Georgia History 101
Freed from the oppressive nature of the English,
America and Georgia began to flourish and expand. The Proclamation
of 1763 limited state to a narrow strip of land along the coast.
Georgians looked west and saw room for growth. Over the next 55
years (1783-1838) this growth would come at the expense of the American
Indians that surrounded the state and only ended with the removal
of the Creek
Indians and the Cherokee "Trail
The United States struggled as a confederation,
where each state had power but the national government was weak.
"President of the United States" was a titular position elected
by Congress on a yearly basis. From a national convention in 1787
the Constitution of the United States was drawn. On January 2, 1788,
at a convention in Augusta, Georgia became the first state in the
South and the fourth state overall to approve the document, however,
it would not be until the signing in 1789 that we became a representational
democracy and a republic.
Georgia governors after 1783 began to distribute
land through a series of grants to friends and wealthy individuals.
These grants fueled a land speculation known as Pine Barrens Scandal.
In 1795 this scandal was overshadowed by a much more sinister plot
known as the Yazoo Land Fraud. While the Pine Barren Scandal was
created by speculators, the Yazoo Land Fraud compromised a large
number of public officials, including both the present and some
former governors. All officials who were still in office were forced
from the government by reformer James Jackson.
Yankee Eli Whitney modified the cotton gin to process
short-stapled cotton in 1792. Unknown to him, the new machine would
revolutionize the South, extending the institution of slavery. As
cotton production moved inland (long-stapled cotton could only be
produced along the coast but short stapled cotton could be grown
throughout the state), the use of slaves expanded dramatically.
As planters expanded west from coastal Georgia the
farmers were pressured to sell their land at high prices. They then
wanted Creek and Cherokee lands further west to settle. Pressure
increased on these nations to cede holdings, although the once endless
acreage was gone. These Americans became more resistant to give
up their ancestral holdings. "Indian Agent" Benjamin
Hawkins worked for years to get the Creek and other nations
to slowly cede their land.
Former Georgia governor George Mathews, who had
been involved in the Yazoo
land fraud, rekindled the hope of attacking Spanish Florida
that had never really died in spite of three unsuccessful attacks
during the Revolution. With the approval of James Madison he led
a group of about three hundred men, mostly Georgians, south to the
St. Mary River (present-day Georgia-Florida state line), where they
invaded Amelia Island and proclaimed it territory of the United
States on March 17, 1812.
This group then began to plan the investment of St. Augustine, just
as James Oglethorpe had tried
to do 80 years earlier. Mathews was relieved of duty by President
James Madison and governor David Mitchell was put in charge. Mitchell
immediately supplemented the Mathews army with state militia to
continue the advance. However, by this time the war with England
was near, so the American government backed down. An Indian uprising
in the area distracted Mitchell from his planned advance.
The Shawnee warrior Tecumseh tried to rally a number
of Indian Nations to attack the United States. While the Cherokee
refused to hear the words of Tecumseh and his brother The Prophet,
a band of Creek warriors known as the Red Sticks attacked Americans
after hearing Tecumseh and a series of other provocations. General
Andrew Jackson, who had dreams of becoming President of the United
States, responded to the threat west of Georgia. With a group of
Tennessee and Georgia militia, and both Cherokee and Creek Indians,
he defeated the Red Sticks. Jackson then forced the Creek
Nation to cede the lower third of Georgia, although a majority
of the Nation had not supported the Red Stick revolt.
Jackson was a key figure in the First Seminole War
(1816-1819, although there was a period of 18 months without hostility),
once again moving troops through the state to fight an independent
Indian Nation. Seminoles crossed from Spanish Florida into Georgia,
attacking settlers on the frontier in response to the federal destruction
of Fort Appalachicola in July, 1816. Hostilities ended with the
cession of Florida to the U. S. in 1819.
|Let the course proposed by the accountant be
adopted. W. H. Crawford
In 1816 Georgia's William Crawford was defeated
by incumbent James Madison in the presidential election. Crawford,
a former senator who ran on a state-rights platform, was easily
defeated. He assumed the position of Secretary of the Treasury in
Madison's second administration and ran for president again in 1824.
For years Crawford and John
Clark had struggled for political control of the state. Now that
Crawford was more interested in national politics Clark returned
from Washington and ran for governor, defeating Crawford's ally
George Troup. One of the agreements between the two candidates was
the removal of the Creek Nation from Western Georgia.
Our Georgia History: History 101 index
Georgia's Indian Heritage
The Age of Exploration in Georgia
The America Revolution in Georgia
Georgia and the Civil War
Georgia's Gilded Age
A State Divided
Depression and War
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