Our Georgia History

Augustin Smith Clayton
November 27, 1783 Augustin Smith Clayton born, Fredricksburg, Virgina
  Augustin Smith Clayton
September 5, 1831 Trial begins in Gwinnett County before Augustin Smith Clayton for missionaries, including Samuel Worcester, who had violated a Georgia law prohibiting white from working in the Cherokee Nation. This case would go to the Supreme Court as Worcester vs. the State of Georgia
  Gwinnett County, Georgia
  Augustin Smith Clayton
September 15, 1831 Eleven white missionaries are found guilty in Lawrenceville, Georgia for violating Georgia law requiring an oath of allegiance from all white men working in the Cherokee Nation. This case would go to the Supreme Court.
  Augustin Smith Clayton
January 21, 1832 Augustin S. Clayton enters the U. S. Senate, replacing Wilson Lumpkin, who had been elected Governor of Georgia
  Augustin Smith Clayton
June 21, 1839 Augustin Smith Clayton dies, Athens, Georgia
  Augustin Smith Clayton
November 30, 1858 Clayton County created
  Augustin Smith Clayton
  Creation of Georgia Counties
  Clayton County, Georgia

Born in Fredricksburg but raised in Augusta, Augustin Smith Clayton was highly respected not only as a legislator and justice, but also as an intellectual who defended the policies of Georgia above those of the United States.

His affiliation with George Troup and the "Troupites" reflected his stature as one the aristocratic leaders of Georgia in the 1820's and 30's. He was good friends with John Berrien, who shared many of his viewpoints, although Clayton was a strong supporter of nullification and voted against the Tariff of 1828 (Tariff of Abominations).

In response to the tariff levied by the United States, he proposed an excise tax be charged against all Northern goods, making the Southern goods more appealing to locals. Although he was unable to get the tax, Clayton opened a cotton mill in Athens the following year.

His defense of the Native American policy of the state supported the extension of Georgia law into the Cherokee Nation, a wildly popular concept in the early 1830's.

As a Superior Court judge in 1831, it was Clayton who heard the case against Cherokee missionaries Samuel Worcestor and Elizur Butler in Gwinnett County for violating a Georgia law requiring whites register before working in the Cherokee Nation. Clayton sentenced them to four years at hard labor. Clayton's ruling in the case would be overturned by the United States Supreme Court (Worcester v. Georgia).

After the Worcester v. Georgia ruling in 1832 former President John Quincy Adams complained about the fact that "no steps had been taken by the government of the United States to to prevent the manifest violation of its laws." Smith responded that they (Adams and others) were meddling with what did not concern them."

He also opposed the central bank, as did President Andrew Jackson, for what he perceived to be monopolistic and oppressive policies. The bank actually angered many land speculators (Jackson was a notorious land speculator), since it was more difficult for them to make a profit. Clayton wrote articles against the bank under the assumed name of Atticus. A Jacksonian Democrat, Clayton ghosted a book entitled The Life of Martin van Buren. Van Buren, who had a black mistress and had smeared John C. Calhoun was unpopular in Georgia.

Probably the only major issue that Clayton disagreed with Jackson was on nullification. Clayton, a strong states rights supporter, believed that states had the right to nullify federal law, such as tariffs.

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