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This Day in Georgia History

July 20, 1796

John Houstoun Died

To view an image of John Houstoun, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

Lawyer, patriot, and former Georgia governor John Houstoun died in Savannah. Houstoun was among the group of men who met regularly at Tondee’s Tavern in Savannah to plan resistance to the British in the years just prior to the Revolutionary War. He was chosen as a delegate to the First Continental Congress, but none of the Georgia delegates attended. Also elected to the Second Continental Congress, Houstoun did attend but left long before the drafting and signing of the Declaration of Independence, believing his services were needed more at home in Georgia. In January 1778, Houstoun was elected governor. When the British occupied Savannah, he and other state officials moved to Augusta, then to Charleston when the British captured Augusta. He returned to Georgia after the British were forced to abandon Augusta. After the war, Houstoun was elected to the House of Assembly, then in 1784 he was again elected governor. While his first administration was under duress from the British, in his second he was able to concentrate on land grants, Indian problems , and a border dispute with South Carolina. Houstoun went on to serve in several different capacities after his term as governor, including church vestryman, justice of the peace, and superior court judge. Upon his death, Houstoun was eulogized by historian Charles C. Jones as being “amongst the most zealous advocates of the rights of the colonists.” An act of the General Assembly naming a new county in his honor was approved on May 15, 1821.