Return to First Page ARKANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY, Volume 26(Spring 1967), p. 12
The individual who was to play such a dominant role in Arkansas political history for over a decade and a half did not come to Arkansas as a novice in politics. Yell had been quite concerned with and involved in the political life of his native Tennessee, and he was to use that experience in establishing himself as a leading figure in Arkansas public affairs. Yell's strict adherence to the basic tenets of Jacksonian democracy throughout his political career reveals the influence of his early life in the frontier state of Tennessee.
Although the exact date and birthplace of Archibald Yell remain a mystery, he was probably born around 1799 in Jefferson County, Tennessee (2). He later accompanied his family when they moved to Shelbyville in Bedford County. Very little is known about this period of Yell's childhood and early years. However, after the outbreak of the second war with Great Britain, he enlisted with the Tennessee Volunteers in September 1814, and served in Captain John Hutching's Company, the Second Regiment of the Tennessee Mounted Volunteer Gunmen, managing to obtain the rank of sergeant (3). He fought under General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, where he distinguished himself for bravery (4). In April 1815 he was discharged and returned to Shelbyville.
(2) Yell's birthplace is widely disagreed upon. The biographical sketches in Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography... (20 vols., Washington, 1928-1937), XX, 607-608 and John Hallum, Biographical and Pictorial History of Arkansas (Albany, 1887), 111-115, as well as Yell's grave marker, list his birthplace as North Carolina. His obituary in the Little Rock (Arkansas) Banner, April 21, 1847, names Kentucky as the state in which he was born. However, Yell himself claimed to be born in Jefferson County, Tennessee, in the Gazette, July 5, 1836, and in a letter accepting a federal appointment in Clarence Edwin Carter, ed., The Territorial Papers of the United States (Washington, 1954), XXI, 1025. The latter location seems most plausible, since a Moses Yell is listed in Pollyanna Creekmore, "Early East Tennessee Taxpayers," East Tennessee Historical Society's Publications, No. 28 (1956), as being a taxpayer in 1800, one year after Yell's birth.
(3) Manuscript of the complied military service record of Archibald Yell, National Archives.
(4) Hallum, Biographical and Pictorial History, 111; Banner, April 21, 1947.