John Milton (Georgia politician)

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John Milton (c. 1740/1757–1817) was a Revolutionary War officer from a family of settlers in North Carolina who became a Colonial-era political figure that played a prominent role in the establishment and growth of the state of Georgia.[1]

Early years and military career[edit]

John Milton, the first Secretary of State of Georgia, elected three times; major of Augusta; Revolutionary War hero; was, also, the First Secretary of the Georgia Society of the Cincinnati

Milton was born in Halifax County, North Carolina. John Milton's family in North Carolina was constituted by migration of English families, including the Milton family, from Virginia from the early to mid 1700s. English laws passed that "touched off a boom in North Carolina that lasted from 1730 to the American Revolution."[2] The most recent research demonstrates with a preponderance of evidence that Milton's father, also John, migrated to the North Carolina Coastal Plain with cousins, e.g., Robert Milton (1696-1759; died in Orange County, NC).[3][4][5][6] Thus, John Milton of Halifax, North Carolina is likely a descendant of the scrivener Richard Milton, who immigrated on the ship "Supply," 1621/22, to Barclay/Jamestown.[7][8] The Carolinian John Milton joined the Continental Army as an ensign in the 1st Georgia Regiment, Jan. 7, 1776; was promoted 1st lieutenant, and was taken prisoner at Fort Howe, Georgia, in February 1777, with Lieut. William Caldwell, on the surrender of that place, held as a hostage and imprisoned in the castle at St. Augustine, Florida, until November 1777. He was promoted captain, Sept. 15, 1777, and on his release returned to the army and served until the end of the war, retiring Sept. 15, 1782. Milton was admitted as an original member of The Society of the Cincinnati in the state of Georgia, serving as the Georgia constituent society's first secretary from 1783 to 1786.[9][10] He engaged in planting after the war.

Political service[edit]

Milton was the first Georgia Secretary of State, elected in 1777. On Dec. 6, 1778, at the approach of the British, he removed the public records to Perrysburg by order of the governor.[11] He served in that position again in 1781–83 and 1789. His adopted home state showed its gratitude to Milton's service with two electoral votes in the historic first presidential election.[12] He was also one of the first mayors of Augusta, Georgia.[13] [1][14] John Milton was a signer to Georgia's ratification of the U.S. Constitution.[15]


John married Hannah E. Spencer, and of their children, Gen. Homer Virgil Milton (q.v.), was an officer in the War of 1812. His grandson, also named John Milton, served as the Governor of Florida during the Civil War.[16] John Milton's great-great-grandson was William Hall Milton, United States Senator from Florida.[17]

Milton's legacy as a Georgia founding father led to the naming of a county after him. Milton County, Georgia was formed in 1857, with a population of 6,730 in 1930, merged with Fulton County on January 1, 1932, through an act of the state legislature.[11] In 2010 there was an effort to revive Milton County by separating portions of Fulton County.[18]

John Milton has recently been honored again by the formation of a new municipality in Georgia. The City of Milton, Georgia was formed in 2006 by an act of the Georgia Legislature, signed by Governor Sonny Purdue.[19] The City of Milton mentions its namesake on its website: "Named after Revolutionary War Hero John Milton, the City of Milton is a part of Fulton County with County Commission representation."[19]


  1. ^ a b Full text of "Georgia's Roster of the Revolution, Containing a List of the States Defenders; Officers and Men; Soldiers and Sailors; Partisans and Regulars; Whether Enlisted from Georgia or Settled in Georgia after the Close of Hostilities", accessed November 22, 2015.
  2. ^ Goldfield, David. "Early Settlement | NCpedia". Retrieved 2023-02-04.
  3. ^ Adams, John (2015-09-10). Warrior at Heart: Governor John Milton, King Cotton, and Rebel Florida 1860-1865. FriesenPress. ISBN 978-1-4602-6784-4.
  4. ^ "Robert Melton d. 1759 Orange County, NC: The Wallaces of Moore County, NC". Retrieved 2023-02-04.
  5. ^ "The Wallaces of Moore County, NC". Retrieved 2023-02-04.
  6. ^ Dames, National Society of the Colonial (1904). The Parish Register of Saint Peter's, New Kent County, Va. from 1680 to 1787. Richmond: Southern Historical Press, Incorporated and Ellis Jones Publishers. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-89308-770-8.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  7. ^ Adams, John (2015-09-10). Warrior at Heart: Governor John Milton, King Cotton, and Rebel Florida 1860-1865. FriesenPress. ISBN 978-1-4602-6784-4.
  8. ^ Kelso, William M. (2009-06-01). "The Jamestown Project. By Karen Ordahl Kupperman. (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007. Pp.xii, 380. $29.95.)". The Historian. 71 (2): 368–369. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6563.2009.00240_22.x. ISSN 0018-2370.
  9. ^ Metcalf, Bryce (1938). Original Members and Other Officers Eligible to the Society of the Cincinnati, 1783-1938: With the Institution, Rules of Admission, and Lists of the Officers of the General and State Societies Strasburg, VA: Shenandoah Publishing House, Inc., p. 27 and 261.
  10. ^ "Officers Represented in the Society of the Cincinnati". The American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  11. ^ a b Caroline Matheny Dillman, "Milton County", New Georgia Encyclopedia, August 29, 2013, accessed March 19, 2016.
  12. ^ Col John Milton, Obituary. Newspaper Extractions from the Northeast, 1704-1930 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. Citation includes the following: Name: Col John Milton; Birth Year: abt. 1756; Event: Death Death; Date: Abt. 1817; Death Place: Burks Co, Georgia; Age at Death: 61; Newspaper: Columbian Centinel [sic]; Publication Date: 6 Dec 1817; Publication Place: Massachusetts, USA; Call Number: 485704.
  13. ^ "Georgia History Timeline / Chronology 1792/John Milton". Retrieved November 20, 2015. John Milton Elected Mayor of Augusta.
  14. ^ "U. S. Electoral College: Historical Election Results 1789-1996", National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved November 21, 2015. John Milton received two electoral college votes in the first U.S. presidential election.
  15. ^ E. M. Coulter, 1926. "Minutes of the Georgia convention ratifying the federal constitution". The Georgia Historical Quarterly 10 (3): 225.
  16. ^ John Adams, Warrior at Heart: Governor John Milton, King Cotton, and Rebel Florida 1860–1865, EBooks ed. (Altona, MB, Canada: FriesenPress, 2015).
  17. ^ "Milton, William Hall - Biographical Information", Biographical Directory of the United States Congress,, accessed March 07, 2016.
  18. ^ "Creating a New Milton County" Archived 2010-03-25 at the Wayback Machine, Vinson Institute of Government: University of Georgia, February 2009, accessed March 19, 2016.
  19. ^ a b "About Milton." City of Milton, Georgia. 2006. Accessed March 19, 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Kestenbaum, Lawrence (1996–2005). "Index to Politicians: Millsap to Minehart". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  • Gordon DenBoer, ed. (1984). The Documentary History of the First Federal Elections. University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 440–441. This reference is primarily concerned with Milton in the context of the 1789 presidential election.

External links[edit]