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This Day in Georgia History

October 30, 1871

Benjamin Conley Acting Governor

Republican governor Rufus Bullock’s resignation from office became effective, resulting in Benjamin F. Conley - then president of the Senate and also a Republican - becoming acting governor. (At the time, Georgia did not have a lieutenant governor, and Georgia’s constitution provided that the president of the Senate fill any vacancy in the office of governor.) In the Dec. 1870 elections, Democrats had won large majorities in both houses of the General Assembly, and it was clear that Conley would not be reelected as president of the Senate once the new legislature formally convened on Nov. 1, 1871. However, because Bullock’s resignation took effect on Oct. 30, Conley technically was still president of the Senate - even though he had not been reelected to a new term. Conley took the oath of office on Oct. 30, 1871. Two days later, the new General Assembly convened and elected a new Democratic president of the Senate, but Conley refused to give up the office. The General Assembly then passed a law over Conley’s veto to hold a special election for governor on the third Tuesday in December. In that election, Democratic House speaker James M. Smith defeated Conley and assumed office Jan. 12, 1872.

Image of Benjamin Conley Acting Governor View large image
Source: Photo: Ed Jackson