On Georgia's 235th Anniversary of Statehood, The State's Founders Wouldn't Recognize Today's Landscape


January 2 marks the 235th anniversary of Georgia's entry into the new United States in 1788. Oh, how things have changed since that monumental day when the former British colony became the fourth state of the original 13 to join the new Union.

The agrarian and military leaders of Georgia from the day of its statehood wouldn't recognize the modern Georgia landscape.Photo byRusty WatsononUnsplash

Consider these changes:

Population. Georgia's population was approximately 82,500 when the state joined the Union. That's an estimate as Georgia's records from the first three US Census efforts were burned by the British in the War of 1812. It's also unclear if the 1788 population estimate included only free people, or if enslaved persons were included. The native American population was not included in the estimate. The state's estimated population in July 2021 was 10.8 million.

Ancestry. At statehood, most of Georgia's free population was of English heritage, with other European nationalities mixed in. The state also had a large population of enslaved people, most of African heritage. Native American tribes included the Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw and Muscogee, though these were not included in any official population records of the time. Today, European heritage makes up slightly more than half the population, with British the largest group. Georgia’s 3.3 million African Americans -- 33% of the population -- make the state home to more Blacks than any other state except Texas.

Cities. Most of Georgia's 1788 cities were located along the coast, and many were established near forts and rivers. Savannah was the largest of Georgia's cities, followed by the capital at Augusta. Period maps note major settlements at Fort Williams and Fort St. Andrews along the far Southern coast, and Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island. Today's largest city and state capital of Atlanta, with a population of 6.1 million, did not exist.

Economy. In 1788, Georgia had an agrarian economy, with large plantations and farms dotting the coast and major inland rivers. Today, Georgia's economy largely is service based, with a large corporate headquarter presence around the Atlanta metro area. The state also has a strong manufacturing presence, boosted by the recent addition of large automotive operations and forthcoming construction of electric vehicle component factories.

Georgia's economy in 2022 is largely service based, with a strong corporate presence. In 1788, the state's economy was agrarian based.Photo byUS Census Bureau Chart

More Georgia History from DeanLand

Here are a few other Georgia history stories from DeanLand:

The Day World War II Came to Georgia

We Found an Abandoned Railroad in Cobb County

Train Wreck Destroys Pumpkinvine Creek Trestle

A train wreck in 1903 wiped out sections of the Pumpkinvine Creek Trestle near Dallas, but the engine remained on the tracks.Photo byPaulding Historical Society

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I'm a trained journalist and retired global marketing executive. Living in Northwest Georgia, I write about about avocations including outdoors, travel, exploration, history and some of my community passions. I've traveled to 47 states and nearly as many countries. My South Louisiana-born French Cajun upbringing in food-rich Louisiana plus my extended restaurant-related career affirmed my status as an over-qualified eater. At my blog, OurTravelCafe.com, I offer a complete menu of our my own experiences, explorations and adventures, organized by geography and always sprinkled with some spicy, tasty tidbits and food notes.

Acworth, GA

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