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State of Georgia

ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Named for King George II of England in 1732.

NICKNAME: The Empire State of the South; the Peach State.

CAPITAL: Atlanta.

ENTERED UNION: 2 January 1788 (4th).

SONG: "Georgia on My Mind."

MOTTO: Wisdom, Justice and Moderation.

COAT OF ARMS: Three columns support an arch inscribed with the word "Constitution;" intertwined among the columns is a banner bearing the state motto. Right of center stands a soldier with a drawn sword, representing the aid of the military in defending the Constitution. Surrounding the whole are the words "State of Georgia 1776."

FLAG: The Georgia flag has two red stripes and one white stripe. The state coat of arms is on a blue field in the upper left corner. Flag adopted 8 May 2003.

OFFICIAL SEAL: obverse: same as the coat of arms. reverse: a sailing vessel and a smaller boat are offshore; on land, a man and horse plow a field, and sheep graze in the background. The scene is surrounded by the words "Agriculture and Commerce 1776."

BIRD: Brown thrasher.

FISH: Largemouth bass.

FLOWER: Cherokee rose; azalea (wildflower).

TREE: Live oak.

GEM: Quartz.

LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., 3rd Monday in January; Confederate Memorial Day, 26 April; National Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Columbus Day, 2nd Monday in October; Veterans' Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Robert E. Lee's Birthday, 19 January (observed the day after Thanksgiving); Christmas Day, 25 December.

TIME: 7 AM EST = noon GMT.


Located in the southeastern United States, Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River, and ranks 21st in size among the 50 states.

The total area of Georgia is 58,910 sq mi (152,576 sq km), of which land comprises 58,056 sq mi (150,365 sq km) and inland water 854 sq mi (2,211 sq km). Georgia extends 254 mi (409 km) e-w; the maximum n-s extension is 320 mi (515 km) e-w.

Georgia is bordered on the n by Tennessee and North Carolina; on the e by South Carolina (with the line formed by the Chattooga, Tugaloo, and Savannah rivers) and by the Atlantic Ocean; on the s by Florida (with the line in the se defined by the St. Mary's River); and on the w by Alabama (separated in the sw by the Chattahoochee River). The state's geographic center is located in Twiggs County, 18 mi (29 km) sw of Macon.

The Sea Islands extend the length of the Georgia coast. The state's total boundary length is 1,039 mi (1,672 km).


Northern Georgia is mountainous, the central region is characterized by the rolling hills of the Piedmont Plateau, and southern Georgia is a nearly flat coastal plain.

The Blue Ridge Mountains tumble to an end in northern Georgia, where Brasstown Bald, at 4,784 ft (1,459 m), is the highest point in the state. The piedmont slopes slowly to the fall line, descending from about 2,000 ft (610 m) to 300 ft (90 m) above sea level. Stone Mountain, where a Confederate memorial is carved into a mass of solid granite 1,686 ft (514 m) high, is the region's most famous landmark. The mean elevation in the state is approximately 600 ft (183 m).

The piedmont region ends in a ridge of sand hills running across the state from Augusta to Columbus. The residue of an ancient ocean was caught in the vast shallow basin on the Florida border, known as the Okefenokee Swamp, which filled with fresh water over the centuries. The coastal plain, thinly populated except for towns at the mouths of inland rivers, ends in marshlands along the Atlantic Ocean. Sea level at the Atlantic Ocean is the lowest point of the state. Lying offshore are the Sea Islands, called the Golden Isles of Georgia, the most important of which are, from north to south, Tybee, Ossabaw, St. Catherines, Sapelo, St. Simons, Sea Island, Jekyll, and Cumberland.

Two great rivers rise in the northeast: the Savannah, which forms part of the border with South Carolina, and the Chattahoochee, which flows across the state to become the western boundary. The Flint joins the Chattahoochee at the southwestern corner of Georgia to form the Apalachicola, which flows through Florida into the Gulf of Mexico. The two largest rivers of central Georgia, the Ocmulgee and Oconee, flow together to form the Altamaha, which then flows eastward to the Atlantic. Perhaps the best-known Georgia river, though smaller than any of the above, is the Suwannee, flowing southwest through the Okefenokee Swamp, across Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico, and famous for its evocation in the song "Old Folks at Home" by Stephen Foster. Huge lakes created by dams on the Savannah River are Clark Hill Reservoir and Hart-well Lake; artificial lakes on the Chattahoochee River include Lake Seminole, Walter F. George Reservoir, Lake Harding, West Point Reservoir, and Lake Sidney Lanier.


The Chattahoochee River divides Georgia into separate climatic regions. The mountain region to the northwest is colder than the rest of Georgia, averaging 39°f (4°c) in January and 78°f (26°c) in July. The state experiences mild winters, ranging from a January average of 44°f (7°c) in the piedmont to 54°f (12°c) on the coast. Summers are hot in the piedmont and on the coast, with July temperatures averaging 80°f (27°c) or above. The record high is 113°f (45°c) at Greenville on 27 May 1978; the record low is 17°f (27°c), registered in Floyd County on 27 January 1940.

Humidity is high, ranging from 82% in the morning to 56% in the afternoon in Atlanta. Rainfall varies considerably from year to year but averages 50 in (127 cm) annually in the lowlands, increasing to 75 in (191 cm) in the mountains; snow falls occasionally in the interior. Tornadoes are an annual threat in mountain areas, and Georgia beaches are exposed to hurricane tides.

The growing season is approximately 185 days in the mountains and a generous 300 days in southern Georgia.


Georgia has some 250 species of trees, 90% of which are of commercial importance. White and scrub pines, chestnut, northern red oak, and buckeye cover the mountain zone, while loblolly and shortleaf (yellow) pines and whiteback maple are found throughout the piedmont. Pecan trees grow densely in southern Georgia, and white oak and cypress are plentiful in the eastern part of the state. Trees found throughout the state include red cedar, scaly-bark and white hickories, red maple, sycamore, yellow poplar, sassafras, sweet and black gums, and various dogwoods and magnolias. Common flowering shrubs include yellow jasmine, flowering quince, and mountain laurel. Spanish moss grows abundantly on the coast and around the streams and swamps of the entire coastal plain. Kudzu vines, originally from Asia, are ubiquitous.

Prominent among Georgia fauna is the white-tailed (Virginia) deer, found in some 50 counties. Other common mammals are the black bear, muskrat, raccoon opossum, mink, common cottontail, and three species of squirrelfox, gray, and flying. No fewer than 160 bird species breed in Georgia, among them the mockingbird, brown thrasher (the state bird), and numerous sparrows; the Okefenokee Swamp is home to the sandhill piper, snowy egret, and white ibis. The bobwhite quail is the most popular game bird. There are 79 species of reptile, including such poisonous snakes as the rattler, copperhead, and cottonmouth moccasin. The state's 63 amphibian species consist mainly of various salamanders, frogs, and toads. The most popular freshwater game fish are trout, bream, bass, and catfish, all but the last of which are produced in state hatcheries for restocking. Dolphins, porpoises, shrimp, oysters, and blue crabs are found of the Georgia coast.

The Okefenokee Swamp (which extends into Georgia) supports 233 bird species, 48 mammal species, 66 reptile species, 37 amphibian species, and 36 fish species. One of the largest US populations of the American alligator can be found there as well.

The state lists 58 protected plants, of which 23including hairy rattleweed, Alabama leather flower, smooth coneflower, two species of quillwort, pondberry, Canby's dropwort, harperella, fringed campion, and two species of trilliumare endangered. In April 2006, a total of 60 species occurring within the state were on the threatened and endangered species list of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. These included 38 animal (vertebrates and invertebrates) and 22 plant species, such as the bald eagle, eastern indigo snake, West Indian manatee, four species of moccasinshell, five species of turtle, wood stork, three species of whale, red-cockaded woodpecker, and shortnose sturgeon.


In the early 1970s, environmentalists pointed to the fact that the Savannah River had been polluted by industrial waste and that an estimated 58% of Georgia's citizens lived in districts lacking adequate sewage treatment facilities. In 1972, at the prodding of Governor Jimmy Carter, the General Assembly created the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) within the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This agency administers 21 state environmental laws, most of them passed during the 1970s: the Water Quality Control Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Groundwater Use Act, the Surface Water Allocation Act, the Air Quality Act, the Safe Dams Act, the Asbestos Safety Act, the Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Act, the Hazardous Site Response Act, the Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Act, the Scrap Tire Amendment, the Underground Storage Tank Act, the Hazardous Waste Management Act, the Sedimentation and Erosion Control Act, the River Basin Management Plans, the Water Well Standards Act, the Oil and Hazardous Materials Spill Act, the Georgia Environmental Policy Act, the Surface Mining Act, and the Oil and Gas and the Deep Drilling Act. The EPD issues all environmental permits, with the exception of those required by the Marshlands Protection and Shore Assistance Acts, which are enforced by the Coastal Resources Division of the DNR.

As of 1997, the state had 7.7 million acres of wetlands. The Okefenokee Swamp (which extends into Florida) was designated in 1986; it is the second largest wetland in the nation. The site is federally owned and managed, in part, under the Okefenokee Wilderness Act of 1974.

Georgia's greatest environmental problems are an increasingly scarce water supply, nonpoint source water pollution, and hazardous waste sites. In 2003, the US US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) (EPA) database listed 408 hazardous waste sites in Georgia, 15 of which were on the National Priorities List as of 2006, including the Robins Air Force Base landfill in Houston County and the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany. In 2005, the EPA spent over $9.6 million through the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state. In 2003, 126.7 million lb of toxic chemicals were released in the state. In 2005, federal EPA grants awarded to the state included over $13 million to be offered as loans for water quality and protection projects.


Georgia ranked ninth in population in the United States with an estimated total of 9,072,576 in 2005, an increase of 10.8% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Georgia's population grew from 6,478,453 to 8,186,453, an increase of 26.4% and the fourth-largest population gain among the 50 states for this period. The popu-

GeorgiaCounties, County Seats, and Country Areas and Populations
Appling Baxley 510 17,954 Hall Gainesville 379 165,771
Atkinson Pearson 344 8,030 Hancock Sparta 469 9,643
Bacon Alma 286 10,379 Haralson Buchanan 283 28,338
Baker Newton 347 4,154 Harris Hamilton 464 27,779
Baldwin Milledgeville 258 45,230 Hart Hartwell 230 24,036
Banks Homer 234 16,055 Heard Franklin 292 11,346
Barrow Winder 163 59,954 Henry McDonough 321 167,848
Bartow Cartersyille 456 89,229 Houston Perry 380 126,163
Ben Hifl Fitzerald 254 17,316 Irwin Ocilla 362 10,093
Berrien Nashville 456 16,708 Jackson Jefferson 342 52,292
Bibb Macon 253 154,918 Jasper Monticello 371 13,147
Bleckley Cochran 219 12,141 Jeff Davis Hazlehurst 335 13,083
Brantley Nahunta 444 15,491 Jefferson Louisville 529 16,926
Brooks Quitman 491 16,327 Jenkins Millen 353 8,729
Bryan Pembroke 441 28,549 Johnson Wrightsville 307 9,538
Bulloch Statesboro 678 61,454 Jones Gray 394 26,836
Burke Waynesboro 833 23,299 Lamar Barnesville 186 16,378
Butts Jackson 187 21,045 Lanier Lakeland 194 7,553
Calhoun Morgan 284 5,972 Laurens Dublin 816 46,896
Camden Woodbine 649 45,759 Lee Leesburg 358 31,099
Candler Metter 248 10,321 Liberty Hinesville 517 57,544
Carroll Carrollton 502 105,453 Lincoln Lincolnton 196 8,207
Catoosa Ringgold 163 60,813 Long Ludowici 402 11,083
Charlton Folkston 780 10,790 Lowndes Valdosta 507 96,705
Chatham Savannah 444 238,410 Lumpkin Dahlonega 287 24,324
Chattahoochee Cusseta 250 14,679 Macon Oglethorpe 404 13,745
Chattooga Summerville 314 26,570 Madison Danielsville 285 27,289
Cherokee Canton 424 184,211 Marion Buena Vista 366 7,244
Clarke Athens 122 104,439 McDuffie Thomson 256 21,743
Clay Ft. Gaines 197 3,242 McIntosh Darien 425 11,068
Clayton Jonesboro 148 267,966 Meriwether Greenville 506 22,919
Clinch Homerville 821 6,996 Miller Colquitt 284 6,228
Cobb Marietta 343 663,818 Mitchell Camilla 512 23,791
Coffee Douglas 602 39,674 Monroe Forsyth 397 23,785
Colquitt Moultrie 556 43,915 Montgomery Mt. Vernon 244 8,909
Columbia Appling 290 103,812 Morgan Madison 349 17,492
Cook Adel 232 16,366 Murray Chatsworth 345 40,812
Coweta Newman 444 109,903 Muscogee Columbus 218 185,271
Crawford Knoxville 328 12.874 Newton Covington 277 86,713
Crisp Cordele 275 22,017 Oconee Watkinsville 186 29,748
Dade Trenton 176 16,040 Oglethorpe Lexington 442 13,609
Dawson Dawsonville 210 19,731 Paulding Dallas 312 112,411
Decatur Bainbridge 586 28,618 Peach Ft. Valley 151 24,794
DeKalb Decatur 270 677,959 Pickens Jasper 232 28,442
Dodge Eastman 504 19,574 Pierce Blackshear 344 17,119
Dooly Vienna 397 11,749 Pike Zebulon 219 16,128
Dougherty Albany 330 94,882 Polk Cedartown 312 40,479
Douglas Douglasville 203 112,760 Pulaski Hawkinsville 249 9,737
Early Blakely 516 12,056 Putnam Eatonton 344 19,829
Echols Statenville 420 4,253 Quitman Georgetown 146 2,467
Effingham Springfield 482 46,924 Rabun Clayton 370 16,087
Elbert Elberton 367 20,799 Randolph Cuthbert 431 7,310
Emanuel Swainsboro 688 22,108 Richmond Augusta 326 195,769
Evans Claxton 186 11,443 Rockdale Conyers 132 78,545
Fannin Blue Ridge 384 21,887 Schley Ellaville 169 4,122
Fayette Fayetteville 199 104,248 Screven Sylvania 655 15,430
Floyd Rome 519 94,198 Seminole Donalsonville 225 9,226
Forsyth Cumming 226 140,393 Spalding Griffin 199 61,289
Franklin Carnesville 264 21,590 Stephens Toccoa 177 25,060
Fulton Atlanta* 534 915,623 Stewart Lumpkin 452 4,882
Gilmer Ellijay 427 27,335 Sumter Americus 448 32,912
Glascock Gibson 144 2,705 Talbot Talbotton 395 6,709
Glynn Brunswick 412 71,874 Taliaferro Crawfordville 196 1,826
Gordon Calhoun 355 50,279 Tattnall Reidsville 484 23,211
Grady Cairo 459 24,466 Taylor Butler 382 8,887
Greene Greensboro 390 15,693 Telfair MacRae 444 13,205
Gwinnett Lawrenceville 435 726,273 Terrell Dawson 337 10,711
Habersham Clarkesville 278 39,603 Thomas Thomasville 551 44,692
GeorgiaCounties, County Seats, and Country Areas and Populations (cont.)
Tift Tifton 268 40,793 Warren Warrenton 286 6,101
Toombs Lyons 371 27,274 Washington Sandersville 683 20,118
Towns Hiawassee 165 10,315 Wayne Jesup 647 28,390
Treutlen Soperton 202 6,753 Webster Perston 210 2,289
Troup La Grange 415 62,015 Wheeler Alamo 299 6,706
Turner Ashburn 289 9,474 White Cleveland 242 24,055
Twiggs Jeffersonville 362 10,299 Whitfield Dalton 291 90,889
Union Blairsville 320 19,782 Wilcox Abbeville 382 8,721
Upson Thomaston 326 27,679 Wilkes Washington 470 10,457
Walker La Fayette 446 63,890 Wilkinson Irwinton 451 10,143
Walton Monroe 330 75,647 Worth Sylvester 575 21,996
Ware Waycross 970 34,492 TOTALS 58,123 9,072,576

lation is projected to reach 10.2 million by 2015 and 11.4 million by 2025. The population density was 153.4 per sq mi in 2004.

During the first half of the 18th century, restrictive government policies discouraged settlement. In 1752, when Georgia became a royal colony, the population numbered only 3,500, of whom 500 were blacks. Growth was rapid thereafter, and by 1773, there were 33,000 people, almost half of them black. The American Revolution brought free land and an influx of settlers, so that by 1800 the population had swelled to 162,686. Georgia passed the 1 million mark by 1860, the 2 million mark by 1900, and by 1960, the population had doubled again. Georgia's population increased 19% between 1980 and 1990.

In 2004, the median age was 34. Over 26.4% of the population was under the age of 18, while 9.6% was age 65 or older.

There has always been a strained relationship between rural and urban Georgians, and the state's political system long favored the rural population. Since before the American Revolution, the city people have called country folk "crackers," a term that implies a lack of good manners and may derive from the fact that these pioneers drove their cattle before them with whips.

The state's three largest cities in 2004 were Atlanta, with an estimated population of 419,122; Columbus, 182,850; and Savannah, 129,808. The Atlanta metropolitan area had an estimated population of 4,708,297.


Georgia has been fundamentally a white/black state, with minimal ethnic diversity. Most Georgians are of English or Scotch-Irish descent. The number of Georgians who were foreign born rose dramatically between 1990 and 2000, from 173,126 (or 2.6% of the population) to 577,273 (7.1%). The 1990 figure was, in turn, a considerable increase over the 1980 total of 91,480 foreign-born Georgians and the 1970 figure of 33,000.

Between 1970 and 2000, the number of Georgians from Asia or the Pacific Islands increased from 8,838 in 1970 to 24,461 in 1980, to 76,000 in 1990, and to an estimated 177,416 in 2000 (173,170 Asians and 4,246 Pacific Islanders). In 2000, Asian Indians were the largest group, with a population of 46,132, followed by Vietnamese (29,016, up from 6,284 in 1990), Koreans (28,745), and Chinese (27,446). In 2004, 2.6% of the population was Asian and 0.1% was Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.

Georgia's black population declined from a high of 47% of the total population in 1880 to about 26% in 1970, when there were 1,187,149 blacks. Black citizens accounted for 27% of the total population and numbered 1,747,000 in 1990. In 2000, the black population was estimated at 2,349,542, or 28.7% of the state total, the third-largest black population among the 50 states. By 2004, 29.6% of the population was black. Atlanta, which had 255,689 black residents (61.4%) in 2000, has been a significant center for the development of black leadership, especially at Atlanta University. With its long-established black elite, Atlanta has also been a locus for large black-owned business enterprises. There are elected and appointed blacks in the state government, and in 1973, Atlanta elected its first black mayor, Maynard Jackson. By 1984, there were 13 black mayors, including Andrew J. Young of Atlanta.

The American Indian population in Georgia was estimated to be 21,737 in 2000. The great Cherokee Nation and other related tribes had been effectively removed from the state 150 years earlier. In 2004, 0.3% of the population was American Indian. About 5.3% of the population (435,227 people) was of Hispanic or Latino origin as of 2000. That figure had increased to 6.8% by 2004. In 2004, 1% of the population reported origin of two or more races.


The first Europeans entering what is now Georgia found it occupied almost entirely by Creek Indians of the Muskogean branch of Hokan-Siouan stock. Removed by treaty to Indian Territory after their uprising in 1813, the Creek left behind only such places-names as Chattahoochee, Chattooga, and Okefenokee. Except for the South Midland speech of the extreme northern up-country, Georgia English is typically Southern. Loss of the /r/ after a vowel in the same syllable is common. The diphthong /ai/ as in right is so simplified that Northern speakers hear the word as rat. Can't rhymes with paint, and borrow, forest, foreign, and orange all have the /ah/ vowel as in father. However, a highly unusual variety of regional differences, most of them in long vowels and diphthongs, makes a strong contrast between northern up-country and southern low-country speech. In such words as care and stairs, for example, many up-country speakers have a vowel like that in cat, while many low-country speakers have a vowel like that in pane.

In general, northern Georgia snake doctor contrasts with southern Georgia mosquito hawk (dragonfly), goobers with pinders (peanuts), French harp with harmonica, plum peach with press peach (both clingstone peaches), nicker with whicker for a horse's neigh, and sallet with salad. In Atlanta a big sandwich is a poorboy; in Savannah, a peach pit is a kernel.

A distinctive variety of black English, called Gullah, is spoken in the islands off the Georgia and South Carolina coast, to which Creole-speaking slaves escaped from the mainland during the 17th and 18th centuries. Characteristic grammatical features include a lack of inflection in the personal pronoun, the invariant form of the be verb, and the absence of the final s in the third person singular of the present tense. Many of the private personal names stem directly from West African languages.

In 2000, 6,843,038 Georgians90.1% of the population five years old and olderspoke only English at home, down from 95.2% in 1990.

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "African languages" includes Amharic, Ibo, Twi, Yoruba, Bantu, Swahili, and Somali. The category "Other Indic languages" includes Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, and Romany. The category "Other Asian languages" includes Dravidian languages, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, and Turkish.

Population 5 years an over 7,594,476 100.0
  Speak only English 6,843,038 90.1
  Speak a language other than English 751,438 9.9
Speak a language other than English 751,438 9.9
  Spanish or Spanish Creole 426,115 5.6
  French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 43,428 0.6
  German 32,777 0.4
  Vietnamese 27,671 0.4
  Korean 25,814 0.3
  African languages 24,752 0.3
  Chinese 23,812 0.3
  Gujarathi 11,133 0.1
  Other Indic languages 9,473 0.1
  Other Asian languages 8,673 0.1
  Aabric 8,557 0.1
  Japanese 8,257 0.1
  Hindi 7,596 0.1
  Tagalog 7,308 0.1
  Russian 7,175 0.1
  Urdu 7,109 0.1


The Church of England was the established church in colonial Georgia. During this period, European Protestants were encouraged to immigrate and German Lutherans and Moravians took advantage of the opportunity. Roman Catholics were barred and Jews were not welcomed, but persons of both denominations came anyway. In the mid-18th century, George Whitefield, called the Great Itinerant, helped touch off the Great Awakening, the religious revival out of which came the Methodist and Baptist denominations. Daniel Marshall, the first "separate" Baptist in Georgia, established a church near Kiokee Creek in 1772. Some 16 years later, James Asbury formed the first Methodist Conference in Georgia.

The American Revolution resulted in the lessening of the authority of Anglicanism and a great increase in the number of Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians. During the 19th century, fundamentalist sects were especially strong among blacks. Roman Catholics from Maryland, Ireland, and Hispaniola formed a numerically small but important element in the cities, and Jewish citizens were active in the leadership of Savannah and Augusta. Catholics and Jews enjoyed general acceptance from the early 1800s until the first two decades of the 20th century, when they became the targets of political demagogues, notably Thomas E. Watson.

In 2000, most of the religious adherents in the state were Evangelical Protestants with the Southern Baptist Convention claiming 1,719,484 adherents in about 3,233 congregations; there were 34,227 newly baptized members in 2002. Mainline Protestants included 476,727 United Methodists (in 2004), 105,774 USA Presbyterians (2000), and 71,950 Episcopalians (2000). Roman Catholic adherents in 2004 numbered about 447,126. Judaism claimed about 93,500 adherents in 2000, and there were about 38,882 Muslims the same year. Only 16 Buddhist and 15 Hindu congregations were reported, without membership numbers. About 55.2% of the population was not counted as part of any religious organization.


Georgia's location between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean makes it the link between the eastern seaboard and the Gulf states. In the 18th century, Carolina fur traders crossed the Savannah River at the site of Augusta and followed trails to the Mississippi River. Pioneer farmers soon followed the same trails and used the many river tributaries to send their produce to Savannah, Georgia's first great depot. Beginning in 1816, steamboats plied the inland rivers, but they never replaced the older shallow-drafted Petersburg boats, propelled by poles.

From the 1830s onward, businessmen in the eastern cities of Savannah, Augusta, and Brunswick built railroads west to maintain their commerce. The two principal lines, the Georgia and the Central of Georgia, were required by law to make connection with a state-owned line, the Western and Atlantic, at the new town of Atlanta, which in 1847 became the link between Georgia and the Ohio Valley. By the Civil War, Georgia, with more miles of railroad than any other Deep South state, was a vital link between the eastern and western sectors of the Confederacy. After the war, the railroads contributed to urban growth as towns sprang up along their routes. Trackage increased from 4,532 mi (7,294 km) in 1890 to 7,591 mi (12,217 km) in 1920. But with competition from motor carriers, total trackage declined to 4,848 rail mi (7,805 km) by 2003. In the same year, CSX and Norfolk Southern were the only Class I railroads operating within the state. As of 2006, Amtrak provided east-west service through Atlanta, and north-south service through Savannah. In 1979, Atlanta inaugurated the first mass-transit system in the state, including the South's first subway.

Georgia's old intracoastal waterway carries about 1 million tons of shipping annually and is also used by pleasure craft and fishing vessels. Savannah's modern port facilities handled 28.176 million tons of cargo in 2004, making it the state's main deepwater port and the 28th busiest port in the Unites States. The coastal cities of Brunswick and St. Mary's also have deepwater docks. In 2004, Georgia had 721 mi (1,160 km) of navigable inland waterways. In 2003, waterborne shipments totaled 25.356 million tons.

In the 1920s, Georgia became the gateway to Florida for motorists. Today, I-75 is the main route from Atlanta to Florida, and I-20 is the major east-west highway. Both cross at Atlanta with I-85, which proceeds southeast from South Carolina to Alabama. I-95 stretches along the coast from South Carolina through Savannah to Jacksonville, Florida. During the 1980s, Atlanta invested $1.4 billion in a freeway expansion program that permitted capac-ity to double. In 2004, Georgia had 116,917 mi (188,236 km) of public roads, some 7.896 million registered motor vehicles, and 5,793,143 licensed drivers.

In 2005, Georgia had a total of 455 public and private-use aviation-related facilities. This included 341 airports, 109 heliports, 4 STOLports (Short Take-Off and Landing), and 1 seaplane base. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the air traffic hub in the Southeast and in 2004 was the busiest airport in the United States with 41,123,857 enplanements.


The history of what is now Georgia was influenced by two great prehistoric events: first, the upheaval that produced the mountains of the north, and second, the overflow of an ancient ocean that covered and flattened much of the rest of the state. Human beings have inhabited Georgia for at least 12,000 years. The first nomadic hunters were replaced by shellfish eaters who lived along the rivers. Farming communities later grew up at these sites, reaching their height in the Master Farmer culture about ad 800. These Native Americans left impressive mounds at Ocmulgee, near Macon, and at Etowah, north of Atlanta.

During the colonial period, the most important Indian tribes were the Creek, who lived along the central and western rivers, and the Cherokee, who lived in the mountains. By clever diplomacy, the Creek were able to maintain their position as the fulcrum of power between the English on the one hand and the French and Spanish on the other. With the ascendancy of the English and the achievement of statehood, however, the Creek lost their leverage and were expelled from Georgia in 1826. The Cherokee sought to adopt the white man's ways in their effort to avoid expulsion or annihilation. Thanks to their remarkable linguist Sequoyah, they learned to write their own language, later running their own newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, and their own schools. Some even owned slaves. Unfortunately for the Cherokee, gold was discovered on their lands; the Georgia state legislature confiscated their territory and outlawed the system of self-government the Cherokee had developed during the 1820s. Despite a ruling by the US Supreme Court, handed down by Chief Justice John Marshall, that Georgia had acted illegally, federal and state authorities expelled the Cherokee between 1832 and 1838. Thousands died on the march to Indian Territory (Oklahoma), known ever since as the Trail of Tears.

Georgia's first European explorer was Hernando de Soto of Spain, who in 1540 crossed the region looking for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. French Huguenots under Jean Ribault claimed the Georgia coast in 1562 but were driven out by the Spanish captain Pedro Menéndez Avilés in 1564, who by 1586 had established the mission of Santa Catalina de Gaule on St. Catherines Island. (The ruins of this missionthe oldest European settlement in Georgiawere discovered by archaeologists in 1982.) By 1700, Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries had established an entire chain of missions along the Sea Islands and on the lower Chattahoochee.

From Charles Town, in the Carolina Colony, the English challenged Spain for control of the region, and by 1702 they had forced the Spaniards back to St. Augustine, Florida. In 1732, after the English had become convinced of the desirability of locating a buffer between the valuable rice-growing colony of Carolina and Indian-held lands to the south and west, King George II granted a charter to a group called the Trustees for Establishing the Colony of Georgia in America. The best known of the trustees was the soldier-politician and philanthropist James Edward Oglethorpe. His original intention was to send debtors from English prisons to Georgia, but Parliament refused to support the idea. Instead, Georgia was to be a place where the industrious poor would produce those things England needed, such as silk and wine, and would guard the frontier. Rum and slavery were expressly prohibited.

Oglethorpe and the first settlers landed at Yamacraw Bluff on 12 February 1733 and were given a friendly reception by a small band of Yamacraw Indians and their chief, Tomochichi. Oglethorpe is best remembered for laying out the town of Savannah in a unique design, featuring numerous plazas that still delight tourists today; however, as a military man, his main interest was defending the colony against the Spanish. After war was declared in 1739, Oglethorpe conducted an unsuccessful siege of St. Augustine. The Spaniards counterattacked at Oglethorpe's fortified town of Frederica on St. Simons Island in July 1742 but were repulsed in a confused encounter known as the Battle of Bloody Marsh, which ended Spanish threats to the British colonies. Soon after-ward, Oglethorpe returned permanently to England.

The trustees' restrictions on rum and slavery were gradually removed, and in 1752, control over Georgia reverted to Parliament. Georgia thus became a royal colony, its society, like that of Carolina, shaped by the planting of rice, indigo, and cotton. After the French and Indian War, settlers began to pour into the Georgia backcountry above Augusta. Because these back-country pioneers depended on the royal government for protection against the Indians, they were reluctant to join the protests by Savannah merchants against new British mercantile regulations. When war came, however, the backcountry seized the opportunity to wrest political control of the new state away from Savannah.

Georgians spent the first three years of the Revolutionary War in annual attempts to invade Florida, each of them unsuccessful. The British turned their attention to Georgia late in 1778, reestablishing control of the state as far as Briar Creek, midway between Savannah and Augusta. After a combined French and American force failed to retake Savannah in October 1779, the city was used by the British as a base from which to recapture Charleston, in present-day South Carolina, and to extend their control further inland. For a year, most of Georgia was under British rule, and there was talk of making the restoration permanent in the peace settlement. However, Augusta was retaken in June 1781, and independent government was restored. A year later, the British were forced out of Savannah.

With Augusta as the new capital of Georgia, a period of rapid expansion began. Georgia ratified the US Constitution on 2 January 1788, the fourth state to do so. The invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney in 1793 made cotton cultivation profitable in the lands east of the Oconee River, relinquished by the Creek Indians under the Treaty of New York three years earlier. A mania for land speculation climaxed in the mid-1790s with the Yazoo Fraud, in which the state legislature sold 50 million acres (20 million hectares), later the states of Alabama and Mississippi, to land companies of which many of the legislators were members.

Georgia surrendered its lands west of the Chattahoochee River to the federal government in 1802. As the Indians were removed to the west, the lands they had occupied were disposed of by suc-cessive lotteries. The settlement of the cotton lands brought prosperity to Georgia, a fact that influenced Georgians to prefer the Union rather than secession during the constitutional crises of 1833 and 1850, when South Carolina was prepared to secede.

After South Carolina did secede in 1860, Georgia also withdrew from the Union and joined the Confederate States of America. Union troops occupied the Sea Islands during 1862. Confederate forces defeated the Union Army's advance into northern Georgia at Chickamauga in 1863, but in 1864, troops under General William Tecumseh Sherman moved relentlessly upon Atlanta, capturing it in September. In November, Sherman began his famous "march to the sea," in which his 60,000 troops cut a swath of destruction 60 mi (97 km) wide. Sherman presented Savannah as a Christmas present to President Abraham Lincoln.

After ratifying the 14th and 15th amendments, Georgia was readmitted to the Union on 15 July 1870. Commercial interests were strong in antebellum Georgia, but their political power was balanced by that of the great planters. After the Democrats recovered control of the state in 1871, business interests dominated politics. Discontented farmers supported an Independent Party in the 1870s and 1880s, and then the Populist Party in the 1890s. Democratic representative Thomas E. Watson, who declared himself a Populist during the early 1890s, was defeated three times in congressional races by the party he had deserted. Watson subsequently fomented antiblack, anti-Jewish, and anti-Catholic sentiment in order to control a bloc of rural votes with which he dominated state politics for 10 years. In 1920, Watson finally was elected to the US Senate, but he died in 1922. Rebecca L. Felton was appointed to succeed him, thus becoming the first woman to serve in the US Senate, although she was replaced after one day.

Franklin D. Roosevelt learned the problems of Georgia farmers firsthand when he made Warm Springs his second home in 1942. However, his efforts to introduce the New Deal to Georgia after he became president in 1933 were blocked by Governor Eugene Talmadge, who advertised himself as a "real dirt farmer." It was not until the administration of Eurith D. Rivers (193741) that progressive social legislation was enacted. Governor Ellis Arnall gained national attention for his forward-looking administration (194347), which revised the outdated 1877 state constitution and gave the vote to 18-year-olds. Georgia treated the nation to the spectacle of three governors at once when Eugene Talmadge was elected for a fourth time in 1946 but died before assuming office. His son Herman was then elected by the legislature, but the new lieutenant governor, M. E. Thompson, also claimed the office, and Arnall refused to step aside until the issue was resolved. The courts finally decided in favor of Thompson.

The US Supreme Court order to desegregate public schools in 1954 provided Georgia politicians with an emotional issue they exploited to the hilt. A blow was dealt to old-style politics in 1962, however, when the Supreme Court declared the county-unit system unconstitutional. Under this system, state officers and members of Congress had been selected by county units instead of by popular vote since 1911; the new ruling made city voters as important as those in rural areas. During the 1960s, Atlanta was the home base for the civil rights efforts of Martin Luther King Jr., though his campaign to end racial discrimination in Georgia focused most notably on the town of Albany. Federal civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965 changed the state's political climate by guaranteeing the vote to black citizens. An African American man, Julian Bond, was elected to the state legislature in 1965; in 1973, Maynard Jackson was elected major of Atlanta, thus becoming the first black mayor of a large southern city. For decades, the belief that defense of segregation was a prerequisite for state elective office cost white southerners any chance they might have had for national leadership. Governor Jimmy Carter's unequivocal renunciation of racism in his inaugural speech in 1971 thus marked a turning point in Georgia politics and was a key factor in his election to the presidency in 1976.

Another African American, former US ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young, succeeded Jackson as mayor of Atlanta in 1981, when that cityand the statewas experiencing an economic boom. The prosperity of Atlanta in the 1970s and 1980s stemmed largely from its service-based economy, which was centered on such industries as the airlines, telecommunications, distribution, and insurance. The decline of service industries in the early 1990s, however, pulled Atlanta and the state of Georgia as a whole into a recession. That decline was epitomized by the 1991 collapse of Eastern Airlines, one of the two airlines that used Atlanta as its hub, which cost Atlanta 10,000 jobs. While Atlanta's economic expansion produced a more mature economy, it also raised the price of labor. Nevertheless, as the decade progressed, the state's economy rebounded, fueled in part by the science and technology sector. Georgia emerged as "a leading light" in the South in building a strong research and technology infrastructure. Both 1996 and 1999 were record years for job growth. The state's unemployment rate was 4% in 1999, slightly lower than the national rate. While the economy boomed, there were changes on the horizon: In 2000, major employers Lockheed Martin, Coca-Cola, and BellSouth announced combined layoffs of more than 15,000 Georgia workers. Still, some analysts predicted the state economy could weather such fluctuations.

In 1996, Atlanta hosted the 26th Summer Olympics, which marked the 100th anniversary of the modern games. The event was marred by the July 27 explosion of a homemade pipe bomb in Centennial Olympic Park, killing one person and injuring dozens of others.

In July 1994, record flooding over a 10-day period caused 31 deaths and millions of dollars in damage in central and southwest Georgia. But in the summer of 2000, Georgians had a decidedly different problem. The state was parched by drought. Some areas had received less rain in the previous 25 months than at any time in recorded weather history. Peanut and cotton farmers in the southern part of the state struggled to irrigate fields. The residents of greater Atlanta, where nearly 100,000 people are added each year, felt the effects as well. Increased demand combined with drought conditions to require authorities to restrict outdoor watering in the 15-county Atlanta region. But the situation promised to reach beyond prevailing weather conditions and preservation measures: Officials estimated that by 2020, the region's demand for water would increase by 50%. Meanwhile Georgia's governor worked with the governors of neighboring Alabama and Florida to reach a voluntary agreement on how to share water from rivers the states share.

Governor Sonny Purdue outlined the problems Georgia faced in his 2003 State of the State address, including a weak economy (following the US recession that had begun in 2001), declining tax revenues, and poor SAT scores. To address the last topic, Purdue stressed the need for higher education standards. In 2003, the Georgia Board of Regents approved raising tuition by as much as 15% at the state's public colleges and universities to compensate for state budget cuts. Georgia's $460 million HOPE Scholarship program, funded by the state lottery, covers all tuition, mandatory fees, and book costs for all Georgia residents attending a state school and maintaining a B average. In 2005, the state still dealt with uninspired economic growth (despite a slightly rising employment rate) created by rising interest rates, dwindling federal fiscal stimulus, and overextended consumers.


Georgia's first constitution, adopted in 1777, was considered one of the most democratic in the new nation. Power was concentrated in a unicameral legislature; a Senate was added in 1789. The Civil War period brought a flurry of constitution making in 1861, 1865, and 1868. When the Democrats displaced the Republicans after Reconstruction, they felt obliged to replace the constitution of 1868 with a rigidly restrictive one. This document, adopted in 1877, modified by numerous amendments, and revised in 1945 and 1976, continued to govern the state until July 1983, when a new constitution, ratified in 1982, took effect. There were 63 amendments by January 2005.

The legislature, called the General Assembly, consists of a 56-seat Senate and a 180-seat House of Representatives; all the legislators serve two-year terms. The legislature convenes on the second Monday in January and stays in session for 40 legislative days. Recesses called during a session may considerably extend its length. Special sessions may be called by petition of three-fifths of the members of each house. During the 1960s and 1970s, the legislature engaged in a series of attempts to redistrict itself to provide equal representation based on population; it was finally redistrict-ed in 1981 on the basis of 1980 Census results. House members must be at least 21 years old and senators, at least 25. All legislators must be US citizens, have lived in the state for two years, and have been a resident in their district for at least one year. Legislators received a salary of $16,200 in 2004.

Georgia Presidential Vote by Political parties, 19482004
*Won US presidential election.
1948 12 *Truman (D) 254,646 76,691 85,136 1,636
1952 12 Stevenson (D) 456,823 198,916
1956 12 Stevenson (D) 444,6867 222,778
1960 12 *Kennedy (D) 458,638 274,472
1964 12 Goldwater (R) 522,163 616,584
1968 12 Wallace (AI) 334,440 380,111 535,550
1972 12 *Nixon (R) 289,529 881,490
1976 12 *Carter (D) 979,409 483,743 1,1681 1,071
1980 12 Carter (D) 890,955 654,168 15,627
1984 12 *Reagan (R) 706,628 1,068,722 1512
1988 12 *Bush (R) 714,792 1,081,331 8,435 5,009
IND. (Perot)
1992 13 *Clinton (D) 1,008,996 995,252 7,110 309,657
1996 13 Dole (R) 1,053,849 1,080,843 17,870 146,337
IND. (Buchanan) (Nader)
2000 13 *Bush, G. W. (R) 1,116,230 1,419,720 36,332 10,926 13,432
WRITE-IN (Peroutka)
2004 15 *Bush, G. W. (R) 1,336,149 1,914,254 18,387 580 2,231

Elected executives include the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, comptroller, state school superintendent, commissioner of agriculture, commissioner of labor, and five public service commissioners. Each serves a four-year term. The governor is limited to a maximum of two consecutive terms. To be eligible for office, the governor and lieutenant governor, who are elected separately, must be at least 30 years old and have been US citizens for 15 years and Georgia citizens for six years preceding the election. As of December 2004, the governor's salary was $127,303.

To become law, a bill must be passed by both houses of the legislature and approved by the governor or passed over the executive veto by a two-thirds vote of the elected members of both houses. All revenue measures originate in the House, but the Senate can propose, or concur in, amendments to these bills. Amendments to the constitution may be proposed by a two-thirds vote of the elected members of each chamber and must then be ratified by a majority of the popular vote. If the governor does not sign or veto a bill, it becomes law after six days when the legislature is in session or after 40 days after the legislature has adjourned.

To be eligible to vote in state elections, a person must be at least 18 years old, a US citizen, and a resident in the county of registration. Restrictions apply to convicted felons and those declared mentally incompetent by the court.


The first political group to emerge in the state was the Federalist Party, but it was tainted by association with the Yazoo Fraud of the 1790s. The reform party at this time was the Democratic-Republican Party, headed in Georgia by James Jackson (whose followers included many former Federalists), William Crawford, and George Troup. During the presidency of Andrew Jackson (182937), one wing, headed by John Clark, supported the president and called itself the Union Party. The other faction, led by Troup, defended South Carolina's right to nullify laws and called itself the States' Rights Party. Subsequently, the Union Party affiliated with the Democrats, and the States' Rights Party merged with the Whigs. When the national Whig Party collapsed, many Georgia Whigs joined the Native American (Know-Nothing) Party. During Reconstruction, the Republican Party captured the governor's office, but Republican hopes died when federal troops were with-drawn from the state in 1870.

Georgia voted solidly Democratic between 1870 and 1960, despite challenges from the Independent Party in the 1880s and the Populists in the 1890s. Georgia cast its electoral votes for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election until 1964, when Republican Barry Goldwater won the state. Four years later, George C. Wallace of the American Independent Party received Georgia's 12 electoral votes. Republican Richard Nixon carried the state in 1972, as the Republicans also became a viable party at the local level. In 1976, Georgia's native son Jimmy Carter returned the state to the Democratic camp in presidential balloting. Another native Georgian and former Georgia governor, Lester Maddox, was the American Independent candidate in 1976.

Republican George W. Bush won 55% of the vote and Democrat Al Gore won 43% in the 2000 presidential election; in 2004, Bush won 58% to Democrat John Kerry's 41%.

After the 1994 elections, Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich became the first Republican to hold the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives in 40 years. He resigned from Congress in 1999. In 1996, four-term US Democratic senator also Sam Nunn vacated his seat, which was won by Democrat Max Cleland, a Vietnam War veteran and triple amputee who had formerly headed the Veterans Administration. Cleland was defeated for reelection by Republican Saxby Chambliss in 2002.

Georgia's other senator, Republican Paul Coverdell, was elected in a special runoff election in 1992 and reelected in 1998. Coverdell died of a stroke in July 2000; former governor Zell Miller (Democrat) was appointed to succeed him. Miller was elected in November 2000 to serve the remaining four years of the term, but in 2003, he announced he would not run for reelection to the Senate in 2004. His seat was won by Republican Johnny Isakson.

In 1998, Georgians elected Democrat Roy Barnes governor, replacing outgoing (two-term) Democratic governor Zell Miller. Long-time Democrat Sonny Purdue changed party affiliations in 1998 to the Republican Party and won election as governor in 2002. He became the first Republican governor elected since Reconstruction in Georgia. Following the 2004 elections, Georgia's delegation to the House comprised seven Republicans and six Democrats. At the state level, there were 34 Republicans and 22 Democrats in the state Senate and 80 Democrats, 99 Republicans, and 1 independent in the state House in mid-2005. In 2004, there were 4,968,000 registered voters; there is no party registration in the state, which had 15 electoral votes in the presidential election that year.


The history of county government in Georgia is a long one. In 1758, colonial Georgia was divided into eight parishes, the earliest political districts represented in the Royal Assembly. By the constitution of 1777, the parishes were transformed into counties, and as settlement gradually expanded, the number of counties grew. The Georgia constitution of 1877 granted counties from one to three seats in the House of Representatives, depending on population. This county-unit system was used in counting votes for elected state and congressional offices until 1962, when it was ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. Originally administered by judges of county courts, today Georgia counties are administered by the commission system. In 1965, the legislature passed a home-rule law permitting local governments to amend their own charters.

The traditional and most common form of municipal government is the mayor-council form. But city managers are employed by some communities, and a few make use of the commission system. During the 1970s, there were efforts to merge some of the larger cities with their counties. However, most county voters showed an unwillingness to be burdened with city problems.

In 2005, Georgia had 159 counties, 531 municipal governments, 581 special districts, and 180 school districts.

In 2005, local government accounted for about 377,938 full-time (or equivalent) employment positions.


To address the continuing threat of terrorism and to work with the federal Department of Homeland Security, homeland security in Georgia operates under the authority of executive order; the state homeland security director is appointed.

The State Ethics Commission is charged with providing procedures for public disclosure of all state and local campaign contributions and expenditures.

Educational services are provided by the Board of Education, which exercises jurisdiction over all public schools, including teacher certification and curriculum approval. The superintendent of schools is the board's executive officer. The public colleges are operated by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, whose chief administrator is the chancellor. Air, water, road, and rail services are administered by the Department of Transportation.

The Reorganization Act of 1972 made the Department of Human Resources a catch-all agency for health, rehabilitation, and social-welfare programs. The department offers special services to the mentally ill, drug abusers and alcoholics, neglected and abused children and adults, juvenile offenders, the handicapped, the aged, and the poor.

Public protection services are rendered through the Department of Public Safety. Responsibility for natural-resource protection is lodged with the Department of Natural Resources, into which 33 separate agencies were consolidated in 1972. The Environmental Protection Division is charged with maintaining air, land, and water quality standards; the Wildlife Resources Division manages wildlife resources; and the Parks, Recreation, and Historic Sites Division administers state parks, recreational areas, and historic sites. Labor services are provided by the Department of Labor, which oversees workers' compensation programs.


Georgia's highest court is the supreme court, created in 1845 and consisting of a chief justice, presiding justice (who exercises the duties of chief justice in his absence), and five associate justices. They are elected by the people to staggered six-year terms in non-partisan elections.

Georgia's general trial courts are the superior courts, which have exclusive jurisdiction in cases of divorce and land title and in felony cases. As of 1999, there were 175 superior court judges, all of them elected for four-year terms in nonpartisan elections. Cases from local courts can be carried to the court of appeals, consisting of 10 judges elected for staggered six-year terms in nonpartisan elections. Each county has a probate court; there are also separate juvenile courts. Most judges of the county and city courts are appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate.

As of 31 December 2004, a total of 51,104 prisoners were held in Georgia's state and federal prisons, an increase from 47,208 or 8.3% from the previous year. As of year-end 2004, a total of 3,436 inmates were female, up from 3,145 or 9.3% from the year before. Among sentenced prisoners (one year or more), Georgia had an incarceration rate of 574 per 100,000 population in 2004.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 2004 Georgia had a violent crime rate (murder/nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault) of 455.5 reported incidents per 100,000 population, or a total of 40,217 reported incidents. Crimes against property (burglary; larceny/theft; and motor vehicle theft) in that same year totaled 376,656 reported incidents or 4,265.9 reported incidents per 100,000 people. Georgia has a death penalty, of which lethal injection is the sole method of execution. On 5 October 2001, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that use of the electric chair was cruel and unusual punishment. From 1976 through 5 May 2006 the state executed 39 persons; three were executed in 2005. As of 1 January 2006, there were 109 inmates on death row.

In 2003, Georgia spent $285,944,298 on homeland security, an average of $34 per state resident.


In 2004, there were 88,933 active-duty military personnel stationed in Georgia, 5,076 National Guard and Reserve personnel, and 26,307 civilian employees. Major facilities include Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ft. Gillem, and Ft. McPherson, all located in the Atlanta area; Ft. Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield near Savannah; Ft. Gordon at Augusta; Moody Air Force Base at Macon; Ft. Benning, a major Army training installation at Columbus; Robins Air Force Base, between Columbus and Macon; and a Navy Supply School in Athens. In 2004, Georgia firms received defense contracts worth $3.9 billion, down from $6.0 billion in 2001. Defense payroll, including retired military pay, amounted to $6.6 billion in 2004.

There were 760,323 veterans of US military service in Georgia as of 2003, of whom 67,200 served in World War II; 63,192 in the Korean conflict; 228,543 during the Vietnam era; and 162,895 in the Persian Gulf War. In all, 77,000 Georgians fought and 1,503 died in World War I, and 320,000 served and 6,754 were killed in World War II. In 2004, federal government expenditures for Georgia veterans amounted to $1.9 billion.

As of 31 October 2004, the Georgia State Police employed 795 full-time sworn officers. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, part of the Department of Public Safety, operates the Georgia Crime Laboratory, one of the oldest and largest in the United States.


During the colonial period, the chief source of immigrants to Georgia was England; other important national groups were Germans, Scots, and Scotch-Irish. The number of African slaves increased from 1,000 in 1752 to nearly 20,000 in 1776. After the Revolution, a large number of Virginians came to Georgia, as well as lesser numbers of French refugees from Hispaniola and immigrants from Ireland and Germany. Following the Civil War, there was some immigration from Italy, Russia, and Greece. The greatest population shifts during the 20th century have been from country to town and, after World War I, of black Georgians to northern cities. Georgia suffered a net loss through migration of 502,000 from 1940 to 1960 but enjoyed a net gain of 329,000 during 197080 and about 500,000 during 198090. From 1985 to 1990, Georgia's net gain through migration was greater than that of any other state except California and Florida. There were net gains of 598,000 in domestic migration and 90,000 in international migration between 1990 and 1998. From 1980 to 1990, the share of native-born residents in Georgia fell from 71% to 64.5%. In 1998, Georgia admitted 10,445 immigrants from foreign countries. Between 1990 and 1998, the state's overall population increased 18%. In the period 200005, net international migration was 192,844 and net internal migration was 232,666, for a net gain of 425,510 people.


Multistate agreements in which Georgia participates include the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa River Basin Compact, Appalachian Regional Commission, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Historic Chattahoochee Compact, Interstate Rail Passenger Network Compact, Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin Compact, Southern Regional Education Board, Southeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact, Southern Growth Policies Board, and Southern States Energy Board. In fiscal year 2005, federal aid to Georgia totaled $9.014 billion. For fiscal year 2006, federal grants amounted to an estimated $9.008 billion, and an estimated $9.355 billion in fiscal year 2007.


According to the original plans of Georgia's founders, its people were to be sober spinners of silk. The reality was far different, however. During the period of royally appointed governors, Georgia became a replica of Carolina, a plantation province producing rice, indigo, and cotton. After the Revolution, the invention of the cotton gin established the plantation system even more firmly by making cotton planting profitable in the piedmont. Meanwhile, deerskins and other furs and lumber were produced in the backcountry, while rice remained an important staple along the coast. Turnpikes, canals, and railroads were built, and textile manufac-turing became increasingly important, especially in Athens and Augusta.

At the end of the Civil War, the state's economy was in ruins, and tenancy and sharecropping were common. Manufacturing, especially of textiles, was promoted by "New South" spokesmen such as Henry Grady of Atlanta and Patrick Walsh of Augusta. Atlanta, whose nascent industries included production of a thick sweet syrup called Coca-Cola, symbolized the New South ideathen as now. Farmers did not experience the benefits of progress, however. Many of them flocked to the mills, while others joined the Populist Party in an effort to air their grievances. To the planters' relief, cotton prices rose from the turn of the century through World War I. Meanwhile, Georgians lost control of their railroads and industries to northern corporations. During the 1920s, the boll weevil wrecked the cotton crops, and farmers resumed their flight to the cities. Not until the late 1930s did Georgia accept Social Security, unemployment compensation, and other relief measures.

Georgia's economy underwent drastic changes as a result of World War II. Many northern industries moved to Georgia to take advantage of low wages and low taxes, conditions that meant low benefits for Georgians. The raising of poultry and livestock became more important than crop cultivation, and manufacturing replaced agriculture as the chief source of income. In 1997, less than 1% of the employed labor force was working in agriculture; 32% were service workers; 22% retail salespeople; and 19% manufacturers. Georgia is a leader in the making of paper products, tufted textile products, processed chickens, naval stores, lumber, and transportation equipment.

Textile manufacturing, Georgia's oldest industry, remained its single most important industrial source of income until 1999, when output from food processing exceeded it. From 1997 to 2001, annual textile output declined 8.4%, whereas output from food processing increased 12.1%. Other manufacturing sectors were also increasing, so that from 1997 to 2000, there was an overall 16% increase in Georgia's manufacturing output. More than half of the gain was lost, however, in the national recession in 2001, as manufacturing output fell 8.3% in one year, reducing the net gain since 1997 to 6.4%. By contrast, output from general services increased nearly 40% from 1997 to 2001, and from financial services (including insurance and real estate) increased almost 32%. Output from other service areaswholesale and retail trade, transportation and public utilities, and governmentall increased more than 25% from 1997 to 2001. The national recession of 2001, however, affected Georgia's economy worse than most, as its strong annual growth rates at the end of the 20th century (8.2% in 1998, 8.5% in 1999 and 6.7% in 2000) dropped abruptly to 1.5% in 2001. The state lost more than 133,000 jobs from January 2001 to October 2002. Layoffs in the fourth quarter of 2002 amounted to a 2.2% increase over the fourth quarter of 2001, the worst performance in the country.

Georgia's gross state product (GSP) in 2005 was $364 billion, up from $343.125 billion in 2004. Manufacturing (durable and nondurable goods) in 2004 accounted for the biggest portion at $47.677 billion or nearly 13.9% of GSP, followed by real estate at $38.293 billion (11.1% of GSP), and wholesale trade at $25.847 billion (7.5% of GSP). In that same year, there were an estimated 722,089 small businesses in Georgia. Of the 202,979 businesses having employees, a total of 198,271 or 97.7% were small companies. An estimated 29,547 new businesses were established in Georgia in 2004, up 22% from the previous year. Business terminations that same year came to 27,835, up 7.5% from the previous year. Business bankruptcies totaled 2,090 in 2004, up 31.9% from 2003. In 2005, the personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) filing rate was 930 filings per 100,000 people, ranking Georgia as the fifth-highest in the nation.


In 2005 Georgia had a gross state product (GSP) of $364 billion which accounted for 2.9% of the nation's gross domestic product and placed the state at number 10 in highest GSP among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2004, Georgia had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $29,782. This ranked 36th in the United States and was 90% of the national average of $33,050. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of PCPI was 3.7%. Georgia had a total personal income (TPI) of $265,599,116,000, which ranked 12th in the United States and reflected an increase of 5.9% from 2003. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of TPI was 6.0%. Earnings of persons employed in Georgia increased from $203,459,898,000 in 2003 to $216,399,592,000 in 2004, an increase of 6.4%. The 200304 national change was 6.3%.

The US Census Bureau reports that the three-year average median household income for 2002 to 2004 in 2004 dollars was $43,217 compared to a national average of $44,473. During the same period an estimated 12.0% of the population was below the poverty line as compared to 12.4% nationwide.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in April 2006 the seasonally adjusted civilian labor force in Georgia numbered 4,693,900, with approximately 214,800 workers unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 4.6%, compared to the national average of 4.7% for the same period. Preliminary data for the same period placed nonfarm employment at 4,078,100. Since the beginning of the BLS data series in 1976, the highest unemployment rate recorded in Georgia was 8.3% in January 1983. The historical low was 3.4% in December 2000. Preliminary nonfarm employment data by occupation for April 2006 showed that approximately 5.2% of the labor force was employed in construction; 21.4% in trade, transportation, and public utilities; 5.6% in financial activities; 13.4% in professional and business services; 10.6% in education and health services; 9.3% in leisure and hospitality services; and 16.1% in government. Data were unavailable for manufacturing.

The trend during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s was toward increased employment in trade and service industries and toward multiple job holding. Employment in agriculture, the leading industry prior to World War II, continued its long-term decline. One indication of declining employment was the decrease in farm population, which went from 515,000 in 1960 to 228,000 in 1970, to 121,000 in 1980, and to 73,647 in 1990. Georgia's farm employment in 1996 totaled about 42,000. The mining, construction, and manufacturing industries registered employment increases but declined in importance relative to such sectors as trade and services.

Georgia is not considered to be a unionized state. Among state laws strictly regulating union activity is a right-to-work law enacted in 1947. In that year, union members in Georgia numbered 256,800.

In 1962, the Georgia legislature denied state employees the right to strike. Strikes in Georgia tend to occur less frequently than in most heavily industrialized states. One of the earliest state labor laws was an 1889 act requiring employers to provide seats for females to use when resting. A child-labor law adopted in 1906 prohibited the employment of children under 10 years of age in manufacturing. A general workers' compensation law was enacted in 1920.

The BLS reported that in 2005, a total of 190,000 of Georgia's 3,765,000 employed wage and salary workers were formal members of a union. This represented 5% of those so employed, down from 6.4% in 2004 and below the national average of 12%. Overall in 2005, a total of 226,000 workers (6%) in Georgia were covered by a union or employee association contract, which includes those workers who reported no union affiliation.

As of 1 March 2006, Georgia had a state-mandated minimum wage rate of $5.15 per hour. In 2004, women in the state accounted for 45.6% of the employed civilian labor force.


In 2005, Georgia's farm marketings totaled $5.9 billion (12th in the United States). Georgia ranked first in the production of peanuts and pecans, harvesting 25% of all the pecans grown in the United States in 2004 and 43% of the peanuts.

Cotton, first planted near Savannah in 1734, was the mainstay of Georgia's economy through the early 20th century, and the state's plantations also grew corn, rice, tobacco, wheat, and sweet potatoes. World War I stimulated the cultivation of peanuts along with other crops. By the 1930s, tobacco and peanuts were challenging cotton for agricultural supremacy, and Georgia had also become an important producer of peaches, a product for which the "Peach State" was still widely known in the early 2000s. In 2004, Georgia produced 52,500 tons of peaches.

After 1940, farm mechanization and consolidation were rapid. The number of tractors increased from 10,000 in 1940 to 85,000 by 1955. In 1940, 6 out of 10 farms were tenant operated; by the mid-1960s, this proportion had decreased to fewer than 1 in 6. The number of farms declined from 226,000 in 1945 to 49,000 in 2004, when the average farm size was 218 acres (88 hectares). Georgia's farmland area of 10.7 million acres (4.3 million hectares) represents roughly 30% of its land area.


In 2005, Georgia had an estimated 1.21 million cattle and calves valued at around $931.7 million, and in 2004 an estimated 275,000 hogs and pigs valued at around $25.3 million. Cows kept for milk production numbered an estimated 85,000 in 2003, when Georgia dairies produced around 1.4 billion lb (0.64 billion kg) of milk. In the same year, poultry farmers sold an estimated 6.3 billion lb (2.8 billion kg) of broilers, more than any other state, with a value of $2.14 billion, or about 47% of total farm receipts. The total egg production was 5.05 billion in 2003, valued at $395.8 million.


In 2004, the total commercial fishing catch in Georgia brought about 6.3 million lb (2.7 million kg) with a value of $11.3 million. Commercial fishing in Georgia involves more shellfish than finfish, the most important of which are caught in the nets of shrimp trawlers. Leading finfish are snappers, groupers, tilefish, and porgy. In 2003, the state had 6 processing and 30 wholesale plants. In 2002, the commercial fleet had about 226 vessels.

In brisk mountain streams and sluggish swamps, anglers catch bass, catfish, jackfish, bluegill, crappie, perch, and trout. In 2005, Georgia had 55 catfish farms covering 1,090 acres (441 hectares), with an inventory of 1.4 million stocker-sized and 6.3 million fingerlings in early 2006. Georgia issued 667,198 sport fishing licenses in 2004.


Georgia, which occupies 1.6% of the total US land area, has nearly 3.3% of the nation's forestland and nearly 5% of the nation's commercial forests. In 2004, Georgia's forest area totaled 24,405,000 acres (9,877,000 hectares), of which 23,802,000 acres (9,633,000 hectares) are commercial forest.

Forests cover about two-thirds of the state's land area. The most densely wooded counties are in the piedmont hills and northern mountains. Ware and Charlton counties in southeastern Georgia, containing the Okefenokee Swamp, are almost entirely forested. About 90% of Georgia's forestland is privately owned.

The chief products of Georgia's timber industry are pine lumber and pine panels for the building industry, hardwood lumber for the furniture industry, and pulp for the paper and box industry. In 2002, Georgia produced nearly 3 billion board feet of lumber (fourth in the United States), of which 87% was softwood (pine). Georgia is the leading softwood producer in the United States.

The chief recreational forest areas are in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, consisting of two main tracts in the northern and central part of the state. Georgia has 1,856,000 acres (751,123 hectares) of National Forest System lands, 99% of which are within the boundaries of the two major tracts.


According to data from the US Geological Survey, Georgia's output of nonfuel minerals was valued at $1.8 billion, up 3.4% from 2003, making it eighth among the 50 states in the production of nonfuel minerals and accounting for over 4% of the US total.

In 2004, Georgia produced about 24% of all clays in the United States and 2.7 times as much as the next highest state. Kaolin clay was the leading commodity, accounting for over 49% of all nonfuel mineral production, by value, that year and around 86% of all clay output. Crushed stone ranked second and represented over 30%, by value, of all nonfuel mineral output in 2004, followed by fuller's earth (1,4 million metric tons; $142 million), portland masonry cement, and construction sand and gravel.

Production of kaolin clay in 2004 totaled 6.78 million metric tons or $898 million, while output of crushed stone totaled 79.5 million metric tons or $544 million. Fuller's earth production came to 1.4 million metric tons or $142 million.

Georgia was one of two states that produced barite (used by the chemical and industrial filler and pigments industries). Georgia ranked third in the production of mica (out of five states) and in dimension stone; fourth in the output of common clays and crushed stone; fifth in feldspar dimension stone; and eighth in masonry cement. The state is also a producer of blue-gray granite, known as "Elberton granite," which is commonly used for road curbing in the northeastern United States. Overall, Georgia's production of dimension stone totaled 146 million metric tons and was valued at $22.1 million in 2004.


Georgia is an energy-dependent state that produces only a small proportion of its energy needs, most of it through hydroelectric power. There are no commercially recoverable petroleum or natural gas reserves, and the state's coal deposits are of no more than marginal importance. Georgia does have large amounts of timberland, however, and it has been estimated that 20%-40% of the state's energy demands could be met by using wood that is currently wasted. The state's southern location and favorable weather conditions also make solar power an increasingly attractive energy alternative. Georgia's extensive river system also offers the potential for further hydroelectric development.

As of 2003, Georgia had 98 electrical power service providers, of which 53 were publicly owned and 43 were cooperatives. Of the remaining two, both were investor owned. As of that same year there were 4,156,052 retail customers. Of that total, 2,158,412 received their power from investor-owned service providers. Cooperatives accounted for 1,668,488 customers, while publicly owned providers had 329,152 customers.

Total net summer generating capability by the state's electrical generating plants in 2003 stood at 34.815 million kW, with total production that same year at 124.076 billion kWh. Of the total amount generated, 93.3% came from electric utilities, with the remainder coming from independent producers and combined heat and power service providers. The largest portion of all electric power generated, 78.638 billion kWh (63.3%), came from coal-fired plants, with nuclear fueled plants in second place with 33.256 billion kWh (26.8%). Other renewable power sources, natural gas plants, hydroelectric and petroleum fired plants accounted for the remainder.

As of 2006, Georgia had two operating nuclear power plants: the Edwin I. Hatch power station near Baxley and the Vogtle plant in Burke County, near Augusta.

All utilities are regulated by the Georgia Public Service Commission, which must approve their rates.

Although exploration for oil has taken place off the coast, the state's offshore oil resources are expected to be slight. As of 2004, Georgia had no known proven reserves or production of crude oil or natural gas. The state's only refinery is used to produce asphalt.


Georgia was primarily an agrarian state before the Civil War, but afterward its cities developed a strong industrial base by taking advantage of abundant waterpower to operate factories. Textiles have long been dominant, but new industries have also been developed. Charles H. Herty, a chemist at the University of Georgia, discovered a new method of extracting turpentine that worked so well that Georgia led the nation in producing turpentine, tar, rosin, and pitch by 1982. Herty also perfected an economical way of making newsprint from southern pines, which was adopted by Georgia's paper mills. With the onset of World War II, meat-processing plants were built at rail centers, and fertilizer plants and cottonseed mills were expanded.

The state'sand Atlanta'smost famous product was created in 1886 when druggist John S. Pemberton developed a formula that he sold to Asa Griggs Candler, who in 1892 formed the Coca-Cola Co. In 1919, the Candlers sold the company to a syndicate headed by Ernest Woodruff, whose son Robert made "Coke" into the world's most widely known commercial product. The transport equipment, chemical, food-processing, apparel, and forest-products industries today rival textiles in economic importance.

According to the US Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) for 2004, Georgia's manufacturing sector covered some 20 product subsectors. The shipment value of all products manufactured in the state that same year was $131.454 billion. Of that total, food manufacturing accounted for the largest portion at $18.936 billion, followed by transportation equipment manufacturing at $17.266 billion; chemical manufacturing at $12.403 billion; textile product mills at $12.291 billion; paper manufacturing at $9.584 billion; and machinery manufacturing at $7.599 billion.

In 2004, a total of 419,562 people in Georgia were employed in the state's manufacturing sector, according to the ASM. Of that total, 318,415 were actual production workers. In terms of total employment, the food manufacturing industry accounted for the largest portion of all manufacturing employees at 57,116, of which 45,793 were actual production workers, followed by the transportation equipment manufacturing industry at 39,757 (19,562 actual production workers); textile product mills at 34,776 employees (28,756 actual production workers); textile mills at 33,331 employees (29,844 actual production workers); fabricated metal product manufacturing at 28,796 employees (21,670 actual production workers); and plastics and rubber products manufacturing at 28,050 employees (22,499 actual production workers).

ASM data for 2004 showed that Georgia's manufacturing sector paid $15.518 billion in wages. Of that amount, the transportation equipment manufacturing sector accounted for the largest share at $1.921 billion. It was followed by food manufacturing at $1.661 billion; paper manufacturing at $1.058 billion; textile product mills at $1.034 billion; and chemical manufacturing at $1.021 billion.


According to the 2002 Census of Wholesale Trade, Georgia's wholesale trade sector had sales that year totaling $201.09 billion from 13,794 establishments. Wholesalers of durable goods accounted for 8,509 establishments, followed by nondurable goods wholesalers at 4,077 and electronic markets, agents, and brokers, accounting for 1,208 establishments. Sales by durable goods wholesalers in 2002 totaled $112.1 billion, while wholesalers of nondurable goods saw sales of $73.4 billion. Electronic markets, agents, and brokers in the wholesale trade industry had sales of $15.4 billion.

In the 2002 Census of Retail Trade, Georgia was listed as having 34,050 retail establishments with sales of $90.09 billion. The leading types of retail businesses by number of establishments were gasoline stations (4,695); clothing and clothing accessories stores (4,640); food and beverage stores (3,998); motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers (3,949); and miscellaneous store retailers (3,471). In terms of sales, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts stores accounted for the largest share of retail sales at $24.6 billion, followed by general merchandise stores at $13.5 billion; food and beverage stores at $13.1 billion; gasoline stations at $8.7 billion; and clothing and clothing accessories stores at $5.09 billion. A total of 447,618 people were employed by the retail sector in Georgia that year.

Georgia exported goods worth $20.5 billion in 2005. Savannah is Georgia's most important export center.


Georgia's basic consumer protection law is the Fair Business Practices Act of 1975, which forbids representing products as having official approval when they do not, outlaws advertising without the intention of supplying a reasonable number of the items advertised, and empowers the administrator of the law to investigate and resolve complaints and seek penalties for unfair practices. The administrator heads the Office of Consumer Affairs, which now also administers laws that regulate charitable solicitation, offers to sell or buy business opportunities, buying services or clubs, and telemarketing.

A comprehensive "Lemon Law" was passed in 1990. In 1997, a number of changes were made in Georgia's basic consumer protection laws. The Consumers' Utility Counsel became a division of the Office of Consumer Affairs. The counsel represents the interests of consumers and small businesses before the Georgia Public Service Commission. Telemarketing, Internet, and home remodeling/home repair fraud became criminal offenses under the jurisdiction of the Office of Consumer Affairs, with maximum sentences of up to 10 years. Multilevel marketing is now covered along with business opportunities. A Consumer Insurance Advocate represents citizens before the Georgia Commissioner of Insurance, the courts, and federal administrative agencies that speak on behalf of consumers with regard to insurance, such as insurance rate increases or the denial of health care services. The Office of Consumer Education attempts to create a more informed marketplace so consumers can protect themselves against fraud.

The state's Attorney General's Office can also become involved in consumer protection. However, these activities are limited to the initiation of civil and criminal proceedings; and the representation of the state before state and federal regulatory agencies. The office has only limited subpoena powers and it has no authority to act in antitrust actions.

The state's Office of Consumer Affairs is located in Atlanta.


The state's first bank was a branch of the Bank of the United States, established at Savannah in 1802. Eight years later, the Georgia legislature chartered the Bank of Augusta and the Planters' Bank of Savannah, with the state holding one-sixth of the stock of each bank. The state also subscribed two-thirds of the stock of the Bank of the State of Georgia, which opened branches throughout the region. To furnish small, long-term agricultural loans, in 1828 the state established the Central Bank of Georgia, but this institution collapsed in 1856 because the state kept dipping into its reserves. After the Civil War, the lack of capital and the high cost of credit forced farmers to borrow from merchants under the lien system. By 1900, there were 200 banks in Georgia; with an improvement in cotton prices, their number increased to nearly 800 by World War I. During the agricultural depression of the 1920s, about half these banks failed, and the number has remained relatively stable since 1940. Georgia banking practices came under national scrutiny in 1979, when Bert Lance, President Jimmy Carter's former budget director and the former president of the National Bank of Georgia, was indicted on 33 counts of bank fraud. The federal government dropped its case after Lance was acquitted on nine of the charges, and most of the rest were dismissed.

As of June 2005, Georgia had 346 insured banks, savings and loans, and saving banks, plus 69 state-chartered and 126 federally chartered credit unions (CUs). Excluding the CUs, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta market area had 138 financial institutions in 2004, with $94.461 billion in deposits, followed by the Chattanooga area (which includes a portion of Georgia) at 26, with $6.612 billion in deposits. As of June 2005, CUs accounted for 4.6% of all assets held by all financial institutions in the state, or some $12.544 billion. Banks, savings and loans, and savings banks collectively accounted for the remaining 95.4% or $260.170 billion in assets held.

The Georgia Department of Banking and Finance regulates state-chartered banks, CUs, and trust companies. Federally chartered financial institutions are regulated by the US government.

In 2005, Georgia's community banks saw improvements in profitability. Return on assets that year rose to 1.34%, and strong loan growth signifigantly boosted net interest income. Led by a double-digit growth in construction and development, overall loans increased by 14% in 2005. In 2004, the median net interest margin (the difference between the lower rates offered to savers and the higher rates charged on loans) stood at 4.28%, up from 4.23% in 2003. In addition, commercial real estate (CRE) loans grew from 39.7% of assets ($7.5 billion) in 1996 to 61% of assets ($34.5 billion) in 2005.


In 2004 there were over 5.6 million individual life insurance policies in force with a total value of over $422.9 billion; total value for all categories of life insurance (individual, group, and credit) was about $684.7 billion. The average coverage amount is $74,600 per policy holder. Death benefits paid that year totaled $1.8 billion.

In 2003 there were 20 life and health insurance companies and 37 property and casualty insurance companies domiciled in Georgia. In 2004, direct premiums for property and casualty insurance totaled $12.6 billion. That year, there were 70,475 flood insurance policies in force in the state, at a total value of $13 billion. About $2.6 billion of coverage was offered through FAIR plans, which are designed to offer coverage for some natural circumstances, such as wind and hail, in high risk areas.

In 2004, 56% of state residents held employment-based health insurance policies, 4% held individual policies, and 23% were covered under Medicare and Medicaid; 17% of residents were uninsured. In 2003, employee contributions for employment-based health coverage averaged at 19% for single coverage and 27% for family coverage. The state offers a three-month health benefits expansion program for small-firm employees in connection with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA, 1986), a health insurance program for those who lose employment-based coverage due to termination or reduction of work hours.

In 2003, there were over 6 million auto insurance policies in effect for private passenger cars. Required minimum coverage includes bodily injury liability of up to $25,000 per individual and $50,000 for all persons injured in an accident, as well as property damage liability of $25,000. In 2003, the average expenditure per vehicle for insurance coverage was $758.69.


There are no stock or commodity exchanges in Georgia. In 2005, there were 2,770 personal financial advisers employed in the state and 3,950 securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents. In 2004, there were over 231 publicly traded companies within the state, with 91 NASDAQ companies, 58 NYSE listings, and 13 AMEX listings. In 2006, the state had 17 Fortune 500 companies; Home Depot ranked first in the state and 14th in the nation with revenues of over $81.5 billion, followed by United Parcel Service, Coca-Cola, BellSouth, and Coca-Cola Enterprises. All five companies are based in Atlanta and listed on the NYSE.


Because the Georgia constitution forbids the state to spend more than it takes in from all sources, the governor attempts to reconcile the budget requests of the state department heads with the revenue predicted by economists for the coming fiscal year. The governor's Office of Planning and Budget prepares the budget, which is then presented to the General Assembly at the beginning of each year's session. The assembly may decide to change the revenue estimate, but it usually goes along with the governor's forecast. The fiscal year begins on 1 July, and the first question for the assembly when it convenes the following January is whether to raise or lower the current year's budget estimate. If the revenues are better than expected, the legislators enact a supplemental budget. If the income is below expectations, cuts can be made.

In fiscal year 2006, general funds were estimated at $19.1 billion for resources and $17.8 billion for expenditures. In fiscal year 2004, federal government grants to Georgia were nearly $11.7 billion.


In 2005, Georgia collected $15,676 million in tax revenues or $1,728 per capita, which placed it 42nd among the 50 states in per capita tax burden. The national average was $2,192 per capita. Property taxes accounted for 0.4% of the total, sales taxes 33.9%, selective sales taxes 10.6%, individual income taxes 46.7%, corporate income taxes 4.5%, and other taxes 3.8%.

As of 1 January 2006, Georgia had six individual income tax brackets ranging from 1.0% to 6.0%. The state taxes corporations at a flat rate of 6.0%.

In 2004, state and local property taxes amounted to $7,844,826,000 or $880 per capita. The per capita amount ranks the state 34th highest nationally. Local governments collected $7,779,708,000 of the total and the state government $65,118,000.

Georgia taxes retail sales at a rate of 4%. In addition to the state tax, local taxes on retail sales can reach as much as 3%, making

GeorgiaState Government Finances
(Dollar amounts in thousands. Per capita amounts in dollars.)
Abbreviations and symbols: - zero or rounds to zero; (NA) not available; (X) not applicable.
source: U.S. Census Bureau, Governments Division, 2004 Survey of State Government Finances, January 2006.
Total Revenue 34,814,306 3,903.82
  General revenue 28,204,763 3,162.68
    Intergovernmental revenue 9,095,862 1,019.94
    Taxes 14,570,573 1,633.84
      General sales 4,921,337 551.84
      Selective sales 1,547,448 173.52
      License taxes 617,663 69.26
      Individual income tax 6,830,486 765.92
      Corporate income tax 494,701 55.47
  #x00A0;   Other taxes 158,938 17.82
    Current charges 2,388,566 267.84
    Miscellaneous general revenue 2,149,762 241.06
  Utility revenue 2,353 .26
  Liquor store revenue - -
  Insurance trust revenue 6,607,190 740.88
Total expenditure 34,196,775 3,834.58
  Intergovernmental expenditure 9,335,405 1,046.80
  Direct expenditure 24,861,370 2,787.77
    Current operation 17,587,719 1,972.16
    Capital outlay 2,434,332 272.97
    Insurance benefits and repayments 3,325,304 372.88
    Assistance and subsidies 1,052,824 118.06
    Interest on debt 461,191 51.71
Exhibit: Salaries and wages 3,990,821 447.50
Total expenditure 34,196,775 3,834.58
  General expenditure 30,869,198 3,461.45
    Intergovernmental expenditure 9,335,405 1,046.80
    Direct expenditure 21,533,793 2,414.64
  General expenditures, by function:
    Education 13,305,305 1,491.96
    Public welfare 9,215,633 1,033.37
    Hospitals 687,846 77.13
    Health 1,003,217 112.49
    Highways 1,393,760 156.29
    Police protection 241,000 27.02
    Correction 1,304,039 146.23
    Natural resources 518,165 58.10
    Parks and recreation 139,116 15.60
    Government administration 758,981 85.11
    Interest on general debt 461,191 51.71
    Other and unallocable 1,840,945 206.43
  Utility expenditure 2,273 .25
  Liquor store expenditure - -
  Insurance trust expenditure 3,325,304 372.88
Debt at end of fiscal year 8,664,363 971.56
Cash and security holdings 64,062,476 7,183.50

for a potential total tax on retail sales of 7%. Food purchased for consumption offpremises is tax exempt. The tax on cigarettes is 37 cents per pack, which ranks 41st among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Georgia taxes gasoline at 15.3 cents per gallon. This is in addition to the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax on gasoline.

For every dollar of federal tax collected in 2004, Georgia citizens received $0.96 in federal spending.


Since the time of journalist Henry Grady (185189), spokesman for the "New South," Georgia has courted industry. Corporate taxes have traditionally been low, wages also low, and unions weak. Georgia's main attractions for new businesses are a favorable location for air, highway, and rail transport, a mild climate, a rapidly expanding economy, tax incentives and competitive wage scales, and an abundance of recreational facilities. During the 1990s, Georgia governors aggressively sought out domestic and foreign investors, and German, Japanese, and South American corporations were lured to the state. The state offers loans to businesses that are unable to obtain conventional financing, provides venture capital to start-up companies, and extends loans to small businesses and to companies in rural areas.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is the lead agency for promoting economic development in the state, tasked with recruiting businesses, trade partners, and tourists. The GDEcD was established by law in 1949 as the Department of Commerce (replacing the Agricultural and Industrial Development Board), and later renamed. The GDEcD is overseen by a board of 20 members appointed by the governor. The main operational units are Small Business, International, Innovation and Technology, Existing Industry Support, Tourism, and Film, Video and Music. The state funds city and county development plans, aids recreational projects, promotes research and development, and supports industrial training programs.


The infant mortality rate in October 2005 was estimated at 7.8 per 1,000 live births. The birth rate in 2003 was 15.7 per 1,000 population. The abortion rate stood at 16.9 per 1,000 women in 2000. In 2003, about 84% of pregnant woman received prenatal care beginning in the first trimester. In 2004, approximately 85% of children received routine immunizations before the age of three.

The crude death rate in 2003 was 7.7 deaths per 1,000 population. As of 2002, the death rates for major causes of death (per 100,000 resident population) were as follows heart disease, 204.8; cancer, 163.3; cerebrovascular diseases, 49.8; chronic lower respiratory diseases, 36.9; and diabetes, 18.4. The mortality rate from HIV infection was 8.3 per 100,000 population. In 2004, the reported AIDS case rate was at about 18.6 per 100,000 population. In 2002, about 56.1% of the population was considered overweight or obese. As of 2004, about 20.1% of state residents were smokers.

In 2003, Georgia had 146 community hospitals with about 24,600 beds. There were about 926,000 patient admissions that year and 12.8 million outpatient visits. The average daily inpatient census was about 16,500 patients. The average cost per day for hospital care was $1,044. Also in 2003, there were about 360 certified nursing facilities in the state with 39,998 beds and an overall occupancy rate of about 90.9%. In 2004, it was estimated that about 68.2% of all state residents had received some type of dental care within the year. Georgia had 219 physicians per 100,000 resident population in 2004 and 658 nurses per 100,000 in 2005. In 2004, there was a total of 4,024 dentists in the state.

About 23% of state residents were enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare programs in 2004. Approximately 17% of the state population was uninsured in 2004. In 2003, state health care expenditures totaled $10.7 million.

The Medical College of Georgia, established at Augusta in 1828, is one of the oldest medical schools in the United States and the center of medical research in the state. The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were established in Atlanta in 1973; in 1992, the CDC retain its acronym but changed its name to the Centers for Disease and Prevention.


As a responsibility of state government, social welfare came late to Georgia. The state waited two years before agreeing to participate in the federal Social Security system in 1937. Eighteen years later, Georgia was distributing only $62 million to the aged, blind, and disabled and to families with dependent children. By 1970, the amount had risen to $150 million, but the state still lagged far behind the national average.

In 2004, about 208,000 people received unemployment benefits, with the average weekly unemployment benefit at $242. In fiscal year 2005, the estimated average monthly participation in the food stamp program included about 921,427 persons (375,739 households); the average monthly benefit was about $94.77 per person. That year, the total of benefits paid through the state for the food stamp program was about $1 billion.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the system of federal welfare assistance that officially replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1997, was reauthorized through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. TANF is funded through federal block grants that are divided among the states based on an equation involving the number of recipients in each state. In 2004, the state program had 124,000 recipients; state and federal expenditures on this TANF program totaled $203 million in fiscal year 2003.

In December 2004, Social Security benefits were paid to 1,192,050 Georgians. This number included 708,670 retired workers, 118,250 widows and widowers, 187,620 disabled workers, 54,720 spouses, and 122,790 children. Social Security beneficiaries represented 13.5% of the total state population and 91.5% of the state's population age 65 and older. Retired workers received an average monthly payment of $929; widows and widowers, $836; disabled workers, $878; and spouses, $466. Payments for children of retired workers averaged $471 per month; children of deceased workers, $605; and children of disabled workers, $268. Federal Supplemental Security Income payments went to 199,898 Georgia residents in December 2004, averaging $372 a month.


Post-World War II housing developments provided Georgia families with modern, affordable dwellings. The home-loan guarantee programs of the Federal Housing Administration and the Veterans Administration made modest down payments, low interest rates, and long-term financing the norm in Georgia. The result was a vast increase in both the number of houses constructed and the percentage of families owning their own homes.

In 2004, there were an estimated 3,672,677 housing units in Georgia, of which 3,210,006 were occupied; 67.7% were owner occupied. About 65.9% of all units were single-family, detached homes; about 10.9% were mobile homes. It was estimated that about 190,323 units were without telephone service, 7,692 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 9,071 lacked complete kitchen facilities. Most households relied on gas and electricity for heating. The average household had 2.67 members.

In 2004, 108,400 privately owned housing units were authorized for construction. The median value of a one-family home was about $136,910. The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was $1,126, while renters paid a median of $677 per month. In September 2005, the state received grants of $999,875 from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for rural housing and economic development programs. For 2006, HUD allocated over $40.2 million in community development block grants to the state.


During the colonial period, education was in the hands of private schoolmasters. Georgia's first constitution called for the establishment of a school in each county. The oldest school in the state is Richmond Academy (Augusta), founded in 1788. The nation's oldest chartered public university, the University of Georgia, dates from 1784. Public education was inadequately funded, however, until the inauguration of the sales tax in 1951, then at a 3% rate. By 1960, rural one-teacher schools had disappeared, and children were riding buses to consolidated schools.

Georgia has a comprehensive prekindergarten program, Bright from the Start, for children ages birth to four years old, the HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) scholarship program, and special programs administered by the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education. In 2004, 85.2% of the population age 25 or older had a high school diploma; 27.6% had obtained a bachelor's degree or higher. The Board of Regents of the state university system increased its requirements for students starting college After 1988.

The total enrollment for fall 2002 in Georgia's public schools stood at 1,496,000. Of these, 1,089,000 attended schools from kindergarten through grade eight, and 407,000 attended high school. Approximately 52.1% of the students were white, 38.3% were black, 6.9% were Hispanic, 2.5% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 0.2% were American Indian/Alaskan Native. Total enrollment was estimated at 1,508,000 in fall 2003 and expected to reach 1,627,000 by fall 2014, an increase of 8.7% during the period 200214. In fall 2003, there were 120,697 students enrolled in 665 private schools. Expenditures for public education in 2003/04 were estimated at $13.7 billion. Additionally, instructional services are provided for hearing- and sight-impaired students at three state schools: Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, Georgia Academy for the Blind, and Georgia School for the Deaf. Since 1969, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has tested public school students nationwide. The resulting report, The Nation's Report Card, stated that in 2005, eighth graders in Georgia scored 272 out of 500 in mathematics compared with the national average of 278.

As of fall 2002, there were 397,604 students enrolled in college or graduate school; minority students comprised 35.6% of total postsecondary enrollment. As of 2005, Georgia had 126 degree-granting institutions. Thirty-five public colleges are components of the University System of Georgia; the largest of these is the University of Georgia (Athens). The largest private university is Emory (Atlanta). A scholarship program was established in 1978 for minority students seeking graduate and professional degrees.


The Georgia Council for the Arts was founded in 1965. Major ongoing programs of the council include the Georgia Folklife Program (est. 1987), the Grassroots Arts Program (est. 1993), and the State Capitol Gallery (est. 1991), which features exhibits from the State Art Collection of over 600 works of art from Georgian artists. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Arts contributed 37 grants totaling $2,788,300 to Georgia's arts programs. Arts organizations in the state receiving federal funding include the Summer Atlanta Jazz Series, the Chamber Music Rural Residencies, the Center for Puppetry Arts, Inc., and the Augusta Opera. The Augusta Opera marked its 40th anniversary in 2006. The Georgia Humanities Council was founded in 1971. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Humanities contributed $1,501,272 to 19 state programs.

During the 20th century, Atlanta replaced Savannah as the major arts center of Georgia, while Athens, the seat of the University of Georgia, continued to share in the cultural life of the university. The state has eight major art museums, as well as numerous private galleries; especially notable is the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, dedicated in 1983known not just for its expansive collection of artworks but also for its impressive architectural design. The High Museum of Art opened expanded facilities to the public in November 2005 to house its growing needs. The Atlanta Memorial Arts Center was dedicated in 1968 to the 100 members of the association who lost their lives in a plane crash. The Atlanta Art Association was chartered in 1905 and exhibits the work of contemporary Georgia artists.

The theater has enjoyed popular support since the first professional resident theater troupe began performing in Augusta in 1790. Atlanta has a resident theater, and there are community theaters in some 30 cities and counties. Georgia has actively cultivated the filmmaking industry, and in 2004, some 252 productions (including movies) were produced in the state.

Georgia has at least 11 symphony orchestras, ranging from the Atlanta Symphony (est. 1945) to community and college ensembles throughout the state. Atlanta and Augusta have professional ballet touring companies, Augusta has a professional opera company, and choral groups and opera societies perform in all major cities. Macon is home to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. As of 2006, inductees included Ray Charles (inducted 1979), Otis Redding (inducted 1981), James Brown (inducted 1983), the B-52's (induct-ed 2000), and Patty Loveless (inducted 2005). The north Georgia mountain communities retain their traditional folk music.


For the fiscal year ending in June 2001, Georgia had 57 public library systems, with a total of 366 libraries, of which 309 were branches. The holdings of all public libraries that same year totaled 15,143,000 volumes of books and serial publications and had a total combined circulation of 36,229,000. The system also had 401,000 audio and 396,000 video items, 24,000 electronic format items (CD-ROMs, magnetic tapes, and disks), and 28 bookmobiles. The University of Georgia had by far the largest academic collection, including over 3 million books in addition to government documents, microfilms, and periodicals. Emory University, in Atlanta, has the largest private academic library, with about 1,520,921 bound volumes. In 2001, total operating income for the public library system was $155,868,000, including $2,988,000 in federal grants and $34,696,000 in state grants.

Georgia has at least 179 museums, including the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences in Savannah, the Georgia State Museum of Science and Industry in Atlanta, the Columbus Museum of Arts and Sciences, and Augusta-Richmond County Museum in Augusta. Atlanta's Cyclorama depicts the 1864 Battle of Atlanta. The Crawford W. Long Medical Museum in Jefferson is a memorial to Dr. Long, a pioneer in the use of anesthetics. A museum devoted to gold mining is located at Dahlonega.

Georgia abounds in historical sites, 100 of which were selected for acquisition in 1972 by the Georgia Heritage Trust Commission. Sites administered by the National Park Service include the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Kennesaw National Battlefield Park, Ft. Pulaski National Monument, and Andersonville National Monument near Americus, all associated with the Civil War, as well as the Ft. Frederica National Monument, an 18th-century English barracks on St. Simons Island. Also of historic interest are Factors Wharf in Savannah, the Hay House in Macon, and Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Little White House" at Warm Springs. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site was established in Atlanta in 1980. Also in Atlanta are President Jimmy Carter's library, museum, and conference center complex. The state's most important archaeological sites are the Etowah Mounds at Carterville, the Kolomoki Mounds at Blakely, and the Ocmulgee Indian village near Macon.


Airmail service was introduced to Georgia about 1930, and since then the quantity of mail has increased enormously.

As of 2004, 91.2% of Georgian residences had telephones. Additionally, by June of that same year there were 5,332,517 mobile wireless telephone subscribers. In 2003, 60.6% of Georgia households had a computer and 53.5% had Internet access. By June 2005, there were 1,351,237 high-speed lines in Georgia, 1,142,806 residential and 208,431 for business. In 2005, Georgia had 112 major radio stations, 24 AM and 88 FM. There were 37 major television stations in the same year. Atlanta had 1,774,720 television-owning households in 1999, 70% of which received cable.

On 1 June 1980, Atlanta businessman Ted Turner inaugurated the independent Cable News Network (CNN), which made round-the-clock news coverage available to 4,100 cable television systems throughout the United States. By 1985, CNN was available to 32.3 million households in the United States through 7,731 cable television systems and broadcast to 22 other countries. By the late 1980s, CNN had become well known worldwide. In addition, Turner broadcasts CNN Headline News. A total of 183,093 Internet domain names were registered in Georgia as of 2000.


Georgia's first newspaper was the Georgia Gazette, published by James Johnston from 1763 until 1776. When royal rule was temporarily restored in Savannah, Johnston published the Royal Georgia Gazette ; when peace came, he changed the name again, this time to the Gazette of the State of Georgia. After the state capital was moved to Augusta in 1785, Greensburg Hughes, a Charleston printer, began publishing the Augusta Gazette. Today's Augusta Chronicle traces its origin to this paper and claims the honor of being the oldest newspaper in the state. In 1817, the Savannah Gazette became the state's first daily. After the Indian linguist Sequoyah gave the Cherokee a written language, Elias Boudinot gave them a newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, in 1828. Georgia authorities suppressed the paper in 1835 and Boudinot joined his tribe's tragic migration westward.

After the Civil War, Henry Grady made the Atlanta Constitution the most famous newspaper in the state with his "New South" campaign. Joel Chandler Harris's stories of Uncle Remus appeared in the Constitution, as did the weekly letters of humorist Charles Henry Smith, writing under the pseudonym of Bill Arp. In 1958, Ralph E. McGill, editor and later publisher of the Constitution, won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorial opposition to racial intolerance. In 2001, the Constitution and the Atlanta Journal merged to form the Journal-Constitution, owned by Cox Newspapers.

As of 2005, Georgia had 30 morning dailies, 4 evening dailies, and 29 Sunday newspapers.

The following table shows the leading daily newspapers with their 2005 estimated circulations:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (m,S) 441,427 606,246
Augusta Chronicle (m,S) 78,069 94,040
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (m,S) 49,605 57,130
Macon Telegraph (m,S) 69,132 86,004
Savannah Morning News (m,S) 53,825 66,526

Periodicals published in Georgia in 2002 included Golf World, Atlanta Weekly, Savannah, Industrial Engineering, Robotics World, and Southern Accents. Among the nation's better-known scholarly presses is the University of Georgia Press, which publishes the Georgia Review.


In 2006, there were over 6,580 nonprofit organizations registered within the state, of which about 4,707 were registered as charitable, educational, or religious organizations. National organizations headquartered in Georgia include the National Association of College Deans, Registrars, and Admissions Officers, located in Albany; and the Association of Information and Dissemination Centers, the American Risk and Insurance Association, and the American Business Law Association, located in Athens.

Many organizations are headquartered in Atlanta, including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Southern Education Foundation, the Southern Regional Council, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the American College of Rheumatology, the Arthritis Foundation, the American Academy of Psychotherapists, and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives.

The Georgia Peanut Commission, Georgia Peanut Producers Association, and the Peanut Advisory Board promote the interests of growers of this popular crop. The Georgia Wildlife Federation addresses issues concerning the environment and conservation.

State and regional organizations that promote the arts, culture, and education include the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, the Georgia Writers Association, Young Georgia Writers, the Institute for the Study of American Cultures, and the National Indian Festival Association. A national Circus Historical Society is located in Alpharetta.

The Carter Center of Emory University in Atlanta was established in 1982 by former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn as a peace and human rights advocacy organization. The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, the headquarters for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and the US office of CARE International are all in Atlanta.


In 2005, travelers spent $28.2 billion on visits to Georgia. The Atlanta Metro Region received the most visitor expenditures, about 60%. More than 217,000 jobs are supported by the tourism industry in Georgia. The travel/tourism payroll generated over $1.28 billion in tax revenue.

Major tourist attractions include national forests, national parks, state parks, and historical areas. Other places of interest include the impressive hotels and convention facilities of downtown Atlanta; the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia; Stone Mountain near Atlanta; former President Jimmy Carter's home in Plains; the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, in Atlanta; the birthplace, church, and gravesite of Martin Luther King Jr., in Atlanta; and the historic squares and riverfront of Savannah. Georgia Aquarium, the world's largest, opened on 23 November 2005.

The varied attractions of the Golden Isles include fashionable Sea Island; primitive Cumberland Island, now a national seashore; and Jekyll Island, owned by the state and leased to motel operators and to private citizens for beach homes. Since 1978, the state, under its Heritage Trust Program, has acquired Ossabaw and Sapelo islands and strictly regulates public access to these wildlife sanctuaries.

Georgia has long been a hunters' paradise. Waynesboro calls itself the "bird-dog capital of the world," and Thomasville in south Georgia is popular with quail hunters.


There are four major professional sports teams in Georgia, all in Atlanta. Turner Field and the Georgia Dome, main venues for the 1996 Summer Olympics hosted by the city, serve as the home field for two professional teams: baseball's Atlanta Braves, for whom Henry Aaron hit many of his record 755 home runs, and the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League. The Philips Arena houses the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association and the Atlanta Thrashers of the National Hockey League. The Atlanta Braves won the National League pennant in 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, and 1999. The Braves went on to win their only World Series championship since moving to Atlanta, defeating the Cleveland Indians in 1995. The Braves lost the series to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1991 and 1992, and to the New York Yankees in 1996 and 1999.

The Golden Corral 500 and the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 are two of the NASCAR Nextel Cup auto races held at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Masters, the most publicized golf tournament in the world, has been played at the Augusta National Golf Club since 1934. The Atlanta Golf Classic is also listed on the professional golfers' tour.

Football and basketball dominate college sports. The University of Georgia Bulldogs, who play in the Southeastern Conference, were named National Champions in football in 1980 and advanced to the Final Four in basketball in 1983. Georgia Tech's Yellow Jackets of the Atlantic Coast Conference are a perennial basketball powerhouse. The Peach Bowl has been an annual postseason football game in Atlanta since 1968.

Professional fishing, sponsored by the Bass Anglers Sportsman's Society, is one of the fastest-growing sports in the state. Another popular summer pastime is rafting. Massive raft races on the Chattahoochee at Atlanta and Columbus, and on the Savannah River at Augusta, draw many spectators and participants.

Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympic Games at a cost of more than $1 billion.

Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball's color barrier in 1947, and Ty Cobb, nicknamed the "Georgia Peach," were both born in Georgia.


James Earl "Jimmy" Carter (b.1924), born in Plains, was the first Georgian to serve as president of the United States. He was governor of the state (197175) before being elected to the White House in 1976. Georgia has not contributed any US vice presidents; Alexander H. Stephens (181283) was vice president of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Georgians who served on the US Supreme Court include James M. Wayne (17901867), John A. Campbell (181189), and Joseph R. Lamar (18571916). Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed to the court during the George H. W. Bush administration, was born in Savannah on 23 June 1948. Several Georgians have served with distinction at the cabinet level: William H. Crawford (b.Virginia, 17721834), Howell Cobb (181568), and William G. McAdoo (18631941) as secretaries of the treasury; John M. Berrien (b.New Jersey, 17811856) as attorney general; John Forsyth (17811841) and Dean Rusk (190994) as secretaries of state; George Crawford (17981872) as secretary of war; and Hoke Smith (b.North Carolina, 18551931) as secretary of the interior.

A leader in the US Senate before the Civil War was Robert Toombs (181085). Notable US senators in recent years were Walter F. George (18781957), Richard B. Russell (18971971), Herman Talmadge (19132002), and Sam Nunn (b.1938). Carl Vinson (18831981) was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Many Georgians found fame in the ranks of the military. Confederate General Joseph Wheeler (18361906) became a major general in the US Army during the Spanish-American War. Other Civil War generals included W. H. T. Walker (181664); Thomas R. R. Cobb (182362), who also codified Georgia's laws; and John B. Gordon (18321904), later a US senator and governor of the state. Gordon, Alfred Colquitt (182494), and wartime governor Joseph E. Brown (b.South Carolina, 182194) were known as the "Bourbon triumvirate" for their domination of the state's Democratic Party from 1870 to 1890. Generals Courtney H. Hodge (18871966) and Lucius D. Clay (18971978) played important roles in Europe during and After World War II.

Sir James Wright (b.South Carolina 171485) was Georgia's most important colonial governor. Signers of the Declaration of Independence for Georgia were George Walton (b.Virginia, 17411804), Button Gwinnett (b.England, 173577), and Lyman Hall (b.Connecticut, 172490). Signers of the US Constitution were William Few (b.Maryland, 17481828) and Abraham Baldwin (b.Connecticut, 17541807). Revolutionary War hero James Jackson (b.England, 17571806) organized the Democratic-Republican Party (today's Democratic Party) in Georgia.

The first Georgians, the Indians, produced many heroes. Tomochichi (c.16641739) was the Yamacraw chief who welcomed James Edward Oglethorpe and the first Georgians. Alexander McGillivray (c.175993), a Creek chief who was the son of a Scottish fur trader, signed a treaty with George Washington in a further attempt to protect the Creek lands. Osceola (18001838) led his Seminole into the Florida swamps rather than move west. Sequoyah (b.Tennessee, 17731843) framed an alphabet for the Cherokee, and John Ross (Coowescoowe, b.Tennessee, 17901866) was the first president of the Cherokee Republic.

Among influential Georgian educators were Josiah Meigs (b.Connecticut, 17571822), the first president of the University of Georgia, and Milton Antony (17841839), who established the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta in 1828. Crawford W. Long (181578) was one of the first doctors to use ether successfully in surgical operations. Paul F. Eve (180677) was a leading teacher of surgery in the South, and Joseph Jones (183396) pioneered in the study of the causes of malaria.

Distinguished black Georgians include churchmen Henry M. Turner (b.South Carolina, 18341915) and Charles T. Walker (18581921), educators Lucy Laney (18541933) and John Hope (18681936), and civil rights activists William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) DuBois (b.Massachusetts, 19681963) and Walter F. White (18931955). One of the best-known Georgians was Martin Luther King Jr. (192968), born in Atlanta, leader of the March on Washington in 1963 and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his leadership in the campaign for civil rights; he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, while organizing support for striking sanitation workers. Black Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad (Elijah Poole, 18971975) was also a Georgian. Other prominent black leaders include Atlanta mayor and former United Nations ambassador Andrew Young (b.Louisiana, 1932), former Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson (b.Texas, 19382003), and Georgia senator Julian Bond (b.Tennessee, 1940).

Famous Georgia authors include Sidney Lanier (184281), Joel Chandler Harris (18481908), Lillian Smith (18571966), Conrad Aiken (18891973), Erskine Caldwell (190287), Caroline Miller (190392), Frank Yerby (191691), Carson McCullers (191767), James Dickey (192397), and Flannery O'Connor (192564). Also notable is Margaret Mitchell (190049), whose Pulitzer Prize-winning Gone with the Wind (1936) typifies Georgia to many readers.

Entertainment celebrities include songwriter Johnny Mercer (190976); actors Charles Coburn (18771961) and Oliver Hardy (18771961); singers and musicians Harry James (191683), Ray Charles (Ray Charles Robinson, 19302004), James Brown (b.1933), Little Richard (Richard Penniman, b.1935), Jerry Reed (b.1937), Gladys Knight (b.1944), and Brenda Lee (b.1944); and actors Melvyn Douglas (190181), Sterling Holloway (190592), Ossie Davis (19172005), Barbara Cook (b.1927), Jane Withers (b.1927), Joanne Woodward (b.1930), and Burt Reynolds (b.1936).

Major sports figures include baseball's "Georgia Peach," Tyrus Raymond "Ty" Cobb (18861961); Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (191972), the first black to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame; and Robert Tyre "Bobby" Jones (190271), winner of the "grand slam" of four major golf tournaments in 1930.

Robert E. "Ted" Turner (b.Ohio, 1939), an Atlanta businessman-broadcaster, owns the Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta Braves and skippered the Courageous to victory in the America's Cup yacht races in 1977. Architect John C. Portman Jr. (b.South Carolina, 1924), was the developer of Atlanta's Peachtree Center.


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Council of State Governments. The Book of the States, 2006 Edition. Lexington, Ky.: Council of State Governments, 2006.

DeGrove, John Melvin. Planning Policy and Politics: Smart Growth and the States. Cambridge, Mass.: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2005.

Doak, Robin S. Voices from Colonial America. Georgia, 15211776. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2006.

Grant, L. Donald. The Way It Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia. Secaucus, N.J.: Carol Publishing Group, 1993.

Inscoe, John C. (ed.). Georgia in Black and White: Explorations in the Race Relations of a Southern State, 18651950. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994.

Jordan, Jeffrey L. Interstate Water Allocation in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2006.

King, Coretta Scott. My Life with Martin Luther King. Rev. ed. New York: H. Holt, 1993.

Lane, Mills. The People of Georgia: An Illustrated History. 2nd ed. Savannah: Library of Georgia, 1992.

Lepa, Jack H. Breaking the Confederacy: The Georgia and Tennessee Campaigns of 1864. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2005.

McAuliffe, Emily. Georgia Facts and Symbols. Mankato, Minn.: Hilltop Books, 1999.

Norman, Corrie E., and Don S. Armentrout. (eds.) Religion in the Contemporary South: Changes, Continuities, and Contexts. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2005.

Olmstead, Marty. Hidden Georgia. Berkeley, Calif.: Ulysses Press, 2000.

Reidy, Joseph P. From Slavery to Agrarian Capitalism in the Cotton Plantation South: Central Georgia, 18001880. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.

US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, US Census Bureau. Georgia, 2000. Summary Social, Economic, and Housing Characteristics: 2000 Census of Population and Housing. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 2003.

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GEORGIA has played a pivotal role in shaping the South and the nation. Its history is one of stark contrasts, both painful and inspirational, filled with hatred and high idealism, poverty and prosperity. The landscape itself ranges from swampland in the south to mountains in the north, with the "fall line"a topographical divide that transverses Georgia's midsectionseparating the flat "low-country" from the hilly "upcountry." Georgia's cities have been influential: coastal Savannah; lowcountry Albany; the fall-line cities of Columbus, Macon, and Augusta; and, after the Civil War, Atlanta, which today is virtually its own state. But until recent decades, agriculture and rural life dominated the state. Tensions between rural and urban, black and white, rich and poor have characterized Georgia's economic and political developments, from the colonial era to the present.

A Contested Colony

Georgia became England's thirteenth colony in 1732, when the Crown granted a charter to reform-minded trustees, who outlawed slavery in their colony, hoping to create a yeoman's paradise for the poor. Less idealistic, the Crown wanted a defensive buffer for South Carolina's rice plantations, which suffered raids from Spanish Florida. James Edward Oglethorpe, England's well-bred champion of penal reform and religious freedom (Protestants only), arrived with the first ship and established Savannah. Although Oglethorpe wanted debtors prisons to furnish Georgia's manpower, so many middling types signed up that the prisoners never got out.

The prohibition on slavery failed, too; Carolina's wealthy plantations enticed Georgia's settlers, who illegally bought slaves. The popular Methodist revivalist George Whitefield encouraged this, preaching that God made Georgia for slavery. In 1752, the Crown reclaimed its charter and lifted Oglethorpe's ban. By 1776, Georgia's tidewater planters owned fifteen thousand slaves and controlled the colony. The Revolution gave planters a good shake. Some fled, others lost slaves to Florida's wilderness. In the war's final years, Georgia's patriots fought guerrilla campaigns in the backcountry. There, rough commonerssuch as the illiterate but savvy fighter Elijah Clarke and the redcoat-killing Nancy Hartwon a place in Georgia's politics and folklore.

Early Statehood and Land

Major events between 1790 and 1810 involved land. Colonial boundaries gave Georgia vast western holdings. Greed overwhelmed Georgia's legislators, resulting in the ugly Yazoo Fraud of 1795. To save face, Georgia ceded its western lands to the federal government and set its present-day boundaries. In return, federal officials promised future support in removing Georgia's Indians, who occupied two-thirds of the state.

John Milledge, elected governor in 1802, transformed Georgia's land policies. All public lands, including Indian lands, would be surveyed into yeoman-sized lots and distributed by lottery. The system was democratic for white men; Indians and free blacks were excluded, and women

had no right to own property. With the lottery, white Georgians surged upcountry, and the statehouse moved with them. In 1804, the government abandoned Savannah for the fall-line town of Milledgeville, named for the land-reform governor. The stage was set for Georgia's internal development.

The Antebellum Era

Between 1810 and 1860, three powerful trends shaped Georgia: the removal of the Creeks and Cherokees; the expansion of cotton plantations and slavery; and the rise of sectional tensions between North and South. In 1810, Indian territory still encompassed two-thirds of Georgian lands; plantation slavery was limited largely to the coast; and the southern states had no collective identity as "Dixie." By 1814, a completely new Georgia moved toward civil war.

Georgia took Creek land piecemeal over many decades. Weakened by defeat during the War of 1812, the tribe made final its cessions to Georgia in 1814, 1821, and 1825/26. The Cherokees of northwest Georgia defended themselves by adopting European ways. They enslaved blacks, developed an alphabet, and established legislative government at their capital, New Echota. But gold discovered in Dahonega, an Appalachian town, sparked the gold rush of 1829, flooding Cherokee Georgia with whites. The Indian Removal Act of 1830; Georgia's lottery for Cherokee land in 1832; and a dubious treaty in 1835 ended the Cherokee defense. In the winter of 18371838, federal soldiers forced them west.

White farmers plowed old Indian lands, but north and south Georgia developed differently. The upper Piedmont and Appalachian areas emerged as a yeoman strong-hold. "Plain folk" settled on family farms, distant from commodity markets. They practiced subsistence farming (corn and hogs) and grew wheat or cotton for cash. Both slaves and plantations were scarce.

The lower Piedmont became a stronghold of cotton plantations. Plantations had long been fixed along the coast, where slaves could produce rice, indigo, and long-staple cotton. But improved mechanical cotton gins, produced in Savannah around 1800, facilitated cultivation of short-staple cotton in Georgia's interior. With Creek removal, aspiring whites carved sprawling plantations across the lower Piedmont. In 1800, about 60,000 slaves lived in Georgia; by 1830, some 220,000. Federal law banned slave importation in 1808, but Georgia's planters continued to smuggle slaves until the 1860s. Georgia led America in cotton production and illegal slaving.

Georgia's yeomen and planters had little need for cities in Georgia's interior, but some leaders called for modernization. Augusta, Macon, and Columbus had fall-line waterpower for industry, and, by the late antebellum period, they had textile mills, foundries, and food-processing plants. Columbus became the Deep South's manufacturing leader. Legislators sponsored railroad development, most notably the Western and Atlantic Railroad, whose construction in the mid-1840s resulted in a new railroad townTerminus, later renamed Atlanta.

Dixie's cotton revolution made southern states different from their industrializing, free-labor neighbors up north. Sectional political conflicts and northern abolitionism made white southerners conscious of themselves as "southerners," and planters staunchly defended their "peculiar institution." When the Mexican-American War (18461848) opened vast western lands for Americans, sectional conflict boiled. Would the West follow the southern or the northern model? The question of slavery in the West ultimately led the North and South to war.

Civil War and Reconstruction

The Confederacy needed Georgiaeconomically powerful and strategically locatedbut opposition to secession rang across Georgia, not just among yeomen and poor whites, but also among wealthy planters; proslavery champion Benjamin Hill argued that war would bring only defeat and emancipation. When electing representatives for a state convention to rule on secession in early 1861, Georgians gave a thin majority to antisecession candidates. But at the convention, disunion sentiment reigned, and on 19 January 1861, Georgia became the fifth state to join the Confederacy.

Georgia's planters and industrialists profited from the wartime cotton prices and manufacturing needs, but they worried about rank-and-file patriotism. The Confederate legislature thus enacted a draft to fill its armies. When drafted, poor whites had no options, but large planters were exempted from military service, and small planters had buyout options. Class divisions among whites therefore flared hot, desertion rates soared, and poor women rioted for food in Columbus and Colquit. North Georgia and the Lower Chattahoochee Valley suffered recurrent guerrilla warfare.

An internally divided Georgia faced a Union onslaught in 1864 as General William T. Sherman's forces pushed into northwest Georgia. A bloodbath at Chickamauga and strong Confederate entrenchments at Kennesaw Mountain temporarily checked the Union advance. But in September 1864, Sherman took Atlanta, the Confederacy's transportation hub, ensuring Lincoln's reelection. Sherman's March to the Sea wasted Georgia and speeded Confederate surrender in 1865.

War liberated black Georgians. They fled plantations for Union camps and reveled in the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery. "Freedmen" sought family farms or jobs in Georgia's cities, especially Atlanta, which rapidly rebuilt. Blacks supported the Republican Party, which trumpeted Lincoln and emancipation. Former Confederates championed the Democratic Party, which fought for white supremacy. Fierce political battles marked the postwar decades.

Race and Politics, 18651915

Reconstruction in Georgia was brief, bloody, and disastrous for African Americans. The Freedmen's Bureau met black demands for education, but proved more concerned for planter's needs. When southern Democrats passed Black Codes, virtually enslaving the freedmen, Republicans in Congress passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867, placing Dixie under military rule and enfranchising blacks. Georgia's new Republican Partya biracial coalition of blacks and hill-country whitesformed a majority at Georgia's constitutional convention of 1867. African Americans made up 30 percent of the convention delegates. Milledgeville refused to accommodate these men and thereby lost the statehouse; the delegates met in Atlanta and made it Georgia's capital. The constitution mandated universal manhood suffrage, women's property rights, and free public schools. Georgia's legislature of 1868 included thirty-two African Americans, including civil rights activist Henry McNeal Turner. The legislature ratified the Fourteenth Amendment (black citizenship rights) in July 1868, thereby gaining Georgia's readmission to the Union.

When federal troops soon departed, the Democrat counterattack began. In Georgia's legislature, Democrats convinced white Republicans to help them purge blacks from the statehouse. This cross-party alliance expelled the black representatives, claiming that Georgia's constitution gave blacks the right to vote, not hold office. Georgia's supreme court ruled the purge unconstitutional, and Congress investigated, but Democrats resisted intervention with the help of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Confederate General John B. Gordon (governor, 18861890) led Georgia's Klan, which terrorized and assassinated Republicans in 18681869. In response, Congress expelled Georgia from the Union in 1869, crushing the Klan, reimposing military rule, and reinstalling black officials. Georgia's biracial legislature ratified the Fifteenth Amendment (voting rights), and Georgia again rejoined the Union. But in the elections of 1870, with federal troops gone, the Democrats launched a campaign of violence that effectively destroyed Georgia's Republican Party. This time Congress refused to investigate, signaling victory for Georgia's Democrats, who called themselves "Redeemers."

For the next century, Georgia's conservative Democrats would decry the long nightmare of "bayonet rule" and "Negro domination." Generations of white Georgians (and American historians) would accept this interpretation, facts notwithstanding, and use it in defense of state's rights and segregation.

Democrats faced new challengers through the 1890s. In the 1870s, Independent Party coalitions championed reform, sometimes courting black voters. In the 1880s, the biracial Farmer's Alliance lobbied hard, but unsuccessfully, against conservative policies. In 1892, Georgia's Tom Watson led angry farmers (black and white) into the national Populist Party, seeking to empower "producers" over the planter-industrialist establishment. The presidential election of 1896 crushed the Populists and firmly established the one-party South, making Watson an out-spoken racist and killing hopes for biracial insurgency.

Lowcountry planters controlled state politics through Georgia's unusual "county-unit system," which vastly inflated the value of rural votes over urban votes in Democrat primaries, the only meaningful elections in a one-party state. Sparsely settled rural counties dominated the legislature and selected rustic governors such as Eugene Talmadge, who never campaigned in any city. Only the U. S. Supreme Court's Gray v. Sanders (1963) decision would eliminate the county-unit system and equalize Georgia politics.

In the 1890s, Jim Crow segregation and mob violence devastated black Georgians. Without opposition, Democrat lawmakers made blacks second-class citizens. To resist was to risk lynching. Georgia led the nation in lynchings; elected officials accepted and facilitated mob rule, while northern Republicans refused to intervene. In this hostile environment, the black leader Booker T. Washington delivered his conciliatory "Atlanta Compromise" speech at Atlanta's 1895 Exposition, and Atlanta University professor W. E. B. Du Bois published Souls of Black Folk (1903), which launched his career as the nation's leading civil rights activist. Disenfranchisement notwithstanding, Democrats remained obsessed with race. Georgia's gubernatorial primary of 1906 featured two Democrats blasting "Negro domination" and sparking a bloody white-on-black race riot in Atlanta. As a capstone to the era, Atlanta resident William Simmons organized the second KKK at nearby Stone Mountain in 1915.

The New South Economy, 18801940

If planters controlled state politics and lowcountry plantations, a new urban middle class conquered the upcountry. Led by Atlanta journalist Henry Grady, boosters trumpeted a "New South Creed" of urban-industrial development. Rural transformation, as well as the creed, spurred upcountry industrialization. The plain folk's postwar poverty coupled with new railroads and fertilizers brought them into the cotton market, which destroyed them. Declining cotton prices, soaring interest rates, and a cruel crop-lien law brought perpetual debt and foreclosure; tenancy replaced small farm ownership. These events enriched small-town merchants, who invested surplus capital into the local cotton mills that arose across the southern upcountry, from Virginia to Alabama. Mills hired poor farm families, who worked for low pay and lived in "mill villages" controlled and enhanced by management. Critics and defenders of the mills clashed; industrialization proved controversial. Meanwhile, black Atlanta developed separate businesses, creating a rising black middle class to accompany its poor working class.

South of Atlanta, change moved slowly. Planters had lost their slaves but not their land. With lien laws and credit control, they controlled black sharecroppers, who experienced, instead of freedom, grinding poverty. Cotton remained king until boll-weevil damage in the 1920s forced shifts to peanuts, pecans, and dairy farms. Low-country pine forests fell for lumber and turpentine. With an old-money sniff at Atlanta, Savannah stagnated. World War I inaugurated a major changethe great migration of blacks from South to North. Labor shortages up North and Jim Crow down South sparked the movement; after the war, the black exodus continued.

The Great Depression and the New Deal altered Georgia's economy. President Franklin Roosevelt, a liberal Democrat who owned a "Little White House" in Warm Springs, Georgia, used unprecedented federal intervention to alleviate suffering and revive the economy. Ordinary Georgians loved Roosevelt. Georgia's conservative Democrats needed federal aid but feared for state's rights, a growing southern dilemma. Federal agricultural programs paid planters not to plant cotton; sharecroppers went uncompensated, and many were forced off land. Federal industrial policies created a code for textile production, giving approval for labor unions. Hoping to improve their working lives, thousands of mill hands joined the United Textile Workers. Labor-management conflicts sparked the General Textile Strike of 1934, which saw 400,000 southern mill hands stop work. Company guards and state troops crushed the strike and left unionism badly weakened. New Deal legislation nonetheless aided workers by mandating eight-hour days, overtime pay, minimum wages, and social security.

World War and Cold War, 19401960

World War II was a major turning point in Georgia's history. It brought massive federal investment in defense plants and military camps. Black outmigration soared as defense plants outside Dixie recruited workers, while rural whites moved to booming shipyards. The Progressive governor Ellis Arnall eliminated the poll tax and boosted higher education. Organized labor gained. Blacks in Atlanta spoke out for civil rightssome even began voting.

When war ended in 1945, Georgia's direction was uncertain and remained so through the 1950s, as the forces for progress and tradition clashed. The economy improved, but not without pain. Textile mills boomed until foreign imports began to undermine them. Georgia's industrial base diversified, offering higher-wage jobs. Organized labor got crushed, except in isolated upcountry mill towns. The poultry industry helped small farmers. Lowcountry plantations adopted the mechanical cotton picker, forcing hundreds of thousands of blacks off the land and speeding the black exodus.

Postwar politics exploded. Three men claimed the governor's chair after the 1946 election, prompting scandal and national embarrassment. More significant, blacks registered to vote in growing numbers. White resistance to civil rights intensified after the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision ruled against segregation. Atlanta native Martin Luther King Jr., a young Baptist preacher, led the Montgomery bus boycott (19551956) in Alabama, which ended segregated seating on city buses in 1957, King helped organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a civil rights organization with its headquarters in Atlanta, while whites organized a "massive resistance" campaign against federal intervention in racial matters. Between 1955 and 1960, state legislators passed numerous laws intended to scuttle school integration and added the Confederate stars and bars to the state flag.

Tensions between federal economic trends and sectional politics intensified. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 and massive defense spending helped Cold War Georgia boom. But greater federal investment in Georgia meant increased pressure for civil rights, especially after the Soviets publicized Jim Crow policies to humiliate American diplomats. Georgia's black activists brought matters to a head in the early 1960s.

The Civil Rights Movement

Martin Luther King Jr. moved back to Atlanta in 1960. Independently, black college students began lunch-counter sitins in southern cities, leading to the creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), also headquartered in Atlanta. In 1962, the SCLC unsuccessfully battled segregation in Albany; the campaign taught activists the importance of national media attention. They got plenty in the Birmingham campaign, which helped win President John Kennedy's support for the movement. King's "I Have a Dream" speech electrified the March on Washington on 28 August 1963. Often at odds, SCLC and SNCC both participated in the climactic 1965 voting-rights campaign in Selma, Alabama, with many Georgians, including Atlanta's Hosea Williams, in the lead.

Atlanta's white leaders, eager to look progressive, tried to stave off racial conflict and bad publicity, whether they believed in the movement or not. Mayors William B. Hartsfield and Ivan Allen Jr. worked with black leaders to make the transition to desegregation. Atlanta's Georgia Institute of Technology quietly integrated in fall 1961, the first public university in the South to do so without court order. Local tensions ran high, though. When King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Atlanta's stunned elite reluctantly hosted a biracial banquet in his honor.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (outlawing segregation) and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (ensuring voting rights) revolutionized Georgia society and politics, but change outside Atlanta proved slow. Black voters soon liberalized Georgia's Democratic Party. Civil rights stalwarts Julian Bond and Andrew Young of Atlanta won election to state and national offices. Maynard Jackson became Atlanta's first black mayor in 1974.

Angry white Democrats, mostly rural and working-class, sent archsegregationist Lester Maddox to the governor's mansion in 1966; Atlanta's leaders cringed. Maddox was Georgia's last openly racist governor. Many white-supremacy Democrats defected to Georgia's Republican Party, which included suburban conservatives who viewed race as a secondary issue. Other Democrats, notably Jimmy Carter, forged biracial coalitions with populist undertones. These coalitions made him governor of Georgia in 1970 and president in 1976.

Prosperity and Uncertainty

After 1960, Georgia prospered as never before. Dalton became the world's "carpet capital." Civil rights victories opened doors for professional sports in Atlanta. Vietnam War production spurred industry. Gains in higher education, population, and high-tech industry boosted Georgia's reputation. Ted Turner's television network made baseball's Atlanta Braves "America's Team." Coca-Cola, invented and headquartered in Atlanta, became the world's most recognized beverage. Atlanta's selection as the location for the 1996 Olympics also marked a breakthrough.

But growth was uneven. Hard times persisted in south Georgia. Predominantly black south Atlanta suffered poverty; predominantly white north Atlanta and its suburbs boomed. Public schools declined; private schools soared. Cotton-mill closings depleted small towns. Extending prosperity to underdeveloped areas remained a key issue in the early 2000s.

Still, Georgia's relative social and economic health can be seen in the black migration back to the state. After 1970, northern and western blacks (many professionals) moved to Georgia in huge numbers, reversing the great migration and creating upper-class enclaves in Metro-Atlanta.

Georgia is no longer just black and white, however; Latino and Asian immigrants altered the ethnic mix. Traditional questions remained, but new trends intervened. Slow-growth movements, gay Atlanta, and environmental conflicts all suggested an uncertain future for a state with a deeply contested past.


Bartley, Numan V. The Creation of Modern Georgia. 2d ed. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990.

Bayor, Ronald H. Race and the Shaping of Twentieth-Century Atlanta. Chapel Hill, N. C. : University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

Cobb, James C. Georgia Odyssey. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1997.

Coleman, Kenneth, et al. A History of Georgia. 2d ed. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991.

DeCredico, Mary A. Patriotism for Profit: Georgia's Urban Entrepreneurs and the Confederate War Effort. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.

Dittmer, John. Black Georgia in the Progressive Era, 19001920. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1977.

Flamming, Douglas. Creating the Modern South: Millhands and Managers in Dalton, Georgia, 18841984. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.

Grant, Donald L. The Way It Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia. Secaucus, N. J. : Carol, 1993.

Shaw, Barton C. The Wool Hat Boys: Georgia's Populist Party, 18921910. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984.

Stewart, Mart A. "What Nature Suffers to Groe": Life, Labor, and Landscape on the Georgia Coast, 16801920. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996.

Williams, David. Rich Man's War: Class, Caste, and Confederate Defeat in the Lower Chattahoochee Valley. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998.

Wood, Betty. Gender, Race, and Rank in a Revolutionary Age: The Georgia Lowcountry, 17501820. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2000.

Douglas Flamming

See also Atlanta ; Birmingham ; Civil Rights Movement ; Civil War ; Great Migration ; Jim Crow Laws ; Reconstruction ; Slavery .

Notable Georgia Women of the Twentieth Century

Rebecca L. Felton (18351930), feminist, first female U. S. Senator (appointed 1922).

Juliette Gordon Low (18601927), founder (1912) of the Girl Scouts of America.

Gertrude "Ma" Rainey (18861939), pioneering blues singer.

Margaret Mitchell (19001949), author, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Gone with the Wind (1936).

Flannery O'Connor (19251964), critically acclaimed writer of southern fiction.

Rosalynn Carter (b. 1927), First Lady of the United States (19771981), human rights activist.

Coretta Scott King (b. 1927), civil rights leader, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Gladys Knight (b. 1944), legendary rhythm and blues singer.

Anne Firor Scott (b. 1921), pioneering women's historian.

Alice Walker (b. 1944), author, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Color Purple (1983).

SOURCE: Georgia Politics in Transition

School desegregation is part of the Communist plot to overthrow this country.

SOURCE: Lester Maddox, governor of Georgia, 1969

I say to you quite frankly that the time for racial discrimination is over.

SOURCE: Jimmy Carter, governor of Georgia, 1971

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Georgia (state, United States)

Georgia (jôr´jə), state in the SE United States, the last of the Thirteen Colonies to be founded. It is bordered by Florida (S), Alabama (W), Tennessee and North Carolina (N), and South Carolina (across the Savannah River) and the Atlantic Ocean (E).

Facts and Figures

Area, 58,876 sq mi (152,489 sq km). Pop. (2010) 9,687,653, an 18.3% increase since the 2000 census. Capital and largest city, Atlanta. Statehood, Jan. 2, 1788 (4th of the original 13 states to ratify the Constitution). Highest pt., Brasstown Bald, 4,784 ft (1,459 m); lowest pt., sea level. Nickname, Empire State of the South. Motto, Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation. State bird, brown thrasher. State flower, Cherokee rose. State tree, live oak. Abbr., Ga.; GA


Georgia is the largest state E of the Mississippi River and has three main topographical areas. Extending inland from the coast is a low coastal plain that covers the southern half of the state. In mountainous N Georgia are the Appalachian Plateau, the valley and ridge province, and the Blue Ridge province. Bridging these two sections and embracing about one third of the state is the Piedmont foothill region in central Georgia. A number of islands, part of the Sea Islands chain, lie off Georgia's coastline.

The state is well drained by many rivers, including the Savannah, which forms the boundary with South Carolina; the Ocmulgee and the Oconee, which merge in the southeast to form the Altamaha; the Chattahoochee, which forms part of the Alabama boundary and joins with the Flint in the extreme southwest corner of the state to form the Apalachicola; and the Saint Marys, which rises in the large Okefenokee Swamp and forms part of the Georgia-Florida line. The most important cities are Atlanta, Columbus, Savannah, Macon, and Albany.


Although the trade and service sectors supply the majority of jobs in Georgia, manufacturing and agriculture remain important to the state's economy. In addition, federal facilities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, near Atlanta; Fort Benning, near Columbus; and the Kings Bay naval base, contribute to the economy.

Cotton, once Georgia's most valuable crop, has declined in importance; in the 1990s it was rivaled by peanuts, tobacco, and corn. Georgia is easily the nation's largest producer of peanuts. Tobacco is the principal crop in the central and southern sections of the state, peanuts in the southwest. Livestock and poultry raising account for the largest share of farm income; broilers, eggs, and cattle are major products.

The manufacture of textiles and textile products has long been Georgia's leading industry, centering mainly around Columbus, Augusta, Macon, and Rome. Other major manufactures include transportation equipment, foods, paper products, and chemicals. Automobile manufacturing is important around Atlanta. Much of Georgia is heavily forested with pine, and the state is a leading producer of lumber and pulpwood. Although the state is rich in minerals, mining is not as important as manufacturing and agriculture. The most valuable minerals produced are clays, stone, kaolin, iron ore, sand, and gravel. Georgia is famous for its fine marble.

With its moderate winter climate and its Southern charm and beauty, the state is a popular vacation area. The Sea Islands are especially noted for their scenery and resorts. Warm Springs, established with the help of President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the treatment of poliomyelitis, is now a historical landmark. Georgia's other attractions include Okefenokee Swamp, a large wilderness area; Chattahoochee and Oconee national forests, with facilities for hunting and fishing; Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park; Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park (see National Parks and Monuments, table); and Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, on which is carved a Confederate memorial.

Government, Politics, and Higher Education

Georgia's constitution provides for an elected governor who serves for a term of four years. The legislature, called the general assembly, is made up of a senate with 56 members and a house of representatives with 180 members. Members of both houses are elected to terms of two years. Georgia sends 14 representatives and 2 senators to the U.S. Congress and has 16 electoral votes. Zell Miller, elected governor in 1990 and reelected in 1994, was succeeded by another Democrat, Roy E. Barnes, elected in 1998, but Barnes lost his 2002 reelection bid to Republican Sonny Perdue. Perdue was reelected in 2006, and Republican J. Nathan Deal was elected in 2010 and 2014.

Leading educational institutions include the Univ. of Georgia, at Athens; Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State Univ., Emory Univ., Clark College, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Morris Brown College, all at Atlanta; Agnes Scott College, at Decatur; and Mercer Univ. and Wesleyan College, at Macon.


Early Exploration and Conflicting Claims

The Creek and Cherokee inhabited the Georgia area when Hernando De Soto and his expedition passed through the region c.1540. The Spanish later established missions and garrisons on the Sea Islands. In 1663, Charles II of England made a grant of land that included Georgia to the eight proprietors of Carolina. However, Spain claimed the whole eastern half of the present United States and protested the grant. The English ignored the protest, and the English-Spanish contest for the territory between Charleston (S.C.) and St. Augustine (Fla.) continued intermittently for almost a century. England became interested in settling Georgia as a buffer colony to protect South Carolina from Spanish invasion from the south.

Oglethorpe's Colony

In June, 1732, the English philanthropist James E. Oglethorpe received a charter from George II (for whom the colony was named) to settle the colony of Georgia and form a board of trustees to manage it. Oglethorpe planned to settle Georgia as a refuge for debtors in England. The first colonists, led by Oglethorpe, reached the mouth of the Savannah River in Feb., 1733. On a bluff c.18 mi (29 km) upstream, the colonists laid out the first town, Savannah. In 1739 war broke out between Spain and England. Fighting occurred in Georgia, and in 1742, near Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island, Oglethorpe defeated the Spanish in the battle of Bloody Marsh, thereby effectively ending Spain's claim to the land N of the St. Marys River.

Georgia's early settlers included English, Welsh, Scots Highlanders, Germans, Italians, Piedmontese, and Swiss. Jews, Catholics, and settlers from other American colonies were at first barred. Immigrants fell generally into two groups: charity settlers, who were financed by the trustees, and adventurers, who paid their own way and came to receive the best land grants. The trustees had hoped that the colony would produce silk to send back to England, and early colonists were required to plant a specific number of mulberry trees for the cultivation of silkworms. The scheme, however, came to nothing. At first slavery was prohibited, but this and other restrictions impeded the colony's growth, and by the time Georgia became a royal colony in 1754, most of the restrictions had been abolished.

Georgia flourished as a royal colony. It fitted well into the British mercantile system, exporting rice, indigo, deerskins, lumber, naval stores, beef, and pork to England and buying there the manufactured articles it needed. Georgia's citizens were slower to resent those acts of the crown that exasperated the other colonies, but by June, 1775, Georgian patriots had begun to organize, and the following month delegates were elected to the Second Continental Congress. Georgia's colonists were about equally divided into Loyalists and patriots during the American Revolution, but the patriots, exposed to Loyalist Florida on the south and Native American tribes on the west, fared badly. In Dec., 1778, the British captured Savannah, and by the end of 1779 they held every important town in Georgia.


After American independence had been won, Georgia was the first Southern state to ratify (1788) the Constitution. Georgia came into conflict with the federal government over states' rights when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Chisholm v. Georgia (1793), that an individual could sue a state, a decision equally distasteful to other states as well as to Georgia. (This decision was later nullified by the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.)

Further difficulties with the federal government stemmed from the related issues of the removal of Native Americans and land speculation centering around the Yazoo land fraud. In the midst of the Yazoo controversy, Georgia ceded (1802) its western lands to the United States in return for $1,250,000 and a pledge that the Native Americans would be removed from Georgia lands. By 1826 the Creek had yielded their lands, but in 1827, the Cherokee set themselves up as an independent nation. The U.S. Supreme Court held (1832) that the state had no jurisdiction over the Cherokee, but President Jackson declined to support the chief justice, and in 1838 the Cherokee were forced to migrate west to government land in present day Oklahoma. The path of their journey is known as the Trail of Tears.

Cotton and the Confederacy

With the invention of the cotton gin (1793) by Eli Whitney, Georgia began to prosper as a cotton-growing state. Cotton was grown under the plantation system with labor supplied by slaves. By the 1840s a textile industry was established in the state. Although Georgia was committed to slavery before the Civil War, state leaders opposed secession. However, successive defeats on the national scene, culminating in the election of Lincoln as president, fostered separatist sentiment in the state.

On Jan. 19, 1861, Georgia seceded from the Union and shortly afterward joined the Confederacy. The coast was soon blockaded by the Union navy, and in Apr., 1862, Fort Pulaski (which had been seized by the state in Jan., 1861) was recaptured by Union forces. Georgia became a major Civil War battlefield when, in 1864, Union Gen. W. T. Sherman launched his successful Atlanta campaign. On Nov. 15, 1864, Sherman set fire to Atlanta, and his subsequent march through Georgia to the sea, culminating in the fall (Dec.) of Savannah, left in its path a scene of great destruction.

The Long Aftermath of the Civil War

During Reconstruction, Georgia at first refused to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and was consequently placed under military rule. During the period of military rule Rufus B. Bullock, a radical Republican, was elected governor. Corruption prevailed during Bullock's administration (1868–71), but after the legislature approved the Fifteenth Amendment (the Thirteenth and Fourteenth having been ratified earlier), Georgia was readmitted (1870) to the Union, and Bullock resigned. Georgia's Democratic party has dominated the state's politics since the end of Reconstruction.

The textile industry recovered from the effects of the war and was expanding by the 1880s. Atlanta, which had succeeded Milledgeville as the capital in 1868, grew into a thriving industrial city, largely due to its importance as the center of an expanding regional railroad network.

The effect of the war on agriculture—which had formerly been dependent on slave labor—was more serious. The breakup of large plantations resulted in the rise of tenant farming and sharecropping, systems often accompanied by poverty and abuse. After World War I agriculture suffered further setbacks as the boll weevil caused great destruction to cotton crops and the soil became exhausted through erosion and overuse. A farm depression began in Georgia long before the general depression of the 1930s. The state weathered the depression, but its subsequent history was marked by political and racial conflict.

The Struggle for Racial Equality

In 1941, Gov. Eugene Talmadge caused nationwide commotion by discharging three educators in the state university system alleged to have advocated racial equality in the schools. The state university system lost its accreditation for a time as a result of Talmadge's action. Talmadge was defeated in the 1942 Democratic primary by Ellis G. Arnall.

Under Arnall's administration, Georgia became the first state to grant the vote to 18-year-olds, and in 1946 (on the strength of a U.S. Supreme Court decision) blacks voted for the first time in the Georgia Democratic primary. Among Arnall's other administrative acts was the adoption of a new constitution in Aug., 1945. The 1945 constitution, which, in amended form, is still in effect in the state, contained a provision for Georgia's notorious county-unit system. This system for nominating state officials in Democratic primaries led to the political control of urban areas by sparsely populated rural areas.

The integration of public schools, following the 1954 Supreme Court decision, was strenuously opposed by many Georgians. However, in 1961 the legislature abandoned a "massive resistance" policy, and Georgia became the first state in the deep South to proceed with integration without a major curtailment of its public school system. Racial tensions persisted, however, and in May, 1970, racial disorders broke out in Augusta.

Georgia's county-unit system (held constitutional by the Supreme Court in Apr., 1950) was abolished by federal court order in 1962. In 1972, the Georgian Andrew Young became the first African American elected to the U.S. Congress; he later became mayor of Atlanta. Jimmy Carter, a Democrat and the 39th president of the United States (1977–81), had been governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975; his administration brought attention to the state, whose urban centers, especially Atlanta, were beginning to experience rapid growth. Today, roughly one half of the jobs in Georgia are in the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is sprawling into formerly rural districts, highlighting the cultural and economic gaps between Georgia's rural and urban areas.


See H. E. Bolton, The Debatable Land (1968); R. H. Shyrock, Georgia and the Union in 1850 (1926, repr. 1968); R. M. Myers, ed., The Children of Pride (1972); J. Crutchfield, ed., Georgia Almanac, 1989–90 (1990); N. V. Bartley, The Creation of Modern Georgia (2d ed. 1990).

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Georgia is located in the southeastern United States, where it is bordered in the north by Tennessee and North Carolina, in the south by Florida, in the west by Alabama, and in the east by South Carolina and the Atlantic Ocean. The country's twenty-first largest state, Georgia has a total area of 58,910 square miles. In the 1990s Georgia's estimated population of 7.64 million ranked it tenth among the fifty states. During the nineteenth century the state boasted a thriving agricultural economy, but by the end of the twentieth century Georgia's manufacturing and service industries were its most successful and buoyant. The state's economic center is located in Atlanta, which is both Georgia's largest city and its capital.

The colony of Georgia was founded in 1733 by James Oglethorpe, a soldier, politician, and philanthropist who had been granted a charter to settle the territory by Great Britain. Named after the English King George II, Georgia was the last of the 13 British colonies established in the United States. Georgians were among the first colonists to sign the Declaration of Independence. Following the American Revolution (17751783) Georgia was the fourth state overall and the first southern state to ratify the federal Constitution in January of 1788.

Georgia's support for the federal government began to wane during the early 1800s, when Congress proposed legislation to outlaw slavery in the Western territories. Georgia's rich cotton and rice plantations depended on slavery, and Georgians feared that the abolition movement would eventually reach their state. The Missouri Compromise (1820), which designated the states and territories in question as slave or free states, was passed by Congress largely through the efforts of Georgia Representatives Alexander H. Stephens, Robert Toombs, and Howell Cobb. This legislation helped calm tempers in the South, but it was only a temporary fix. On January 19, 1861 Georgia became one of the eleven Confederate states to secede from the Union. Less than three months later the nation was at war.

The American Civil War (18611865) left much of Georgia in ruins. Union General William T. Sherman (18201891) captured Atlanta in September of 1864, and began his famous "march to the sea" in November. Before his troops overtook Savannah in December, houses were looted, bridges were burned, and railroads, factories, mills, and warehouses were destroyed. Georgia residents were not the only ones in their state to suffer during the war, almost 50,000 Union soldiers were held prisoner at a camp in Andersonville, Georgia. Approximately one-fourth of those prisoners died from exposure, malnutrition, starvation, and filth. The prison superintendent was later convicted of war crimes before a U.S. military court and hung.

Georgia was readmitted to the Union on July 15, 1870 after it ratified the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the federal Constitution. Those amendments abolished slavery and guaranteed the former slaves equal protection under the law and the right to vote. The amendments did not, however, protect thousands of black Georgia residents from being persecuted by white terrorists. Nor did they prevent the state government from enacting so-called Jim Crow laws that legalized segregation in Georgia. Such laws remained on the books until Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed segregation in all public places. Georgia native Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (19291968) played an essential role in bringing about the passage of that civil rights law.

Other famous Americans have also hailed from Georgia. Jimmy Carter (1924) is the only U.S. president who claims Georgia as his birthplace. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (1948) is one of four Georgians to have sat on the nation's high court. Baseball players Raymond "Ty" Cobb (18861961) and Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (19191972) are among the legendary Georgia athletes. Eli Whitney (17651825) may be the most famous Georgian from before the twentieth century. Whitney's invention of the cotton gin in 1793 made cotton so efficient to clean that the crop became the foundation for Georgia's economy in the nineteenth century.

Cotton would not have the same importance to the Georgia economy of the twentieth century. In the 1920s the boll weevil decimated the state's cotton industry. The Great Depression (19291939) further weakened the cotton farmer and by 1940 the old plantation system was gone. At the same time, World War I (19141918) and World War II (19391945) hastened the growth of manufacturing in Georgia. Federal dollars poured into state businesses that built and sold airplanes, ships, and munitions for the war effort.

By the end of the twentieth century manufacturing was the state's leading revenue-generating activity, with the textile industry being its oldest and largest such business. Of the almost four million persons employed in Georgia during the early 1990s, however, about 25 percent worked in the services sector, 23 percent worked in wholesale or retail trade, and only 15 percent worked in manufacturing. Three percent of Georgia residents worked on farms where cotton was only one of several crops grown for a profit. Tobacco, peanuts, peaches, and watermelons have also proven lucrative to grow in the state.

Tourism was another revenue-generating activity for the state in the twentieth century, with visitors to the state spending nearly $9.2 billion annually. The state's several national parks and forests, 100-mile oceanic coastline, balmy winter temperatures, and verdant plant life make it a nationwide attraction. In 1996 Atlanta attracted millions of people from around the world for the summer Olympics, which were generally considered a success despite a bombing that killed two people.

Both residents and visitors have contributed to the host of nicknames by which the state of Georgia is known. Unofficially called the Peach State, Georgia has also been affectionately referred to as the Peanut State, the Buzzard State, and the Empire State of the South. Over the past quarter-century Georgia has become known in some parts as the Bulldog State acquiring that moniker in conjunction with the successful academic and athletic programs at the University of Georgia, where the school mascot is a bulldog.

See also: Boll Weevil Infestation, King Cotton, Sherman's March on Georgia


Hepburn, Lawrence R. The Georgia History Book. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Institute of Government, 1982.

Lane, Mills. The People of Georgia: An Illustrated History, 2nd ed. Savannah, GA: Library of Georgia, 1992.

"Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia, 1999," [cited May, 12 1999] available from the World Wide Web @

Sams, Cindy. "Georgia Farmers Find Peanuts Still the Crop to Grow." Knight-Ridder Tribune Business News, October 8, 1998.

"State of Georgia Homepage," [cited April 20, 1999] available from the World Wide Web @

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Trustees. Georgia was the last colony founded by the British in what would be the United States. By the 1730s authorities in England had a fairly good idea of what it meant to create settlements even though in many ways Georgia would be an experiment. Unlike the earliest colonies, which were either underwritten by joint stock companies (Virginia, Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, New Netherland, and New Sweden) or were held as the semiprivate property of proprietors (Pennsylvania, Maryland, the Jerseys, New York, and the Carolinas), Georgia was entrusted to twenty-one trustees. Its 1733 charter, to run for twenty-one years, prohibited the trustees from making any profit or taking any salary. Money for the colony was raised in England, initially through the churches and schoolchildren since the idea being promoted was that Georgia would be a place where the deserving poor could find a second chance. (Most of these people were not the debtors jailed in England that popular myth has assigned to early Georgia.) Contributions fell off, however, and less than 10 percent of the £260,000 that the trustees ultimately spent came through donations. Other expectations by the trustees also failed to materialize, and Georgia proved hard to govern, especially through trustee meetings held three thousand miles away. In 1752, one year sooner than their charter called for, the trustees turned the colony over to the Crown, and royal officials arrived two years later.

Oglethorpe. The man most responsible for the creation and administration of Georgia was James Edward Oglethorpe. Born to a wealthy family in 1696, he began his career in the army of Prince Eugene of Savoy fighting against the Ottoman Turks. By 1719 he was back in England, and in 1722 he was elected to the House of Commons. A turning point for Oglethorpe came in 1728 when a close friend, Robert Castell, was committed to Londons Fleet Street prison for debt, where he contracted smallpox and died. Oglethorpe had visited Castell in prison and was appalled by what he saw, so he began to agitate for prison reform. His efforts attracted the attention of Thomas Bray, the Anglican clergyman in charge of the churchs missionary effort in America. Bray had conceived of a philanthropic colony for Englands poor and released debtors. After his death his friends began

working with Oglethorpe and helped push the charter through. Oglethorpe was a man of action, and he accompanied the first boatload of 114 settlers to Georgia in 1732. While not officially governor, his leadership abilities in fact made him so. He would also be a military leader against the Spanish in Florida and take part in all the important events of the young colony. By 1738 Oglethorpes authority was diminishing. Political dissent and economic problems in the colony led the trustees to look to others for guidance. Oglethorpe left the colony in 1743 to answer charges of military mismanagement against him. The ensuing court-martial cleared him, and Parliament granted the colonial leader the £66,109 that he had spent of his own funds for the public good of Georgia. He continued to attend meetings of the trustees in England until 1749, but he never returned to Georgia.

Buffer Zone. While Oglethorpe and many of the trustees hoped that Georgia would be a place for the poor to acquire a necessary sufficiency, they and others also realized that the Spaniards and neighboring Indians were a threat to the increasingly prosperous colony of South Carolina. By the early 1700s Spaniards were concentrated south of the Saint Johns River (modern Jacksonville, Florida) and Frenchmen were settling the Gulf of Mexico. A series of European wars in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries also contributed to English fears of enemies at their backs. Indian problems that culminated in the Yamasee War (17151716) convinced South Carolinians that they needed white frontier settlements that not only would prevent the French from monopolizing the Mississippi but also would supply militias to forestall or repel Spanish or Indian forays into Carolina. Georgia was therefore settled on South Carolinas southern and southwestern flank abutting the Spanish in La Florida.

Failure of Idealism. While colonies such as Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, and Pennsylvania all were founded to some extent as idealistic ventures, their underpinnings were religious. Georgias founders, while godly, were looking not to establish a protected religious enclave but a moral one. Chief among these moralists was Oglethorpe. He and the trustees envisioned a colony of sober, industrious, small landholders. To this end they prohibited strong liquors, large landholdings of more than five hundred acres, and slavery; the colonists disagreed. Not only did these constraints rankle many settlers, but also the restrictions on land acquisition and slave labor made Georgia unappealing to those with capital who wanted to take advantage of the areas potential for rice plantations. South Carolinians especially eyed the rivers and marshes, and a few even went so far as establishing illegal slave-based plantations. A colony without colonists was a colony that failed. In 1750 the trustees allowed slavery, and two years later the five-hundred-acre restriction on grants ended. The rum trade was never completely suppressed because Robert Musgrove and his wife Mary sold liquor less than a mile from Savannah. Georgias trustees had learned what other Utopians would learn throughout American history,

which was that ideals in competition with economic realities rarely survived.

Savannah. By the time Oglethorpe and his settlers arrived in America they knew what locations would be good sites for towns. Probably aided by the South Carolinians he had met, Oglethorpe settled on Yamacraw Bluff, high above the Savannah River some seventeen miles from the ocean. As Oglethorpe told the trustees, The Lannskip is very agreeable, the Stream being wide, and bordered with high Woods on both sides. The local Indians were few in number and peaceful. Oglethorpe then proceeded to lay out a town with public squares, blocks often lots each, and streets. Savannah also boasted an experimental garden where exotic crops such as olive trees, grape vines, coffee berries, tea, oranges, and Egyptian kale were planted. The planned city of Savannah was unlike almost any other town in British America and looked then, and still looks now, European. By 1754 it seemed to have some 150 houses and 600 inhabitants, black and white.


Kenneth Coleman, Colonial Georgia: A History (Millwood, N.Y.: KTO Press, 1989);

Evarts B. Greene and Virginia D. Harrington, American Population Before the Federal Census of 1790 (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1966).

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Atlanta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193

Marietta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207

Savannah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219

The State in Brief

Nickname: Empire State of the South; Peach State

Motto: Wisdom, justice, and moderation

Flower: Cherokee rose

Bird: Brown thrasher

Area: 59,424 square miles (2000; U.S. rank: 24th)

Elevation: Ranges from sea level to 4,784 feet above sea level

Climate: Long, hot summers and short, mild winters

Admitted to Union: January 2, 1788

Capital: Atlanta

Head Official: Sonny Perdue (R) (until 2007)


1980: 5,463,000

1990: 6,478,000

2000: 8,186,453

2004 estimate: 8,829,383

Percent change, 19902000: 26.4%

U.S. rank in 2004: 9th

Percent of residents born in state: 57.8% (2000)

Density: 141.4 people per square mile (2000)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 385,830

Racial and Ethnic Characteristics (2000)

White: 5,327,281

Black or African American: 2,349,542

American Indian and Alaska Native: 21,737

Asian: 173,170

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 4,246

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 435,227

Other: 196,289

Age Characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 595,150

Population 5 to 19 years old: 2,414,770

Percent of population 65 years and over: 9.6%

Median age: 33.4 years

Vital Statistics

Total number of births (2003): 135,831

Total number of deaths (2003): 66,337 (infant deaths, 1,153)

AIDS cases reported through 2003: 14,023


Major industries: Paper and board, textiles, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, chemicals

Unemployment rate: 4.1% (December 2004)

Per capita income: $29,259 (2003; U.S. rank: 28th)

Median household income: $43,535 (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Percentage of persons below poverty level: 12.0% (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Income tax rate: Ranges from 1.0% to 6.0%

Sales tax rate: 4.0% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)

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