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Georgia headright grants
June 7, 1777 Georgia passes its first headright law, allowing the leader of the executive branch to give land to individuals to "strengthen the state." No land is granted under this law.
  Georgia headright grants
September 16, 1777 Georgia amends the headright provision to also create a land sales office. No land is granted or sold under this act.
  Georgia headright grants
January 23, 1780 Georgia passes a headright law offering families 200 acres of land, plus 50 acres per person, to migrate to Georgia. Some land is surveyed to be granted, but none is actually granted under this law.
  Georgia headright grants
February 17, 1783 Georgia passes a new headright law. This law recognizes the grants made under the 1780 headright law
  Georgia headright grants
October 22, 1783 First of the Georgia headright grants is made.
  Georgia headright grants
May 29, 1784 A general brawl erupts at the headright distribution for Franklin and Washington County.
  Washington County, Georgia
  Franklin County, Georgia
  Georgia headright grants
July 15, 1784 Because of the huge amount of fraud Georgia's Executive Council suspends the granting of land in Franklin and Washington Counties
  Washington County, Georgia
  Franklin County, Georgia
  Georgia headright grants
February 22, 1785 The General Assembly addresses the headright issues with a new act establishing a set procedure for granting headright land by delegating the authority to grant land to land courts in each county
  Georgia headright grants
December 21, 1789 The Georgia Assembly, unsuccessful in dealing with the headright issue, agrees to sell land to the South Carolina Yazoo Company, The Virginia Yazoo Company and the Tennessee Yazoo Land Company. The deal, selling some 20 million acres falls through when the companies try to pay with near worthless specie
  Georgia headright grants
January 7, 1795 Governor George Mathews signs into law a bill that agrees to sell almost 40 million acres to speculators at the starting the Yazoo Land Fraud. This corrupt deal led to the downfall of many popular politicians of the day.
  Yazoo Land Fraud
  Georgia headright grants
  James Gunn
February 18, 1796 Under pressure from reformists led by U.S. Senator and Revolutionary War hero James Jackson, the Yazoo Land Act is rescinded.
  James Jackson
  Georgia headright grants
February 21, 1796 At the state capital in Louisville, Georgia's reform politicians burn every copy of the Yazoo Land Act except for one sent to General George Washington. It is the only known copy of the act to survive
  Georgia headright grants
May 11, 1803 Land Lottery Act passed by Georgia legislature. Georgia needed to divest new lands ceded by the Creek, and did not want to return to the corrupt headright practice. A lottery to be held in 1805 that gave advantages to veterans was chosen.
  Georgia headright grants


"Headright" was a rudimentary system of granting lands to able-bodied men (women were pretty much excluded from holding land at the time) dating back to the early 1600's in the Virginia colony. One of the earliest problems faced by Georgia under the trustee rule was the lack of ability to attract men who were willing and able to produce crops. Men were unwilling to work for the meager sums of money, but give them land and they came in droves, for with land came power.

Georgia was faced with hostile Creek and Cherokee Indians, and the headright system seemed to be the perfect solution. By granting lands to settlers they would build a buffer zone around the state on the backs of upcountry farmers ("crackers> to the coastal wealthy, because their products had to be cracked before being used).

Georgia passed a number of headright laws, but it was in 1782 that headrights were granted, almost all to those who fought for the state during the Revolution.

Revolutionary War soldiers merely had to bring a piece of paper signed by their commanding officer to get a headright grant (grant size depended on the time the paper was turned in and the rank of the soldier). The practice was almost immediately corrupted by some very prominent men including Elijah Clark, Edward Telfair and Ignatius Few, who signed vouchers for men who would claim headright land then deed it to their former commanders.

After the Revolution land speculation was rampant in the new states. Georgia's contribution was land scandal that that is mentioned by most history books to illustrate the practice, the Yazoo Land Fraud. Respected Georgia politicians decided to line their pockets with graft money, first in 1789 (this one fell through when the politicians realized that they were dealing with men who were shadier than themselves, including Patrick Henry) and again in 1795. Georgia passed a law granting land (20 million acres the first time, almost 40 million dollars the second time)





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