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This Day in Georgia History

April 08, 1771

William Rabun Born

Politician William Rabun was born April 8, 1771, in North Carolina. In 1785, His family moved to Georgia, where he spent the rest of his life. Rabun began his political career in 1805 by winning election to the Georgia House of Representatives. Five years later, he was elected to the Georgia Senate, where he served as Senate President (1812-1817). When Gov. David B. Mitchell resigned to accept Pres. James Madison’s appointment as U.S. agent to the Creek Indians, Rabun automatically succeeded him as governor on March 4, 1817. Later that year, Rabun was elected to a full term as governor. Rabun’s administration was marked by increased support for free schools and improvements to the state’s internal navigation of its rivers. Through letters, Rabun also carried on an acrimonious debate with Gen. Andrew Jackson on the general’s lack of protection of Georgia against Seminole and Creek Indian attacks. After one of these attacks, Rabun sent Georgia militiamen to retaliate - but they attacked an Indian village friendly to Jackson, thus incurring his wrath. The Georgia legislature fully supported Rabun in his disagreement with Jackson. While visiting his home in Hancock County between legislative sessions in 1819, Rabun suddenly became ill and died of a fever on October 24, 1819. Two months later, the General Assembly named a new county in his honor. Despite his popularity in Georgia, there are no known images of Rabun.