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This Day in Georgia History

January 09, 1784

John Houstoun Inaugurated

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

John Houstoun (pronounced “House-ton”) was inaugurated for his second term as governor. Born in Georgia (some sources say Aug. 31, 1744), he was elected governor in 1778 – becoming the first Georgia-born governor. Houstoun had been 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. Houstoun 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 of 1778 Houstoun was elected for his first term as governor. When the British occupied Savannah, he moved the seat of government to Augusta, then fled to Charleston when the British also 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. In 1790, Houstoun was elected mayor of Savannah, where he died on July 20, 1796. Upon his death, Houstoun was eulogized by historian Charles C. Jones as being “amongst the most zealous advocates of the rights of the colonists.” The Georgia General Assembly named a county in his honor on May 15, 1821.