University of Wisconsin–Madison

The Role of Conflict with Native Americans in Georgia’s Ratification

Georgia had little to do with the government of the United States after the ratification of the Articles of Confederation and the British evacuation in 1782. The state was not represented in Congress in 1783 nor during the first half of 1784. Thereafter, despite appeals from Congress, the state seldom sent more than two delegates; with the result that, when one was absent, the state had no official vote.

Throughout most of the 1780s, Georgia also ignored proposals for strengthening Congress. In September 1782, Congress asked Georgia for $14,400 out of a total requisition of $1,200,000 on the states, and continued to assign the smallest quotas to Georgia despite its rapid growth. The Georgia Assembly ignored such requests until 1786, when it resolved to pay its quota, but no payment followed.

Georgians were ambivalent about the new Constitution. Generally they favored a stronger central government that would continue to assist them with arms, ammunition, and supplies that would help the Georgians fight Indians and acquire their land. But, like many Americans, some Georgians had fears of a stronger national government created under the Constitution. In addition to the traditional “Whig” fears of big government, Georgians also worried that the new “imperial” government would stand as a buffer between them and the acquisition of Indian lands. The desire for a stronger central government won out as Georgia became the fourth state to ratify without a dissenting vote in the state convention. French consul Ducher reported that it was to the state’s interest “to appear federally inclined in order to obtain help from the present Union.” The Georgians fears of an intrusive federal government materialized in 1790 with the Treaty of New York that guaranteed various protections to the Creek Indians.