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This Day in Georgia History

October 21, 1841

John Forsyth Died

Lawyer and politician John Forsyth died in Washington D.C. Born in Fredericksburg, Va. in 1780, Forsyth moved to Augusta, Ga. with his family when he was five years old. Forsyth attended Princeton University, returning to Augusta to read law. He was admitted to the bar in 1802 and after six years of practice was elected Georgia attorney general by the General Assembly. Forsyth was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1812, where he served until 1818. That year he was elected to fill an unexpired Senate term until 1819. As a supporter of the Madison and Monroe administrations he was awarded with an important role as ambassador to the court of Spain. He was influential in obtaining Spanish agreement to the Adams-Onis Treaty, in which the United States secured Florida from Spain. In 1822, Forsyth was reelected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1822. Four years later, he successfully ran for governor of Georgia. He was an able chief executive but is probably best remembered for his efforts to force the Cherokee removal from Georgia. In late 1827, he warned the U.S. War Department that within a year Georgia would be extending state law over any Cherokees remaining in the boundaries of the state. Upon leaving the governor’s office Forsyth was again chosen to fill an unexpired Senate seat. In 1831 he was reelected to a full six-year term, but he resigned to become Pres. Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of State on July 1, 1834. He remained in this position for the remainder of Jackson’s administration and throughout the eight year term of Jackson’s successor - Martin Van Buren (a close friend of Forsyth’s). His public duties ended when Van Buren left office in 1841. Forsyth died later that same year. He is remembered by a Georgia county created by the General Assembly in the Cherokee Nation and named in his honor on December 3, 1832.