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This Day in Georgia History

May 12, 1791

George Washington Began Georgia Visit

Soon after his inauguration as the nation’s first president in 1789, George Washington decided to visit each of the new states “to become better acquainted with their principal characters and internal circumstances, as well as to be more accessible to numbers of well-informed persons who might give useful information and advice on political subjects.” Washington also wished “to acquire knowledge of the face of the country, the growth and agriculture thereof - and the temper and disposition of the inhabitants toward the new government.” In early May 1791, Washington visited South Carolina. On the morning of May 12, he visited Purrysburg on the Savannah River - his last visit in South Carolina. There, Georgia officials met Washington to escort him onto a barge-like vessel for the twenty-five mile trip to Savannah. As the river took them past Mulberry Grove plantation, Washington had made plans to stop so he could visit Catharine (Caty) Greene, widow of Revolutionary Gen. Nathanael Greene. Washington spent several hours with his long-time friend and promised to stop by again in four days on his way to Augusta. Arriving in Savannah after sundown, Washington found the city brightly illuminated in celebration of his visit. Thus began four days of ceremonies, receptions, dinners, dances, and other formalities for Savannah’s most important visitor in its 58-year history.