Politics of Georgia (U.S. state)

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Savannah in its earliest days.

Colonial times

The Province of Georgia was founded in 1733 as a British colony by way of royal charter through a trust led by James Oglethorpe, a member of Parliament who had originally envisioned it as a place to resettle volunteering debtors instead of sending them to prison. It was named after King George II, the reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies at that time. Soon after its creation, this new entity served the multiple purposes of occupying land where the native Yamasee had once lived before the Yamasee War, protecting prior establishments in South Carolina from the Spanish presence in Florida, and hindering the escape of West African slaves from reaching lands beyond the frontier and the control of their owners.

Although most early Georgia colonists were English, Scottish, and German artisans seeking arable land or freedom of religion, many of them complained to their leaders that the slave ban created a labor shortage that impeded local finances compared to other Southern colonies. After Spain failed to conquer the area during the War of Jenkins' Ear, slavery became legal in 1749 and altered the balance of power. Thousands of slaves were brought in to work on plantations producing rice, indigo, and sugar. Their owners, mostly South Carolina planters, were wealthier than the established inhabitants and soon got most of the official appointments in the Crown colony that replaced the trusteeship in 1754.

Portrait of Archibald Bulloch.

Before the Civil War

Georgia had two rival governments during the American Revolutionary War: the appointed Loyalist regime of James Wright and the Patriot administration first led by Archibald Bulloch. After escaping revolutionary forces, Wright fled the colony in 1776 but organized a return backed by British military force in 1778 only to leave again in 1782 following the end of hostilities and victory by the rebels. Despite his untimely death in 1777, Bulloch and his colleagues founded a republican system and Georgia became the fourth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1788.

While Georgia started along the Atlantic Ocean and the Savannah River, westward settlement made territorial issues prominent. An expansion from the Altamaha River to the St. Marys River and the drawing of southern and northern borders neglected a western boundary, which was first the Pacific Ocean and then the Mississippi River. A federal desire for more states and nationwide anger at the Yazoo Fraud obliged Georgia leaders to delimit their claim in 1802 at the Chattahoochee River up to its head of navigation at the site of modern Columbus and a line running north by west from there.

In the early United States, most Georgia politicians stood with the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican Party favoring strict constructionism in constitutional law and states' rights over federal power. Unlike the Federalist Party, which backed strong central government, Jeffersonians wanted a freer hand in both Indian removal and expanded plantation slavery. Before the Revolution, Georgia was home to the native Creek and Cherokee, but the advent of the cotton gin in 1793 and the Georgia Gold Rush in 1829 spurred runs on land. The Georgia Land Lottery tried to reduce corruption by giving native lands to poorer citizens, but did so as native treaties like the Treaty of Indian Springs were broken or revised.[citation needed]

By the 1830s, Georgia politics was split by the Jacksonian Democratic Party and the Anti-Jacksonian Whig Party. After the Jacksonian-favored Indian Removal Act of 1830 was voided by the U.S. Supreme Court in Worcester v. Georgia in 1832 on the grounds that Indian natives were entitled to federal protection, the ruling was ignored by both presidents and the state, leading to what is now called the Trail of Tears. Slavery expanded throughout the state and the legislature declared black people to be noncitizens in 1842. After the Compromise of 1850 tried to resolve slavery as an issue, the Georgia Platform was accepted by many Southerners as the policy by which secession could be avoided.

Portrait of Joseph E. Brown.

During the Civil War

After the 1850s merger of most state Whigs into a reinvented Democratic Party that was now inflexible on both the expansion of slavery and a highly devolved federalism, the victory of the moderately abolitionist Abraham Lincoln in the presidential election of 1860 drove Georgia to become the fifth state to approve an Ordinance of Secession. A founding member of the Confederate States of America in 1861, the state sent tens of thousands of soldiers to fight in the American Civil War.[citation needed]

After the Civil War

In 1948 the States' Rights Democratic Party split from the Democratic Party. This group—whose members were called Dixicrats—was very segregationist and strove to deny Republican and Democratic majorities in the House of Representatives, and pushed for its candidate Strom Thurmond to be the Democratic nominee in southern states. Georgia was the only Deep South state to reject the nominee as its Democratic nominee; Thurmond ran as a third party candidate in the state.[1]

During the 1960s and 1970s, Georgia made significant changes in civil rights, governance, and economic growth focused on Atlanta. It was a bedrock of the emerging "New South". In 1983, Georgia's tenth Constitution was ratified, and is the newest state constitution in the United States as of 2015.

Nathan Deal, the present-day Governor of Georgia.

21st century

Its voters passed a ban on same-sex marriage with 76% voting yes.[2] The ban was invalidated in 2015 by the United States Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges.

About half of all appropriations in the Georgia state budget each year are funded by state taxes, with the remainder of revenue coming from federal grants and state bonds. In recent years, Georgia has had one of the best performing economies of the U.S. states as it relates to both taxation-to-spending and tax-to-debt ratios.[citation needed] It also has the fourth lowest per capita government debt.

See also


  1. Buchanan, Scott (27 July 2004). "Dixiecrats". Retrieved 1 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Georgia Marriage Amendment, Question 1 (2004)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 22 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links