Peter Early (June 20, 1773 – August 15, 1817) was an American lawyer, jurist and politician.
He was born near Madison, Virginia in 1773, the son of Joel Early and Lucy Smith. His cousin, Jubal Early, was the grandfather of Confederate General Jubal Anderson Early (1816–1894). Peter Early graduated from the Lexington Academy (current-day Washington and Lee University). He later graduated from Princeton College in 1792. His family moved to Wilkes County, Georgia that same year; however, Peter Early was studying law with Jared Ingersoll in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After finishing his legal studies, Early joined his family in Wilkes County, married Ann Adams Smith in 1793 and began his law practice in Washington, Georgia, in 1796. Sister Lucy Early married Charles Lewis Mathews.
Early was elected as a Representative from Georgia to the 8th United States Congress to serve the remainder of the term left vacant by the resignation of John Milledge, and he was reelected to the 9th Congress. During his congressional service, Early was one of the managers of the prosecution in the impeachment trials against John Pickering, New Hampshire United States District Court judge, in January 1804 and Samuel Chase, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, in December of that same year. Early did not seek reelection in 1806 for the 10th Congress.
After his congressional service, Early was elected by the Georgia General Assembly as judge of the Superior Court of the Ocmulgee Circuit and presided over that court from 1807 until 1813. The respect and popularity he gained from his service on that bench propelled him to a successful campaign to be elected the 28th Governor of Georgia in 1813. He served one term which lasted through 1815 during which Early was instrumental in committing money on several occasions from the state treasury to help raise and supply additional troops from Georgia to the American military forces during the later half of the War of 1812.
Early moved back to Greene County, Georgia after his gubernatorial term, and he was elected to the Georgia Senate to represent his home county. During his term in this body, he died on August 15, 1817, at his summer home near Scull Shoals in Greene County and was buried on the west bank of the Oconee River near his home, Fontenoy Plantation, with a simple monument to mark his gravesite; however, his family reinterred his body in the Greensboro City Cemetery in 1914. Early County, Georgia was named in his honor in 1818.
- Patrick, Rembert W. (2010). Florida Fiasco: Rampant Rebels on the Georgia-Florida Border, 1810-1815. University of Georgia Press, 2010. ISBN 0820335495, 9780820335490
- Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 112.
- William J. Northen, ed. (1910). Men of Mark in Georgia (PDF) (Volume II ed.). Atlanta, Georgia: A. B. Caldwell. pp. 353–356. Retrieved 2006-12-28.
- Peter Early at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Georgia State Archives Roster of State Governors
- Georgia Governor's Gravesites Field Guide (1776-2003)
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's at-large congressional district
January 10, 1803 – March 3, 1807
David Brydie Mitchell
|Governor of Georgia
November 5, 1813 – November 20, 1815
David Brydie Mitchell