Biography of William Rabun

RABUN, William, governor of Georgia, was born in Halifax county, N.C., April 8, 1771; son of Matthew Rabun, with whom he removed to Wilkes county, Ga., in 1785, and settled in Hancock county, Ga., in 1786. He received a limited education; was a representative and senator in the Georgia legislature, and was president of the senate in 1817, when Gov. David B. Mitchell resigned, being ex officio governor of the state until the appointment of Peter Early as governor. Governor Early died in office in August, 1817, and Senator Rabun was elected governor in November, 1817, filling the office until his death. During the Seminole war in 1818 Governor Rabun called out the militia, placing the state troops under the command of General Gaines. Capt. Obed Wright of the Chatham militia was ordered to destroy the Indian villages of Hoponee and Philemi in retaliation for outrages committed on the whites of this neighborhood, and by mistake he burned the Indian village of Chehaw and killed some of the inhabitants. General Jackson demanded that Captain Wright be prosecuted for murder and imprisoned and kept in irons awaiting the pleasure of the President. In reply Governor Rabun refused to acknowledge the authority of the United States over the state troops and added, "When the liberties of the people of Georgia shall have been prostrated at the feet of a military despotism, then, and not till then, will your imperious doctrine be tamely submitted to. You may rest assured that if the savages continue their depredations on our unprotected frontier I shall think and act for myself in that respect." Governor Rabun was a devout Baptist and the Rev. Jesse Mercer by request of the legislature, preached before that body a sermon on the occasion of his death. Rabun county, Ga., was named in his honor. He died in Powelton, Ga., Oct. 24, 1819.

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

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