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This Day in Georgia History

October 24, 1819

William Rabun Died

Politician William Rabun died in Hancock County, Georgia. Rabun was born April 8, 1771 in North Carolina, but his family moved to Georgia in 1785 and William spent the rest of his life in Georgia. He began his political career in 1805 in the Georgia House of Representatives. From 1810-1817 he served in the Georgia Senate, and in 1812 was voted President of the Senate. When Governor David B. Mitchell resigned to accept President 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 full term as governor. Rabun’s term was marked by increased support for free schools and improvements to the state’s internal navigation of its rivers. Rabun also carried on acrimonious correspondence with General Andrew Jackson over his lack of defense for Georgia against Seminole and Creek Indian attacks. After one of these attacks, Rabun sent Georgia militia 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. In one of his letters Rabun foreshadowed an argument Georgia and the South would use forty-three years later in seceding from the Union. Rabun wrote: “When the liberties of the people of Georgia shall have been prostrated at the feet of a military despotism, then, and not till then, will your imperious doctrine be submitted to.” While visiting his home between legislative sessions in 1819, Rabun suddenly became ill and died of a fever on October 24, 1819. Two months later - on December 21 the General Assembly created a new county and named it after him.