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This Day in Georgia History

January 09, 1786

Edward Telfair Inaugurated

Edward Telfair began his first term as governor. Born in Scotland around 1735,he came to Georgia in 1766. Almost immediately, Telfair became a successful businessman in partnership with his brother. He was elected to the Commons House of Assembly in 1768 and also held some local offices in Savannah. As a merchant, Telfair was not pleased with British policies on taxing American colonies. He was among those who convened in 1774 to denounce the Intolerable Acts, and later he was a delegate to both the first and second provincial congresses. Telfair was among the group of Whigs who seized the ammunition stored in Savannah on May 11, 1775. Telfair remained devoted to the American independence movement – even when his brother cast his lot with the Loyalists. Elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress, Telfair was one of the Georgians to sign the Articles of Confederation. After the Revolutionary War, he was elected to the state legislature, served as a justice, and worked on several committees. Elected as governor in 1786, Telfair was chosen again in 1789 – serving until 1793. As governor, Telfair was influential in moving the state capital from Savannah to Augusta, worked to resolve the Georgia-South Carolina boundary dispute, and was beset by Creek Indian problems in his last year in office. After 1793 he retired from public life. Telfair died in Savannah on Oct. 17, 1807, and was buried in Bonaventure Cemetery. Two months later, the legislature named a new county in his honor. Telfair left a large fortune upon his death in 1807, which his descendants used to establish the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences.