All About Georgia: Home of Aquatic Animals and Hogzilla
As the largest state east of the Mississippi River, there are many things that make Georgia special. For example, it grows more peanuts than anywhere else in this country. In 1836, it was home to Georgia Female College (now Wesleyan College), which was the first college on the planet to award college degrees to women. It also houses one of the world’s largest aquariums where big-bellied seahorses, a giant Pacific octopus, and about 100,000 other aquatic animals live. (Mo and Finchy visit this very cool place in chapter 49!)
The state is located in the southeast region of this country. It borders five states: North Carolina to the north, Tennessee to the northwest, South Carolina and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Florida to the south, Alabama to the west, and Tennessee to the northwest.
Can you find Georgia on a US map?
While more than half of the state is covered in pine trees, it supports five different regions:
- Appalachian Plateau: In the extreme northwestern corner of the state, this area has deep caves and is home to Lookout Mountain, which is almost 2,400 feet tall.
- Valley and Ridge: This area is east and south of the Plateau region, featuring steep, rocky ridges above fertile valleys.
- Blue Ridge: In the northeastern corner of the state, you can find mountains that soar to more than 4,700 feet.
- Piedmont: In the center of the state, this region features low hills as well as forests filled with oak, hickory, and poplar trees.
- Atlantic Coastal Plain: This southern region supports rivers, waterfalls, beaches, and the 700-square-mile Okefenokee Swamp. It’s filled with twisting waterways, cypress trees, and alligators.
What really happened
- The first people arrived in what is now Georgia at least 13,000 years ago. By 1,000 B.C., Native American tribes including the Apalachee, Cherokee, and Choctaw lived here.
- In 1498, Italian John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) explored the coast of Georgia. But the first European to step foot in Georgia was Hernando de Soto in 1540. At the time, almost all of the state was controlled by the Creek Indians.
- King George II of England approved the colony’s charter in 1732 and declared that it should be named in his honor. The first settlement was in Savannah in 1773.
- In 1733, Georgia was founded as both the 13th colony and a debtor’s colony. At the time, people who lived in England were put in prison if they owed people money but couldn’t pay them back. James Oglethorpe, a British member of Parliament, wanted to give them a second chance by releasing them from prison, moving them to Georgia, and giving them free farmland. But his experiment failed; here’s why.
- As the last colony founded, it was the only one that was ruled by a Board of Trustees, which was based in London, England. There was no governor or British or royal rulers within the colony for the first 20 years after it was founded.
- It was the only North American colony in which slavery was initially banned. (Click here to see what else and who else was banned!)
- In 1788, Georgia was admitted to the Union as the fourth US state.
- In 1793, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin. This machine removed seeds from cotton fiber, which people had to do manually before the cotton could be sold. It saved lots of time and labor and helped Georgia and other southern states grow more cotton. It also expanded slavery. Find out why.
- When the Civil War started 1861, Georgia joined the Confederacy. It didn’t return to the Union after the Confederacy lost the war in 1865.
- Georgia’s capital has been located in five different cities: Savannah, Augusta, Louisville, Milledgeville and, since 1868, Atlanta.
- More than 460,000 enslaved African Americans were freed in Georgia during and after the Civil War. But there was still racial tension and struggles with their freedom. Most freed people still worked on white-owned plantations as paid laborers.
- In 1877, the state’s constitution created a poll tax, which meant that people had to pay to vote. This prevented all poor people from voting.
- In 1908, an amendment to the state constitution created literacy and property requirements in addition to the poll tax, which also prevented poor people from voting.
- In 1922, Rebecca Latimer Felton from Georgia became the first woman to serve as US Senator, but she only served for 24 hours. Here’s why.
Stuff you should know
- Someone who either lives in or is from Georgia is called a Georgian.
- The carving on Stone Mountain is the largest Confederate monument in the world. The mountain is engraved with the faces of Jefferson Davis, who was president of the Confederate states, and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
- In 1943, Georgia was the first US state to lower the voting age from 21 to 18.
- Okefenokee Swamp is the largest blackwater swamp in North America. Guess what animals live on its 440,000 acres? Click here to find out!
Funny, crazy, or just plain weird
- There are over 50 streets in Atlanta, the state’s capital city, with the word ‘Peachtree’ in their name. Georgia is nicknamed the Peach State since it’s the third largest producer of peaches in the country, after California and South Carolina.
- Some trees in the state are covered by a common vine called Kudzu. It’s nicknamed “the plant that ate the South” because it grows up and over anything in its path, blocking sunlight and eventually smothering it.
- In 2004, the largest wild hog ever discovered was found in the town of Alapaha. It weighed 1,000 pounds, was 12 feet long, and earned the nickname “Hogzilla”.
Tell me more
- Many famous people were born in Georgia. Two examples include Jimmy Carter, who was the 39th US president (from 1977 to 1981); and Martin Luther King Jr., who was a famous human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
- With 27,000 acres, Berry College in the city of Mount Berry is the world’s largest college campus.
- In 1886, Dr. John S. Pemberton, a pharmacist in Atlanta, invented Coca-Cola. He claimed the soft drink treated a variety of illnesses, such as heartburn, nausea and headaches.
Do you live in Georgia or have you visited the state? If so, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have anything interesting you’d like to share about the state. We’ll post it on Mo’s social media pages along with the state you live in, your first name, and your age!