September brings the beginning of another school year and the beginning of the Georgia History Festival. The Georgia History Festival is the signature K-12 educational program of the Georgia Historical Society. This year, the Georgia History Festival theme is “Ensuring Liberty and Justice for All.” For the month of September, #MarkerMondays will focus on the ratification of the United States Constitution and the Georgians who played a role in the history of creating the document.
This week’s #MarkerMonday highlights the life of Joseph Habersham, Revolutionary War hero and statesman. Joseph Habersham was born in Savannah, Georgia, to James and Mary Habersham in 1751. Habersham received his education from several preparatory schools before entering Princeton College in the early 1760s. After completing his schooling in 1771, Habersham returned to Georgia and worked as a merchant and planter. Prior to the outbreak of the American Revolution, Habersham and his brothers, James Jr. and John, were supporters of the patriot cause. Joseph Habersham helped organize the Sons of Liberty, or “Liberty Boys,” in Georgia. He was also a member of the Council of Safety that met at Tondee’s Tavern in Savannah. On January 17, 1776, leading a small group and acting on behalf of the Council of Safety, he captured and placed Sir James Wright, Georgia’s Royal Governor, under arrest.
Habersham also became a colonel in the Continental Army. After the war, he served twice as the Speaker of the General Assembly, Georgia’s legislative body following independence from Britain. During his time in office, Habersham was one of twenty-six men to attend Georgia’s special convention to ratify the United State Constitution. The group met in Augusta and adopted the Constitution on January 2, 1788. After leaving the state legislature, Habersham went on to become the Mayor of Savannah from 1792-1793. In 1795, he was appointed by then-President Georgia Washington to serve as the Postmaster General of the United States and left for Philadelphia and later Washington D.C. In 1801, Habersham resigned his post and returned to his family in Savannah. Once back in Savannah, he became the first president of the Savannah branch of the Bank of the United States. Habersham died in 1815 and is buried in Colonial Park Cemetery in Savannah. Habersham County, created December 19, 1818, was named in his honor.
Explore the links below to learn more about the life of Joseph Habersham and the United States Constitution.
GHS is proud to house a collection of Joseph Habersham’s Papers. This collection consists of an account book and personal letters.
GHS’ Education Blog, Sophia’s Schoolhouse, has created a series of videos to relating to the United States Constitution and Constitution Day. A complete Episode Guide of all videos can be viewed on the Sophia’s Schoolhouse blog.
- Episode 17: Top Ten Reasons to Study the US Constitution
- Episode 18: Get to Know Abraham Baldwin
- Episode 19: Understanding the Constitutional Convention
- Episode 20: Georgians React to the Constitution
New Georgia Encyclopedia (Revolutionary War in Georgia)
New Georgia Encyclopedia (Habersham Family)
National Archives- Founders Online: A Leter to Thomas Jefferson from Joseph Habersham (sent when Habersham was Postmaster General)
The Georgia Historical Quarterly has published an article related to the life of Joseph Habersham and Revolutionary War in Georgia which can be accessed on JSTOR. If your library does not have access to JSTOR, you can go to www.jstor.org and create a free MyJSTOR Account.
- Mebane, John. “Joseph Habersham in the Revolutionary War.” The Georgia Historical Quarterly 47, no. 1 (1963): 76-83.
Related #MarkerMonday Posts
Archibald Bulloch (Posted July 31, 2017)
Meadow Garden: Home of George Walton (Posted July 24, 2017)
Button Gwinnet (Posted May 16, 2016)
Hall’s Knoll: Home of Dr. Lyman Hall (Posted July 3, 2017)
Governor John Houstoun (Posted October 23, 2017)
Georgia’s State Capital (Posted September 10, 2018)