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Georgia State History

History | Symbols | Interesting Facts | Famous People


1540—Spaniard Hernando de Soto explores Georgia

1733—Savanna becomes the first permanent English settlement

1742—England defeats the Spanish in the Battle of Bloody Marsh

1778—British troops capture Savannah during the Revolutionary War

1788—Georgia becomes the 4th state

1793—Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin

1838—Cherokee and Creek Indians are forced from the state

1861—Georgia secedes from the Union

1863—Confederate victory in the Battle of Chickamauga

1870—Georgia is permanently readmitted to the Union

1920—Boll weevils destroy much of the cotton crop

1943—Georgia allows 18 year olds to vote

1993—Atlanta is home to the Summer Olympics

Cherokee and Creek Indians lived in present-day Georgia when Hernando de Soto explored the region for Spain in 1540.  By 1566, forts were built along the Atlantic coast, including the first in Georgia on St. Catherine’s Island.  However, no permanent settlements were established. 

In 1732, English King George II granted a charter for the 13th colony in America.  Colonists arrived in Georgia and founded Savannah on Feb. 12, 1733.  After the Revolutionary War began in 1775, Georgians joined in the fight for freedom.  English troops captured Savannah and by the end of 1779 had control of almost all of Georgia, until 1782.  Georgia ratified the U.S. Constitution and became a state on Jan. 2, 1788. 

During the early 1800s, Creek Indians sold their land to the government and moved into Arkansas.  Cherokee Indians were forced into Oklahoma.  By 1840, railroads expanded through the area and settlers quickly came to develop the land. 

The invention of the cotton gin allowed cotton to became a major industry in Georgia.  Slave labor was an important part of these huge cotton plantations.  By 1860, many in the North wanted to abolish slavery.  Shortly after Abraham Lincoln became president of the United States, Georgia withdrew from the Union and joined the Confederacy in 1861. 

The Confederate Army won the first big battle in Georgia at Chickamauga Creek in 1863.  However, the following year Union General William Sherman invaded northern Georgia and captured Atlanta.  They burned the city, then marched on to Savannah destroying everything in their path, almost $100 million in damage.  Georgia lay in ruins. 

During Reconstruction, Georgia was placed under military rule.  The state constitution was rewritten, allowing blacks the right to vote.  Georgians had to rebuild their cities and farms.  On July 15, 1870, Georgia was permanently readmitted to the Union with Atlanta as the state capital. 

The early 1900s brought much industrial growth.  Cotton continued to be grown, but production of corn, peaches, pecans, and tobacco increased.  Boll weevils destroyed much of the cotton during the 1920s.  The Great Depression (1929-1939) also caused many to lose their jobs and their land as factories closed and prices for crops fell.  The federal government tried to help in 1933 constructing roads and housing.  Other programs helped farmers to keep their land. 

Manufacturing increased during World War II (1939-1945), helping the economy to recover.  Many Georgians moved to the cities to work factories in the defense industry.  After the war, industries continued to expand as several businesses moved into the state. 

Georgia had serious racial issues during the 1950s.  In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation to be illegal in public schools.  In 1961, integration began in some schools in Georgia.  However in 1969, the U.S. Department of Justice had to file a suit against the state requesting complete integration of public schools.  Restaurants and other public places were required to change, but many chose to close rather than integrate. 

Recently, new industries are continuing to expand in Georgia.  State legislation is being passed to help education.  The state is also trying to solve problems with overpopulation and pollution.