While prosperous planters controlled antebellum Georgia, for the most part north Georgia was home to farmers and merchants. These men had little time for leisure or academics and were overly middle-class. In the northern part of the state, only in Athens and Rome did an aristocracy form, and it was composed of a few planters and merchants. Among whites the illiteracy rate was 20 percent.
Although largely regarded as an agricultural area, North Georgia also had numerous tanneries, brickworks, and iron foundries. Gold, discovered in 1828 in present-day White County and later in the area around Dahlonega (Lumpkin County), supported mining operations that were so productive that the United States built a mint in the town in 1838. Iron, clay, coal and marble were also taken from the ground.
Large cotton mills developed in Roswell and in Manchester The larger cities of the time included Ringgold, a warehouse district south of Chattanooga (History of Chattanooga), Cassville, a major cultural center until destroyed by Sherman during the War for Southern Independence, and Athens, home to the University of Georgia.
Slavery in North Georgia
Many misconceptions exist about the institution of slavery in North Georgia. One is that a significant number of North Georgians owned slaves. The most accurate figure is about 7% of North Georgians owned slaves at the time of the Civil War. That percentage was significantly lower (3%) in the mountains of North Georgia, and higher in the eastern piedmont area (almost 10% in some places). Only in the larger cities of Rome, Athens, and Lawrenceville did ownership exceed 10%. Slaves were a sign of wealth. Most slaves were owned by planters and, to a much less extent, professionals.
In coastal Georgia and on the piedmont plantations most menial tasks were performed by black slaves. In the mountains of north Georgia similar tasks were completed by the large amount of Scot and Irish farmers, displaced during the brutal Panic of 1837. These workers, who lack a title, are sometimes called indentured servants, however, they lacked a term of service. Cherokee who were left behind during the Trail of Tears were also used to complete the tasks that a black slave might perform in coastal and piedmont areas of Georgia.
Georgia had been slave-free until 1750 when Joseph Habersham and two pastors pushed for admitting slaves to the fledgling colony. Habersham, a teacher, later became acting governor of the state in the early 1770's. Although a number of Cherokee (most notably Chief James Vann, Major Ridge, and John Ross) owned slaves, introduction of black slavery to North Georgia was much slower than to the eastern coast of the state. Generally, settlers did not farm the land here until after 1830, and there were large areas that were not farmed.
The economy expands
An economic boom that started shortly before the completion of the Western and Atlantic Railroad in 1850 carried north Georgia into the war. The economic downturn in 1857 did not have a lasting effect on most residents.
|Return to Index
[American Indians] [Biography] [Parks ] [Attractions ] [Naturally] [Weather] [Railroads] [Rivers]
[Mountains] [Roads] [Feature Articles] [Previous Issues] [Facts] [Food]
[Giving Back] [Voices from the Past] [Poetry Corner] [Photography]
[Lodging] [About Us] [Bookstore ] [Events ] [Letters ] [Help ] [Kudos ] [Randy's Corner]
Other Places: Today in Georgia History : Today in The Civil War : Georgia Attractions : Georgia Hiking : Chattanooga
Golden Ink Internet Solutions