Atlanta in 1887
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.
After a 14-year shuffle between Savannah and Augusta, in 1786 the legislature established a commission to find a permanent location for Georgia’s capital. Ten years later, the capital was established in the new city of Louisville, but it wasn’t long until lawmakers were looking for a new capital site.
In 1807, the state capital of Georgia officially moved from Louisville to Milledgeville, and despite its seemingly perfect location, it was only to remain the capital for 60 years. Milledgeville’s rapid decline in favor as the capital of Georgia is directly linked to Reconstruction and the end of the Confederacy. As described by Edwin L. Jackson in “The Story of Georgia’s Capitals and Capital Cities:”
“The end of Milledgeville’s era as state capital came in 1867. Briefly in 1867, Congress assumed control of Reconstruction in the South, with Georgia and other Southern states placed again under military authority. Major General John Pope was placed in command of Georgia on April 1, 1867, and shortly afterwards took up his duties in Atlanta. A new constitutional convention was called for the state, and General Pope ordered the convention to assemble in Atlanta, reportedly because of reports that Milledgeville innkeepers had proclaimed that black delegates to the convention would not be welcome in their inns. That convention met in Atlanta from January to March, 1868.”
It was during the convention that Atlanta officials decided to put forth an offer to become the new capital city of Georgia. The offer included the use of buildings for the legislature, the governor, other state officials, and the Georgia Supreme Court for 10 years free of charge. To sweeten the deal, city representatives offered the state the city’s 25-acre fairground or the choice of any unoccupied 10 acres in the city for a state capitol.
Following a vote in 1868, Georgia, once again, had a new state capital: Atlanta. Today, Atlanta serves as the county seat of Fulton County and the Georgia capital. It is the state’s largest city and the 9th largest metropolitan area in the United States.
Visit the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta and take a tour three ways: guided, self-guided or via the Capitol app. In addition to exploring the building itself, there is also the Capitol Museum. Bringing children with you? There is a fun scavenger hunt, puzzle and art search that you can print out and bring with you to maximize your family's fun.