The State History of Georgia: Facts & Timeline

Instructor: Robert Hickson

Stephen is currently working on my doctorate. He has his ED.S in Curriculum and Instruction.

Explore the history of the nation's 13th original colony, Georgia, from its inception as a second chance colony to its current role as the gateway to the South.

James Oglethorpe petitioned King George II to create the Charter of 1732, which created the 13th colony of Georgia as a trustee colony, governed by a group of men living in England who were to be trustees. These men's efforts were to be humanitarian, so they were not permitted to hold office, own land, or profit from business in the colony.

James Oglethorpe
James Oglethorpe is considered to be the Father of the colony of Georgia

The colony was created for three purposes:

  1. Charity- Assist the worthy poor and offer a second chance society
  2. Economics- Supplement England's economy by providing wine and silk for trade
  3. Defense- Serve as a buffer colony to protect England's other colonies from invasion by the Spanish

The Trustee Period

The trustee period was very difficult, and these hardships were intensified by the restrictions placed upon the colonists, such as no slaves, no rum, and strict land ownership laws. These laws were placed on the colonists by the trustees in an attempt to assist the debtors in their new life. The motto for this time period was Non sibi sed aliis - not for self but for others.

Eventually the trustee period (1732-1752) ended when the charter of the colony was given back to the King and Georgia became a royal colony (1752-1776). The royal colony time period saw many of the strict moral and land policies removed. There were three royal governors to rule over Georgia during this time: John Reynolds (1754-1757), Henry Ellis (1757-1760), and James Wright (1760-1776). This time ended when Georgia joined the other twelve colonies and signed the Declaration of Independence (signed by: Lyman Hall, George Walton, and Button Gwinnett).

Early Statehood and the Trail of Tears

At the conclusion of the war, Georgia would send two delegates- Abraham Baldwin and William Few Jr- to sign the U.S. Constitution. High drama ensued during this time when several Georgia legislatures were caught accepting bribes during the Yazoo Land Fraud.

During the 1830s, gold was discovered in Dahlonega, Georgia, which led to increased hostilities between the Cherokee people and the people of Georgia. Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the Cherokee people were a sovereign nation and not subject to state laws. Georgia and the U.S. responded with the forced removal of the Cherokee people that has come to be known as the Trail of Tears. This removal was preceded by the Treaty of Indian Springs in which the Creek were forced to cede their land.

The Civil War and Reconstruction

Georgia eventually became the fifth state to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy. Alexander Stephens, from Georgia, was chosen to be the Vice President of the Confederacy.

As the war progressed, Georgia incurred a great deal of damage and destruction, particularly at the hands of William Tecumseh Sherman. His implementation of Total War on the state left Georgia physically destroyed and devastated.

During Reconstruction, the fifteenth amendment was ratified, allowing African Americans the right to vote. This new law led to Georgia electing the first African American representatives in the state House and Senate. Among the new delegates were Henry McNeal Turner, Tunis Campbell, and Aaron Bradley.

The term Ku Klux Klan also gained currency in 1868 to describe what the Republicans considered to be the terrorist wing of the Democratic Party: night riders who acted to suppress Republicans of all races and origins.

These issues resulted in Georgia being placed under military rule, governed by a Union General, for the third time during Reconstruction.

The New South and America's Entry into World Wars

While Georgia's economy began to improve, it was a time full of racial hostilities. Two events illustrated this racial tension.

In 1906, local newspapers wrote several stories referencing African American violence against whites. These stories were never verified. However, the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906 occurred as a result. At the end of two days of rioting, at least 18 African Americans and 2 white men were dead.

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