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The Southern States of America
The History of Georgia - Chapter II - Georgia in the Federal Union, 1776 - 1861

Condition in 1776.

The colony of Georgia was by fifty years the youngest of the "original thirteen." At the beginning of the War for Independence its population was still small and sparse, totalling about 20,000 whites and 17,000 blacks. The people realized that they lived on an endangered frontier, exposed to attack from the strong Creek and Cherokee Indian confederacies and from any European powers which should hold Florida or Louisiana. The British government had shown the colony special favors, including an annual grant of moneys in payment of its official salaries. Since 1760 the colony had prospered greatly under Sir James Wright, one of the most able and devoted of all the British provincial governors. There were few local grievances, and the majority of people, as might well have been expected, were slow in joining the revolutionary movement. Before the close of 1775, however, the radical party secured control and sent delegates to the second Continental Congress. These radicals, furthermore, adopted a provisional frame of government for the commonwealth in April, 1776, welcomed the news of the Declaration of Independence which their delegates at Philadelphia had signed, and began to operate against the British in Florida.

First Constitution.

In response to summons by Archibald Bulloch, provisional governor of the state, a constitutional convention met at Savannah in October, 1776, and on the fifth of the following February promulgated the first regular constitution of the state. This vested the major powers of government in a legislature of a single house, which, among its functions, was to elect annually a governor and an advisory council. All members of the Assembly were required to own 250 acres of land or 250 worth of other property, and to be Protestants, but must not be clergymen. Courts of law were provided, and a bill of rights was included in the constitution.

Georgia in Revolutionary War.

In the years 1776-1778 there were half-hearted expeditions of continental troops and Georgia militia against the British post of St. Augustine, and there were wranglings of Loyalist and patriot factions in the interior, but the state had little experience of actual war. Near the close of 1778, the British army and navy began serious operations against the two southernmost states. Commodore Parker's fleet landed about 2,000 troops under Col. Archibald Campbell at the outskirts of Savannah, December 27. Gen. Robert Howe, commanding the American force of 672 men for the protection of Savannah, neglected to guard a private path across the swamp, was taken in flank December 29, and driven from the town with heavy loss. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, replacing Howe in command of a miscellaneous undisciplined and ill-equipped force, could only watch the British from the Carolina side of the Savannah River. Gen. Augustine Prevost brought British reinforcements from Florida and took command at Savannah, while Campbell advanced to Augusta, and, with the aid of local Loyalists under McGirth, occupied most of the Georgia uplands. After much irregular skirmishing, 400 Americans, among whose commanders Col. Elijah Clarke was conspicuous in the battle, defeated and destroyed a force of 700 British at Kettle Creek, Feb. 12, 1779. American forces under Generals Lincoln, Williamson, Rutherford and Ashe, now planned to unite and destroy Prevost's remaining army in the interior, which lay near the junction of Briar Creek and Savannah River. But the British surprised Ashe in camp and cut to pieces his body of 1,700 men. The British army in Georgia was now increased to about 5,000, the royal government, with Wright in charge, was reestablished at Savannah, and nearly all the state reduced to submission. Near the end of April, Prevost invaded South Carolina with a view to capturing Charleston, but was repulsed by Lincoln in June, and fell back to stand on the defensive against an attack upon Savannah by French and American allies. Count D'Estaing reached the river in September with thirty-six ships of war and 2,800 men, and was joined before Savannah by Lincoln with an army of 2,000. After costly procrastination by D'Estaing, and brief ineffective siege operations, the combined attack by the allies on October 9 was decisively repulsed. The day witnessed the heroic deaths of Count Pulaski, leading a charge of the Continental dragoons which he commanded, and of Sergeant Jasper while fixing a flag upon a captured parapet. D'Estaing sailed away and Lincoln withdrew into Carolina. The British control was again extended over most of Georgia, the state government again became fugitive, and Indian depredations added to the suffering of the people at the hands of the British. Charleston fell before the British attack on May 12, 1780, and little hope was left to the local patriots except from the operations of partisan bands. There were many skirmishes in the interior, but no change in the fortunes of war until 1781, the northern march of Cornwallis diminished the British forces in Georgia and South Carolina to the strength of mere garrisons. The surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 19, liberated Continental troops to give aid in the South. Gen. Anthony Wayne besieged and captured Augusta June 5, 1782, and shut up the remaining British troops within Savannah, which was finally evacuated by them on July 11, 1782.

Georgia is reported to have furnished 2,679 troops to the Continental army, in addition to the partisan fighters, or minute-men, who rallied to meet emergencies and quickly disbanded afterward. A large number of skirmishes, as well as a few battles were fought upon Georgia's territory, and the wide devastation of her fields was one of the fortunes of war.

Conditions at Close of War.

At the arrival of peace, the state in large part lay waste, the stock of slaves depleted by the carrying off of some 4,000 by refugee loyalists, and the indigo industry ruined by the loss of the British bounty. The state was heavily in debt and the finances chaotic. The governor, Lyman Hall, in 1783, urged the laying of adequate taxes, but the Assembly declined to do so and instead amplified the confiscation law (first enacted March 1, 1778), and provided for the payment of much of the current expense with the proceeds of forfeited loyalist estates. Among these that of Sir James Wright alone was appraised at nearly 34,000. In 1786 the Assembly emitted 30,000 in bills of credit, which rapidly depreciated and added to the prevailing embarrassment. With its public lands, meanwhile, the state was very generous. It gave a plantation each to Generals Wayne and Greene in gratitude for their services, and 20,000 acres to the Count D'Estaing. It also provided for the gratuitous distribution of land in liberal parcels (about 250 acres each) to soldiers in the late war and to other deserving citizens. The demand was so eager that upon the opening day, at Augusta, the mob of applicants partly wrecked the land-office. The state also devoted 40,000 acres, by acts of 1784-85, to the endowment of the University of Georgia, which it at that time chartered as the first of the American state universities. This institution, established at Athens, opened its doors to students in 1801.

Upon the southern frontier a disturbance arose in 1785 from desperadoes along the Florida boundaries, and disorders occurred in 1786 and occasionally afterward from bands of runaway slaves in the swamps of the Savannah River. Disturbances on the Indian frontier were more or less chronic. The government of Georgia received overtures, August, 1787, from John Sevier, who claimed to be governor of the state of Franklin, proposing a joint campaign against the disorderly Creeks. Georgia was proceeding to raise 3,000 men for this purpose, when simultaneously the Creeks sued for peace and the state of Franklin collapsed. A boundary dispute between Georgia and South Carolina was referred by the two states to a joint commission, and adjusted by the treaty of Beaufort, 1787, which fixed the Tugalo River as the branch of the Savannah separating the two states, instead of the Keowee contended for by Georgia.

Georgia's Part in Forming the U. S. Constitution.

The proposal arising in 1785-6 for revising the Articles of Confederation and establishing a more perfect Federal Union were welcomed by the people of Georgia with particular enthusiasm because of the frontier location of the state and its need of strong backing in the event of any war with the Spanish, the French or the Indians. Upon receiving an invitation to send delegates to a convention at Philadelphia, the Assembly, Feb. 10, 1787, appointed six delegates, of whom only four attended, viz.: William Few, William Pierce, William Houston and Abraham Baldwin. The leading spirit among these was Mr. Baldwin, a graduate of Yale College, who had emigrated from Connecticut to Georgia, had fathered the University of Georgia and played a most worthy part in the general affairs of his time. The votes of Georgia in the convention were consistently cast for the strengthening of the central government, and excellent diplomacy was shown by her delegates in aiding minorities to shape the constitution so that their constituents would accept it. When the constitution was presented to the states for ratification, the Georgia legislature promptly called a convention for the purpose, and the convention promptly and unanimously ratified it on behalf of the state, Jan. 2, 1788.

State Constitution Amended.

Attention was then turned to remodelling the state constitution. In this a peculiar process was followed. The legislature, under resolution of Jan. 30, 1788, selected three citizens from each county to be summoned as a convention, as soon as the Federal constitution should be ratified. This convention met in November and framed a new constitution, which was then submitted to a second convention elected by the people and empowered to amend and ratify it. The second convention contented itself with amending the instrument and passed it on to a third convention, to be elected, for ratification. This was finally accomplished May 6, 1789. The legislature was made bicameral, with a Senate to be popularly elected every third year. Senators were required to own 250 acres of land and assemblymen 200 acres, or 250 and 150 worth of property respectively. The governor with a two-year term, a 500-acre or 1,000 property qualification and a veto power, was to be chosen by the Senate from among three persons nominated by the House. This constitution was considerably amended in 1795, and in 1798 (May 30) was replaced by a more elaborate one, framed and adopted by a popularly elected convention. Under it the Senate, as well as the House, was given a one-year term, and the qualifications for membership were slightly changed. The governor was chosen by joint ballot of the two houses from 1795 to 1824, and then by amendment his election was given to the people directly. The constitution of 1798 prohibited the importation of negro slaves from abroad after October 1 of that year. The capital of the state, which had been shifted from Savannah to Augusta in 1786, was changed to the village of Louisville in 1798, and to the town of Milledgeville, located for the purpose, in 1803. It continued at Milledgeville until its final transfer to Atlanta in 1868.

State Sovereignty - Eleventh Amendment.

Under the Federal constitution, Georgia had early occasion to contend for state sovereignty. In 1792 Mr. Chisolm, of South Carolina, brought a suit against Georgia in the U. S. Supreme Court. Georgia denied the jurisdiction of the court and resisted its judgment when rendered against her. Georgia's resistance in this case led to the adoption of the eleventh amendment to the Federal constitution, which thereafter prevented the occurrence of suits against a state by citizens of another state.

Yazoo Land Sale.

The generous land policy of Georgia promoted a rapid settlement of her territory, particularly in the uplands whither immigrants flocked from the partially exhausted lands of Virginia and North Carolina. The state's population in 1790 was 82,548 souls, including 29,264 negro slaves. In the next decade it increased, nearly double, to 162,686, including 59,486 negro slaves. Settlement was still mainly confined to the district, about a hundred miles wide, between the Savannah and Oconee rivers. The state had, however, a nominal ownership, or right of preemption, over the territory westward to the Mississippi River, and the disposal of its distant western lands became a problem of much controversy. In 1785 the legislature erected a county, named Bourbon, to comprise much of the Mississippi district, but repealed the act in 1788 and offered to sell the northern half of its western territory to the United States. The terms were rejected by Congress, but private companies now made bids for large western tracts. Speculators had secured a cession from the Choctaw Indians in 1785, and in 1789 three companies contracted with the state government to pay about $207,000 for a title from Georgia to some fifteen or twenty million acres of what was then called the Yazoo district from the Yazoo River which flows through part of it. Protests against the activity of these companies were made by the United States and Spanish governments, and the companies abandoned their enterprise without completing their payments or receiving title from the state. In 1794 the project was revived. Four companies offered a total of $500,000 for four great tracts, comprising the larger part of the present area of Alabama and Mississippi. Many prominent men of Georgia and neighboring states were concerned in this speculation, though its chief centre was at Boston. The companies distributed many of their shares among the members of the legislature, and the bill passed and was signed by Governor Mathews, under pressure, Feb. 7, 1795. Shortly after the sale was consummated . a cry of bribery and corruption was raised by James Jackson, who denounced the sale in the newspapers, raised a great ferment in the state, resigned from the United States Senate, secured a seat in the state legislature, and carried through a bill (Act of Feb. 13, 1796) rescinding the act of the previous year. The legislature ceremoniously burned the documents concerned with the Yazoo sale, in token of its absolute repudiation. By this time the Yazoo companies had sold lands to "innocent purchasers," and the issue as to the obligation of contracts was raised by the investors, who refused to receive back the purchase money and began to bombard Congress with petitions. The state endeavored to fortify its position by inserting a clause on the subject in the new state constitution, 1798, but the issue would not down. In 1802 the state transferred the problem to the Federal government by ceding its claim to all lands west of its present western boundary (the Chattahoochee and a line from the "great bend" of that river to Nickajack on the Tennessee). John Randolph had been on a visit in Georgia during the intense Yazoo excitement, and in Congress became the leading opponent of the Yazoo claimants. Year after year Randolph and the Georgia congressmen defeated bills for compensation to the Yazoo petitioners, until finally after the Supreme Court, in the case of Fletcher v. Peck, 1810, had declared the original sale valid and its annulment impossible, Randolph's resistance was overridden and the claimants compensated under an act of 1814 which appropriated $5,000,000 for the purpose.

Growth of State.

About 1795 there had begun a period of prosperity in Georgia which lasted until the restriction of trade with Europe just prior to the War of 1812. Sea-island cotton, introduced in 1786, filled the gap left by the ruin of indigo, and made the coast planters comfortable. And, much more important, the invention of the cotton-gin by Eli Whitney in 1793, near Savannah, made the short-staple variety of cotton available for highly profitable production in a wide expanse of the uplands. Immigration into the Georgia Piedmont was strongly stimulated by this. The population of the whole state increased by ninety thousand in the first decade of the new century, standing in 1810 at 252,433, of whom 105,218 were negro slaves. In 1802 the state invented, and thereafter maintained, a new land policy, that of gratuitously distributing newly acquired public lands by lottery. The lots were mostly 202 1/2 acres in size, and all citizens of the state were given chances in the drawings. Fortunate drawers received fee simple to their lots, with no obligations as to residence or improvements upon them. The system gave every citizen a prospective pecuniary interest in every fresh acquisition of lands by the state, and it intensified the already eager demand for the expulsion of the Indians. The Cherokees were partly free from pressure for the time, because of their more remote location. The Creek lands were those most wanted, but the "Creek Nation" at the time was able to demand respect of its neighbors. Their territory lay adjacent to Spanish Florida and within reach of French Louisiana; the Chickasaws and Choctaws, possible allies, were near at hand, and English merchants were furnishing the Creek warriors, through the port of Pensacola, any supplies which they wanted and could pay for. The talented half-breed chief of the Creeks, Alexander McGillivray, made the most of their strategic position, and the reputation which his diplomacy had given the Creek confederacy lived on after his death (1793). In 1794 a body of Georgia frontiersmen, led by Elijah Clarke, squatted upon Creek lands and declared that they would hold them against all comers. But the governor of Georgia sent militia and ousted them without waiting for Federal aid. The state government, however, was anxious to acquire the lands by regular process, and brought all pressure that it could to that purpose. When ceding its western lands in 1802 the state required and secured from the United States an agreement that the Federal government would, for the benefit of the state, extinguish the Indian title to all remaining lands within the state as soon as that could be accomplished peaceably and on reasonable terms. Numerous negotiations were held in the following years with a view to securing cessions, but both the Creeks and Cherokees proved tenacious of their Georgia lands, and they ceded only small tracts. Col. Benjamin Hawkins, U. S. Indian agent, aided greatly throughout his long service in keeping the peace on the Georgia frontier.

War of 1812.

Meanwhile, public attention was diverted to party politics and for a time very strongly to foreign affairs. The Republicans had so great a majority over the Federalists in the state that they themselves fell into factions. The North Carolina settlers in the Georgia Piedmont rallied around the Clarke family, while, in opposition, such of their neighbors as had come from Virginia joined hands with the planters in the lowlands in support of James Jackson and his younger associates, William H. Crawford and George M. Troup. But the factions did not acquire definite party machinery before the crisis in foreign relations united the state, for the time, in the one paramount policy of vindicating American honor against British insult.

The War of 1812 was supported with vigor. The only hostilities in which the state was involved were with the western or "Red Stick" division of the Creeks, who at Tecumseh's instigation declared war. A force of Georgia militia under General Floyd failed to reach the Red Stick territory, but Andrew Jackson marching from Tennessee crushed them at the Horseshoe Bend, and forced a capitulation at Fort Jackson, Aug. 9, 1814. The news of peace with Great Britain, early in 1815, brought great rejoicing in Georgia, as elsewhere, and inaugurated a new period of prosperity. There followed "flush times" in the whole cotton belt. Amelia Island was the scene of smuggling and piratical operations during and after the war, but this irregularity was suppressed in 1817. Depredations by Indians and absconded negroes on the southwestern frontier of Georgia caused campaigns to be made, 1816-1818, against their forts on the lower Chattahoochee and in the province of Florida. With a large body of Georgia militia in his army, Andrew Jackson, in the so-called Seminole War, shattered the strength of the banditti, and incidentally wrecked the pretense of Spanish sovereignty in Florida. The purchase of that province by the United States in 1819 relieved Georgia of vexing problems in that direction, and left her people free to consider internal affairs.

State Politics.

The domestic factions promptly reappeared, with stronger organization than before the recent British war, though the duels and horse-whippings which had characterized the earlier regime were not continued. Crawford, after a useful career as a conservative leader in state politics had withdrawn into the Federal service. George M. Troup, George R. Gilmer, Jesse Mercer and John M. Berrien were among the leaders of the Troup party, which was the more aristocratic, and John Clarke, Matthew Talbot, John Forsyth, John M. Dooly and Wilson Lumpkin led the opposition, the Clarke party, which found most of its support among the frontiersmen and other non-slaveholding farmers. In heated contests Clarke was elected governor in 1819 and again in 1821, but in 1823 the Troup party secured a majority in the Assembly and Troup was made governor. In 1824 the choice of governor was given to the people, and in 1825 a most exciting campaign among the people resulted in the election of Troup over Clarke by a narrow majority. The fortunes of politics continued to vary between the factions, giving the governor's chair, the chief prize, to Forsyth in 1827, to Gilmer in 1829 and to Lumpkin in 1831. By this time Federal problems came in some measure to overshadow the local faction-fighting. Aside from the Indian problem, to be discussed below, the protective tariff furnished the most prominent issue. The Georgians had never given warm support to protection. The whole state became strongly opposed to the policy when, after 1824, the protected interests sought to heighten the degree of their advantage at the expense of the staple producers and the importing merchants. The legislature and other public bodies made numerous anti-tariff expressions, though no crisis arose in the state comparable to the Nullification episode in South Carolina. Crawford, the leading Georgian in Federal affairs, was first and last a moderate state-rights, low-tariff advocate, not doctrinaire, and not extreme, and his colleagues in Georgia took tone from him in these things, as in most affairs, except that they discarded moderation in the Creek and Cherokee crises.

Indian Affairs - The Creeks.

The Georgia-Indian controversies were matters of very wide interest in the middle eighteen-twenties (Creek) and the early thirties (Cherokee). All of the other states which had Indian problems on their own hands, principally New York, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi, were much concerned with the Georgia contests as forecasting the later Indian policy of the nation, and the politicians everywhere were exercised over the probable effects upon the doctrine of state rights. In such states as were erected from Federal "territories," the title of the public lands, upon removal of the Indians, was vested in the United States government. But in the case of one of the original states, like Georgia, the public lands, after the extinguishment of the Indian title, were the property of the state and would yield no Federal revenue. By buying out the Indians in Georgia, therefore, the central government would incur a dead expense, with no prospect of future reimbursement. At the close of the War of 1812 the people of Georgia began to reach the opinion that the United States government was creating within their state an Indian territory into which nearly all the Creek and Cherokee tribesmen were being concentrated. The treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814, for example, had extinguished the Creek title to a great and fertile tract in central Alabama, and drove many of the Indians eastward to new homes in Georgia. The state authorities protested at the time, and as years passed protested more vehemently, demanding of the President and Congress the discharge of their duty under the contract of 1802 between Georgia and the United States government. President Monroe repeatedly held negotiations with the tribal chiefs, and in 1821 secured from the Creeks a cession of nearly half of their remaining area in Georgia. The citizens, however, were soon clamoring again for the complete removal of the Creeks from the state. The Creeks by this time had yielded nearly all their holding in Alabama, and if they ceded more land in Georgia their whole population must remove to strange regions beyond the Mississippi. To this removal most of the Creek chiefs were firmly opposed, but a small group of them, led by William McIntosh, a half-breed chieftain and a cousin of the Georgian governor, Troup, was in favor of complete sale and migration. This policy of the McIntosh faction was learned of late in 1824 by two commissioners whom Monroe had appointed to treat with the Southern Indians, and who themselves were Georgians with the Georgian eagerness for Creek removal. They notified the president of the situation and, acting upon somewhat ambiguous instructions from him, made a treaty at Indian Spring, Feb. 12, 1825, with McIntosh and his fellows. This chief purported to cede, on behalf of the Eastern Creeks, all title to all remaining lands in Georgia, in exchange for land beyond the Mississippi and $5,000,000 in money. Protests against its validity were made at the time, but the United States Senate ratified it promptly, and John Quincy Adams signed it March 5, as one of his first acts as president. The Western or "Red Stick" Creeks now raised a great clamor against the treaty, and they murdered McIntosh April 29, and drove his followers in terror to the white settlements for refuge. Impressed by this, President Adams sent agents to investigate, who promptly reported that the cession had been obtained fraudulently and the whole body of the Creeks were much incensed at it. Adams then adopted the opinion that the treaty was invalid and the cession of no effect. Governor Troup and the Georgia legislature, on the other hand, declared that the treaty had been justly made and was binding, that the ratification of the treaty had transferred the title to the land ceded from the Creek confederacy to the state of Georgia, and that the Federal government had no further jurisdiction in the matter. A new treaty was made at Washington, Jan. 24, 1826, by Adams and a Creek delegation, which professed to abrogate the treaty of Indian Spring, and by which the Creeks, for a new money consideration, ceded most, but not all, of their Georgia lands. The Georgia governor and legislature refused to recognize the abrogation of the Indian Spring treaty, and ordered a survey of the whole Creek tract for distribution by lottery and early settlement by citizens. The Creeks drove out the surveyors, and Adams notified Troup that he would prevent the survey by force if necessary. Troup replied in defiance: "I feel it my duty to resist to the utmost any military attack which the Government of the United States shall think proper to make upon the territory, the people, or the sovereignty of Georgia. * * * From the first decisive act of hostility you will be considered and treated as a public enemy." On the same day, February 17, Troup ordered the state militia to prepare to repel invasion. Adams, meanwhile, had submitted the whole matter to Congress in a special message of February 5. Committees of each house reported early in March, advising against conflict with the state. The Senate committee, in fact, through the chairman, Thomas H. Benton, upheld the Indian Spring treaty as valid and declared that, if injustice had been done the Creeks, some other way must be found to imdemnify than by attempting to retrocede them lands in Georgia. By this time the most stubborn of the Creeks were obliged to abandon hope of retaining lands in Georgia, and by treaties of 1827 and 1828 their title to all remaining fragments of territory in Georgia was extinguished, and the whole body of the Creeks was removed beyond the Mississippi.

The Cherokee Controversy.

The Georgia government began to put similar pressure upon the Cherokee confederacy just at the time when Andrew Jackson acceded to office and reversed the policy of the Federal executive in Indian affairs. The Cherokees, however, found a champion for their cause in the United States Supreme Court, under John Marshall's domination. The climax of the Cherokee problem was hastened by several developments between 1825 and 1830. On the one hand a number of white missionaries began to persuade the Indians to give up their roving habits, to till their fields and build substantial houses and otherwise attach themselves permanently to the district in which they then lived. A number of half-breed and white chiefs of the Cherokees at the same time caused the formerly loose confederation of villages to hold a constitutional convention upon Caucasian models, in 1827, and adopt a formal republican constitution declaring the Cherokee Nation to be one of the sovereign powers of the earth, owing no allegiance and acknowledging no dependence whatever. On the other hand, the Georgians denied the validity of such a constitution, and the legislature, by an act of December, 1830, paralyzed the working of the Cherokee "national" government. Meanwhile the discovery of gold deposits in the territory, in 1829, made the Georgians more impatient to expel the Cherokees altogether. The legislature enacted accordingly that the laws of the state be extended over such portion of the Cherokee district as lay within the state boundaries, and it forbade the residence of any white person in that district without license from the Georgia government. The chiefs carried into the U. S. Supreme Court a suit on behalf of the "Cherokee Nation" for injunction against the execution of these obnoxious laws by the state of Georgia. The majority of the court decided, however (1831), that although the Cherokees were a nation they were not a foreign state, and therefore could not be a party to a suit before the court, and it denied the motion for injunction. Soon afterward the same attorneys brought a more hopeful case into the same court for the same purpose. It was the case of Samuel Worcester, a missionary whom the state authorities had arrested, tried and sentenced to imprisonment for illegal residence in the Cherokee territory. The case was brought into the Supreme Court upon writ of error. The decision of the court, rendered by Chief Justice Marshall, 1832, in favor of the plaintiff, declared that the extension of Georgia's laws over the Cherokee territory had been illegal and void, and the judgment of the court against Worcester was a nullity. Upon the rendering of this decision by the court it became the duty of the president to cause the release of the prisoner. Jackson, however, had taken the side of Georgia in the controversy, and he refused to execute the court's decision. Worcester staid in the Georgia penitentiary until he tired of martyrdom, when he petitioned for and obtained pardon from the governor. The Cherokees were forced to the conclusion that their claim of national sovereignty was hopeless, and likewise their effort to retain permanently their lands in Georgia. After some factional quarreling among them, the chiefs agreed to a treaty made at New Echota, Dec. 29, 1835, by which the "Cherokee Nation" ceded all of its land east of the Mississippi for an equal area in the west and a bonus of five million dollars in money. In 1838 the last of the fourteen thousand Cherokee Indians and their thirteen hundred negro slaves were escorted westward by Federal troops, and Georgia divided among her citizens in lottery parcels the final acquisition of her public lands.

Settlement of Indian Lands and Movement of Population.

Most of the attractive parts of the Creek and Cherokee acquisitions were settled with a rush. Some settlers came from the states lying just eastward, and to the promising town-sites immigrants came from the far northern states. But in general the stream of interstate migration continued to flow across Georgia, dropping only a few stragglers on her lands. Georgia's own citizens were given advantage by the land lottery, and for the most part there was simply a westward and southwestward drift within the state. The statistics of population in Georgia were as follows : 1820, total 340,985, including 149,656 negro slaves; 1830, total 516,823, including 217,531 slaves ; 1840, total 691,392, including 280,944 slaves; 1850, total 906,185, including 381,682 slaves, and in 1860, total 1,057,286, including 462,198 slaves. The number of free negroes was never above 3,500, and the number of foreign-born whites was likewise very small. The rate of increase in Georgia's population Was only a little higher than that of the South as a whole, which indicates that the state furnished nearly as many emigrants in the westward movement of these decades as it received immigrants.

Nearly all the Creek tract lying above Macon and Columbus was known in advance to be excellent land for cotton, and it attracted planters by thousands with their slaves. Many thousands of yeomen farmers moved thither likewise, and for some years there was a free-and-easy regime, when men of the several sorts dwelt in the same localities and devoted their resources to the same industry. Some prospered largely from the work of five or ten or twenty field-hands on their respective plantations, others prospered more moderately from the labor of their own families and perhaps one or two slave helpers. Then came the great cotton crisis of 1839 and a half decade of severe hard times to follow. Cotton prices fell to starvation levels. The less efficient producers were forced to abandon the industry. Thousands of small farmers sold their cotton lands for what they would bring, and moved away. Some moved south to the pine-barrens, and part of these fell into discouragement and became "poor white trash"; some moved west where there was always fresh opportunity; some moved north to the Georgia and Tennessee mountain valleys where they raised corn and wheat, apples, pigs and turkeys, which they marketed in the plantation districts; some moved away as far as the Ohio and Illinois country where they would be free of competition from plantation gangs in their work; and some, and these the larger portion, found no sufficient reason to emigrate, but stayed where they had settled, in the cotton lands of western Georgia, lived on as best they might during the lean years, and prospered thereafter as before, amidst their plantation neighbors.


The construction of railroads had begun in the state in the early thirties, with main lines from Augusta and Savannah toward the centre of the state. After_ much discussion, the legislature, in 1836, committeed the state to the building of a railroad with public funds to connect the Georgia roads with the Tennessee River and the great Northwest. After many political vicissitudes, this road was completed in 1850. Soon after roads were built southwest from Macon and Atlanta, extending the cotton belt in that direction. The general effect of the railroads was to cheapen food supplies and manufactures for the planters, and intensify their devotion to the production of cotton. At the same time the railroads, by bringing in the miscellaneous products of more favored producers outside the state, injured the cereal-producing farmers in and near the cotton belt, and crippled most of the local manufactories. The railroads had been launched and built largely with the political purpose of aiding the South to keep pace with the North in population and other material development. They were a failure in this, and as intersectional relations became more strained, the situation of the South, as viewed by the Southern statesmen, grew desperate.

Slavery Question.

The rise of the slavery issue between the sections, in the early thirties, began more effectively than anything before to merge Georgia's policy, and even her identity, into that of the slaveholding and slavery-defending South. Her people tended strongly to embrace the pro-slavery views of Dew of Virginia and Harper of South Carolina, and to accept the teachings of Calhoun that the rights and powers of the states were useful in the period mainly for safeguarding the interests of the South as a section. In fact, the sentiment was developing, half-consciously, that the South, with its peculiar conditions and special needs, ought to have a separate national government of its own and that an early opportunity should be seized for establishing this. Georgia was neither in the van nor in the rear of this movement. Among her politicians there were no fire-eaters as radical as Yancey of Alabama, or Quitman of Mississippi, and no nationalists as uncompromising as Brownlow of Tennessee. The Georgia spokesmen of the forties and fifties were a new group, but differed little from the older school. The local parties had twice changed their names - the Troup party to State Rights and then to Whig, and the Clarke party to Union and then to Democrat; but the general attitude of their members and their leaders had changed little. The two factions continued to oppose one another in elections, but as formerly they could find few issues upon which they could differ. Upon Federal relations the people of the state were almost a unit in their general attitude from the time of the Creek controversy to the time of secession. From 1845 onward the most prominent and powerful Georgians in politics were Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens and Howell Cobb. The first two were Whigs, and Cobb a Democrat, but their policies were almost identical. The Georgians of whatever faction had had the idea of the importance of their state and the justice and value of state rights bred into them, and they were quite generally ready to use their state machinery for any purpose to which it might appear that it ought to be devoted.

The Wilmot Proviso, proposed in 1847, began to draw the slavery controversies to a focus. Toombs, Stephens and Cobb were among the leading champions of Southern interests, and in 1849-50 they made fierce denunciations of the Northern policies and threatened secession if Northern aggressions were not stopped. Their purpose in this was in large part to carry through the compromise measures of 1850. But their constituents at home became highly wrought over the emergency as described in the speeches in Congress, and the legislature provided for the call of a convention to take action on Federal relations. In the summer of 1850 the prospects were that this gathering would be of radical tone. But as soon as Clay's compromise was adopted by Congress, the three Georgians hurried home and canvassed the state to secure the election of delegates who would vote to accept the compromise. The convention, which met at Milledgeville December 10, proved to have a great majority of delegates favorable to the compromise. By a vote of 237 to 19 it adopted a set of resolutions widely known as the Georgia Platform, which declared that although the state was not entirely content with the compromise just reached by Congress, yet on the basis of that agreement she desired to remain in the Union; but that in case of any further aggression by the North the attitude of Georgia would be reversed, and disruption would most probably ensue. Charles J. McDonald led an effort to form a party in the state to reject the compromise, but he received little support. The action of the Georgia convention put the first check upon the very menacing secession movement in the Lower Southern states in the early fifties, and caused the defeat of the impulse, though it lived in South Carolina and Mississippi until the end of 1851. When the Whig party fell apart in 1852, some of its Georgia membership, including Toombs and Stephens, went over to the Democrats, while the rest went for a time into the Know Nothing order, and toward the end of the fifties called themselves Constitutional Unionists and advocated further compromise. But the Kansas-Nebraska quarrels, the Dred Scott Decision, John Brown's raid and Lincoln's election brought on such a crisis that compromise was no longer possible.


In the debates of the final secession movement in Georgia the differences of opinion were merely variations in degree, and not differences in kind. The constitutionality of secession was conceded by practically everyone of importance. The burning question was as to its expediency. On this the shades and shiftings of opinions were extremely various. Herschel V. Johnson was a secessionist in 1850, but was a Douglas Democrat (vice-presidential candidate), and a Unionist in 1860; Eugenius A. Nisbet, on the other hand, was a compromiser in 1850 and a secessionist in 1860. Toombs, Stephens and Howell Cobb wavered together for a period, then Toombs and Cobb went with the secessionists while Stephens opposed on the ground of insufficient grievances. Benjamin H. Hill emerged as a new leader in 1857, denying the expediency of secession, but he was more than offset by Joseph E. Brown, governor from 1857 to 1865, sprung from yeoman stock and swaying thousands of mountaineers and other non-slaveholders. Brown believed that the South should strike for national independence, and that in the new nation the state should demand better guarantees of state rights than had existed in the Federal Union. As governor, Brown did much to hasten secession. Finally, Thomas R. R. Cobb, a tyro in politics though a jurist of distinction, contributed the idea that secession need not mean a permanent disruption of the American Union, but that the Southern states could probably reenter the Union if they wished, and in so doing secure better guarantees of their interests than they now had. Prodded by the action of South Carolina, Georgia, through her convention, adopted the secession policy Jan. 19, 1861, and thereby made it certain that at least the Lower South would strike for national independence.

BIBLIOGRAPHY.-Avery, I. W.: History of Georgia, 1850 to 1881 (New York, 1881); Butler, J. C.: History o f Macon and Central Georgia (Macon, 1879); Charlton, T. U. P.: Life of James Jackson (Augusta, 1809, and reprint Atlanta, n. d.); Cleveland, H.: Life of Alex. H. Stephens (Philadelphia, 1866); Fielder, H.: Life of Joseph E. Brown (Springfield, Mass., 1883); Gilmer, G. R.: Georgians (New York, 1855, partly autobiographical); Haskins, C. H.: The Yazoo Land Companies (in the American Historical Association Papers, Vol. IV., No. 4); Harden, E. J.: Life of George M. Troup (Savannah, 1840); Jones, C. C. Jr.: History of Georgia (2 vols., Boston, 1888, extends to 1782); Johnston and Browne: Life of A. H. Stephens (Philadelphia, 1878); Jones and Dutcher: History of Augusta (Syracuse, N. Y., 1890); Lumpkin, Wilson: The Removal of the Cherokee Indians (New York, 1907; autobiographical); Lee and Agnew: History o f Savannah (Savannah, 1869); McCall, Hugh: History o f Georgia (2 vols., Savannah, 1811-1816, extends to 1782); Philips, Ulrich B.: Georgia and State Rights (Washington, D. C., 1902, extends from 1783 to 1861, contains critical bibliography); Phillips: History of Transportation in the Eastern Cotton Belt (New York, 1908); Royce, C. C.: The Cherokee Nation of Indians (in U. S. Bureau of Ethnology Report for 1883-4, Washington, 1887); Reed, John C.: The Brother's War (Boston, 1905, contains appreciation of Robert Tombs); Reed, W. P.: History of Atlanta (Syracuse, N. Y., 1889); Stevens, W. B.: History o f Georgia (2 vols., New York, 1847, and Philadelphia, 1859, extends to 1798); Stovall, P. A.: Life of Robert Toombs (New York, 1892); Stephens, A. H.: War between the States (2 vols.. Philadelphia, 1868-1870); White, George: Statistics of Georgia (Savannah, 1849), Historical Collections of Georgia (New York, 1854).

Professor of History, Tulane University of Louisiana

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