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also to import seeds from foreign countries, to exchange seeds, etc.; (3) to study various insects injurious to crops, plant, fruits, etc.; (4) to examine into any question of interest to horticulturists and fruit-growers; (5) to study diseases incident to grasses, fruits, and other crops; (6) to have in charge the analyses of fertilizers, etc. The commissioner's salary was fixed at $2,000, in addition to which he was allowed $1,200 for a clerk. The sum fixed for the maintenance of the department was $10,000. Dr. Janes resigned in 1879 and was succeeded by Hon. John T. Henderson, of Newton County, Georgia, under whom the activities of the department were greatly stimulated and enlarged. Millions of dollars have been saved to the farmers of Georgia through the department of agriculture. Yet strange to say when the bill creating the department was put upon its passage there was a tie vote, and it was Speaker Bacon who saved the day.
It was during the administration of Governor Schley in 1836 that the office of state geologist was first created. Georgia led all the states of the Union in grasping the needs of a geological survey; but for some reason, not fully disclosed in the records, this office was abolished in 1840. Thirty-four years elapsed; and during this time nothing seems to have been done towards exploiting the state's marvelous resources. But finally the department was re-created by an act approved February 27, 1874,* and to this position Governor Smith appointed Dr. George Little. His salary was likewise fixed at $2,000, and he was given two assistants, with salaries of $1,200 each. Dr. Little began a thorough survey of the state and accumulated a splendid collection of minerals. He submitted two annual reports, showing progress in his work, but subsequent Legislatures failed to appreciate the needs of this department and money for its maintenance gradually ceased. However, the department was revived in 1889, at which time it was re-established upon a permanent basis.
In the fall elections of 1874 a solid democratic delegation was chosen to Congress: Julian Hartridge, William E. Smith, Philip Cook, Henry R. Harris, Milton A. Candler, James H. Blount, Wm. H. Felton, Alexander H. Stephens, and Garnett McMillan. The last named gentleman died on the eve of taking his seat and was succeeded by Hon. Benjamin H. Hill whom he had previously defeated for the nomination in his district: Dr. Wm. H. Felton, one of the most stalwart figures in Georgia politics, destined to become the recognized leader in the state of an independent faction, now entered the arena of national legislation for the first time. As a natural orator, Doctor Felton has rarely been surpassed, especially in the use of invective. He was a Methodist
* Acts 1874, pp. 99-100.
+ Says Prof. S. W. McCallie, state geologist: “During Dr. Little's term of office, he made two annual reports of progress, one of 36 pages, for the period from September 1 to December 31, 1874, and the other of 16 pages, bearing date of 1876. In addition to these two reports of progress, Dr. Little also published in 1876, in what was designated a Hand-book of Georgia, gotten out by the Agricultural Department, a paper of 126 pages, treating of the geology, mineralogy, climate, water-powers, soils, etc., of the State. The above publication, together with a sixteen page catalogue of minerals and woods, selected for the Paris Exposition, are apparently the sum total of the publications of the Survey up to its abolishment in 1879.”—History of the Geological Survey of Georgia.
preacher, a farmer, a physician, and a man of affairs. Infirm, by reason of a paralytic affliction, he presented a picture of helpless decrepitude, but when aroused by the fire of combat he resembled a volcano in action. He served six years in Congress after which he took his seat in the Legislature of Georgia. His career in politics was a turbulent one, full of bitter antagonisms. Doctor Felton's biography, written by his brilliant wife, is a racy commentary upon his times. * The scrap-books kept by Mrs. Felton proved a great help to her husband. These, for more than a quarter of a century, were the dread and terror of politicians. The Feltons constituted a wonderful pair. Mrs. Felton always managed the doctor's political campaigns. It was charged that she even wrote his speeches. This was false, but her marvelous
ain was a dynamo of intellectual energy, she did prove a great help to Dr. Felton and she did furnish many of the lightning flashes which accompanied his peals of thunder. Today at the age of eighty-one (1916), her eye is still bright, her step elastic, and her mental vigor unabated. She writes a smooth, running hand. There is not the suggestion of a tremor in her penmanship, the characters of which are most exquisitely formed, resembling an engraver's model. Her sister, Mrs. McLendon, one of the pioneers of equal suffrage in Georgia, is in many respects equally gifted. Doctor Felton, despite his physical infirmities, reached the advanced age of eighty-seven years. His career in the Georgia Legislature constitutes a dramatic episode of the state's history; but this will be discussed in a subsequent chapter.
Going back to his campaigns for Congress, Doctor Felton twice defeated Col. Wm. H. Dabney and once Col. George N. Lester, both splendid lawyers. But finally he met his Richmond in the person of a new arrival upon the field of combat, young, handsome, resourceful and alert, Hon. Judson C. Clements. Judge Clements afterwards served in Congress for a number of years. He is now the distinguished chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission, a position which he has ably filled under several presidential administrations. The defeat of Doctor Felton for re-election to Congress in 1880 transferred the leadership of the independent hosts to younger shoulders; and the brilliant master of strategy to whom the discomfited faction turned in this extremity was Emory Speer, then a congressman from the ninth district. But more of this later.
Wm. E. Smith, a member of the delegation elected to Congress, with Doctor Felton, in the fall of 1874, was the first democrat to rescue the second Georgia district from carpet-bag rule. He overthrew the power of Richard H. Whiteley and made the district a democratic stronghold. Capt. Smith was a gallant Confederate soldier. He left one of his limbs on the battlefield, but this loss did not disturb his equilibrium as a man of principle, whose stalwart courage was firmly rooted in deep convictions. On the floor of Congress he boldly denounced the fraud which placed Rutherford B. Hayes in the white house, and for his courageous course at this time General Toombs paid him a unique compliment, declaring that Georgia owed him a monument tall enough to reach the clouds.
“My Recollections of Georgia's Politics," by Mrs. Wm. H. Felton.
Julian Hartridge, of Savannah, and Milton A. Candler, of Decatur, were both strong members of the delegation elected in 1874. Mr. Hartridge died a few years later while serving in Congress. He had been a member of the Confederate House of Representatives and a delegate to the famous Charleston Convention of 1860, besides which he had served in two national democratic conventions since the war. of brilliant gifts. Colonel Candler enjoyed a recognized prestige at the North Georgia bar. He spoke with great rapidity of utterance, and with an impetuous rush of thought, and in debate was a man to be dreaded. Colonel Candler was a brother of the afterwards famous bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
During Governor Smith's administration, several changes occurred on the supreme bench. Judge Robert P. Trippe succeeded Judge Montgomery, on February 17, 1873, but served only two years, at the expiration of which time he was succeeded by Hon. James Jackson, who afterwards became chief justice. Judge Henry K. McCay, in 1875, tendered his resignation, and was succeeded by Hon. Logan E. Bleckley, for whom the highest honors of the court were likewise reserved.
Governor Smith's administration was characterized by its constructive policies. The era was one of rehabilitation. Besides the two departments to which extended reference has been made, a state board of health was created by an act approved February 25, 1875. At this same time the new county of Oconee was carved out of territory taken from Clarke. During this session an act was passed extending the operations of the convict lease system and authorizing convicts to be leased for twenty year terms.* The department of education was also placed upon a secure basis.
The public credit rose. Securities formerly rated at 30 per cent discount began to sell at par. On entering office Governor Smith found a floating debt of $1,277,788, all of which had been paid. Besides, the state had been relieved of fraudulent bonds. School attendance increased from 42,914 whites in 1871 to 121,418 in 1877; and from 6,664 colored in 1871 to 57,987 in 1877. State aid to enterprises whose object was the development of Georgia's material resources promised in the beginning to be fruitful of good results; but the experience of the state with carpet-bag rule convinced thoughtful minds that such a policy was fraught with grave dangers, and on February 24, 1874, a measure was approved, repealing all acts, in which guarantees of state aid had been granted to railways, except in cases where the right had become vested. Governor Smith, in his message to the Legislature, on January 14, 1875, calls attention to this fruitful source of irritation. Says he:
“Reflection has satisfied me that additional legislation is required to check the evils likely to flow from the unwise policy of' granting the aid of the state to works of domestic improvement. Experience has shown it to be almost impossible to so guard the public interests as to prevent injury to the same under these grants. The largest portion of our financial troubles of late years may be traced directly to this mischievous policy."
* Acts 1876, pp. 40-45. | House Journal, 1875.
Pursuant to this recommendation of the governor, other corrective measures were applied, but it remained for Robert Toombs effectually to close the doors of Georgia's State Treasury to the demands of corporate greed by his last great work in the Constitutional Convention of 1877.
Governor Smith's administration was signalized by its progressive achievements. But an unfortunate controversy with ex-Governor Herschel V. Johnson, who aspired to a seat on the Supreme Bench, resulted in the temporary estrangement of not a few political friends. Still another element of discord made its appearance in the treasury department. Col. John Jones, a man of proven fidelity to the interests of Georgia, had succeeded Doctor Angier as state treasurer, with the outgoing of the Bullock regime; and while the integrity of Colonel Jones was not seriously questioned, he was the victim of loose methods of bookkeeping employed in his office; and, due to this fact, he unwittingly paid a second time with interest, certain bonds which had already been paid to Henry Clews and Co., of New York, but which had not been cancelled. This was brought to light by a committee of investigation, appointed in 1875. On recommendation that a competent man be appointed to aid the treasurer in straightening out the affairs of his office Governor Smith appointed to this position, Dr. James F. Bozeman, who immediately entered upon his work, in the treasury department, with gratifying success. An utter lack of system was found to prevail; and deeming the treasurer's bond insufficient Governor Smith issued an executive order requiring said official to furnish a new bond. With this requisition the treasurer refused to comply, and on November 26, 1875 was removed from office by the governor. He was succeeded in office by a most competent gentleman, Hon. James W. Renfroe, formerly tax collector of the County of Washington, but he, too, was destined to sail on troubled waters and to find the treasurer's office a “stormy Petrel."
Meanwhile the deposed state treasurer was made defendant in a series of suits at law and against him a judgment of $96,000 was eventually found. The trial lasted for nearly two years, extending far into Governor Colquitt's administration. His sureties, John T. Grant and C. A. Nutting, were called upon to make this sum good. Colonel Grant, in settlement of his liability, made a cash offer of $35,000 which was accepted by Governor Colquitt, on advice of the state's counsel. Due to these unfortunate transactions, the old state treasurer closed his career under a dark cloud. But evidence to convict him of criminality was entirely lacking and there will always attach to his memory the sobriquet which he well earned by reason of his fidelity to trust, during the days of reconstruction, that of “Honest Jack Jones.”
THE CENTENNIAL YEAR AN EVENTFUL ONE IN POLITICS-FIVE CANDI
DATES FOR GOVERNOR—L. J. GARTRELL—HÉRSCHEL V. JOHNSONJOHN H. JAMES—THOMAS HARDEMAN-ALFRED H. COLQUITT-THE LAST NAMED CANDIDATE INHERITS HIS FATHER'S GENIUS—THE STATE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION MEETS-GENERAL COLQUITT THE NOMINEE -OPPOSED BY JONATHAN NORCROSS, THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATECOLQUITT'S OVERWHELMING MAJORITY—GEORGIA'S VOTE CAST FOR TILDEN AND HENDRICKS-ONLY ONE CHANGE IN THE STATE'S DELEGATION IN CONGRESS/ORGANIZATION OF THE NEW STATE LEGISLATURE –COLQUITT INAUGURATED—URGES ECONOMY' IN EXPENDITURES— GEORGIA EMBARRASSED BY BANKRUPT ROADS WHOSE BONDS BORE HER ENDORSEMENT—TO AMEND THE ORGANIC LAW, A STATE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION IS CALLED/OFFICE OF STATE CHEMIST CREATED
-- BENJAMIN H. HILL ELECTED TO THE UNITED STATES SENATE-DEFEATS THE INCUMBENT, THOMAS M. NORWOOD—Two Ex-GOVERNORS ALSO CANDIDATES—STATE HOUSE OFFICERS ELECTED—THE STATE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1877—SOME OF THE PROMINENT DELEGATES—Ex-GOVERNOR JENKINS MADE CHAIRMAN—TOOMBS, THE MASTER-SPIRIT OF THE CONVENTION—A FOE TO CORPORATIONS-SOME OF THE CHANGES MADE IN THE ORGANIC LAW—FRAUDULENT BONDS REPUDIATED—GOVERNOR'S TERM OF OFFICE REDUCED TO Two YEARSOFFICE OF ATTORNEY-GENERAL MADE ELECTIVE—SALARIES REDUCED -STATE CONTROL OF RAILROADS-FUNDS FOR DEFRAYING THE ExPENSES OF DELEGATES EXHAUSTED— TOOMBS TO THE RESCUE-A DRAMATIC SCENE—THE NEW CONSTITUTION SUBMITTED—TOOMBS GOES BEFORE THE PEOPLE—THE NEW CONSTITUTION IS RATIFIED—ATLANTA IS CHOSEN THE PERMANENT SEAT OF LEGISLATION—THE HOMESTEAD LAW OF 1877 ADOPTED.
The centennial year of American independence was a most eventful one in the history of politics, both state and Federal. It witnessed the nomination of Tilden and Hendricks by the national democracy and brought to light the colossal frauds perpetrated by the republican party in falsifying election returns, so that notwithstanding a pronounced majority in the popular vote for Tilden and Hendricks, the democracy was counted out in the electoral college. Excitement has seldom risen higher than during the heated presidential campaign of 1876. It was a period of unrest fraught with imminent peril to the nation.
But the state's political cauldron was scarcely less ebullient. Toward the close of Governor Smith's administration, the number of prospective candidates for the governorship began to thicken. One of the first to enter the field was Gen. L. J. Gartrell, an ex-member of both Federal