five terms as Georgia’s attorney general. He represented the state in several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and notably won them all. Terrell was elected governor in 1902. His two terms — marked by election, tax, and education reforms — reflected national concerns during the Progressive Era.
The man whose creation of 11 agricultural and mechanical schools laid the foundation for Georgia’s public high schools in the 20th century was born on June 6, 1861, Today in Georgia History.