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This Day in Georgia History

January 04, 1780

Richard Howley Elected

During the American Revolution, Richard Howley [also spelled Howly] was elected governor by Georgia’s Whig legislature while meeting in Augusta. In the war against the British, things weren’t going well for the patriots at this time, and on Feb. 3 Howley and the executive council designated Heard’s Fort in Wilkes County as the temporary seat of government. Two days later, the legislature elected Howley to represent Georgia in the Continental Congress. In June 1780, he left for Philadelphia, where he served in the Continental Congress until August 1781. Howley returned to Georgia, where he was elected to the legislature. The next year, the legislators elected him to be a judge, but in 1783, he returned to the legislature.

Little is known about certain aspects of Howley’s life. He is believed to have been born near Savannah around 1740. At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Howley practiced law in Sunbury, Ga., where he owned a plantation. In early 1779, he fled to Augusta to avoid capture by the British. There is no record of him performing military service in the Revolution. Also, it is not clear if he served in any governmental capacity prior to being elected governor, though he apparently was respected as a lawyer. After the Revolution, Howley moved to Savannah, where he died in Dec. 1784.