Biography of George Rockingham Gilmer

GILMER, George Rockingham, governor of Georgia, was born in Wilkes county, Ga., April 11, 1790; son of Thomas Meriwether and Elizabeth (Lewis), grandson of Peachy Ridgway and Mary (Meriwether), and great-grandson of Dr. George and Mary Peachy (Walker) Gilmer. At the age of twelve he was sent to a classical school at Abbeville Court House, S.C. From there he went to Dr. Waddel's academy near by, where the remained several years, finally becoming assistant in the academy. In 1808 he returned to his home and taught a small private school. Subsequently he studied law and then on account of ill health was inactive for several years. In October, 1813, he was made 1st lieutenant in the 43d U.S. infantry; served against the Creek Indians; and was honorably discharged from service in 1815. In 1818 he resumed his law study in Lexington, Ga., was admitted to the bar and served in the state legislature, 1818-20, and again in 1824-26. He was a representative in the 17th congress, 1821-23; in 1826 was elected to fill an unexpired term in the 19th congress, and was again elected to the 20th and 23d congresses. He was governor of Georgia, 1829-31, and 1837-39; and during his second term succeeded in removing the Cherokee and Creek Indians from Georgia to the Indian territory, a [p.307] measure which he had advocated during his first administration. He was a presidential elector in 1836 and in 1840 was president of the electoral college. He then retired to private life upon his farm in Lexington, became interested in geology and gathered a valuable collection of the minerals of Georgia. He was a trustee of the University of Georgia from 1826 to 1857 and at his death bequeathed to that institution $15,000 for the purpose of improving the "schoolmasters of Georgia," the interest of which was appropriated by the trustees in 1884 to the support of the state normal school. In 1822 he was married to Eliza Frances, daughter of Maj. Robert and Elizabeth (Thornton) Grattan, and a descendant of Henry Grattan, the Irish orator. He published Georgians, an historical work (1855). He died in Lexington, Ga., Nov. 15, 1859.

The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Volume X. Rossiter Johnson, ed., Boston: The Biographical Society, 1904.

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