Help support New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download or CD-ROM. Includes the Catholic Encyclopedia, Church Fathers, Summa, Bible and more all for only $19.99...
The area of Georgia is 59,475 sq. m., and it is the largest of the original thirteen United States; bounded on the north by Tennessee and North Carolina, on the east by the Savannah River and the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by Florida, and on the west by Florida and Alabama. Population in 1790, 82,548; in 1830, 516,823; in 1870, 1,184,109; and in 1900, 2,216,331, including 1,034,813 negroes, 204 Chinese, 1 Japanese, and 19 Indians. The population of Savannah, the largest city, was, in 1900, 54,244. The present Constitution was adopted in 1877. The State is divided into 10 congressional districts, 44 senatorial districts, and 137 counties. No State in the American Union has such a variety of agricultural products. Cotton is the chief. Before the Civil War one-sixth of the total cotton crop of the United States was raised in Georgia. In 1883, 824,250 bales were produced; in 1907, 1,920,000. Georgia now ranks as the second cotton-producing State. Among other agricultural products, Georgia produced in 1907 5,010,000 bushels of oats, 57,538,000 bushels of corn, and 2,673,000 bushels of wheat. Georgia is likewise remarkable for the extent and variety of its woodland, its pine being world-famous. It possesses coal, iron, and gold mines, as well as silver, copper, and lead. In 1905 the value of its products of manufacture was $151,040,455, the capital employed being $135,211,551. Its favourable location, extensive railroads, and numerous navigable streams give Georgia excellent commercial advantages. Situated between the North and the South-West, the West and the Atlantic, trade between these sections passes through the State. Atlanta and Savannah are its principal commercial centres. The value of foreign commerce is estimated at $30,000,000. There is no Southern State equal to Georgia in the number of its railroad enterprises. Atlanta, Columbus, Mâcon, Savannah, and Augusta are the principal railroad centres. The mileage of railroads in 1907 was 6786.33.
The Constitution provides for a "thorough system of common schools", maintained by taxation "or otherwise", and free for "white and coloured races". The State school commissioner is appointed by the governor for a term of two years. Every county has a board of education and a superintendent, and is provided with free schools. Atlanta, Savannah, Augusta, Mâcon, and Columbus are separately organized under local laws. The State university, at Athens, founded in 1785, is non-sectarian and in 1908 had 199 instructors and 3375 students. Connected with it are agricultural colleges, a law school, and a medical school in various parts of the State.
The other prominent institutions of learning are Atlanta University at Atlanta, founded in 1869, non-sectarian, with 20 instructors and 340 students ; Clark University at Atlanta, founded in 1870, Methodist Episcopal, with 25 instructors and 532 students; Emory College at Oxford, founded in 1836, Methodist Episcopal, with 14 instructors and 265 students; Morris Brown College at Atlanta, founded in 1881, Methodist, with 28 instructors and 940 students; Shorter College at Rome, founded in 1877, Baptist, with 30 instructors and 250 students; and Wesleyan Female College at Mâcon, the first institution of learning for women in America, founded in 1836, Methodist Episcopal, with 33 instructors and 474 students. In the common schools of Georgia there were enrolled in 1907 499,103 pupils and 10,360 teachers.
The swamps and pine lands of Georgia, the last colonized of the original thirteen American settlements, were all but untrod by the feet of white men before the eighteenth century. Tradition has it that De Soto, in his ill-starred march to his grave in the Mississippi, camped for a while in 1540 near the present city of Augusta; a more unreliable tradition asserts that Sir Walter Raleigh, on his initial voyage, "landed at the mouth of Savannah River, and visited the bluff on which the city was afterwards built". For a century and a half the Uchees, Creeks, and Cherokees were left undisputed masters of their hunting-grounds Lords of the Marches between the English frontier to the north and the Spanish to the south. In the nature of things this could not long endure. By the voyage of John Cabot, in 1497, England laid claim to the Atlantic seaboard; by the settlement of St. Augustine, in 1565, Spain established its authority over the southern coast. The vastness of the new world deferred the inevitable clash of these overlapping claims until the settlement of South Carolina in 1670, when Spain, alarmed at this territorial expansion of the Protestant English colonies, began, by intrigues with Indians and negro slaves, to harass the safety of the latter colony. At the beginning of the eighteenth century Parliament began to feel that a military colony on the southern frontier was imperative, and this conclusion was felicitously complemented by the belief that the mulberry and the vine could be successfully cultivated on the southern hills and savannas; while a third great philanthropic consideration contributed to the final adoption of the scheme. James Oglethorpe, who had followed up a brilliant military career as aide-de-camp to the Prince Eugene by a still more brilliant parliamentary career, had conceived the plan of settling a colony in the New World with worthy, though unfortunate and economically unproductive, inmates of the wretched English prisons. With this threefold purpose in view, a petition was presented and accepted by the Privy Council and the Board of Trade, and the charter of the Colony of Georgia, named after the king and embracing the territory lying between the Savannah and the Altamaha Rivers, received the great seal of England on 9 June, 1732. This charter created a board of trustees for twenty-one years, who were to possess entire rights in the governing and the financing of the project, but who were not to profit, either directly or indirectly, by the venture. The board thus created, composed of many leading noblemen, clergymen, and members of Parliament of the day, met forthwith and drew up one of the most remarkable governmental documents in English colonial history. A military governor was appointed. Transportation, food, and land were given settlers for the feudal returns of labour and military service; but tenure of land was to descend only along the line of direct male issue. Other salient limitations in these by-laws were the prohibition of liquor, as well as that of negro slaves, and freedom of worship was to be granted to all prospective colonists "except papists". With this document and 126 passengers, carefully selected for the most part from the more worthy inmates of English prisons, Oglethorpe himself, who had been appointed "general" of the new colony, embarked on the "Anne," on 12 November, 1732, arrived at Charleston the following January, and in the spring of that year founded Savannah, which took its name from that of the river above which the little cabins of the settlers were first reared.
During the twenty-one years of its proprietary government Georgia struggled along, rather in spite of the remote designs and unpractical restrictions of its trustees than because of their indefatigable labour, sterling integrity, and single-minded philanthropy. As a frontier settlement against the Catholic colonies of Spain, Georgia speedily justified its existence. War between the rival countries was declared in 1739. Oglethorpe invaded Florida in 1740, and with an insufficient force unsuccessfully besieged St. Augustine. Two years later Spain retaliated, attempting by land and sea the complete annihilation of the English colony. By a splendid bit of strategy on Oglethorpe's part the invasion was repulsed, and the last blow had been struck by Spain against the English colonies in the New World. Less successful was the attempt of the board of trustees to plant the mulberry and the vine in the new colony. The warfare with Spain, the lack of adequate skilled labour, and the general thriftlessness of the colonists made the cultivation of such products practically impossible. The vine, which was to have supplied all the plantations, and to cultivate which they had imported a Portuguese Vigneron, resulted in only a few gallons and was then abandoned. The hemp and flax, which were to have sustained the linen manufactures of Great Britain and to have thrown the balance of trade with Russia into England's favour, never came to a single ship-load ; and the cultivation of the mulberry seems to have expired with its crowning achievement when, on the occasion of His Majesty's birthday in 1735, Queen Caroline appeared at the levee in a complete court dress of Georgia silk. Least successful of all was the philanthropic attempt to colonize Georgia with non-productive inmates from English prisons. It was this class that early began to cry for rum and slavery; and had it not been for the settlement of Ebenezer, in 1734, with industrious Salzburgers, expelled from Germany by reason of their religious beliefs; that of Fort Argyle, in 1735, with a colony of Swiss and Moravian immigrants; and that of New Inverness, in 1736, with a hardy band of thrifty Scotch mountaineers, the philanthropic plans of Oglethorpe would have been speedily wrecked. As it was, the energies of the general were mainly directed towards placing Savannah upon an economically self-sufficient basis.
One of the restrictions that acted most forcibly against labour and thrift, the tenure of land along the line of male descent, was repealed in 1739. Another, the prohibition of slavery, a restriction which served to make restless and impermanent an unskilled and thriftless population settled so close to the slave-holding settlements of South Carolina, was removed in 1747. Even the attempt to rouse up spiritual energy in Savannah proved too great a task for the Wesleys, although in 1738 the eloquent Whitefleld seems to have won at least a hearing for his strenuous moral code. But neither an energetic general governor, a concessive board of trustees, nor the zealous bearers of a fresh and fiery spiritual code could establish the philanthropic or commercial success of the proprietary colony of Georgia. Mutiny was widespread. Oglethorpe's life was threatened and actually attempted. The trustees were disheartened. Letters of dissent and charges against Oglethorpe, written under the pseudonym of "The Plain Dealer", reached Parliament. In 1743 Oglethorpe returned to England to face a general court martial on nineteen charges. He was entirely exonerated from charges, which were pronounced "false, malicious and without foundation". But he had done with the colony and never returned to Savannah while the board of trustees, in 1751, at the expiration of their charter, formally and wearily surrendered their right of government to the Lords of the Council, and Georgia became a royal province.
In the generation before the Revolution Georgia steadily increased in population under royal governors. The cultivation of rice by slaves made the colony economically self-supporting. A better class of colonists were induced to immigrate to its woodlands and rice fields from England and the Carolinas. On 11 January, 1758, the Assembly passed an Act "for constituting the several Divisions and Districts of this Province into Parishes, and for establishing Religious Worship therein, according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England". This was designed not to interfere with other classes of worshippers, but to provide by law for supplying the settlements with the ministrations of religion, by which Act a salary of £25 per annum was allowed every clergyman of the Established Church. The law excluding Roman Catholic colonists was not, however, repealed ; a restriction which put to the test the loyalty of a Georgian Tory governor when four hundred Acadian refugees sought shelter at Savannah, bringing letters from the governor of Nova Scotia to the effect that, for the better security of that province and in consequence of a resolution of his Council, he had sent these people to Georgia". Governor Reynolds distributed them about the colony for the succeeding winter and maintained them at the public expense. But in the spring, "by leave of the Governor, they built themselves a number of rude boats, and in March most of them left for South Carolina; two hundred of them in ten boats going off at one time, indulging the hope that they might thus work their way along to their native and beloved Acadie". No other form of civic or religious exclusiveness, however, hampered the steady growth of the colony. Aside from spasmodic Indian incursions, incited by the French, Georgia developed the arts of peace, immigrants continued to flock in, and between 1763 and 1773 the exports of the colony increased from £27,000 to £121,600.
The preponderating Tory element in the colony at the outbreak of the Revolution, made up for the most part of a new generation of wealthy landowners and their 14,000 slaves, who spelt commercial ruin in revolution and who persuaded a second generation of parasitic idlers to share their views, allowed the British Parliament to boast throughout the Revolution that Georgia was a royalist province. The distance of the colony from the centre of operations, the blundering inaptitude of such provincial generals as Howe, the early capture and long retention by the British of both Savannah and Atlanta, and the hostility of the Indians to the colonial cause gave some historical warrant to such a point of view. But if the fervour of the revolutionary spirit was restricted to but a few, it gained, in consequence, in expressive momentum. In spite of British military successes along the coast; in spite of the disheartening and devastating guerilla incursions of Indians and Florida Rangers to the south and west; in spite of Washington's enforced neglect of the frontier colony's safety, the spirit of the Georgian Americans slumbered fiercely under an intense repression, bursting forth in sporadic flames of personal heroism and stoical fortitude. Nancy Hart is as heroic a heroine, if a coarser one, as Molly Pitcher, and Savannah is hallowed by the life-blood of Pulaski. Georgia served by waiting, and when at last Washington could assign Greene and Lee to the army of the South, the recapture of Savannah followed closely upon that of Atlanta, and the last British post had been abandoned in the colony before the surrender at Yorktown.
In the meantime, in 1777, Georgia had passed its first State Constitution. A second was adopted in 1789 and a third in 1798, which, several times amended, endured up to the time of the passage of the present Constitution. The fifty-sixth article of the first Constitution established religious toleration. The second Constitution closed the membership of both houses against clergymen, but the test of Protestantism, in respect to office-holding, required by the first Constitution, was dispensed with; and the elective franchise was extended to all male tax-paying free-men. On 2 June, 1788, the National Constitution was ratified, and Georgia was the fourth State to enter the Union. In the first thirty years of its statehood Georgia was embroiled in difficulties with the Indians, following the Yazoo land scandals and the treaty of 1802, by which Georgia ceded ail its claims to lands westward of its present limits, and the Creeks ceded to the United States a tract afterwards assigned to Georgia and now forming the south-western counties of the State. Triangular difficulties between a State jealous of its rights, a government jealous of its federal power, and Indians jealous of their tribal property rights resulted in much ill-feeling and bloodshed, with all but the extermination of the Creeks by General Floyd's Georgian troops in the War of 1812. Indeed these difficulties were not finally settled until the removal of the Cherokees by the Union to a Western reservation in 1838, by which Georgia came into possession of the full quota of land she now holds.
The relation between State and Government in these Indian affairs during the first three decades of the century induced in Georgia, in particular, that spirited endeavour to safeguard the rights of local governments which later characterized the State's Right doctrine of the entire South before the outbreak of the Civil War; and upon the election of Lincoln to the presidency of the nation, the politicians of Georgia took active measures towards accomplishing the secession of their State from the Union. The delegates to the Confederate convention at Montgomery, Alabama, were conspicuously energetic, and a Georgian, Alexander H. Stephens, was made Vice-President of the Confederacy. In the war that followed the State reaped a rich harvest of havoc and devastation, the culmination of its suffering being Sherman's March to the Sea, through its territory, in 1864. After the termination of hostilities Georgia violated the Reconstruction Act by refusing to allow negroes, upon election, a seat in the Legislature; but the Supreme Court of the State decided that negroes were entitled to hold office; a new election was held; both houses were duly reorganized; the requirements of Congress were acceded to, and by Act of 15 July, 1869, Georgia was readmitted to the Union. Since the close of the war the material development of Georgia has been remarkable, principally along the lines of manufactured industries. At present its cotton mills are among the largest in the world. The Cotton Exposition in 1881 and The Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895, both held in Atlanta, were eloquent of the fact that Georgia bas been the first of the seceding States to recognize the spirit of the new commercial life of the South.
The Diocese of Savannah, which comprises the State of Georgia, was established in 1850. As late as the period of the American Revolution there was scarcely a Catholic to be found in the colony or State of Georgia, nor was there a priest in the State for many years thereafter. Bishop England states that there were not twenty-five priests in all the colonies at that time. About 1793 a few Catholics from Maryland moved into Georgia and settled in the vicinity where the church of Locust Grove was subsequently built. Previous to their removal these earliest Georgian Catholics had applied for a clergyman to accompany them, but were unable to obtain their request. Shortly after the French Revolution, Catholic émigrés from the French colony of Santo Domingo, then enduring the horrors of a negro revolution, settled at Augusta and Savannah. One of their priests began to discharge the duties of his ministry at Maryland, a little colony fifty miles above Augusta, a fact which is recorded as "the commencement of the Church in Georgia". In a few years this settlement was abandoned; Savannah became the fixed residence of a priest; the congregation was incorporated by the Legislature of the State; the city council gave a grant of land, and a wooden edifice with a small steeple was erected. In the year 1810 the Legislature incorporated the Catholics of Augusta, an Augustinian friar, Rev. Robert Browne, became pastor, and the brick church of the Holy Trinity, fifty feet in length and twenty-five wide, was erected from funds raised by subscription. In 1820 Georgia and the Carolinas were separated from the See of Baltimore, the Rev. Doctor England being appointed to the newly formed see. At that time there were about five hundred Catholics in Savannah, with fewer still in Augusta. In 1839 Bishop England announced that there were but eleven priests in the State.
The most salient feature of the work of the Church in Georgia at the present time is the evangelical energy directed towards the conversion of the negroes, a task which is being undertaken by the Society of the African Missions. The population of the State is about equally divided between white and coloured, and of the million negroes not above five hundred are Catholics. There is a mission with church and school and two resident priests in Savannah, with about four hundred Catholic people. In the school 110 children are taught by Franciscan Sisters. In Augusta a new mission has been established with a church and a school with twenty pupils. Among the 30,000 coloured in the city of Augusta there are not above twenty Catholics.
In the Diocese of Savannah there are, according to the census of 1908, 23,000 Catholics 18 secular priests, 41 priests of religious orders, 13 churches with resident priests, 18 missions with churches, 81 stations, and 14 chapels.
There are three Catholic colleges in Georgia with 342 students: the College of Marist Fathers at Atlanta, the College of the Sacred Heart at Augusta, and St. Stanislaus Novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Mâcon. There are ten academies, one seminary for small boys, while twelve parishes in the diocese possess parochial schools in charge of Sisters and Brothers. The State furnishes these schools no financial support.
There are in Georgia 2 Catholic hospitals owned by and in charge of the Sisters of Mercy, one of which secures aid from the county for the care of the poor a per capita assignment. There are 170 orphans cared for at St. Joseph's Orphanage, Washington, in charge of 6 Sisters of St. Joseph; St. Mary's Home for Female Orphans, Savannah, in charge of 7 Sisters of Mercy; and 2 coloured orphanages. In addition to these there is a Home for the Aged, at Savannah, in charge of 10 Little Sisters of the Poor, with 94 inmates.
Under the Constitution of the United States, as well as under the State Constitution, full liberty of conscience in matters of religions opinion and worship is granted in Georgia; but it has been held that this does not legalize wilful or profane scoffing, or stand in the way of legislative enactment for the punishment of such acts. It is unlawful to conduct any secular business, not of an imperative nature, on Sunday. There are no specific requirements for the administration of oaths; such may be administered by using the Bible to swear upon, by the uplifted hand, or by affirmation, the form being: "You do solemnly swear in the presence of the ever living God" or "You do sincerely and truly affirm, etc." The sessions of the legislature are opened with prayer, those of the courts are not. Georgia recognizes as State holidays 1 January and 25 December, but no church Holy Days, as such, are recognized as holidays. The law allows the same privileges to communications made to a priest under the seal of confession as it does to confidential communications made by a client to his counsel, or by a patient to his physician. The statutes contain no provisions making any exception between the rights and privileges of civil or ecclesiastical corporations. The property of the Church in the diocese is held by the bishop and his successors in office.
Georgia from the very beginning seems to have steadily pursued a restrictive policy in the granting of excise privileges. The initial steps in legislation looking towards the prohibition of the sale of liquors were taken in 1808, when the Legislature passed an Act making it unlawful to sell intoxicating drink within one mile of any "meeting-house" or other "places of public worship" during the time "appropriated to such worship", under the penalty of thirty dollars, a fact which has been regarded as "the first attempt at the restriction of the traffic". By 1904 there were 104 prohibition counties out of 134, and Georgia has been a prohibition State since 1 January, 1908.
Every person is entitled to make a will unless labouring under some disability of law arising from want of capacity or want of perfect liberty of action. Children under fourteen years of age cannot make a will. Nor can insane persons. A married woman may make a will of her separate property without her husband's consent. All wills, except such as are nuncupative, disposing of real or personal property, must be in writing, signed by party making same, or by some other person in his presence and by his direction, and shall be attested and subscribed in presence of testator and three or more competent witnesses. If a subscribing witness is a legatee or devisee under will, witness is competent, but legacy or devise is void. A husband may be a witness to a will by which legacy creating a separate estate is given to his wife, the fact only going to his credit. No person having a wife or child shall by will devise more than two-thirds of his estate to any charitable, religious, educational, or civil institution to the exclusion of his wife or child; and in all cases a will containing such a devise shall be executed at least ninety days before death of testator or such devise shall be void. A year's support of family takes precedence in wills as a preferred obligation. There is no inheritance tax.
The marriage laws of Georgia require parental consent when the contracting male is under twenty-one years and the female under eighteen years, while all marriages are prohibited within the Levitical degrees. Marriages by force, menace, or duress, of white with a negro, or when either party is mentally or physically incapable, or insane, or when there has been fraud in the inception, as well as bigamous marriages, are considered by statute void or voidable. The grounds for divorce are mental and physical incapacity, desertion for three years, felony cruelty, habitual drunkenness, force, duress, or fraud in obtaining marriage, pregnancy of wife by other than husband at marriage, relationship within the prohibited degrees, and adultery. One year's residence in the State is required before the issuance of a decree of divorce. From 1867 to 1886 the State granted 3959 decrees of divorce; from 1887 to 1906 10,401 were decreed. In 1880 the divorce rate per 100,000 population was 14; in 1900, 26.
WHITE, Historical Collections of Georgia (New York, 1855); STEVEN, History of Georgia I (New York, 1847), II (Philadelphia, 1859); ARTHUR AND CARPENTER, History of Georgia (Philadelphia, 1852); EVANS, Student's History of Georgia (Macon, 1884); ENGLAND, Works, V (Cleveland, 1908).
APA citation. (1909). Georgia. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06460a.htm
MLA citation. "Georgia." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06460a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Michael Kolarcik, S.J.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. September 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is webmaster at newadvent.org. Regrettably, I can't reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.