Wednesday, January 19, 2011

January 19, 1861 - Georgia Secedes from the Union

Old Capitol Building in Milledgeville
January 19, 1861

Over the stern warning of such delegates as former U.S. Congressman (and future Confederate Vice President) Alexander H. Stephens, the Georgia Secession Convention voted 150 years ago today to declare the state's independence from the United States.

One of the thirteen original states, Georgia became the fifth Southern state to leave the Union. South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama had already passed ordinances of secession. By joining them, Georgia provided geographic continuity to the growing list of newly independent Southern republics. While the Confederate States of America would not be formed until February, there was already recognition among the states that they would need to unify in some way for the purpose of defense.

Georgia's Old Capitol Building
Milledgeville was then the capital city of Georgia and the vote took place in the beautiful Old Capitol Building, the oldest public building of the Gothic revival style in the country. The vote was taken at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and passed by a margin of 208-89. Convention President George W. Crawford proclaimed the ordinance passed and celebrations erupted throughout much of the state, even as many worried about the course Georgia would now follow.

Once the decision was made, most of the state's pro-Union leaders unified with the secessionists. As in much of the South, most felt that their loyalty was owed first to their state. Even though many disagreed with the direction that had been charted, they committed their all to Georgia's success.

To learn more about the historic Old Capitol Building in Milledgeville, Georgia, please visit

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