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Constitutional Georgia

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 of Tears."

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.

William Crawford signed document
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.

Antebellum Georgia

Our Georgia History: History 101 index

Georgia's Indian Heritage
The Age of Exploration in Georgia
Colonial Georgia
The America Revolution in Georgia
Constitutional Georgia
Antebellum Georgia
Georgia and the Civil War
Reconstrution Georgia
Georgia's Gilded Age
A State Divided
Depression and War Return to Index


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Return to Index


FrontHistory 101Early GeorgiaAmerican IndiansSearch
WarsPeopleTimelineListsPlacesPoetry




Golden Ink
Georgia's innovative design group


Legal Notice
Privacy Policy
Copyright