George Campbell Childress, lawyer, statesman, and author of the Texas Declaration of Independence, son of John Campbell and Elizabeth (Robertson) Childress, was born on January 8, 1804, at Nashville, Tennessee. In 1826 he graduated from Davidson Academy (later the University of Nashville). He was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1828 and married Margaret Vance on June 12 of that year. Their son was born in March 1835, and Margaret Childress died a few months later. Childress practiced law and for a brief period (September 1834-November 1835) edited the Nashville Banner and Nashville Advertiser. In December 1834 he made his first trip to Texas, where his uncle, Sterling C. Robertson, was organizing Robertson's colony.
After spending some time raising money and volunteers in Tennessee for the Texas army, Childress left permanently for Texas. He arrived at the Red River on December 13, 1835, and reached Robertson's colony on January 9, 1836. The following February he and his uncle were elected to represent Milam Municipality at the Convention of 1836. Childress called the convention to order and subsequently introduced a resolution authorizing a committee of five members to draft a declaration of independence. Upon adoption of the resolution, he was named chairman of the committee and is almost universally acknowledged as the primary author of the document.
On March 19 President David G. Burnet sent Robert Hamilton and Childress, whose family was on friendly terms with President Andrew Jackson, to Washington as diplomatic agents for the Republic of Texas. They were instructed to negotiate for recognition of the republic. In late May 1836 their mission was terminated when they were replaced by James Collinsworth and Peter W. Grayson.
On December 12, 1836, Childress married Rebecca Stuart Read Jennings; they had two daughters. Childress returned to Texas three times—in 1837, 1839, and 1841—to open law offices, first in Houston, then Galveston. Each time he was unsuccessful in establishing a practice that would support his family. On October 6, 1841, while living in Galveston, he slashed his abdomen with a Bowie knife and died soon thereafter. On August 21, 1876, Childress County was formed and named in his honor.
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Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Founders and Patriots of the Republic of Texas (Austin, 1963-). Cornelia Hood, The Life and Career of George Campbell Childress (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1938). Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence (Salado, Texas: Anson Jones, 1944; rpt. 1959). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Joe E. Ericson,
“Childress, George Campbell,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 25, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
August 11, 2020