George Walton

Last updated
George Walton
George Walton (ca 1749-1804).jpg
United States Senator
from Georgia
In office
November 16, 1795 February 20, 1796
Preceded by James Jackson
Succeeded by Josiah Tattnall
Acting Governor of Georgia
In office
January 7, 1789 November 9, 1790
Preceded by George Handley
Succeeded by Edward Telfair
Delegate from Georgia to the Continental Congress
In office
1776 1777, 1780–1781
Personal details
Born1749 (1749)
Cumberland County, Virginia
DiedFebruary 2, 1804 (aged 5455)
Augusta, Georgia
Political party Federalist Party
RelationsThe Walton family of Atlanta, Georgia; North Carolina.
Signature George Walton Signature.svg
Military service
AllegianceFlag of the United States (1777-1795).svg  United States
Branch/service Georgia Militia
RankColonel
Battles/wars American Revolutionary War

George Walton (c. 1749 – February 2, 1804) signed the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of Georgia and also served as the second Chief Executive of Georgia.

Contents

Life and work

George Walton was born in Cumberland County, Virginia.The exact year of Walton's birth is unknown; it is believed that he was born in 1749. Research has placed it as early as 1740, others as late as 1749 and 1750. The biographer of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Della Gray Bartholomew, uses the date of 1741. [1] His parents died when he was an infant, resulting in his adoption by an uncle with whom he entered apprenticeship as a carpenter. Walton was a studious young man, but his uncle actively discouraged all study, believing a studious boy to be an idle one. Walton continued studying and once his apprenticeship ended, he moved to Savannah, Georgia, in 1769 to study law under a Mr. Young, and was admitted to the bar in 1774. His brother was John Walton.

By the eve of the American Revolution he was one of the most successful lawyers in Georgia. He became an advocate of the patriot cause and was elected Secretary of the Georgia Provincial Congress and became president of the Council of Safety. In 1776 he served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, a position he held until the end of 1778. On July 2, 1776, he voted in favor of the Declaration of Independence for Georgia along with Button Gwinnett and Lyman Hall.

During the American Revolutionary War, he was in the battalion of General Robert Howe. On January 9, 1778, Walton received a commission as colonel of the First Georgia Regiment of Militia. During the Battle of Savannah in 1778 led by Archibald Campbell, Walton was injured in the battle and taken prisoner. He was hit in the thigh by a ball that threw him from his horse. He was subsequently captured by the British, who allowed his wound to heal before sending him to Sunbury Prison, where other colonial prisoners were held. Walton was eventually exchanged in October 1779. [2]

Walton's brother, John, signed the Articles of Confederation for Georgia in 1778, along with Edward Telfair and Edward Langworthy.

In October 1779, Walton was elected Governor of Georgia for the first time, a position he held for only two months. In November 1795, he was appointed to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of James Jackson. Walton only served in that position from November 16, 1795, to February 20, 1796, until a successor, Josiah Tattnall, was officially elected.

He was a political ally of the Scottish General Lachlan McIntosh and a foe of Button Gwinnett. He and Gwinnett's political battles resulted in his expulsion from office and indictment for various criminal activities. He was later censured for his support of a duel that resulted in Button Gwinnett's death by Lachlan McIntosh.

Walton was in favor of the Yazoo land sales, the massive real estate fraud perpetrated in the mid-1790s by Georgia governor George Mathews and the Georgia General Assembly. The scandal brought James Jackson home from the U.S. Senate to lead a reform movement. Appointed to fill the vacant seat, a feud erupted between Jackson and Walton over the sale of land to speculators. Jackson won, and Walton, who supported the sales, left the office.

In 1788, Alexander McGillivray and other Creek Indian leaders met with Georgia leaders at Rock Landing, [3] but the meeting failed to result in a peace treaty. This led Governor Walton to worry that "our prospects of peace have been obliged to yield to the impressions of war." [4] Walton wrote to Colonel Jared Irwin, expressing both his concern and his surprise at the recent Indian depredations near the Oconee River. [5] Although a treaty was not signed at Rock Landing, eventually the Treaty of New York (1790) ceded Creek lands to the state of Georgia.

During the 1780s, Walton devoted himself almost exclusively to Georgia state politics. He served not only as chief justice but also as a commissioner to negotiate a treaty with the Cherokee Indians (1783), a member of the Augusta Board of Commissioners (1784 and 1785), and a commissioner to settle the border dispute between South Carolina and Georgia (1786). He was elected as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 but declined, as his commitments at the state level occupied his time to the exclusion of all else. In 1789 he was a presidential elector and served at the state convention to adopt a new constitution. [6] Walton was elected to a second term as governor in 1789 and served for one year. During his term, Georgians adopted the new state constitution, moved the capital to Augusta (where Walton himself had moved in the 1780s), and concentrated on settling the western frontier. After completing his tenure as governor, Walton served as a judge of the superior court from 1790 until his death. He also filled the unexpired term of James Jackson in the U.S. Senate in 1795–1796. He was a founder and trustee of the Academy of Richmond County in Augusta and of Franklin College (now the University of Georgia) in Athens.

Offices held

The offices he held were:

Death

During his second term as governor, he built Meadow Garden, a cottage constructed on confiscated Tory land outside of Augusta, where he died. He was survived by his wife Dorothy, née Camber, [7] whom he had married in 1775, and one of his two sons. He was initially buried at Rosney, home of his nephew Robert Watkins; however, he was re-interred in 1848 beneath the Signers Monument in front of the courthouse on Greene Street in Augusta.

Legacy

Walton County, which is about 30 miles east of the city of Atlanta, is named for him. [8] There are also at least two schools that bear his name: George Walton Comprehensive High School in Marietta, Georgia and George Walton Academy, a private school in Monroe, Georgia.

His son George Walton, Jr., was the first Secretary of the Territory of Florida. He was also the first civilian to serve in the role of governor of the territory, being named as Acting Governor until the arrival of William Duval. Walton County, Florida is named for him.

His granddaughter, Octavia Walton Le Vert, was a noted socialite and author. [9]

His great nephew Thomas George Walton built Creekside near Morganton, North Carolina. [10]

George Walton’s descendants eventually moved to Florida, Texas, Tennessee, and eventually Minnesota. His descendants alive as of 2018 include Laurie Telfair and Viola West of Texas, John West of Tennessee, from Minnesota; Cole Walton, Jeff Walton, and Pieper Walton, Jenny West of South Carolina and Josh Parker from Georgia.

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Signers Monument

Signers Monument is a granite obelisk located in Augusta, Georgia, on Greene Street. Signers Monument recognizes Georgia's three signatories of the United States Declaration of Independence: George Walton, Lyman Hall, and Button Gwinnett.

College Hill (Augusta, Georgia) United States historic place

College Hill, also known as George Walton House, Harper House, or Walton-Harper House, is a historic house at 2216 Wrightsboro Road in Augusta, Georgia. It was built in 1795, and was the home George Walton, a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence, from then until his death in 1804. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971. It is a private residence, and is not open to the public.

Meadow Garden (Augusta, Georgia) United States historic place

Meadow Garden is a historic house museum at 1320 Independence Drive in Augusta, Georgia. It was a home of George Walton (1749–1804), one of Georgia's three signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and later a governor of Georgia and a United States Senator. Meadow Garden was saved and established as a museum by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1901. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1981.

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Octavia Walton Le Vert, née Octavia Celestia Valentine Walton was an American socialite and writer born in Augusta, Georgia. She moved with her parents to Mobile, Alabama in 1835, where she married Dr. Henry Strachey Le Vert in 1836. She became one of the first female southern writers to achieve national recognition. Although largely faded from history today, she was a well-known figure during her own time. From the 1830s through the 1850s she was noted for hosting gatherings of prominent politicians, noted literary figures, and professionals of all types. She was friends with a variety of prominent 19th century figures.

References

Notes

  1. Barthelmas, Della Gray (1997). The signers of the Declaration of Independence : a biographical and genealogical reference . Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. p.  272. ISBN   0786403187.
  2. Dubrulle, Elizabeth (2010). American National Biography. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN   0195206355.
  3. Forsyth, Robert. "Letter, 1789 Sept. 16, Rock Landing [Georgia to] Governor [George] Walton". Southeastern Native American Documents. Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  4. Kokomoor, Kevin (November 2015). "Creeks, Federalists, and the Idea of Coexistence in the Early Republic". The Journal of Southern History. 81 (4): 808.
  5. Walton, George. "[Letter] 1789 Oct. 13, Augusta, [Georgia to] Colonel [Jared] Irwin". Southeastern Native American Documents, 1730-1842. Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  6. Dubrulle, Elizabeth (2010). American National Biography. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN   0195206355.
  7. Knight, Lucien Lamar (1913). Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends (2006 reprint ed.). Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing. pp. 1003–1005. ISBN   1455604828 . Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  8. Krakow, Kenneth K. (1975). Georgia Place-Names: Their History and Origins (PDF). Macon, GA: Winship Press. p. 245. ISBN   0-915430-00-2.
  9. Satterfield, Frances Gibson (1987). Madame Le Vert: A Biography of Octavia Le Vert. Edisto Island, S.C.: Edisto Press. ISBN   978-0-9618589-1-9.
  10. John B. Wells, III (September 1971). "Creekside" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved 2014-08-01.
Political offices
Preceded by
William Ewen
President of the Georgia Council of Safety
1775–1776
Succeeded by
William Ewen
Preceded by
John Wereat
Governor of Georgia
1779–1780
Succeeded by
Richard Howly
Preceded by
George Handley
Governor of Georgia
1789–1790
Succeeded by
Edward Telfair
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
James Jackson
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Georgia
November 16, 1795 – February 20, 1796
Served alongside: James Gunn
Succeeded by
Josiah Tattnall