My Georgia History

Signers Monument

The Signers Monument,  in Augusta, is marked by a 50 ft. tall pillar in front of the Municipal building.  Two of the three Georgia signers of the “Declaration of Independence” are buried here. Strangely, not one of the Georgia signers was born in Georgia.  The Monument was dedicated, July 04, 1848.

George Walton was the youngest signer, 26 years old.   George came to Georgia from Farmville,Virginia, where he was born in 1749.  He took up law in Savannah.  In the years that followed, he became a Colonel in the Georgia Militia.  Injured, and captured during the siege of Savannah in 1778, he was traded for another high ranking officer.  He would become the Governor of Georgia twice.  George Walton was appointed a judgeship on the Georgia Supreme Court. He was also chosen Chief Justice for the state.  He served six times in Congress, and finished out someone else’s term in the senate.  He was a founding trustee, of Franklin College, which became the University of Georgia.  He moved to Augusta in 1790.  He died in 1804.

Lyman Hall was born in Wallingford, Connecticut, April 20, 1724.  He was a physician who first moved to South Carolina and then to Georgia.   He also signed the “Declaration of Independence.”  In 1781 he returned to Georgia, only to head north when the British invaded.  Lyman Hall’s, “Knoll Plantation” was burned to the ground.  He was elected Governor and served till 1784. Hall died in Burke County in 1790.

We’ve talked about two Georgia signers of the “Declaration of Independence.”   But there was a third signer from Georgia, Button Gwinnett.  He was born in England about 1735.  He immigrated to Savannah as a merchant.  In 1765, he bought St. Catherine’s Island, purchased slaves, and tried his hand as a planter.  Gwinnett was said to have been a cantankerous man.  He lost St. Catherine’s Island and many of his possessions to creditors.  He became a somewhat successful politician.  He served two months, in 1777, as acting Governor of Georgia, but lost in the following election.  A long standing feud with brothers Lachlan and George McIntosh, erupted when Gwinnett was elected governor.  George was the only member of the Assembly to vote against him.  When Gwinnett heard that Lachlan Macintosh had been saying terrible things about him, calling him a rascal and such, Gwinnett didn’t waste any time.  He did what was common in that day.  His honor had been slighted so he challenged Lachlan McIntosh to a dual.  On May 16, 1777 the two fought the duel near Savannah.    Button Gwinnett was shot.  He didn’t die that day, but gangrene set in around the wound, and Button Gwinnett died three days later.  Friends of Macintosh wanted the body.  What for?  We don’t know.  But the friends of Gwinnett took his body and buried him, secretly.  Even the folks in Savannah don’t know where Button Gwinnett is buried.

History is sometimes strange.  But that’s the stories of our three Georgia signers, George Walton, Doctor Lyman Hall, and Button Gwinnett.

Written by Mark Woodard

Research sources:

  •  The Story of Augusta. Cashin, Edward J. Spartanburg, SC. The Reprint Company Publishing. (1996)
  • Augusta, A Pictorial History. Callahan, Helen. Richmond County Historical Society Publisher. (1980)
  • Confederate City, Augusta Georgia 1860-1865. Corley, Florence Fleming. (1995)
  • From City to Countryside. Haltermann, Bryan M. (1997)

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