Today, Georgia (that gave the world Coca-Cola) is definitely the commercial front-runner of its region, but one time it was the only colony that was established as a refuge for deserving and poor people. The cotton gin, invented in Georgia, revolutionized the South, and today, the state ranks first in America when it comes to the production of pecans, peanuts, Lima beans, and pimiento peppers.
The state is leading the nation in the production of items made of fine china clay, and the city of Savannah (often referred to as ‘America’s most beautiful city’) is the nation’s most important cotton port.
Atlanta meanwhile has become the Southeast’s leading transportation center. It boasts the world’s busiest airport, and has also become a broadcasting center of importance (thanks to Ted Turner’s efforts with CNN). Margaret Mitchell, an Atlanta native, is the author of ‘Gone With the Wind’, one of the best-known novels in the world, and in the mid-1990’s, the world’s attention was focused on Atlanta because of the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Quick Facts about Georgia
- The first steamship to cross the Atlantic (the City of Savannah) sailed from Georgia.
- Georgia is the state of the first gold rush in America (at Dahlonega).
- The state is home of the cotton gin (invented in 1794 by Eli Whitney).
- Georgia is the most important state for aluminum.
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Georgia brief history
Hernando de Soto was entering the region of present-day Georgia in 1540, and his great expedition may have stayed at the site of what we know as Rome for as long as four weeks. The de Soto expedition was leaving a never-forgiven and never-forgotten legacy of brutality and cruelty inflicted upon the native Indians. From 1565 onward, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, a Spanish explorer, was establishing several missions and forts in the region.
In 1670, French and English pirates were plaguing the Spanish settlements continuously and in 1716, a pirate named Blackbeard set up his headquarters on what he named ‘Blackbeard Island’, and he became the factual leader of the region.
In 1733, on February 12th, British explorer James Oglethorpe arrived at what we now call Savannah and claimed the entire land for Britain. He named the land ‘Georgia’ in honor of George, King of England. Oglethorpe, together with some 125 colonists, settled here and went on to found 13 more British colonies.
Georgia was, as was described in those days, ‘…the land that was lying between the Altamaha and the Savannah rivers and to the east from the rivers’ sources to the Pacific’. The land was to be used for ‘settling the poor persons from London’.
Oglethorpe came back again 1736 bringing new colonists in the ‘Great Embarkation’. This group already laid out the city that now is Savannah, and they included the neat square pattern of parks that still characterize distinguished Savannah.
In 1742, on July 7th, Oglethorpe’s troops had won the ‘Battle of Bloody Marsh’ to defeat the Spanish who were attempting to take over the colony, This relatively small fight is often called ‘one of the world’s most decisive battles’ as it made sure the Spanish could not press any further north to claims lands along the coast.
Georgia became a British crown colony in 1752, and at the times of the Revolution, on December 29th, 1778, the British overtook Savannah again, only to be recaptured by Anthony Wayne, an American General in 1782 (on July 11th) and this indicated the end of the Revolution in Georgia. The state then unanimously ratified the new U.S. Constitution and became, on January 2nd, 1788, the fourth state to join the Union.
In 1794, inventor Eli Whitney (1765-1825) had patented his ‘cotton gin’, a machine that caused a revolution in how cotton was produced. The machine was speeding up the process immensely of how seeds could be removed from cotton fiber, and later in the 19th century, America’s top export product had consequently become cotton. The cotton gin was very successful, but Whitney could not profit because of patent-infringement problems.
When the War of 1812 had come to an end, Georgia was getting in to a ‘Golden Age of Prosperity’, but there is also the tragedy of 1838, when Georgia’s native Indians were forced from their own lands and sent westward over the ‘Trail of Tears’. In 1861, on January 19th, Georgia was joining the Confederacy, and at the Civil War, among the Union’s key objectives was taking over control of Georgia again.
Following several fruitless attempts, William Tecumseh Sherman, a Union General, finally became successful as he ‘marched through Georgia, overtook and burned down Atlanta, and almost completely destroyed the state while he was marching with his troops towards the ocean, finally capturing the city of Savannah on December 22nd, 1864.
Georgia was allowed back in to the Union in 1870, on July 15th, but a long and harsh period of Reconstruction followed. During the Spanish-American War of 1898, over 3,000 Georgians were volunteering to serve in the army. Atlanta had to deal with a lot of destruction due to a disastrous fire that ruined the city 1917, but all through World War I, the region remained the function of a key military training center.
The state was also a center of activity during World War II, and got worldwide attention when polio victim President Roosevelt died in Warm Springs on April 12th, 1945. In 1977, Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as the first American president from Georgia.
…. Georgia, the manufacturing, marketing, and transportation hub of the South, the charm of the Deep South symbolized by Doric columns, Greek porticos, and fine romantic traditions….
…. This is a land where communities of sacred harp singing, that is still carried out, are not far away from modern fortresses (Air Force bases)…
…. This is a land of deep lakes, forested mountains, and the clearest mountain streams. A land that is contrasted with sun-drenched isles and miles of the best sunny beaches, where still further contrast lies in misty swamps where exotic tropical birds are preening their elaborate plumage, and wild alligators splash….