By Sam Burnham
The 4th of July is always a festive and joyful occasion. We look back on the stories of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin.
But here in Georgia, we have a bit of our own Revolutionary History.
Button Gwinnett, George Walton and Lyman Hall were the Georgians who signed the Declaration.
In 1777, Gwinnett challenged Lachlan McIntosh to a duel over a feud stemming from Georgia's failed foray into British East Florida. (This was neither the first, nor would it be the last time a feud erupted from Georgia's lack of success against Florida on the St. John's river, but that is another story for another time). In the duel, Gwinnett shot McIntosh, McIntosh shot Gwinnett, McIntosh recovered, and Gwinnett died over a loss to Florida. (Lesson: don't challenge rough Scotsmen to duels and don't lose to Florida.) Gwinnett County is named for him.
George Walton would serve Georgia in many capacities. He was a member of the Continental Congress, served as governor, and was a successful attorney. (The last role is interesting as Georgia's original colonial charter banned slavery, distilled liquor, and attorneys.) Walton was captured during the British assault on Savannah and was freed by a prisoner exchange. He shortly thereafter became one of many Georgia politicians to be elected to office after imprisonment, being elected as governor and then back to congress.
Lyman Hall was a minister, a doctor and a Yale grad. (None of these were banned by the original charter but at least one is now considered to be frowned upon.) He served in congress and as governor. During his stint as governor he had to put up with typical post-revolutionary issues such as land confiscations, disgruntled and disappointed Tories, and Native Americans no longer disposed to the hospitality offered by Tomochichi.
Hall's greatest contribution (unless you attended college on North Avenue in Atlanta) was his role in helping to establish the University of Georgia in 1785. Having not lost to Florida, he lived to age 66 and died at his Shell Bluff plantation in 1790. Hall County is named for him.
So Georgia had her own revolutionary leaders. They aren't nearly as famous as the Massachusetts, Virginia, or Pennsylvania delegations but they have their own legacy just the same.
So, from everyone at All the Biscuits in Georgia, Happy 4th of July! May it be safe, festive, and free!
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire