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This Day in Georgia History

November 07, 1801

Josiah Tattnall, Jr. Elected Governor

Josiah Tattnall Jr. was elected Georgia governor by the General Assembly. Born near Savannah in 1764, Tattnall was involved in various militia units, eventually rising to the rank of brigadier general. In 1785, Tattnall bought a 600-acre tract of land outside Savannah known as Bonaventure. Here, he grew sea island cotton from seeds he obtained in the Bahamas. He married Harriet Fenwick, and when she unexpectedly died she was buried in a family plot that would one day expanded to become Bonaventure Cemetery. Tattnall served in the Georgia General Assembly, where he helped fight for the repeal of the Yazoo Act in 1796. That same year, the legislature elected him to fill the unexpired U.S. Senate term of James Jackson, who had resigned. Tattnall served in the Senate until the end of the term in 1799 and briefly retired from politics. In 1801, the General Assembly elected him to a two-year term as governor. By the end of his term, Tattnall was ill and decided to go to Nassau for a change of climate. He died there on June 6, 1803. His body was returned to Bonaventure, where he was buried along with his wife. In December 1801, the legislature honored Tattnall by naming a new county for him.