1933 3¢ Georgia Bicentennial
Issue Date: February 12, 1933
First City: Savannah, GA
Quantity Issued: 61,719,200
This issue commemorates the 200th anniversary of the settlement of Georgia by General James Edward Oglethorpe and his nineteen associates. Together, they founded a colony that prohibited alcohol and slaves. Strict loyalists to the British Empire, they eventually passed control of the colony to the Crown.
General James Oglethorpe (1696-1785)
Founder of the Georgia Colony
James Oglethorpe, with about 120 colonists, established Georgia’s first permanent settlement in 1733. Born in London, Oglethorpe was elected to Parliament in 1722. At that time he became concerned with helping people in England’s debtor’s prisons. He decided to found an American colony for debtors.
In 1732, he received a charter from George II for founding the colony, and Parliament granted him $50,000. The original colony was situated where the prosperous city of Savannah now stands. However, few who were actually debtors came to the new colony.
Oglethorpe proved to be an effective leader, governing nine years. In 1742, he successfully drove invading Spaniards back into their territory in Florida with an outstanding victory at the Battle of Bloody Marsh on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. Oglethorpe also banned slavery in Georgia; however, slavery was introduced after the colony’s charter returned to the crown.
Georgia and the American Revolution
King George made Georgia a royal province in 1754. Despite its prosperity, Georgia became involved in the movement for independence that was flourishing in other colonies. In 1775, when the Revolutionary War broke out in Massachusetts, support for independence solidified, and Georgia’s patriots seized power. Georgian forces first fought British troops in March 1776, when a British warship attempted to seize 11 rice boats in Savannah. Only two of the ships were captured. On July 24, 1778, Georgia ratified the Articles of the Confederation.
In December 1778, the British captured Savannah. American forces, supported by the French Navy, attempted to liberate the city, but failed. By the end of 1779, the British controlled the entire state except Wilkes County. The British were finally driven from Georgia in 1782. The War for Independence ended in 1783.
Georgia Becomes a State
On January 2, 1788, Georgia became the fourth state in the Union to ratify the United States Constitution. The state entered a period of rapid development in the 1790s as settlers and land companies began to spread into the region. In 1795, land companies used bribes to make large land purchases from the state. Land was purchased for about 1.5¢ an acre. The developers planned to resell the land at a huge profit. This scheme became known as the Yazoo Fraud. Angry Georgians elected a new legislature that repealed the earlier sales, but many of the land developers insisted their purchases were legal. In 1802, Georgia sold all of its land west of the Chattahoochee River to the U.S. government. In 1814, the federal government finally paid $4,200,000 to settle the Yazoo claims.
The federal government also worked to remove all of the Native Americans from Georgia. In 1827, the Cherokee Indians sold the last of their lands to the U.S. Federal troops forced the last remaining Cherokee Indians to move to reservation land in Oklahoma in 1838. Settlers quickly cleared the Indian land for farming, especially for growing cotton. By 1840, an extensive railroad system had developed through the state to transport people and agricultural products.
The American Civil War
Georgia’s economy was based on cotton production, which depended heavily on slavery. On January 19, 1861, Georgia became the fifth state to secede from the Union. Early in the war, Union forces took control of the port of Savannah. Confederate troops won the first large battle in Georgia at Chickamauga in September 1863.
However, the war quickly turned against Georgia. Union troops, commanded by General William T. Sherman, captured the city of Atlanta in September 1863. In November, they burned the city and began the legendary “march to the sea.” Sherman’s forces marched toward Savannah, devastating everything they came across. As they cut a 60-mile wide path through the state, destroying factories, mills, railroads, and other public buildings, they destroyed about $100 million in property. Largely unopposed, General Sherman captured Savannah in December 1864.
After the Civil War ended in 1865, Georgia continued to face hard times. Military rule lasted in the state on and off until 1870. Georgia was readmitted to the Union in 1868. But in 1869 it was expelled, due to its failure to ratify the 15th amendment, guaranteeing people of all races the right to vote. The amendment was ratified in 1870, and Georgia was permanently readmitted into the United States on July 15, 1870.
Georgia’s Economic Growth
From the 1870s until the Great Depression (1929-1942), Georgia experienced economic growth. This period was marked by increases in manufacturing, trade, and banking, as well as railroad construction. With the start of World War II (1939-1945), Georgia’s economy resumed its industrial expansion. Large numbers of farmers and agricultural workers took factory jobs in the cities. The majority of these workers stayed in the cities after the war ended. By 1950, the United States census revealed that more Georgians worked in manufacturing than agriculture. In 1960, the census determined that the majority of Georgians lived in urban areas. The state continues to thrive economically. And like many states, it has been forced to deal with overcrowded cities, increased pollution, and racial tensions.
Political and Social Changes
Georgia’s urban growth resulted in many political and social changes. Since the 1960s, the state’s legislative and congressional districts have been redivided several times. These modifications were made to give a more accurate representation of the population. In 1961, black children attended all-white schools for the first time. By August 1969, all of the state’s schools were ordered to be completely integrated.
Black leaders have also made progress in Georgia. In 1965, black civil-rights leader Julian Bond was elected to the Georgia legislature. Other legislators denied Bond his seat, but in 1966 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bond’s favor. In 1973, Maynard H. Jackson, Jr., was elected mayor of Atlanta, making him the first black mayor of a large Southern city.