Federal Army in Control.
After the devastating
experience of the last year of the war, with three-fourths of its wealth
destroyed, its slaves made free, one-fourth of its railroads torn up and a
debt of twenty million dollars pressing upon its impoverished and almost
ruined people, the State of Georgia entered in 1865 upon the dark and
distressing era of reconstruction.
Governor Brown had been
arrested, although he had been given his parole, and had been taken to
Washington City and put in prison. Complaining to the President of this
treatment, he was set at liberty within a week. When he returned to
Georgia he found the state under the control of the Federal army, with a
Federal officer in charge of every city. Thereupon Governor Brown resigned
his office, advising the people to make the best of the situation, to
agree to the Thirteenth Amendment to the constitution abolishing slavery,
and to support the general government in their plans to reconstruct the
The Federal army was in
undisputed control of the state for about two months, during which there
was no governor or any semblance of executive authority. The generals in
charge were exemplary officers, however, and did many acts of kindness.
Soldiers returning to their homes and destitute people generally were fed
from their commissaries. Horses and mules that had been surrendered by the
Confederate authorities, and even stock that had been left in the state by
the Federal army under General Sherman, were turned over to the farmers,
who were in sore need of help for the plowing. The officers and soldiers
of the Federal army were as considerate and generous as could be expected.
In January, 1865, James
Johnson, of Columbus, was appointed by President Andrew Johnson
provisional governor of Georgia. It was the purpose of this provisional
appointment to secure at once the necessary steps to reorganize the state
on the terms demanded by Congress for the reentry of the state into the
Union. Accordingly, in July, Governor Johnson went to Milledgeville and
assumed the duties of his office. He at once issued a proclamation calling
for a state convention to meet in October. Every man who had been a
Confederate soldier, or who had served in the war in any capacity, was
required to take the oath of allegiance to the government before he could
vote. Those who had held office before the war and afterwards served as
Confederate soldiers were not allowed to vote. All who took no part in the
war were allowed to vote. Many leading men were thus disqualified, but the
great body of citizens voted.
The convention met in
Milledgeville in October. The first thing done was to repeal the ordinance
of secession. Then slavery was declared abolished in the state of Georgia,
a new constitution of the state was adopted and the war debt was
repudiated. It is to the credit of this convention, bare as it was of the
leaders of the state, that it was very unwilling to refuse the payment of
the war debt. Upon that issue there was grave dispute and a long
hesitance, though it had been made a condition of reconstruction. Governor
Johnson telegraphed the situation to the President of the United States.
The answer came back that without the repudiation of the war debt Georgia
would not be admitted to the Union. This settled the matter.
Before the convention
adjourned it ordered an election for Governor and for members of the
legislature and of Congress, to be held in November, 1865. At this
election Charles J. Jenkins, of Richmond county was chosen governor
without opposition. He was one of the remarkable men of that day. Born in
South Carolina in 1805, he had moved to Georgia with his parents when he
was eleven years old. He had graduated at the State University, was
attorney-general of the state in 1831, and had been repeatedly in the
legislature. He was the author of the famous "Georgia Platform" adopted by
the Convention of 1850. He had declined to become a member of the cabinet
of Millard Fillmore, and just before the war was appointed to the Supreme
Court of the state. He was now called to the high duty of governor at a
most trying epoch in the history of Georgia.
Organized - Not Recognized by Congress.
In December, 1865, the
legislature met according to law, and on the 14th Jenkins was inaugurated
governor, President Johnson having telegraphed his consent to this action.
The Thirteenth amendment to the constitution was ratified. Alexander H.
Stephens and Herschel V. Johnson were elected United States senators.
It now appeared that the
troubles of Georgia were at an end and that the storm-tossed and
distressed state would find an anchor within the Union. Those hopes were
dispelled by the unhappy dissensions between President Johnson and
Congress. The President had followed the milder measures of Lincoln, and
was pursuing the course of reconstruction outlined by his great
predecessor. To him, as to Lincoln, the states had never been out of the
Union, therefore they could not become territories. They were merely
rebellious members. When the war closed the Union was still undivided, in
his opinion, and the states constituting it were intact, therefore there
was little to be done except to repeal the Ordinances of Secession and the
country would go on as usual. Not so with Congress. The Southern states
had rebelled, and they should be made to feel bitterness and humiliation
for their conduct. Hence the conflict of the President and Congress, out
of which grew the measures of reconstruction and the impeachment and trial
of the President.
The state organization was
recognized by the President, but Congress refused to seat the senators and
representatives chosen, and the Federal army still held control of the
state. This was the period when the "carpet baggers" made their
appearance. They followed the Northern army into the South bent on
deluding the negro, swindling him out of what little he had and, if
possible, foisting themselves into office. They were mere adventurers who
were repudiated in their own communities and came South seeking new fields
for the display of their cunning.
The Freedman's Bureau, a
good thing in itself and authorized by Congress for the protection of the
freed slaves, was the occasion of the carpet bagger invasion. The poor,
deluded and bewildered negroes, wild in the ecstacy of their freedom and
ignorant of the wiles of designing enemies in the guise of friends, fell
an easy prey to their seductions. It was not hard to deceive them with the
cry of "forty acres and a mule." They readily believed that they deserved
a recompense, substantial and immediate, for the unpaid years of their
slavery, and whatever they could find they had a right to appropriate.
Out of this condition grew
the Ku Klux Klan, which was an organization demanded by the rude times to
preserve order, intimidate the negroes and prevent the dissolution of the
labor system upon which the regeneration of the South depended. Much has
been written of the atrocities of this organization, but one need only
consider the menace of several millions of negroes no longer compelled to
labor, long unused to self-control, inflamed by ruthless men against their
former masters, and muttering unheard of threats against those they once
held in reverence, to realize that some preventive measures were
imperative to protect a defenseless society against the incursions of that
part of the negro population that had abandoned itself to its primitive
barbarity. Happily the condition lasted but a few years. Error was
committed on both sides, but out of a semi-lawless condition there soon
arose an adjustment of relations that made for the peace and good will of
When the Fourteenth
amendment was proposed, the legislature of Georgia refused to ratify it.
The argument was that if the state was a territory it had no right to vote
on it. If it was a state it was entitled to have its senators and
representatives in Congress, to discuss a measure proposed for general
adoption. This provoked another crisis with Congress. Ex-Governor Brown
advised the people to accept the demands of Congress since, in the end,
they would be compelled to do so. This advice cast him in the shadow of a
great unpopularity, from which it took years for him to emerge. Governor
Jenkins and Benjamin H. Hill threw their great weight against the measures
of Congress, and advised the state to stand firm in its refusal.
Military Rule - Second
In March, 1867, the tide of
events brought Georgia again under military control, with Alabama and
Florida in the Third Military District, Gen. John Pope in command. An
election for another constitutional convention took place in July. There
were as many negroes as whites allowed in the registration lists, there
being 95,973 negroes out of 192,235 registered voters. In the election for
delegates, the best men of the state were passed by. Out of 166 delegates,
thirty-three were negroes. In December, 1867, the convention met in
Milledgeville, and remained in session over three months. A constitution
was framed and ordered submitted to the people in April, and members of
Congress were to be chosen.
At the same election the
question of removal of the state capital was submitted. The growing city
of Atlanta, that was rising rapidly from the ashes of war, clamored for
the honor. It was the note of progress sounding in the state. Atlanta
offered an executive mansion, a building for the legislature and a site
for a new capitol.
When the convention
adjourned it needed money to pay its expenses. A demand was made upon the
treasurer for forty thousand dollars, which he refused to pay except upon
a warrant from the governor. General Meade, the military officer in
control of the state, wrote to Governor Jenkins and asked him for the
warrant. This Jenkins refused to issue, whereupon he was removed from
office by General Meade, and Gen. Thomas. H. Ruger, of the United States
Army, was "detailed for duty" as governor of Georgia, and Capt. Chas. F.
Rockwell as treasurer.
Governor Jenkins at once
left the state, taking with him four hundred thousand dollars of money
from the treasury and the great seal of the state. The money he deposited
in a bank in New York City to the credit of the State of Georgia. The seal
he carried with him to Nova Scotia, where he went with his family to
reside. When he returned to Georgia, several years later, he returned the
money and the seal, saying: "I derive great satisfaction from the
reflection that it has never been desecrated by the grasp of a military
usurper's hand." The legislature ordered a gold facsimile of the seal made
and presented to him with the motto: "In arduis fidelis."
State Government Again
Rufus B. Bullock, the
Republican candidate, was elected governor, in 1868, over Gen. John B.
Gordon. The constitution was ratified and Atlanta was selected as the
state capital. Twenty-eight negroes were elected to the legislature, which
met in July. This legislature, having ratified the Fourteenth amendment to
the constitution and done everything else required by Congress, was
allowed to inaugurate Bullock as governor of the state, and the military
authorities withdrew in his favor.
Trouble With Congress -
Georgia Finally Readmitted into the Union.
In September, however, the
legislature expelled the negro members on the ground that they had no
right to hold office under the existing constitution. Congress, in
retaliation of this act and considering it a violation of their own
reconstruction measures, promptly refused to seat the members from Georgia
in that body. The Supreme Court held that negroes were entitled to hold
office. Governor Bullock was directed to reconvene the legislature,
including the expelled negroes, and require that body to ratify the
Fifteenth amendment to the constitution, or else Georgia should not be
represented in the national councils.
The legislature therefore
met in January, 1870, and amid great excitement attempted to organize.
Much noise and tumult prevailed and many efforts at adjournment were made.
Finally both houses were organized, the negroes were allowed to keep their
seats, and the Fifteenth amendment was ratified.
This turbulence attracted
the attention of Congress, which passed an order directing the judiciary
committee to look into the situation in Georgia, in order peaceably and
promptly to reconstruct that state. Wise counsels prevailed at last. The
committee reported the conduct of the convention and the legislature to be
"improper, illegal and arbitrary proceedings." Congress ordered a new and
fair election. Shortly afterward a bill was passed admitting Georgia to
the Union. It was signed by President U. S. Grant in July, 1870. In
January, 1871, the senators and members of Congress from Georgia were
admitted to their seats in Congress. The work of reconstruction of the
seceding states was at length complete. The union of states was again
established. Georgia was the last to be readmitted, and with her accession
ended the trying era of reconstruction, that was so full of prejudice
against the Southern states and of unhappiness for the people.
The era of peace begins
with the resignation of Governor Bullock in October, 1871, and the
assumption of his duties by Benjamin Conley, the president of the Senate.
An election for governor was held in December, at which James M. Smith was
elected without opposition.
The sudden and unexplained
retirement of Governor Bullock led to an examination of his office by a
committee of the legislature, who soon reported that bonds to the extent
of several million dollars had been fraudulently issued during his
administration. Those bonds were promptly declared void and have never
been paid by the state. Charges were preferred against Governor Bullock
and a warrant issued for his arrest. An officer sought for him in New York
in vain. After a few years he submitted to arrest, was tried and acquitted
on account of insufficient proof to convict.
The constitution of 1868
had directed the legislature to provide for a system of common schools for
the state. An act for this purpose had been passed in 1872, and Governor
Bullock had appointed Gen. J. R. Lewis as State School Commissioner. A new
law was passed in 1872 perfecting the system, one-half the rental of the
Western and Atlantic Railroad was added to the school fund, and Governor
Smith appointed Gustavus J. Orr as State School Commissioner. From this
beginning has grown, in successive years, a great school system, the
bulwark and pride of the state.
In addition to this educational movement, the North Georgia Agricultural
College at Dahlonega was opened in January, 1873, as one of the branch
colleges of the University. The old mint of the United States Government
and ten acres of land had been donated for this educational purpose. This
college is still one of several branch colleges that are located in
different parts of the state, the purpose of which is to supply an
elementary collegiate instruction leading up to higher courses in the
greater parent institution.
Furthermore, about the same
time, the donation of certain public lands by Congress to the state and
territories for the promotion of agricultural and mechanic arts, was
engaging the attention of Georgia. The share allotted to this state was
accepted by the legislature, and the interest arising from the sale of the
lands was turned over to the trustees of the University to carry out the
purposes of the act. This was the beginning in Georgia of the School of
Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, as a part of the University, and one of the
many departments of that great system of higher education.
Thus it is clear that the
thought of the state at the beginning of the new era was wisely placed in
the education of its sons and daughters in schools of all degrees and
Alfred H. Colquitt was
elected governor in 1876 over Jonathan Norcross, the Republican candidate,
by a majority of eighty thousand votes, the largest ever known in the
state. In the same year the vote of Georgia was given overwhelmingly for
Tilden and Hendricks, the Democratic candidates in the national election.
Benjamin H. Hill, the great orator and statesman, was chosen United States
senator for a term of six years.
A new constitution now engaged the thought of the people. The constitution
of 1868 was considered a Republican measure and was not satisfactory. A
convention to revise it was called by the legislature, which convention
met in Atlanta in July, 1877. Several important changes were made in the
constitution. The term of office of the governor was reduced from four
years to two years. The system of appointing judges and solicitors of the
superior court was changed from appointment by the governor to election by
the legislature. This has subsequently been changed to election by the
people. The sessions of the legislature were made biennial instead of
annual, though this also was subsequently restored by amendment to an
annual session limited to fifty days. The regulation of freight and
passenger rates was put under control of the legislature. The payment of
the fraudulent bonds was prohibited. A complete system of common schools
was established, and other wise and important provisions were made for the
This instrument is still
known as the "Constitution of 1877," and with the amendments that have
been made since its adoption by the people in December of that year, is
the constitution under which the state affairs are now administered. So
thoroughly were the finances of the state guarded by the constitution that
Robert Toombs, one of the leading spirits of the convention, declared they
"had locked the doors of the treasury and thrown away the key."
The spirit of investigation
and reform which had seized upon the people manifested itself in the
legislature of 1878. A demand was made for a sweeping inquiry into all the
departments of the state government. Committees were appointed to examine
the offices of the secretary of state, comptroller-general, state school
commissioner, public printer, and into the affairs of the penitentiary.
All the committees reported favorably regarding their investigation,
except those who investigated the comptroller-general and the treasurer.
Here certain abuses were discovered which soon brought those two officers
before the Senate on articles of impeachment presented by the House. The
comptroller was charged with receiving and using money illegally, making
false returns and altering the records of his office. He was convicted,
removed from office, and disqualified from holding any public office
during his life. The treasurer was acquitted of the charges brought
The most exciting political
contest that had occurred up to this time was the memorable
ColquittNorwood campaign of 1880. The nominating convention had sat in
Atlanta for six hot and strenuous weeks, unable, by the rule requiring
two-thirds majority, to agree upon a candidate. Ballot after ballot was
taken, appeal after appeal was made for harmony. Alfred H. Colquitt had a
majority, but not two-thirds of the delegates. His adherents remained
steadfast. The minority was unshaken. After thirty ballots were taken and
a nomination appeared hopeless, the convention appealed to the people and
adjourned. The bare majority put Colquitt in the field. The minority put
Thomas M. Norwood, of Savannah, in the field.
The contest that followed
was memorable. Every act of Governor Colquitt's official life was
discussed. He was assailed for appointing Joseph E. Brown to the United
States Senate, which had been done upon the resignation of General Gordon
in May. Brown was still unpopular for the attitude he had assumed after
the war, and for his prosecution of certain citizens of Columbus for the
killing of a Republican. In the election in October, Governor Colquitt won
by a large majority, and Brown was returned by the legislature as a member
of the senate.
Growth and Progress.
The census of that year
showed the population of the state to be 1,542,180, being an increase in
ten years of over 350,000. Under this census Georgia was entitled to ten
representatives in Congress. The governor's message showed the industries
of the state to be in a satisfactory condition, the credit good, the
public debt reduced, the tax on railroad property collected and several
thousand dollars added to the state revenue.
To show the progress of the
state, the year 1881 signalized the first of several great expositions
that have been held in Georgia. The International Cotton Exposition opened
its doors in Atlanta in October, and the world was invited in to see what
the cotton states had done in the fifteen years since the ,war closed. All
the states were represented in exhibits that covered twenty acres in
beautiful houses designed for the purpose. It was a notable gathering of
people from all parts of the country, to vie in the arts of peace and to
exhibit the fraternal goodwill as well as the products of field and
Benjamin H. Hill, the
senior senator from Georgia whose eloquent voice had so long charmed and
convinced his hearers, passed off the stage of life in August, 1882. He
was buried with distinguished honors and mourned by the people as one of
their most distinguished statesmen. In October, 1882, Alexander H.
Stephens, now past seventy years of age, was called to the position of
governor. His life had been active in the discharge of high political
duties. He was one of the great men in the crucial era of war. He had long
battled against bodily infirmity, and finally succumbed to advancing years
and enfeebled strength. He died in office March 4, 1883. At his death
James S. Boynton, president of the Senate, became governor until the
election was held, which resulted in the choice of Henry D. McDaniel.
The state now rises to the
question of a new capitol building. In 1883 a million dollars was
appropriated for the purpose, and a site was chosen upon an elevated place
in the capital city. The material of the building was limestone, with
Georgia granite for the foundation and marble for the interior. It was not
completed until 1889, but when turned over to the state there were a few
dollars of the original appropriation still unexpended. It is said to be
one of the few capitol buildings in the world whose cost did not exceed
the original amount set aside for its construction.
In 1885 the legislature
passed an act establishing the Georgia School of Technology as a branch of
the University. The sum of $65,000 was appropriated for building and
equipping the school. This splendid institution, which is located in
Atlanta, has steadily grown under increased appropriations and an
energetic administration, until it has acquired a national reputation for
excellence. Many hundreds of the young men of the state acquire technical
knowledge of the industries, and, fully prepared for great things, enter
upon the noble task of building up a wealthy and prosperous state.
In October, 1886, the
beloved soldier, Gen. John B. Gordon, was chosen to be governor of the
state. His military record in the war which was so splendid that few
soldiers surpassed him, his statesmanlike conduct in the Senate of the
United States, his gallantry and high character, endeared him to the
people. As long as he lived he was the idol of the old soldiers and the
beloved hero of the war. After his death a bronze monument upon the
capitol grounds in Atlanta attested the affectionate regard of the people
he had served in war and in peace.
At the same election an
amendment to the constitution was ratified by the people, giving the
legislature power to levy a tax for supplying artificial limbs to disabled
Confederate soldiers, and in other ways provide for the destitute heroes
who had served their state in the war. From time to time pensions have
been allowed, homes for the old and infirm soldiers have been provided
until the state is properly caring for the aged servants who hazarded all
and lost much in her service.
Among the young men who had
arisen to high esteem in the regard of the state was Henry W. Grady, the
editor of the Atlanta Constitution. He was a brilliant writer and orator,
and had made several notable speeches of great eloquence and power. His
famous speech at the banquet of the New England Club in New York in 1886
had raised him to national prominence as an earnest, eloquent and
brilliant advocate of progress and peace. His sad death in 1889 was the
occasion of universal grief. Memorial meetings were held in many places, a
statue was erected to his honor, and a hospital in Atlanta bears his name.
In 1890 William J. Northen,
the president of the State Agricultural Society, was nominated for
governor, and being endorsed by the Farmers' Alliance was elected without
opposition. Governor Northen was in no sense the candidate of the
Alliance, but his deep interest in things agricultural, and especially his
interest in the educational affairs of the state, endeared him to the
great and powerful population of the rural districts. The Alliance had
become a great organization, whose purpose was to secure better laws for
the protection of the farming interests. It had its day, served its time
of usefulness, and has given way to other organizations.
The disposition of the
Western and Atlantic Railroad was among the first cares of Governor
Northen. This splendid property had been built by the state from Atlanta
to Chattanooga, and was a source of considerable revenue to the state. It
had already been leased for a term of twenty years, which lease expired in
1890. The legislature decided to renew the lease, and in June of that year
the bid of the Nashville Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway was accepted
for a lease of the road for twenty-nine years for $35,000 a month.
The question of education
constantly recurred to the attention of the legislature. As the public
school system grew it became necessary to establish schools for the
training of teachers. The thought of the people drew more and more toward
the training of the youth. In 1889 the legislature had passed an act
providing for the establishment of a Normal and Industrial College for
Girls, to be located at Milledgeville. Its course of instruction included
not only a normal training for teachers, but also stenography,
bookkeeping, telegraphy, dressmaking, cooking, music and art. In 1891 the
legislature decided to establish a school in Athens exclusively designed
for teachers. It is located in the building known as Rock College, and on
the site of the once experimental station in agriculture. These two great
schools annually enroll five hundred students each, and neither can keep
pace with the great demand for attendance made upon it. Both have added
strength and dignity to the industries and to the profession of teaching,
and are a power for good in the welfare of the state.
The rise of the People's
party, or the Populist party, in Georgia is one of the political facts of
great significance. The leaders of the Farmers' Alliance organized this
new party in Georgia, though the party had assumed proportions outside of
the state and at one time grew into national significance. The great
leader of the party in Georgia was, and still is, Thomas E. Watson, of
Thomson, an able lawyer, an orator of rare persuasiveness and a man of
great earnestness and personal attraction. He had been a member of the
legislature, a Congressman, and in 1896 became the candidate for
vice-president of the United States on the People's Party ticket. In 1908
he was candidate for President on the same ticket.
For a number of years the
People's party grew in strength. Watson made a memorable race for Congress
in the Tenth Congressional District in 1895, but was defeated by J. C. C.
Black. Candidates for governor were put out, but in no instance was the
party signally successful. Of late years this party and the Democratic
party have been more in accord and much of the sharpness of strife and
division has been abandoned in the state elections.
The state has been
Democratic in its electoral vote for the high offices of the general
government. In 1892 Grover Cleveland was the choice of Georgia, and in
making up his cabinet chose Hoke Smith, of Atlanta, a prominent lawyer and
statesman of rare ability, to be the Secretary of the Interior. This
position was held by Smith for a number of years, when, failing in
agreement with the financial policies of his chief, he resigned to resume
the practice of law.
In 1894 an exciting contest
for the Democratic nomination for governor occurred. There were two
candidates in the field : W. Y. Atkinson and Gen. Clement A. Evans. A
series of joint debates and a vigorous campaign of a few months followed,
when it became evident that a majority of the delegates elected were for
Atkinson. General Evans wrote a card withdrawing in the interest of party
harmony, and Atkinson was nominated without opposition.
It was during his term of
office that the International and Cotton States Exposition was held in
Atlanta, where all the industries and resources of the South were
represented. It was one of the greatest fairs our country has ever had.
Every state in the Union sent its exhibits, and even foreign countries
were represented. The visitors numbered thousands daily, who came to
rejoice that the war-wasted lands of Georgia and the South were again
blooming with prosperity.
The war with Spain in 1898
was the occasion of a prompt and patriotic response on the part of Georgia
to the demands of the general government that peace be established on the
island of Cuba. The sympathy of the entire country was on the side of the
distressed and abused citizens of that unhappy island. There was bitter
feeling against the Spaniards, and the safety of American citizens in Cuba
The wreck of the Maine, the
excitement created by the uncertainty of the cause of the event, the
demands of Congress that Cuba should be freed from Spanish rule and the
call of the President for volunteers to enforce this demand, found Georgia
liberally disposed to act with all other states in this crisis in the West
Indies. The call for three thousand soldiers made upon Georgia was
promptly met. Three regiments were organized and placed at the disposal of
the general government.
Among the major-generals
appointed by President McKinley was Joseph Wheeler, a Georgian by birth,
who had served with distinction as a cavalry leader in the Confederate
army. Among the brigadier-generals was W. AV. Gordon, of Savannah, who,
after the war, was on the commission to arrange for the evacuation of the
island of Porto Rico. Thomas M. Brumby, of Georgia, served on the Olympia,
as lieutenant, under Admiral Dewey in the Philippines. Brumby was sent to
raise the American flag over the city of Manila upon the occasion of the
surrender of that city.
During the war a number of
camps were located in Georgia, being in easy distance for transportation
in case of need. There were camps at Chickamauga Park, Macon, Athens,
Augusta and Columbus. President McKinley visited these camps, and was
enthusiastically received by the people. His noble character, pure life
and patriotic feelings made him admired and beloved by the whole nation.
When his life was ended by an assassin shortly after the Spanish war,
there were no people that mourned more sincerely for his untimely and
unfortunate death than the people of Georgia.
The disposition of penal
convicts has always been a perplexing problem with any state. In 1897 the
legislature passed an excellent law, creating a Prison Commission, who
should have charge of all convicts. Provision was made whereby male and
female convicts should be kept apart. Children under fifteen years should
be given the education of a reformatory school, men disabled should not be
hired out and white and colored convicts should not work together. A state
farm was located near Milledgeville, on which many convicts were employed
as laborers. The Prison Commission is also a Board of Pardons, before
which come all applications for executive clemency. The board patiently
hears all cases and makes proper recommendations to the governor, who
alone has the power to pardon.
This disposition of
convicts was reenacted with some change in 1900. Under the improved system
the labor of felony convicts not sent to the farm is disposed of by
contract to do work that does not compete with skilled labor. [By act of
the legislature of 1908 the hiring of convicts was abolished. Work on
country roads was substituted for the lease system.] The state keeps a
close supervision of all convicts and hires out only their labor. It
retains all guards, wardens, physicians, chaplains, in its employ. It
regulates the kind of work, the hours of labor and rest, the kind,
quantity and quality of food, and the character of the shelter that is
supplied to convicts. The male felony convicts who are sentenced to five
years or less service are subject to the demand of the counties for work
to be done upon the public roads.
By those regulations it is
believed that the unnecessary hardship of a convict's life is avoided,
that his health and morals are protected and that his servitude, while
severe as it should be to become a punishment for and deterrent to crime,
is not attended with cruelty and mistreatment.
Allen D. Candler became
governor in 1898. His administration was signalized by the jubilee in
Atlanta over the victory of the American armies in the war with Spain.
President McKinley was present, paying a tender tribute to the valor of
Southern leaders and soldiers both in the war between the states and the
war with Spain.
Under this administration
the University at Athens received new buildings, the capacity of the
schools for the deaf, dumb and blind, and the state institution for the
insane was enlarged, and the fund for the support of the common schools
It is indeed notable that
all the state institutions had become firmly fixed in the affections of
the people by this time. The University of Georgia, an ancient and
honorable school of a hundred years' history, was beginning to receive the
attention it deserved. New buildings were being added, an enlarged campus
with great possibilities for the future was laid out and new departments
added. With the election of Walter B. Hill as chancellor, the University
took on new life and vigor. After his death David C. Barrow took up the
work of his beloved predecessor, until at the present day the prospects of
this great institution, under the help of its many generous friends and
alumni, are bright with glorious promises for the good of the young men of
The other institutions
allied to the University are receiving the popular support as well. The
School of Technology in Atlanta, offering many courses in industry, has no
superior in the Southern states. The Girls' Industrial College at
Milledgeville, the State Normal School at Athens, the Industrial School
for Negro children in Savannah, the many branch colleges and the
Agricultural colleges, one for each Congressional district, betoken the
interest taken by the people in higher classical, as well as in
The common school system,
though young in years, shows an amazing growth. From the simplest be
ginning, it has reached the proportions of about ten thousand teachers and
over a half million of children. The expenditures for common school
education are considerably over two million dollars a year, and while this
is by far an insufficient sum, yet it maintains in the rural districts a
five months' school annually for every child who will attend. In 1903 the
legislature passed an act requiring uniform textbooks to be used in all
the public schools of the state. This is the practice in one-half of the
states of the Union, and when wisely and honestly selected by skilled
educators, is a means of securing the latest and best school books at a
considerably reduced price.
In 1902 Joseph M. Terrell
succeeded Governor Candler. The four years of his administration were
times of peace and general prosperity. At the close of his second term of
office, a spirited contest for the Democratic nomination for governor
occurred between Hoke Smith and Clark Howell. They were both of Atlanta,
of rival daily papers, of influence and prominence in the politics of the
state. The campaign resulted in the choice of Hoke Smith, who was duly
inaugurated in June, 1907.
The administration of
Governor Smith was for two years only. During the first part of his
administration he removed Joseph M. Brown from office as member of the
Railroad Commission, which was the occasion of much comment and division
of opinion. The legislature of 1907 passed a prohibition law excluding, by
severe legislation, the sale or manufacture of any kind of alcoholic
liquors in the boundary of the state. At the same time a panic of
unparalleled extent swept over the country, making money scarce, lowering
the price of stocks and bonds, and affecting the operations of many banks.
The year was filled with alarm and apprehension. Railroad legislation was
proposed that threatened the revenues of the great corporations.
When the time for
nominating a successor to Governor Smith arrived, Joseph M. Brown was in
the field. He was. the son of the war governor of Georgia, Joseph E.
Brown, but up to this time had taken no active part in the politics of the
state. The campaign was a sharp one, and the people were divided on the
state issues. At the primary election in June, 1908, Governor Smith was
defeated for nomination and the race for governor left inn the hands of
Joseph M. Brown, who was elected October 7.
This brings the history of
the great state of Georgia down to the present day. The little colony
planted at Yamacraw in 1733 has grown in a century and three-quarters to
be the Empire State of the South, with over two million inhabitants living
happily and prosperously on farms, in villages, towns and cities. The area
of the state is 59,000 square miles, or 37,760,000 acres. It was the
largest of the original thirteen states, at that time including the
present states of Alabama and Mississippi. It now ranks ninth in size.
The surface of the state is divided into three zones. North Georgia is
mountainous, with a few peaks nearly 5,000 feet high, Middle Georgia is
hilly in places with much level land, South Georgia is a level area
covered with great pine forests and rich alluvial soil, the congenial home
of the Georgia peach which has grown into an industry threatening to rival
cotton in its value. The state is well drained by over fifty streams large
enough to be classed as rivers, and affording enough water power, in
Middle Georgia particularly, to grind all the grain and manufacture all
the cotton goods in the world. The state is thus blessed with a diversity
of soil, a variety of climate, an abundance of water power and an
enterprising population that guarantees great growth and progress in the
There is nothing grown in
any state, Florida excepted, which cannot be raised in Georgia. Cotton is
still the great agricultural product. Before the war the state produced
one-sixth of the cotton crop of the country. At the present day the state
raises about one million bales of cotton valued at nearly $50,000,000. The
special variety known as sea island ,or long staple cotton grows along the
coast, and on account of its fine quality commands a special price.
Fruits of all kinds known
in the temperate zone are grown in Georgia. The Georgia watermelon has
become famous for its kind and quality. The Elberta peach grows to
greatest perfection upon Georgia soil. The Le Conte pear had its origin in
South Georgia. In vegetables, berries, and indeed all_ sorts of farm and
garden products, the state offers a most alluring prospect to the
home-seeker, where land is cheap, soil is fertile and climate is inviting.
The state is rich in wood,
of which two hundred and thirty varieties are recognized in its forests.
The vast pine forests on the southern area make the finest ship timber in
the world, besides affording a great turpentine industry. Georgia pine is
recognized as among the most beautiful and artistic of finishing woods for
interior decoration. The swamps afford cypress for shingles, the uplands
yield hickory, oak, maple and other valuable woods.
The gold producing area is
in North Georgia, where, before the days of California mining, the placers
were worked with great profit. Along the Tennessee border there are beds
of iron ore that are worked with profit to the owners. Stone mountain in
DeKalb county is the largest single mass of rock in the world. The marble
quarries of North Georgia are delivering a quality of marble that already
has passed into national favor. Georgia stands next to Vermont as a marble
The manufacture of cotton
goods has increased enormously of late. There are many factories in many
places, utilizing about one-fifth of the cotton yield of the state.
Commerce has kept pace with industry, favored by the extensive railroad
system and the many navigable streams. There are over forty railroad
companies with 5.000 miles of road, with a value of over $60,000,000. The
vast traffic of the west comes through the state on its way to the
harbors, where hundreds of vessels are engaged in the coast and foreign
Along with other Southern
states, Georgia has recovered from the devastation of war. Her people have
laid aside all bitterness of the struggle and are engaged in the friendly
rivalry for industrial and commercial supremacy. Her towns are increasing
in number and growing in size, new avenues are opened annually for an
enlarged and diversified agricultural product, factories, foundries,
canneries and other forms of industry are springing up, and the people are
steadily determined to build again anew condition of prosperity, greater
and nobler than that cherished in the ancient traditions of their fathers.
BIBLIOGRAPHY.- I. W. Avery:
History of Georgia (New York, 1881); L. B. Evans: History of Georgia (New
York, 1906); Messages of the Governors. Reports of the Georgia State
Departments. Appleton's Annual Encyclopedia. Files of the Atlanta
Constitution. Files of the Augusta Chronicle.
LAWTON B. EVANS,
Superintendent of Schools, Augusta, Ga.