Everyone is familiar with Atlanta as Georgia’s state capital, but did you know it is the 17th location of the capital? While some cities have had the honor as many as four times, other locations were temporary and some cities no longer exist.
For the first 43 years of Georgia’s existence, the cities that had been known as the capital were in the southeastern part of the state: Frederica and Savannah. When Savannah fell to the British forces at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the capital moved to Augusta and then shuffled around to various sites in Wilkes County, Ebenezer and possibly even South Carolina before settling once again in Savannah in 1782.
Following the capital’s re-entry into Savannah, a new conflict was arising between the coastal communities in Georgia and Augusta, which was quickly gaining economic importance. In January 1783, the General Assembly met in Savannah, but only one month later, the council resolved to move the capital to Augusta, citing the increasing populations in what they referred to as the “backcountry.”
The council held a full month of meetings in Augusta in July, and in October moved the capital back to Savannah when they were called back there by the governor. They held another legislative session there in January 1784, meeting in taverns, private homes and perhaps other meeting halls because there was no statehouse building.
The last legislative session in Savannah was in January 1785, and in January 1786, Augusta became the official capital once again. However, with that move, many began expressing concern that Augusta was too far east of most of the population of Georgia. Only 23 days in to the new legislative session in the new capital, legislators appointed a commission to find a “proper and convenient” place for a new capital, stipulating that it must be relatively easily accessible to all free Georgians.
Savannah’s Squares – During the pre-Revolutionary and Revolutionary times, Georgia did not have a formal statehouse. Instead, its legislators met at various taverns, homes and businesses around some of Savannah’s famous squares. Out of the original 24 squares, 22 remain today, each unique and worth a visit.