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This Day in Georgia History

December 25, 1866

John Slaton Born

To view an image of John Slaton, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

Lawyer and politician John Slaton was born in Meriwether County, Georgia. At age nine, his family moved to Atlanta, where his father became superintendent of the city school system. Slaton attended the University of Georgia, obtaining a masters degree in 1886. The following year, he passed the bar and began practicing law in Atlanta. In 1896, he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, and in 1905 was selected Speaker of the House. Three years later, he ran for the Senate, where in 1909 he was elected President of the Senate. In this capacity, he became acting governor in 1911 when the General Assembly elected Gov. Hoke Smith to fill the unexpired term of the late U.S. Senator A.S. Clay. In 1912, Slaton successfully ran for the office of governor. As governor, he supported progressive measures - such as ending the practice of leasing convicts to perform labor in the private sector. But his most memorable claim to history was his commuting Leo Frank’s death sentence in 1915. The courageous action ended Slaton’s political career, and he returned to the practice of law. He died in Atlanta on Jan. 11, 1955.