George Rockingham Gilmer

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George R. Gilmer
George Rockingham Gilmer.jpg
34th Governor of Georgia
In office
November 4, 1829 – November 9, 1831
Preceded by John Forsyth
Succeeded by Wilson Lumpkin
In office
November 8, 1837 – November 6, 1839
Preceded by William Schley
Succeeded by Charles J. McDonald
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia's at-large congressional district
In office
March 4, 1833 – March 3, 1835
Preceded by new seat
Succeeded by Seaton Grantland
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia's 1st congressional district
In office
October 1, 1827 – March 3, 1829
Preceded by Edward F. Tattnall
Succeeded by redistricted to at-large
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia's at-large congressional district
In office
March 4, 1821 – March 3, 1823
Preceded by Joel Crawford
Succeeded by George Cary
Member of the Georgia House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born George Rockingham Gilmer
April 11, 1790
Lexington, Georgia, U.S.
Died November 16, 1859 (age 69)
Political party Democratic-Republican
Profession Soldier, Politician

George Rockingham Gilmer (April 11, 1790 – November 16, 1859) was an American statesman and politician. He served two non-consecutive terms as the 34th Governor of Georgia, the first from 1829 to 1831 and the second from 1837 to 1839. He also served multiple terms in the United States House of Representatives.

Early life[edit]

Gilmer was born near Lexington, Georgia, in what is present day Oglethorpe County (Wilkes County at the time of his birth). He served as first lieutenant in the Forty-third Infantry Regiment from 1813 to 1815 in the campaign against the Creek during the War of 1812. He practiced law as a profession.

Political career[edit]

Gilmer's career consisted of multiple, alternating, elected positions at the state and federal level.

He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1818, 1819, and 1824.

Gilmer was also elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1820, 1826, 1828 and 1832. However, he did not serve after the election in 1828 because he failed to accept the position within the legal time frame and the governor ordered a new election.

When he became governor of Georgia, Gilmer initiated the prosecution of Cherokee missionary Samuel Austin Worcester for violation of a law requiring all white persons residing within the Cherokee nation to obtain a license from the governor and to swear to uphold the laws of Georgia.[1][2] Worcester was arrested in 1831 and sentenced to four years' hard labor.[3] The Cherokee Nation hired a lawyer, William Wirt, and sued the state of Georgia in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia.[4] This led to the United States Supreme Court decision Worcester v. Georgia, which struck down the Georgia statute imposing its laws on the Cherokees as violating the Treaty of Hopewell.

Backed by the Georgia militia and Governor Gilmer, the General Assembly dissolved the Cherokee government, annulled its laws, and passed an act authorizing Gilmer to take possession of the Cherokee lands in north Georgia.[5]

The Cherokee issue was hotly debated in the gubernatorial campaign of 1831.[6] Gilmer lost the election to Wilson Lumpkin. The state seized Cherokee gold mines and set up a land lottery system in 1832 to distribute Cherokee lands.[7]

Also of Note[edit]

Additional facts of interest concerning George Gilmer:

Death and legacy[edit]

Gilmer died in 1859 in Lexington and is buried in the Presbyterian Church Cemetery in the same city.[8] Gilmer County, Georgia is named for him.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gilmer, George R. "Letter, 1831 May 16, Milledgeville, [Georgia] to Rev[erend] Samuel A. Worcester / George R. Gilmer". State Library Cherokee Collection, The Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN. Presented in the Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 12 June 2016. 
  2. ^ Breyer, Stephen (August 7, 2000). "'For Their Own Good'". New Republic. 223 (6). Retrieved 12 June 2016. 
  3. ^ Howe, Daniel Walker (2007). What Hath God Wrought : The Transformation of America, 1815-1848. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 355. ISBN 9780195078947. Retrieved 12 June 2016. 
  4. ^ Breyer, Stephen (Spring 2000). "The Cherokee Indians and the Supreme Court". Journal of Supreme Court History. 25 (3): 219. Retrieved 12 June 2016. 
  5. ^ "Act to authorize Georgia Governor George R. Gilmer to take possession of Cherokee lands". 1830, Acts 1-165, Enrolled Acts and Resolutions, Georgia Legislature, RG 37-1-15, Georgia Archives. Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 12 June 2016. 
  6. ^ Williams, David (1995). The Georgia Gold Rush : Twenty-niners, Cherokees, and Gold Fever. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-1570030529. Retrieved 12 June 2016. 
  7. ^ Sleeper-Smith, Susan (2015). Why You Can't Teach United States History without American Indians. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. p. 279. ISBN 978-1-4696-2120-3. Retrieved 12 June 2016. 
  8. ^ "Governor Gilmer's Home historical marker". Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 12 June 2016. 
  9. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 137. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Joel Crawford
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's at-large congressional district

March 4, 1821 – March 3, 1823
Succeeded by
George Cary
Preceded by
Edward F. Tattnall
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 1st congressional district

October 1, 1827 – March 3, 1829
Succeeded by
Elected at large
Preceded by
Newly established seat from congressional apportionment
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's at-large congressional district

March 4, 1833 – March 3, 1835
Succeeded by
Seaton Grantland
Political offices
Preceded by
John Forsyth
Governor of Georgia
Succeeded by
Wilson Lumpkin
Preceded by
William Schley
Governor of Georgia
Succeeded by
Charles J. McDonald