Georgia State History

Georgia State History

British Colony

Before colonization by Europeans, the area now called Georgia was populated by Native Americans such as the Cherokee. According to a2zcamerablog, the first European to observe the state may have been Spaniard Juan Ponce de León, who explored the Florida coast by ship. In 1526 Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón tried to establish a colony there, possibly at what is now called St. Catherines Island. The Spanish explorers afterwards left a trail of destruction.

In the 18th century, despite Spanish rule over neighboring Florida, the English held a firm grip on Georgia. In 1724, the first suggestion was made to give the area its current name, in honor of King George II of England. On February 1, 1733, the first settlers landed in what would later become the city of Savannah.

Once a colonial administration was established, slavery was soon outlawed in this southern colony. In neighboring South Carolina, however, as in several other Southern states, slavery was allowed, leading to economic wealth. The difference with Georgia was great and in 1749 the colony allowed slavery again. Plantation owners began to import slaves at a rapid pace. They were initially put to work on rice and indigo plantations.

American Revolution

Battle of Chickamauga (by Kurz and Allison, 1890)

Although there was dissatisfaction with British rule, the push for independence was much smaller than in New England, where states such as Massachusetts had a hard time. In addition, many residents believed they needed the British troops to defend themselves against potential Indian incursions. Many therefore doubted whether they should support the independence struggle of the other states. As a result, Georgia did not send representatives to the first Continental Congress that met in Philadelphia in 1774 as a result of the Boston Tea Party .. Initially, the colony also did not plan to send representatives to the second Continental Congress, which convened again the following year. Only after Congress had already opened did Georgia decide to send representation.

During the War of Independence itself, Georgia experienced only a few minor military confrontations. After all, most of the fighting took place in New England. Only when the British fleet there threatened to run out of supplies was it sent to Georgia to buy rice and other supplies. During the “Battle of the Rice Boats” in Savannah, the British fleet hijacked several rice boats and also managed to free the pro-British governor, James Wright, from house arrest and help him out of the state..

In the absence of the governor, the provincial council in Augusta drew up a blueprint for governance within the colony. This was replaced in 1777 by a constitution that put power in the hands of an elected House of Representatives, which in turn elected the governor. There was no further conflict until the British fleet returned to Georgia in 1778 after a stalemate had been reached in New England. The consequences of this invasion were much more disastrous for Georgia, as the invading British promised the slaves that were there freedom. As a result, about a third of Georgia’s 15,000 slaves fled their master’s rule. The British and the Loyalists besieged the capital Savannah. American troops tried with Frenchhelp to drive the British out of the city, but there was no success. Consequently, the capital was moved to Augusta. As the War of Independence continued, Georgia had a loyalist government on the coast and a patriotic government in the rest of the colony. The British troops would not leave Savannah until July 11, 1782. The United States Constitution was ratified by the state parliament on January 2, 1788. Georgia became the fourth state to join the United States of America.

Pre-war period

Although many slaves had successfully fled Georgia during the American Revolution, slavery remained the cornerstone of Georgia’s plantation industry. The pre-war cultivation of rice and indigo remained the main source of income for the plantation owner for the rest of the 18th century. It wasn’t until 1794 that the cotton gin machine, which mechanized separation of seeds and fibers, was invented by Savannah native Eli Whitney that cotton growing grew in popularity in the state. Cotton was already the most widely grown crop in several other southern states during the 18th century, but only in the early 19th centurythe entire south would focus on cotton production. This quickly led to them seeing themselves as “King Cotton .

Civil War and Reconstruction

Atlanta Campaign Commanders
Major General
William T. ShermanGeneral
Joseph E. JohnstonLieutenant General
John Bell Hood

The Route of William T. Sherman ‘s March to the Sea

The power that the southern states thought they had amassed in this way also led to these states taking a stance during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Georgia became the fifth state to side with the Confederacy on January 18, 1861. Given its geographic location, Georgia was spared heavy military clashes during the first half of the Civil War. The first military confrontation did not take place until September 1863. The Battle of Chickamauga resulted in a resounding Confederate victory and immediately ended the Confederate offensive into southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia.

After this final Confederate victory east of the Mississippi, Georgia was once again calm until Major General William T. Sherman began the Atlanta campaign. Confederate General Joseph Johnstonsignificantly inhibited the advance of the Union troops towards Atlanta, a strategic railroad junction. Since Sherman had twice as many men at his disposal as Johnston, the latter did not want to go on the offensive. His defensive campaign is regarded by several historians as an excellent tactical move. The residents of Atlanta, however, only saw the Union troops approaching their city. Consequently, pressure on Johnston from within his own ranks became so great that President Jefferson Davis replaced him with General John Bell Hood on July 17, 1864.who deviated from Johnston’s tactics and went on the offensive. This tactic gave the advantage to Sherman’s numerical superiority who took the city on July 22, 1864.

After virtually destroying the city, General Sherman advanced toward Savannah. On his march to the sea, Sherman’s forces employed scorched earth tactics, destroying all enemy industry, infrastructure, and private property in their path. This campaign has completely disrupted the Georgia economy for years.

During the Reconstruction, Georgia, along with Alabama and Florida, was incorporated into a military district under General John Pope. The Democratic state parliament and governorship were taken over by Republican -minded Northerners who descended to the South for personal gain (the so-called carpetbaggers). The Republican ranks were reinforced by freed slaves and Confederates who saw the opportunity to rebel against the domination of the former planter class, also because of the opportunity for personal gain (the so -called scalawags).). This Republican rule was despised by the Democratic Southern elite. Georgia was the last southern state to be re-admitted to the United States on July 15, 1870, ending Confederate reconstruction. Republicans and Northerners fled the state, and by January 1872, control at all levels was once again in the hands of the state’s white, conservative Democrats.

Guilded Age and Progressive Era

Coca-Cola inventor John Pemberton

Coca-Cola co-owner Asa G. Candler

During the Reconstruction, the military administration moved the capital to Atlanta and began construction on a new Capitol. These developments caused a strong population increase in the new capital. During the Guilded Age , Georgia slowly recovered from the Civil War, while at the same time growing aversion to the North and freed slaves. Across the South, this led to the success of the Ku Klux Klan, whose branch in Georgia was led by a former Confederate general. Also politically, the rights of freed slaves were curtailed in all sorts of ways by the racist Jim Crow laws.

During this period Georgia was drained; no more alcoholic drinks were allowed to be sold. Making a virtue of necessity, pharmacist John Pemberton decided to create a new soft drink. After two years, the recipe was bought by Asa Griggs Candler who promoted the drink as Coca-Cola. Candler’s promotional campaign caught on and soon Coca-Cola became the most famous product produced in the state.

During the Progressive Era, Georgia’s cotton production increased again, though pre-Civil War production levels would never be recovered. The increase was due to an epidemic of aggressive aphids in other US cotton regions. These aphids destroyed the cotton crops in the West and thus sent more and more demand towards the Southeast. The growth lasted only a few years until the cotton plantations in Georgia were also affected. However, cotton production would remain one of the most important economic sectors until after the First World War.

The Great Depression brought about an economic slump in Georgia. Cotton plantations now definitively lost their prominence in the state, and the economy was largely modernized through President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ‘s New Deal programs. Like the rest of the United States, Georgia did not fully recover from the 1929 stock market crash during World War II, which sparked a veritable war economy.

Civil rights movement

Like the other Southern states, Georgia went through a major human rights transformation in the 1960s. Protest against racial segregation in the South originated in part in Atlanta and would end the formidable Jim Crow laws. The abolition of racial segregation did not go smoothly anywhere in the South. Georgia was no different after the Federal Supreme Court officially ended racial segregation in schools in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Governor Samuel Griffin subsequently made every effort to keep schools in Georgia segregated.

Griffin’s successors as governor also maintained racial segregation in education. This situation would only change after the US Department of Justice won a lawsuit in 1969 that forced the state to integrate its school system. Segregation in Georgia was officially declared ended by Governor Jimmy Carter in 1970.

1970 – present

The increasingly populous Sunbelt

The national civil rights movement had an important ally in President Lyndon B. Johnson. However, his policy was not to be liked in the South as it went against, among other things, racial segregation that was still widely supported in Georgia, among others. As a result of his policies, Johnson became the first Democratic president to lose the South, and from then on Georgia transformed itself, along with the traditionally Democratic South, into a Republican stronghold. The only exceptions were the 1976 election won by the Confederate Democrat, former Georgia Democrat Governor Jimmy Carter, and the 1992 electionwhich was won by the Confederate Democrat, former governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton. This changing political climate did not only strengthen the emerging Republican power base in the South. The Southern Democrats also moved to the right. Despite this, the Democratic Party in Georgia not only lost its dominant position during national elections, but also at the state level the party could no longer hold. In 2002 the citizens of Georgia elected with Sonny Perduethe first Republican governor since Reconstruction. To date, the Democrats have not been able to regain the governorship. In addition, both chambers of the state parliament have been continuously Republican-dominated since 2007.

Georgia not only became more politically right-wing, it also became more important economically. After all, the invention of air conditioning makes it possible to live comfortably in the Southern states at all times. As a result, American companies and families moved from the 1960s to the southern and southwestern states, where the so-called Sunbelt is formed. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was further expanded and became the busiest airport worldwide while cheap real estate, low taxes, and so-called “right to work” laws transformed Georgia in general, and Atlanta in particular, into a national financial, real estate and trade center. The state invested in the Georgia World Congress Center which became an additional engine for the development. Atlanta’s position was recognized internationally in 1990 when the International Olympic Committee awarded the city the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Georgia State History