A native of Warsaw, Georgia (located in what is now northern Fulton County) born to Atlanta pioneer Clark Howell, Sr., he became a runner and pupil of Atlanta's first telegraph operator, D.U. Sloan, at the age of twelve. In 1855 he attended Georgia Military Institute in Marietta. He read law in Sandersville, and briefly practiced law in Atlanta before the outbreak of war.
In May 1862, he joined the infantry, enlisting in Georgia's First Regiment. Within 2 years, Howell was promoted to first lieutenant. He fought under Stonewall Jackson in Virginia, and then was sent West, where he fought in the Battle of Chickamauga and the Atlanta Campaign where he defended the city as a captain of artillery. He ended the war in Hardee's Corps as captain of Howell's Battery, Georgia Light Artillery.
Upon his return, he farmed for two years clearing and selling lumber on his father's land near Atlanta. Then for a year he was a reporter then city editor of Atlanta's Daily Intelligencer. In 1869 he returned to practicing law and served a number of political positions including member of city council, member of the state Senate and solicotor-general of the Atlanta circuit. One of his law clients was the Constitution where he learned E.Y. Clarke was willing to sell part of his interest in the paper. In 1876 he purchased a controlling interest in the Atlanta Constitution and became its editor-in-chief.
With Richard Peters, Samuel Inman, Lemuel Grant, and James W. English, he purchased the buildings on the site of the International Cotton Exposition of 1881 and made it the Exposition Cotton Mill, which was successful for many years.
While editor of the Constitution in 1895, he sent out transcripts of Booker T. Washington's separate as the fingers speech across the country.
He served on the Atlanta city council numerous times and served as mayor shortly before his death at age 66. His son, Clark Howell took up his mantel at the Constitution.
- Franklin Garrett Necrology Database - Atlanta History Center
- Nixon, Raymond B., Henry W. Grady: Spokesman of the New South, Knopf, 1943, p.128
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|width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Livingston Mims |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Mayor of Atlanta
January,1903 – January, 1905 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
James G. Woodward |- |}
Template:Mayors of Atlanta