Our Georgia History

Radicals gain power

By Randy Golden
Exclusively for Our Georgia History

By the time the next significant event occurred in Georgia (a meeting of the Radicals at Tondee's Tavern on July 24, 1774) , much had happened to the north. "Tea parties" occurred up the entire coast of the United States. The closest port to Georgia that had one was Charleston, South Carolina, mostly because Savannah had never been much of a port for tea, and Georgia was not of the radical mind set that had been achieved in the other colonies. By far the largest, both in the number of men participating and the amount of tea disposed of, was in Boston Harbor.

It wasn't long after finding out about these treasonous acts that Parliament passed a series of laws that colonists quickly dubbed the "Intolerable Acts" in the Spring of 1774. These laws closed Boston Harbor until the tea dumped overboard had been paid for, disbanded the Massachusetts Assembly, withdrew the right of British officials being tried in America, restated the Quartering Act to include inhabited buildings and extended the borders of Canada to include portions of land claimed by Massachusetts, Connecticut and Virginia.

It was a meeting in South Carolina on July 6, 1774 that sparked the Georgia radicals into action. At this meeting the South Carolinians elected representatives to the First Continental Congress to be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in October. On July 14, 1774 John Houstoun, George Walton, Archibald Bulloch and Noble W. Jones published a broadside that invited their fellow Georgians to a meeting to be held at Peter Tondee's tavern on July 27.

The people at the meeting represented a small but growing group who were fed up with what they saw as the British government's refusal to listen to the valid complaints of the king's subjects. They were mostly local businessmen, elitist politicians, and wealthy planters. The planters were the only people who traveled any distance to the meeting.

Although the radicals were gaining a footing in Georgia, they were far from a majority. Georgia's main interests appear to be maintaining a strong deployment of British troops to protect their frontier, importing trade goods for the Creek and Cherokee Nations along that frontier, while staying radical enough to keep South Carolina from completely cutting off trade with them.

The committee of correspondence was an important means of communication in the early days of the Revolution. It gave power to smaller or incomplete groups to make decisions affecting the entire group. Needless to say, the men to whom this power was given were carefully chosen.

On August 10, 1774 a follow-up meeting occurred that was somewhat more organized the the July 24 meeting. Each parish had representatives at this meeting and the eight resolutions that the committee adopted were pretty predictable, given the nature of the earlier meeting. Each of the Intolerable Acts were addressed, with this "committee of thirty" objecting to each them for restricting their rights as Englishmen. This meeting also established that any 11 members of the group could organize to correspond with other colonies on an official basis.

In spite of the committee passing these resolutions it did not vote to send representatives to the First Continental Congress. No record exists as to the debate that occurred surrounding this event, however, it is known that Lyman Hall, who attended the August 10th meeting, strongly supported sending delegates. He did not succeed in convincing others.

Instead, he returned to Midway where he worked to convince members from each parish that Georgia must send delegates to the convention. In the end, four parishes (St. Andrew, St. David, St. John and St. George) agreed to send delegates, and selected Hall to represent them. Since only 4 parishes were in agreement with the radicals, Hall did not feel he could attend because a majority of the state's parishes had not participated.

As a result of this the colony of Georgia remained the only one of the original colonies not to be represented at Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia in September, 1774, site of the First Continental Congress.

Next: Georgia Joins the Continental Congress

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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