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Walton, George


George Walton

Born: Virginia - late 1749 or early 1750
Died: Augusta, Georgia - February 2, 1804

George Walton moved to Savannah, Georgia in 1769 to study law, and developed a very successful practice. But soon he became involved in greater matters, as he was a leader in the movement opposing British policies toward the American colonies. In July of 1775 he was elected secretary of the provincial assembly, then in December was chosen President of the Council of Safety. The assembly chose Walton as a delegate to the Continental Congress in January, 1776. Walton, however, did not arrive in Philadelphia until late June, taking his seat in the Congress on July 1, as the historic vote for independence was approaching. Being only twenty-six years old, Walton was the youngest signer of the Declaration.

Walton continued to serve in the Continental Congress until October, 1777. His involvement in political and military affairs did not end upon his return to Georgia. His militia was involved in the attack on Florida in early 1778, and in defending Georgia’s borders. When the British attacked Savannah in December of 1778, Walton was wounded and taken prisoner. He recovered and was exchanged in October, 1779. Upon his release he toured the Georgia back country encouraging citizens to keep up the fight.

When a new state assembly was convened in November, 1779, it selected Walton as governor. His term was marked by bitter disputes between his followers and those of Lachlan McIntosh, who Walton had requested be removed as Brigadier General by the Continental Congress. Walton himself returned to the Congress in early 1780 and served through September, 1781 - although he remained in Philadelphia until the end of the war. Returning to Georgia in 1783 he still faced criticism over his previous actions against McIntosh, yet the assembly still chose him as chief justice of the new state. As chief justice he defended himself against McIntosh’s accusations and gained political support statewide. His attempts at rice planting were much less successful, however, and left him in financial trouble. He sold his lands in Chatham County and moved to Richmond County.

He was elected governor again in 1789, serving until a new government was begun under the new state constitution in November of that year. Under the new government Walton was appointed a superior court judge. In 1795 he was appointed to fill the unexpired United States Senate seat of James Jackson. He became involved in a political feud with Jackson over the Yazoo land fraud case. Jackson was the main opponent of the land sales, and largely because of Walton’s rumored support of them - he was not returned to the Senate. He returned home to Georgia, where he again attempted farming on his Richmond County lands. He died in Augusta on February 2, 1804. In 1848 his remains were removed from their burial site and placed with a monument honoring Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence.