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This Day in Georgia History

May 04, 1801

George Washington Towns Born

Politician George Washington Towns was born in Wilkes County, Georgia. He studied and practiced law briefly in Alabama before returning to Georgia in 1826. He served two terms in the Georgia House of Representatives and one in the Georgia Senate before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1835. Here he served two terms, acting as an advocate for military readiness, particularly in regards to Texas, and for the removal of the Cherokee Indians from Georgia. He spent most of the next decade practicing law before being elected to Congress again in 1846. In 1847, Georgia Democrats nominated Towns for governor; he was elected and served two consecutive terms. As governor, Towns fought for reforms in the slave code, completing the Western and Atlantic Railroad, and using state revenue to support public schools. Towns was deeply disturbed by the growing abolitionist movement, and called for a state convention to respond to the Compromise of 1850. By this time, Towns believed secession was the only resort, but this convention (unlike the one eleven years later) was controlled by Unionists. They rejected Towns’ call for secession but did pass the Georgia Platform, which stated that Georgia was unhappy with certain aspects of the Compromise of 1850, but still urged its acceptance. After his second term as governor, Towns retired to a home in Macon, where his health rapidly declined. He died in Macon on July 15, 1854. On March 6, 1856, the Georgia General Assembly named a new county in north Georgia in his honor.