Our Georgia History

Slavery in Georgia
January 9, 1735 Slavery and rum outlawed in the colony of Georgia.
  Slavery in Georgia
May 19, 1749 Trustees petition the king to allow the repeal of the prohibition of slavery
  Slavery in Georgia
October 26, 1749 Petition requesting slavery is approved.
  Slavery in Georgia
January 1, 1751 Slavery officially becomes legal in Georgia
  Slavery in Georgia
March 15, 1758 Negro slaves prohibited from working as: carpenters, masons, bricklayers, plasterers, or joiners. The general assembly did this to encourage the settlement of skilled labor in the state of Georgia
  Slavery in Georgia
June 20, 1793 Eli Whitney files a patent application for the cotton gin, developed on the plantation of American Revolutionary hero General Nathaniel Greene
  Nathanael Greene
  Slavery in Georgia
July 27, 1848 The U. S. Senate passes the Clayton Compromise, a solution to the issue of slavery in the territories. It essentially let the courts decide the issue. Among those voting for the bill, which passed 33-22 were John C. Calhoun, John Berrien, Lewis Cass, and Jefferson Davis.
  Lewis Cass
  Henry Clay
  Slavery in Georgia
  John MacPherson Berrien (John Berrien)
  John C. Calhoun
June 24, 1856 The Toombs Bill, an attempt to bring a constitutional convention to Kansas amid growing involvement of pro-slavery and abolitionist forces is introduced into the Congress.
  Robert Toombs
  Slavery in Georgia
December 18, 1860 Lincoln writes Alexander Stephens to assure him that he (Lincoln) will not interfere with slavery in the South, directly or indirectly.
  Civil War - 1860
  Alexander Stephens
  Slavery in Georgia
January 19, 1861 Georgia votes to secede from the Union at a convention held in Milledgeville, Georgia.
  Civil War - 1861
  Robert Toombs
  Slavery in Georgia
January 16, 1865 From his field headquarters in Savannah, General William Tecumseh Sherman issues Special Field Orders, No. 15, giving "negroes now made free by the acts of war" abandoned coastal land from Charleston to the St. Johns River in Florida
  City of Savannah, Georgia
  Slavery in Georgia
July 27, 2002 Savannah unveils a bronze statue on River Street (Rousakis Plaza) commemorating African-Americans who had been forced into slavery and brought to Georgia through the port.
  Slavery in Georgia
June 2, 2005 Wachovia apologized to African-Americans for the Charlotte(NC)-based banks ties to American slavery. Georgia Railroad and Banking Co. of Augusta, a predecessor bank, held at least 182 slaves to build a railroad.
  Wachovia and First Union Banks
  Slavery in Georgia

Oglethorpe and the trustees had slavery banned during his first trip to England from the colony of Georgia. While slaves were present in the colony after 1742, they were not legal until George Whitfield and James Habersham requested that William Stevens, then President of Georgia, petition the Trustees to institutionalize (legalize) the practice. Although the petition presented it in light of cost of goods and competition with South Carolina, the simple fact was that it was very difficult to find whites who were willing to do the needed work.

The Trustees, in turn, petitioned the king, who granted the request. After its legalization, slaves began to arrive in unbelievable numbers. Rice growers required a huge number, since most would die within a few weeks of their arrival. Cotton, also a coastal crop, required a large number of slaves.

By the 1780's, slavery appeared to be dying. Vermont and Pennsylvania were first to outlaw the practice and men such as Elias Boudinot were working to outlaw the practice in New Jersey and other states. The Northwest Territories expressly forbade the practice. In the South, however, Georgia and South Carolina fought every proposal to limit slavery.

In 1793 Eli Whitney perfected a method of removing cotton seeds (the cotton gin). Before this invention cotton had to be removed by hand. With the gin cotton production expanded rapidly, since short-staple cotton, which could be grown inland, could now be processed easily.

William Ellery Channing first proposed that the government "purchase" the slaves from landowners, using money from the sale of Western lands in 1830. The government was underwhelmed. William Lloyd Garrison began publishing The Liberator, alone in his advocating abolition without payment. Slowly others came to his aid, and an Antislavery Society was founded.

It is commonly portrayed that the South was strongly pro-slavery while the North was anti-slave. Many northern businessmen were against abolition because they felt it would be bad for business. Others felt the slavery issue would divide the Union. Lower economic classes did not want competition for jobs. In the mid-1830's anti-abolition riots broke out in New York, Boston, New Jersey and New Hampshire.

Former United States Presdident John Quincy Adams began petitioning Congress to abolish slavery in Washington D. C. in 1836. By 1848 enough northerners had changed their mind to nominate Martin Van Buren for President running on the Free Soil party. The party did not win any electoral votes. In 1850 California demanded admission as a free state, setting in motion the Clay Comprimise (Compromise of 1850). This was the first of a series of compromises and judicial rulings that drove a wedge in the Union because of Slavery.

Northern resolve was being steeled by enforcement of the Fugitive Slave laws and books like Uncle Tom's Cabin more than the inflamatory oratory of Garrison. The Kansas-Nebraska problems resulted in the formation of the Republican Party, which carried all but four northern states. They fought the extension of slavery and proposed government-backed internal improvements.

During President Buchanan's term Georgians found support for their position from the Dred Scot decision, but both the Senate and House were now controlled by free states. Bloody Kansas, no matter who won, served to concern the entire U. S. as a picture of things to come. The nomination of Abraham Lincoln as Republican candidate also concerned the South, but it was his surprising victory in the 1860 election that sealed the South's withdrawal from the Union in spite of his promise to Alex Stephens that he would not interfer with slavery where it existed.

Two years later Lincoln ended slavery with the Emancipation Proclaimation.

Return to Index

FrontHistory 101Early GeorgiaAmerican IndiansSearch

Golden Ink
Georgia's innovative design group

Legal Notice
Privacy Policy