Andrew Jackson Harris, soldier, education promoter, lawyer, and politician, was born in Talbot County, Georgia, on January 27, 1839, the son of Thomas and Lydia (Jones) Harris. His family moved to Mississippi in 1845, and he graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1861. He then raised Company I, Twenty-seventh Mississippi Infantry, for the Confederate Army and commanded it at Pensacola and Mobile and in Tennessee and Kentucky. He resigned from the service in 1863 because of poor health but was able to return to the army, this time as a private in the Fourth Mississippi Cavalry, by the fall of 1863. By the spring of 1864 he had left the army again but returned once more in August of that year to serve in Duff's regiment for three months.
Harris moved to Texas in January of 1865 and taught at Waco University for a month, then at Salado College from February 1865 to July 1867. He studied law in Belton but was persuaded to put off his law plans for a time in order to open a school there. After teaching in Belton for two years, he finished his law studies in 1869–70 and then went back to teaching, this time in Salado. He was elected county superintendent of public schools in 1873 and served in that office until 1875. In 1877 he entered into a law partnership with Xenophon B. Saunders in Belton. Harris was elected in 1881 to the Seventeenth Legislature as the senator for Bell, Falls, and Milam counties and was reelected to the Eighteenth Legislature. He was nominated for the State Supreme Court in 1886 but was defeated in a disputed election by Reuben R. Gaines.
When Baylor Female College sought to move from Independence to a new location in 1886, Harris was instrumental in bringing the institution to Belton (see UNIVERSITY OF MARY HARDIN-BAYLOR). He served as chairman of the site committee and the building committee, acted as attorney for the college for some years, and was a member of the board of trustees until his death. He married Olivia Suggs of Mississippi in 1866; they had six children. Harris was a member of the Missionary Baptist Church and was active in Confederate veterans' organizations. He died of pneumonia on January 11, 1910, and was buried in North Belton Cemetery.