1837 Georgia gubernatorial election

The 1837 Georgia gubernatorial election was held on October 2, 1837, to elect the governor of Georgia. In a major upset, thanks in part to the Panic of 1837, Whig State Rights candidate and Ex-Governor George R. Gilmer beat incumbent Democratic Union Governor Willam Schley.[1][2]

1837 Georgia gubernatorial election

← 1835 October 2, 1837 1839 →
Nominee George R. Gilmer William Schley
Party Whig Democratic
Alliance State Rights Union Party
Popular vote 34,181 33,364
Percentage 50.60 49.40%

Results by County[1]
Gilmer:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%      >90%
Schley:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%      >90%

Governor before election

William Schley

Elected Governor

George R. Gilmer

Background edit

During this time, Georgian politics were dominated by two local parties, the Union party and the State Rights party. The Union party was the product of the forces of liberal democracy that brought white manhood suffrage and popular elections in the 1800s. The State Rights party, on the other hand, was a political anomaly whose conservative politics and organization were more closely related to those of the late 1800s.[2]

Panic of 1837 edit

The Panic of 1837 was a major hit to the already weakening Union party as it brought attention to the Union administered Central Bank of Georgia.[2] Created in 1828, the state-owned bank was the most powerful financial institution in Georgia. Upcountry Democrats were supporters of the bank while the Whigs were skeptical of it.[3]

The panic also highlighted disagreements between the liberal democratic wing of the Union party and the conservative machine element close to Governor Schley. The latter of these two groups was led by Tomlinson Fort, owner of the Democratic newspaper The Federal Union and president of the Central Bank since 1831. As head of both of these positions, it effectively made him the political and financial "dictator" of the Union administration. Dissatisfaction with Fort and his conservative machine caused many Union leaders to desert the governor and support the opposition.[2]

The State Rights party nominated former Governor George R. Gilmer.[2]

Election edit

1837 Georgia gubernatorial election[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig George R. Gilmer 34,181 50.60 +2.82
Democratic William Schley 33,364 49.40 -2.82
Total votes 67,545 100

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Dubin, Michael J. (2003). United States Gubernatorial Elections, 1776 1860: The Official Results By State And County. McFarland. pp. 34–35. ISBN 9780786414390.
  2. ^ a b c d e Murray, Paul. "Party Organization in Georgia Politics 1825-1853". The Georgia Historical Quarterly. 29 (4): 200–201 – via JSTOR.
  3. ^ Scott, Carole E. (2016). "The Troubled World of Antebellum Banking in Georgia" (PDF): 11. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)