Our Georgia History
 
The House Dissolved
By Randy Golden
Exclusively for Our Georgia History

On November 10, 1763, Creek Indians ceded to the colony of Georgia the coastal land between the Altamaha and St. Mary's. In 1765 Georgia created four parishes from this new land, and by 1768 the population had increased to the point where the Lower House felt they needed to be represented. On November 15, 1769 the Lower House requested Royal Governor James Wright to order elections in the parishes.

Wright had to refuse. He did not have permission to increase the number of representatives; in fact, he had orders not to increase these numbers. So the legislature tried to use the taxation ploy to get the representatives. They claimed that unless the parishes were represented in the Lower House they could not tax them, in spite of the fact that the House had been taxing them for years without representation.

In the end, the Lower House passed the tax bill but exempted the new counties. Then during the October, 1770, session no tax bill was passed, and the House informed Governor Wright that no bill would be passed. The state would not have any money with which to do business. Additionally, the house wanted to swear in a witness, who refused to take the oath. These two impasses led the governor to dissolve the assembly.

Early in 1771 writs for elections were finally issued. The newly elected House convened in April, 1771 and elected Noble Wimberly Jones as Speaker. Jones, who had been speaker the previous year when the House refused to act on the tax bill and was known to be sympathetic to the patriot cause, was rejected by Governor Wright. Archibald Bulloch, who was also known for his anti-British rhetoric, was elected in place of Jones. Wright did not object to this choice.

Precedent is important in both English and American law. When no law exists to make a decision, a judge can make a binding decision based on precedent.

Unfortunately, the Lower House could not leave well enough alone. They decided to pass two measures, one thanking Jones for being "a true lover of his country." The other explicitly refused to accept the governor's actions as a precedent, calling Wright's dismissal of Jones a "high breach of privilege." Wright had no choice but to once again dissolve the assembly, since the wording of the measure was a slap at royal authority.

In July, Wright left for an extended trip to England on business not related to his position as royal governor. James Habersham, who had been an early colonist, successful merchant and educator, and one of three who petitioned to allow slavery in Georgia, took the helm of office. His plan was to delay the next meeting of the Lower House until the furor died down from the last meeting.

When the Lower House was once again called into session on April 12, 1772, they elected Noble Wimberly Jones as speaker once again. Habersham rejected the choice. After reelecting Jones two more times, Jones finally declined the election. At this point Archibald Bulloch was once again elected speaker. The choice was acceptable to Habersham, however, he directed the House to remove mention of the two elections of Jones after the disapproval. They refused and once again the House was dissolved.

In December, 1772 a new House once again tried to elect Jones as its speaker. This time Jones thanked the body but declined to serve. The second choice, William Young was acceptable to Habersham and for the first time in more than two years the body sat down to some serious work. In February, 1773 Wright returned from England to relative calm. At least for a while.

Next:Radicals Gain Power

Acts Of War
Georgia in 1763
Sugar Act; Stamp Act
Townshend Acts
The House dissolved
Radicals Gain Power
Georgia joins the Continental Congress
A Colony at War
A State and Union Formed
The First Florida Expedition
A Leader Dies
The Second Florida Expedition
The Third Florida Expedition
Britain Attacks Georgia
Georgia Fight Backs
The Siege and Battle of Savannah
There Comes a Reaper
The Liberation of Georgia



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