A State and Union formed
With the royal government in exile the first
order of business for the Whigs was the creation of government, which
they did by adopting a set of "Rules and Regulations"
on April 15,1776.
This document, generally viewed as Georgia's first constitution, was
actually created in Augusta, because the Radical
government had removed up river after the problems in Savannah.
It created a broad outline of state government to be filled in later.
On May 1, 1776,
Archibald Bulloch became the first leader of the
state of Georgia, elected under this document.
Georgia's delegation to the Second Continental
Congress also changed. Selected to join Lyman Hall
for the proceedings in Philadelphia were Button
Walton, Archibald Bulloch, and John
Houstoun. Unfortunately, Bulloch felt he could better serve
the state by staying in Savannah as President of the Council of
Safety and Houstoun was dealing with personal affairs.
After the Battle of the Rice Boats,
Georgia's Council of Safety understood that it
must mobilize the state to prepare for future attacks. Since the
middle of February the British fleet had patrolled the sea around
Cockspur Island at the entrance to Savannah River,
having the effect of dramatically curtailing shipping. With the
call to arms, the Council realized that Savannah shipping was not
their only problem. They had to prepare for an attack from other
areas. The one of greatest concern was East Florida.
The Continental command structure had Major
General Charles Lee commanding the forces in Virginia,
North and South Carolina and Georgia,
with General John Armstrong in charge of Georgia
and South Carolina. The Council of Safety and Lee, the eccentric
English-born son of an Irishman who may have given the British the
idea of a "southern strategy", repeatedly
disagreed over military matters.
One of the earliest recommendations of the Continental
Congress and General Lee (actually made before the Battle
of the Rice Boats) was for Georgia and the Carolinas to launch an
expedition to remove the problem of British East Florida.
St. Augustine was home to John Stuart, the British
Creek Indian agent whom the Council feared would stir up trouble
on Georgia's frontiers. It was also home to the East Florida government,
headed by able governor Patrick Tonyn, and site
of the encampments of the Florida Rangers, whose
raids across the border into Georgia had cost coastal South Georgia
farmers a good deal of cattle. The Rangers were led by Thomas Brown,
who left Augusta after a run-in with the Liberty Boys.
Raids across the St. Mary's were
daily news, the Florida Rangers scouring the land
for cattle while various Georgia irregular units looked for the
Rangers. In May, 1776, Capt. William McIntosh was ordered to take
a small group of irregulars to the St. Mary's River
and raid settlements to the south, burning any fortifications constructed
by the Rangers and destroying other military infrastructure. Gov.
Tonyn told the legislature of this plan 4 days after it was approved.
The Floridians had an excellent information network deep into revolutionary
Georgia. Additional plans were made to mount a major expedition
into Tonyn's Florida. The intent would be to drive the British from
the area between the St. Mary's River and the St. John's River to
St. Augustine, where they would be forced to surrender due to a
lack of food.
Meanwhile, on the national front, The Second
Continental Congress reconvened on May
10, 1776 and recommended that the individual
colonies draft constitutions. Ten days later two of the three Georgia
delegates, Button Gwinnett and Lyman Hall, arrived in Philadelphia
to join the representatives already seated. Richard Henry
"Lighthorse Harry" Lee made a resolution on June
7 that Congress declare independence. On June
10 the Second Continental Congress created a Committee to draft
the document that would formally declare the United States independent
of the oppressive British regime. The committee (Roger Sherman,
John Adams, Benjamin Franklin,
Robert Livingston and Thomas Jefferson)
decided to turn the process over to 33 year-old Thomas Jefferson
At the same time these men were working on the Declaration
two other committees were formed, one to draw up the Articles
of Confederation, the other to draw up a treaty with France.
Georgia delegate Button
Gwinnett served on the "committee of thirteen,"
responsible for the Articles of Confederation. Gwinnett's biggest
contribution appears to be his support for the United States to
control Indian affairs.
| Broadsides were a common method of conferring
information during the 18th and 19th century. Of the estimated
200 original broadsides printed on the night of July 4-5, 1776,
only 24 remain.
The original Declaration of Independence, signed by John Hancock
and Charles Thompson was sent to a manuscript transcriber (Mary
Katherine Goddard of Baltimore), who painstakingly recreated
the document 15 times by hand on special parchment treated to
make it look older. These manuscripts were then signed by each
member of the Second Continental Congress on Aug. 2.
On June 28 Jefferson
presented his oft revised work to the committee, who in turn made
revisions to the document before presenting it to the Congress on
July 1. First debate centered on independence,
not really the document itself. On July
2, 1776, the Lee Resolution was adopted.
This date is occasionally given as the technical date of independence,
although at this point some states still were dissatisfied with
the document. For two days the delegates to the Second Continental
Congress refined the wording of Jefferson's Declaration.
Then, late in the afternoon on the 4th
the body approved the document with twelve states voting for it.
Only New York did not add its voice, because a new convention was
convened and the delegates were awaiting instructions. On the evening
of July 4, 1776
the committee set out to fulfill their final duties...to have the
Declaration of Independence printed.
July 5, 1776
broke clear and cool in Philadelphia. Jefferson and the other committee
members picked up the broadsides from a printshop owned by John
Dunlop. They returned the broadsides to Congress where each state's
delegation was responsible for sending the Declaration to the appropriate
bodies in their home state. Button
Hall and George
Walton, who had only recently arrived from Savannah,
decided to send one copy to Archibald Bulloch,
head of the Council of Safety.
On August 8, Bulloch
received the "broadside", which he immediately read to
the Council. Two days later he again read it, this time to the people
of Georgia during a celebration in Savannah. About the same time,
McIntosh began his raids along the St. Mary's, successfully driving
the English plantation owners from their homes. Yet the Council
of Safety was not satisfied with the results of McIntosh's raids.
They informed General Lee that the plan for the
original expedition should move forward.
First Florida Expedition
Acts Of War
Georgia in 1763
Sugar Act; Stamp Act
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