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George Rockingham Gilmer (April 11, 1790 – November 16, 1859) was an American politician. He served two non-consecutive terms as the 34th Governor of Georgia, the first from 1829 to 1831 and the second from 1837 to 1839. He also served multiple terms in the United States House of Representatives.

George R. Gilmer
George Rockingham Gilmer.jpg
34th Governor of Georgia
In office
November 4, 1829 – November 9, 1831
Preceded byJohn Forsyth
Succeeded byWilson Lumpkin
In office
November 8, 1837 – November 6, 1839
Preceded byWilliam Schley
Succeeded byCharles J. McDonald
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia's at-large congressional district
In office
March 4, 1833 – March 3, 1835
Preceded bynew seat
Succeeded bySeaton Grantland
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia's 1st congressional district
In office
October 1, 1827 – March 3, 1829
Preceded byEdward F. Tattnall
Succeeded byredistricted to at-large
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia's at-large congressional district
In office
March 4, 1821 – March 3, 1823
Preceded byJoel Crawford
Succeeded byGeorge Cary
Member of the Georgia House of Representatives
In office
1818–1819
1824
Personal details
Born
George Rockingham Gilmer

April 11, 1790
Lexington, Georgia, U.S.
DiedNovember 16, 1859 (age 69)
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
Whig
ProfessionSoldier, Politician

Early lifeEdit

Gilmer was born near Lexington, Georgia, in what is present day Oglethorpe County (Wilkes County at the time of his birth). He attended a variety of backwood schools, including Moses Waddell's famous Willington Academy. He served as first lieutenant in the Forty-third Infantry Regiment from 1813 to 1815 in the campaign against the Creek during the War of 1812. He practiced law as a profession.

Political careerEdit

Gilmer's career consisted of multiple, alternating, elected positions at the state and federal level. Of the two great Georgia political factions known as the Crawford men and the Clarke men, he favored Crawford.

He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1818, 1819, and 1824.

Gilmer was also elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1820, 1826, 1828 and 1832. Due to an oversight, he did not serve after the election in 1828, because he failed to accept the position within the legal time frame and the governor ordered a new election.

As governor of Georgia, Gilmer aggressively pursued Indian removal, laying claim to Federal assistance promised by the Compact of 1802.[1]

He initiated the prosecution of Cherokee missionary Samuel Austin Worcester for violation of a law requiring all white persons residing within the Cherokee nation to obtain a license from the governor and to swear to uphold the laws of Georgia.[2][3] Worcester was arrested in 1831 and sentenced to four years' hard labor.[4] The Cherokee Nation hired a lawyer, William Wirt, and sued the state of Georgia in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia.[5] This led to the United States Supreme Court decision Worcester v. Georgia, which struck down the Georgia statute imposing its laws on the Cherokees as violating the Treaty of Hopewell.

Backed by the Georgia militia and Governor Gilmer, the General Assembly dissolved the Cherokee government, annulled its laws, and passed an act authorizing Gilmer to take possession of the Cherokee lands in north Georgia.[6]

The Cherokee issue was hotly debated in the gubernatorial campaign of 1831.[7] Gilmer lost the election to Wilson Lumpkin. The state seized Cherokee gold mines and set up a land lottery system in 1832 to distribute Cherokee lands.[8]

During his second term as Governor of Georgia, beginning in 1837, Gilmer supported and expedited the Federal government in the final removal of Indians from Georgia [9]. This process came to be termed the Trail of Tears.

Death and legacyEdit

Gilmer died in 1859 in Lexington and is buried in the Presbyterian Church Cemetery in the same city.[10]Gilmer County, Georgia is named for him.[11]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Gilmer, George R. (1854). Sketches of some of the first settlers of upper Georgia. New York: D. Appleton. p. 332-441. Retrieved 20 Nov 2018.
  2. ^ Gilmer, George R. "Letter, 1831 May 16, Milledgeville, [Georgia] to Rev[erend] Samuel A. Worcester / George R. Gilmer". State Library Cherokee Collection, The Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN. Presented in the Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  3. ^ Breyer, Stephen (August 7, 2000). "'For Their Own Good'". New Republic. 223 (6). Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  4. ^ Howe, Daniel Walker (2007). What Hath God Wrought : The Transformation of America, 1815-1848. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 355. ISBN 9780195078947. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  5. ^ Breyer, Stephen (Spring 2000). "The Cherokee Indians and the Supreme Court". Journal of Supreme Court History. 25 (3): 219. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Act to authorize Georgia Governor George R. Gilmer to take possession of Cherokee lands". 1830, Acts 1-165, Enrolled Acts and Resolutions, Georgia Legislature, RG 37-1-15, Georgia Archives. Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  7. ^ Williams, David (1995). The Georgia Gold Rush : Twenty-niners, Cherokees, and Gold Fever. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-1570030529. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  8. ^ Sleeper-Smith, Susan (2015). Why You Can't Teach United States History without American Indians. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. p. 279. ISBN 978-1-4696-2120-3. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  9. ^ Gilmer, George R. (1854). Sketches of some of the first settlers of upper Georgia. New York: D. Appleton. p. 503-555. Retrieved 20 Nov 2018.
  10. ^ "Governor Gilmer's Home historical marker". Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  11. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 137.

External linksEdit