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Augusta, Georgia

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

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A city and the county-seat of Richmond county, Georgia, U.S.A., at the head of steamboat navigation on the Savannah river, 132 m. N.W. of Savannah by rail and 240 m. by river course. Pop. (5890) 33,300; (1900) 39,441, of whom 18,487 were negroes and only 995 were foreign-born; (1906, estimate) 43,125. Augusta is served by the Southern, the Augusta Southern (controlled by the Southern), the Atlantic Coast Line, the Charleston & Western Carolina (controlled by the Atlantic Coast Line), the Georgia and the Central of Georgia railways, by an electric line to Aiken, South Carolina, and by a line of steamers to Savannah. The city extends along the river bank for a distance of more than 3 m., and is connected by a bridge with Hamburg, and with North Augusta, South Carolina, two residential suburbs. Augusta is well known as a winter resort (mean winter temperature, 47° F.), and there are many fine winter homes here of wealthy Northerners. There are good roads, stretching from Augusta for miles in almost every direction. In North Augusta there is a large hotel, and there is another in Summerville (pop. in 1900, 3245), 22 m. N.W., an attractive residential suburb and winter resort, in which there are a country club and a large United States arsenal, established in 1831. Broad Street is the principal thoroughfare of Augusta, and Greene Street, with a park in the centre and flanking rows of oaks and elms, is the finest residential street. Of historical interest is St Paul's church (Protestant Episcopal); the present building was erected in 1819 and is the third St Paul's church on the same site. The first church was "built by the gentlemen of Augusta" in 1750. In the crypt of the church General Leonidas Polk is buried; and in the churchyard are the graves of George Steptoe Washington, a nephew of George Washington, and of William Longstreet, the inventor. Among the city's principal buildings are the Federal building, the Richmond county court house, the Augusta orphan asylum, the city hospital, the Lamar hospital for negroes, and the buildings of Richmond Academy (incorporated in 1783), of the Academy of the Sacred Heart (for girls), of Paine's Institute (for negroes), of Houghton Institute, endowed in 1852 to be "free to all the children of Augusta," and of the medical school of the university of Georgia, founded in 1829, and a part of the university since 1873. A granite obelisk 50 ft. high was erected in 1861 as a memorial to the signers for Georgia of the Declaration of Independence; beneath it are buried Lyman Hall (1726-1790) and George Walton (1740-1804). There are two Italian marble monuments in honour of Confederate soldiers, and monuments to the Southern poets, Paul Hamilton Hayne and Richard Henry Wilde (1789-1847).

In commerce and manufacturing, Augusta ranks second among the cities of Georgia. As a centre of trade for the "Cotton Belt," it has a large wholesale and retail business; and it is an important cotton market. The principal manufacture is cotton goods; among the other products are lumber, flour, cotton waste, cotton-seed oil and cake, ice, silk, boilers and engines, and general merchandise staples. Water-power for factories is secured by a system of "water-power canals" from a large dam across the Savannah, built in 1847 and enlarged in 1871; the principal canal, owned by the city, is so valuable as nearly to pay the interest on the municipal debt. In 1905 the value of the city's total factory product was $8,829,305, of which $3,832,009, or 43.4%, was the value of the cotton goods. The principal newspaper is the Augusta Chronicle, founded in 1785.

Augusta was established in 1735-1736 by James Edward Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia, and was named in honour of the princess of Wales. The Carolina colonists had a trading post in its vicinity before the settlement by Oglethorpe. The fort, built in 1736, was first named Fort Augusta, and in 1780, at the time of the British occupation, was enlarged and renamed Fort Cornwallis; its site is now marked by a Memorial Cross, erected by the Colonial Dames of Georgia in the churchyard of St Paul's. Tobacco was the principal agricultural product during the 18th century, and for its culture negro slaves were introduced from Carolina, before the restrictions of the Georgia Trustees on slavery were removed. During the colonial period several treaties with Indians were made at Augusta; by the most important, that of 1763, the Choctaws, Creeks, Chickasaws, Cherokees and Catawbas agreed (in a meeting with the governors of North and South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia) to the terms of the treaty of Paris. At the opening of the American War of Independence, the majority of the people of Augusta were Loyalists. The town was taken by the British under Lieut.-Col. Archibald Campbell (1739-1791) in January 1779, but was evacuated a month later; it was the seat of government of Georgia for almost the entire period from the capture of Savannah in December 1778 until May 1780, and was then abandoned by the Patriots and was occupied chiefly by Loyalists under Lieut.-Col.

Thomas Brown. In September 1780 a force of less than 500 patriots under Col. Elijah Clarke marched against the town in three divisions, and while one division, attacking a neighbouring Indian camp, drew off most of the garrison, the other two divisions entered the town; but British reinforcements arrived before Brown could be dislodged from a building in which he had taken refuge, and Clarke was forced to withdraw. A stronger American force, under Lieut.-Col. Henry Lee, renewed the siege in May 1781 and gained possession on the 5th of June. From 1783 until 1795 Augusta was again the seat of the state government. It was the meeting-place of the Land Court which confiscated the property of the Loyalists of Georgia, and of the convention which ratified for Georgia the Constitution of the United States. In 1798 it was incorporated as a town, and in 1817 it was chartered as a city. Augusta was the home of the inventor, William Longstreet (1759-1814), who as early as 1788 received a patent from the state of Georgia for a steamboat, but met with no practical success until 1808; as early as 1801 he had made experiments in the application of steam to cotton gins and saw-mills at Augusta. Near Augusta, on the site now occupied by the Eli Whitney Country Club, Eli Whitney is said to have first set up and operated his cotton gin; he is commemorated by a mural tablet in the court house. The establishment of a steamboat line to Savannah in 1817 aided Augusta's rapid commercial development. There was a disastrous fire in 1829, an epidemic of yellow fever in 1839, and a flood in 1840, but the growth of the city was not seriously checked; the cotton receipts of 1846 were 212,019 bales, and in 1847 a cotton factory was built. During the Civil War Augusta was the seat of extensive military factories, the tall chimney of the Confederate powder mills still standing as a memorial. The economic development has, since the Civil War, been steady and continuous. An exposition was held in Augusta in 1888, and another in 1893.

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Augusta, Georgia'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica.​encyclopedias/​eng/​bri/​a/augusta-georgia.html. 1910.