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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
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
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.