Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. Named after King George II of Great Britain, Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788. It declared its secession from the Union on January 19, 1861, and was one of the original seven Confederate states. It was the last state to be restored to the Union, on July 15, 1870. Georgia is the 24th most extensive and the 8th most populous of the 50 United States. From 2007 to 2008, 14 of Georgia's counties ranked among the nation's 100 fastest-growing, second only to Texas. Georgia is known as the Peach State and the Empire State of the South. Atlanta is the state's capital and its most populous city.
Georgia is bordered on the south by Florida, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and South Carolina, on the west by Alabama, and on the north by Tennessee and North Carolina. The northern part of the state is in the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains system. The Piedmont extends through the central part of the state from the foothills of the Blue Ridge to the Fall Line, where the rivers cascade down in elevation to the coastal plain of the southern part of the state. The highest point in Georgia is Brasstown Bald at above sea level; the lowest point is the Atlantic Ocean. Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River in land area, although it is the fourth largest (after Michigan, Florida, and Wisconsin) in total area, including expanses of water that are part of state territory.
Before settlement by Europeans, Georgia was inhabited by the mound building cultures. The British colony of Georgia was founded by James Oglethorpe on February 12, 1733 (February 1, 1732 O.S.). The colony was administered by the Trustees for the Establishment of the Colony of Georgia in America under a charter issued by (and named for) King George II. The Trustees implemented an elaborate plan for the colony's settlement, known as the Oglethorpe Plan, which envisioned an agrarian society of yeoman farmers and prohibited slavery. In 1742 the colony was invaded by the Spanish during the War of Jenkins' Ear. In 1752, after the government failed to renew subsidies that had helped support the colony, the Trustees turned over control to the crown. Georgia became a crown colony, with a governor appointed by the king.
In 1829, gold was discovered in the North Georgia mountains, which led to the Georgia Gold Rush and an established federal mint in Dahlonega, which continued its operation until 1861. The subsequent influx of white settlers put pressure on the government to take land from the Cherokee Nation. In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act into law, sending many eastern Native American nations to reservations in present-day Oklahoma, including all of Georgia's tribes. Despite the Supreme Court's ruling in Worcester v. Georgia that states were not permitted to redraw the Indian boundaries, President Jackson and the state of Georgia ignored the ruling. In 1838, his successor, Martin Van Buren, dispatched federal troops to gather the Cherokee and deport them west of the Mississippi. This forced relocation, known as the Trail of Tears, led to the death of over 4,000 Cherokees.
In early 1861, Georgia joined the Confederacy and became a major theater of the Civil War. Major battles took place at Chickamauga, Kennesaw Mountain, and Atlanta. In December 1864, a large swath of the state from Atlanta to Savannah was destroyed during General William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea. 18,253 Georgian soldiers died in service, roughly 1 of every 5 who served. In 1870, following reconstruction, Georgia became the last Confederate state restored to the Union.
With white Democrats having regained power in the state legislature, they passed a poll tax in 1877, which disfranchised many poor blacks and whites, preventing them from registering. In 1908, the state established a white primary; with the only competitive contests within the Democratic Party, it was another way to exclude blacks from politics. They constituted 46.7% of the state's population in 1900. This disfranchisement persisted through the mid-1960s, until federal legislation with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Note: Georgia was one of the 13 original States. At the close of the Revolution it included most of present-day Alabama and Mississippi, an area which finally became Mississippi Territory in 1802. In that year Georgia reached essentially its present boundaries, although survey uncertainties resulted in continuing disputes with bordering States over subsequent decades. Census coverage in 1790 and 1800 was limited to the eastern portions of the present State near the Savannah River and the Atlantic coast; there was no coverage of present-day Alabama or Mississippi. The population for 1810 excludes 1,026 persons in (old) Walton County, reported as a Georgia county but later determined to be in North Carolina. Census coverage of the State was relatively complete by 1840.. State total for 1810 excludes population (1,026) of (old) Walton County, reported as a Georgia county but later determined to be situated in western North Carolina.
Births, Marriages, and Deaths
Ancestry.com has the following vital records databases for Georgia:
FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online:
Outstanding guide to Georgia family history and genealogy (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Birth, marriage, and death records, wills, deeds, county records, archives, Bible records, cemeteries, churches, censuses, directories, immigration lists, naturalizations, maps, history, newspapers, and societies.