Civil War Wednesday: Repealing Secession

James Johnson, Provisional Governor of Georgia

James Johnson, Provisional Governor of Georgia, 1865. Courtesy of New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Responding to a call from Provisional Governor James Johnson, elected delegates gathered in convention in Milledgeville on October 25, 1865, to develop a new state constitution. On the second day of the proceedings, the body unanimously approved an ordinance repealing the 1861 declaration of secession. The official printer of the convention – The Southern Recorder newspaper – reported the act in their October 31 edition.

An Ordinance

To repeal certain ordinances and resolutions therein mentioned, heretofore passed by the people of the State of Georgia in Convention.

We, the People of the State of Georgia in Convention, at our seat of Government, do declare and ordain, That an ordinance adopted by the same people, in convention, on the nineteenth day of January, A.D. eighteen hundred and sixty-one, entitled “An ordinance to dissolve the union between the State of Georgia and other States united with her under a compact of government entitled ‘the constitution of the United States of America’”; also an ordinance adopted by the same on the sixteenth day of March in the year aforesaid, entitled “An ordinance to adopt and ratify the constitution of the Confederate States of America”; and also all ordinances and resolutions of the same, adopted between the sixteenth day of January and the twenty-fourth day of March, in the year aforesaid, subversive of, or antagonistic to the civil and military authority of the government of the United States of America, under the constitution thereof, be, and the same are hereby repealed.

Various newspapers across the nation informed their readers of Georgia’s action, and critical reviews often proved the result, especially among members of the northern press. The Philadelphia Enquirer, in their October 31 edition, criticized the state in a story entitled “Georgia Lags.” The editors pronounced, “Georgia is not coming up to the necessities of the times with the alacrity which was expected from her.” Comparing results in Milledgeville to similar bodies, previously meeting in other states, they did not find favor with the deeds of the delegates. “Georgia follows the lead of South Carolina, and merely repeals [italics in original] that ordinance, thus justifying the argument that it was legal, and that all that was done under it was lawful, and that the same yet remains of binding force in regard to everything not specially declared unlawful.” One week later, the same editors proposed the original act of secession resulted in “Thousands of her sons…slaughtered…the ruins of homesteads within the broad track of SHERMAN [caps in original]…Georgia is a waste and weeping place….”

Continuing the trend of negative comments on the proceedings in Milledgeville, the Albany Evening Journal reported on October 30, “Georgia is even less practicable and loyal than South Carolina in addressing herself to the work of reconstruction.” A reporter with the Boston Daily Advertiser, who traveled to Milledgeville to cover the convention, offered a slightly more favorable commentary in a November 8 story, which recapped several proceedings from the convention. Noting the delegates’ act of passing a constitution abolishing slavery, he closed the account: “So, without a word to warm the blood of friend or foe, the great Empire State of the South took up the banner of liberty and fell into the ranks of progression.”

Looking for some balance in the news emerging from Milledgeville, a reporter with the Macon Daily Telegraph hoped “…the correspondence of the Northern press…will be confined strictly to facts, and the true spirit of the proceedings…my acquaintance with those, already here, leads me to believe this will be the case!” As the delegates worked to complete a new constitution, the citizens of Georgia faced greater difficulty, as the tumultuous period of reconstruction awaited.

Old State Capitol Building

Old State Capitol Building, Milledgeville

Traveling to Milledgeville today, one can tour the building where the convention delegates met and explore the treasures found in the Old Capitol Museum’s collection. For more information, visit

MikeMichael K. Shaffer is a Civil War historian, author, newspaper columnist and lecturer. He can be contacted at:

Exploring Henry County with Kids

Henry County sits just south of Atlanta and holds a world of fun, adventure and excitement for families. Here’s how to make a weekend of family fun in McDonough, Stockbridge, Hampton and Locust Grove.

Top Stops with Kids

Tree Climbing with Field Trips with Sue in Panola Mountain State Park

Tree Climbing with Field Trips with Sue in Panola Mountain State Park. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

Panola Mountain State Park. Take a hike on the never-before-quarried granite outcrop, or try your hand at archery. (So fun!!) Tackle boating, fishing, biking or hiking, too. A must-try Georgia adventure is the monthly tree climbing class. It’s a great family experience you’ll remember for years.

Southern Belle Farm. This 330-acre farm beckons families. Pick strawberries or peaches, try their delectable homemade ice cream or take in a pig race. Snort snort. This time of year, kids will love picking a pumpkin, running through the corn maze or picking out a Christmas tree.

Heritage Veterans Park Museum. Explore hundreds of military artifacts from WWI to the present. The best part, though? The stories of those artifacts shared by the volunteers of this museum! Don’t miss the chance to tour the museum with a docent; I promise it will touch your heart.

Atlanta Motor Speedway. On Friday and Saturday, kids 17 and under can sit in the grandstands free with a paying adult. Additionally, there are other family packages like discounted seats for the Sprint Cup and more. This Christmas, families can ride through the arena to see Christmas lights, ending with a festive drive-in holiday movie.

The Original Shane's Rib Shack

The Original Shane’s Rib Shack. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

The Original Shane’s Rib Shack. You probably know Shane’s from one of their 70+ stores across the state (and beyond!) but did you know the original was in McDonough? Come see the “shack” for yourself, enjoy the fenced in playground out back and don’t skip the peach cobbler!

Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. See exotic animals like cougars, parrots, monkeys and more at this not-for-profit sanctuary. Many animals here are rehabilitated and sent back to the wild, when they can be. Others are here to stay like the famous BLT – the bear, lion and tiger – that live together as best friends.

Where to Stay

Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites. With so much to do in Henry County, staying the weekend is a must! Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites in Stockbridge provides easy access to attractions, comfy beds and spacious suites. You won’t want to miss dinner at the hotel’s Burger Theory restaurant, with craft brews and house-made burgers.

Henry County Fun: There’s an App for That

If you’re looking to add a little fun to your family adventure, download the new Henry County Treasure App. The interactive phone app let the kids “check in” at each destination. Answering questions about your visit adds coins to your treasure chest for entry into a twice-yearly grand prize. You could win a ride in a real Cobra helicopter, a VIP Race Weekend package and more!

Head to for more Georgia family travel adventures.

LesliLesli is the Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.

Georgia National Fair Food is the Best Food

Georgia National Fair Cotton Candy

Photo by GDEcD Photography

The Georgia National Fair is just around the corner, and my girls and I are so excited to attend. From October 8 -18, the Georgia National Fairgrounds will be transformed into a family fun zone-jammed packed with street entertainers, live shows, nightly fireworks and, of course, lots and lots of food. Although I do enjoy the rides and exhibits, I’m really looking forward to walking through the midway and smelling all of that delicious fair food. There will be so many to choose from, like hot and crispy funnel cakes, savory corn dogs, light-as-air cotton candy and those giant smoked turkey legs.

Georgia Grown logoBut remember, the highlight of the Georgia National Fair: visiting the Georgia Grown building and Country Store. Because the fair was originally created to promote Georgia farmers, it’s no surprise that each year many of our Georgia family farmers showcase their products in the Georgia Grown building. While you’re there, check the schedule for educational seminars about agriculture and interactive cooking demonstrations by top Georgia chefs.

You won’t be able to resist picking up your authentic Georgia Grown commodity. Home to Georgia Grown products like jelly and preserves from Destiny Organics, spiced pecans from Cindy Lutini’s, and cookbooks by Georgia authors, the Country Store should be a definite stop for samples and holiday gifts. Look for the orange and green Georgia Grown sticker to know that you’re buying Georgia Grown.

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. Stop by the Georgia Grown Building Oct. 10 at 2 p.m. to see her lead a cooking demonstration at the Georgia National Fair. Click here for more content from Jennifer.

4 Must-Have Outdoor Adventures in Augusta

Mix outdoor adventure with Southern hospitality, sprinkle with a vibrant art scene and warm it up with sunshine. That’s the recipe for Augusta! Georgia’s second-oldest city aged gracefully, treasuring historic landmarks and a hometown feel, while embracing the youthful energy of nature and the arts. Add these must-have outdoor adventures to your Georgia bucket list.

Biking Phinizy Swamp Nature Park

biking in Phinizy Swamp

Photo by Candy Cook

Phinizy Swamp Nature Park is a fun way to experience Augusta’s natural beauty. The park offers 14 miles of trails weaving through 1,000 acres of beautiful wetlands. The trail network includes tree-shaded creekside paths, winding boardwalks with overlooks, and loops featuring wide-open vistas. We met a group of cyclists for a guided bike tour. The leisurely bike ride is a unique addition to exploring the park. Our guide led us along scenic trails and over bridges, stopping to point out wildlife at observation decks along the way.

Urban hiking the riverwalk & exploring downtown

Augusta Riverwalk

Photo by Candy Cook

Augusta is such a unique blend of historic Southern charm and eclectic modern artistry that exploring downtown is a must. Classic storefronts, outdoor dining, and a gorgeous riverwalk lend a friendly, hometown feel to the city. The riverwalk follows along the Savannah River, linking gardens and playgrounds for six blocks. Art is everywhere in this city. In fact, artists have transformed over 20 of Augusta’s boring traffic signal boxes into colorful masterpieces. View the, “Art The Box,” map to add them all to your urban hike.

Kayaking Augusta Canal

Augusta Canal kayak

Photo by Candy Cook

Perfect for paddlers of all ages and skill, Augusta Canal flows at a gentle pace past historic landmarks and wildlife refuge. Float along lazily for nearly seven miles, sighting turtles, otters, and blue heron among wetlands and veils of Spanish moss. Drop in at Savannah Rapids Park with an affordable kayak rental for the paddle to Lake Olmstead. A shuttle conveniently carries paddlers back to the park after their journey down Augusta Canal.

Playing a round at the International Disc Golf Center

International Disc Golf Center

Photo by Candy Cook

In addition to being well-known for its historic ties to the Masters Golf Tournament, Augusta is home to the International Disc Golf Center. Disc golf is similar to traditional golf, except disc golf players play by throwing frisbee-like discs into baskets. It’s a fun game for the whole family that adds a cool twist to a walk in the woods. The International Disc Golf Center is located in Wildwood Park, where players camp out and enjoy playing rounds on several unique courses. There’s also a museum showcasing the history of frisbees and disc golf, as well as a store full of high-quality discs to collect.

Where to Stay & Eat

The Partridge Inn

The Partridge Inn

Photo by Candy Cook

Since 1910, five generations of travelers have been greeted with the best of Southern hospitality at The Partridge Inn. The iconic hotel offers a rich history, great service, and the best view overlooking beautiful Augusta. In true southern style, the hotel features large balconies, outdoor gatherings, and comfortable rooms.


Luigi’s is the oldest family-owned restaurant in Augusta, serving up authentic Italian and Greek meals since 1949. This local favorite is a can’t-miss dining experience with delicious food and relaxed, small town atmosphere.

The Pizza Joint

Make sure to grab a custom slice at The Pizza Joint for an inexpensive lunch. The laid-back Pizza Joint features a large outdoor eating area that makes a perfect addition to an urban hike of downtown Augusta.

candycookCandy is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

15 Georgia State Parks for Autumn Color

Rich reds, vibrant oranges and golden yellows make autumn color in Georgia beautiful. This fall, be sure to visit Georgia’s top 15 state parks for leaf watching. For quieter getaways, visitors can explore parks further south, which can offer pretty autumn color as well.

Amicalola Falls State Park – Dawsonville
Just an hour north of Atlanta you’ll find the Southeast’s tallest cascading waterfall.  The falls can be enjoyed from both easy and difficult trails. A short, flat path leads to a boardwalk offering the most spectacular views. There’s also an easy-to-reach overlook at the top. For a tougher challenge, start from the bottom of the falls and hike up the steep staircase. Amicalola Falls gets very busy on pretty October weekends. Pumpkin farms and apple orchards are nearby.

Autumn Color at Amicalola Fall State Park

West Ridge Trail, Amicalola Falls | Photo courtesy of Georgia State Parks

Black Rock Mountain State Park – Clayton
At an altitude of 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain is Georgia’s highest state park. Roadside overlooks and the summit Visitor Center offer sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The 2.2-mile Tennessee Rock Trail is a good choice for a short, moderate hike. For an all-day challenge, take the 7.2-mile James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail. If driving Hwy. 441 north to the park, stop by Tallulah Gorge State Park and quirky Goats on the Roof.

Cloudland Canyon State Park – Near Chattanooga
One of Georgia’s most beautiful parks offers easy-to-reach rim overlooks and challenging hiking trails. A favorite hike takes you down a long, steep staircase to the bottom of the canyon, where you’ll find two waterfalls. (Remember, you have to hike back up, but it’s worth it.) The 5-mile West Rim Loop is moderately difficult and offers great views of the canyon. “Glamping” yurts are located off this trail.

Don Carter State Park – Lake Lanier
Georgia’s newest state park opened in 2013 on Lake Lanier, protecting a beautiful hardwood forest and many miles of shoreline. If you have a boat, this would be a great park to enjoy fall color from the water. A short, paved (and quite hilly) trail is open to bikes and foot traffic. Another trail is open to hikers only.

Autumn Color at Black Rock Mountain State Park

Black Rock Mountain | Photo courtesy of Georgia State Parks

F. D. Roosevelt State Park – Pine Mountain
Many people are surprised to find hardwood forests and rolling mountains south of Atlanta. The 6.7-mile Wolf Den Loop is a favorite section of the longer Pine Mountain Trail. For a touch of history, drive to Dowdell’s Knob to see a life-size bronze sculpture of President F.D. Roosevelt and great views of the forested valley. Ga. Hwy. 190 is a pretty driving route.

Fort Mountain State Park – Chatsworth
This park is best known for a mysterious rock wall along the mountain top, plus a variety of trails. For the easiest walk, take the 1.2-mile loop around the park’s pretty, green lake. For a challenging, all-day hike, choose the 8-mile Gahuti Trail.  Mountain bikers have more than 14 miles to explore. Hwy. 52 has beautiful mountain scenery and overlooks worth stopping for.

Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge
Kayak tours of this park’s lake let you enjoy autumn color from a different perspective. Sign up for a ranger-led paddle or rent a canoe to explore on your own. Mountain bikers can explore 10 miles of trails ranging from beginner to experienced. This park is easily reached from I-20 exit 105.

Autumn Color at Sweetwater Creek State Park

Sweetwater Creek | Photo courtesy of Georgia State Parks

James H. (Sloppy) Floyd State Park – Summerville
This park near Rome is a good choice for families with young children. An easy walk circles a fishing lake, and kids enjoy feeding fish from the boardwalk. Older children will like the Marble Mine Trail which leads to a small waterfall with a pretty blue-green tint. Serious hikers can explore the nearby 330-mile Pinhoti Trail.

Moccasin Creek State Park – Lake Burton
Georgia’s smallest state park sits on the shore of a gorgeous deep-green lake.  Guests can choose from the 2-mile Hemlock Falls Trail or 1-mile Non-Game Trail with a wildlife observation tower. Hwy. 197 is a particularly pretty road, passing Mark of the Potter and other popular attractions.

Red Top Mountain State Park – Lake Allatoona
Just 40 minutes north of Atlanta you’ll find a variety of trails with nice fall color. The easy, flat 4-mile Iron Hill Loop is open to bikes and foot traffic, offering great views of the lake and forest. Another good choice for lake views is the 5.5-mile Homestead Trail. Families with young children will like the paved walking path behind the park office. Be sure to explore the log cabin and blacksmith shed.

Smithgall Woods State Park – Helen
Protecting more than 6,000 acres around Dukes Creek, this is the perfect spot for fly fishing while enjoying fall color. Day visitors can picnic near the creek, and overnight guests can hike a private trail to Dukes Creek Falls. A 1.6-mile loop climbs to Laurel Ridge and provides a view of Mt. Yonah once most leaves are off the trees. This park is near many wineries and Helen’s Oktoberfest.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs
Just west of Atlanta you’ll find 9 miles of hiking trails, a beautiful creek and small lake. For an easy walk, take the popular 1-mile Red Trail which follows the creek to the ruins of an old mill. For more of a workout, continue past the mill to the Blue Trail, where you’ll climb steep bluffs for outstanding creek views. Sign up for a guided hike to learn more about this park’s Civil War history. A new yurt village opens September 2015.

Autumn Color at Tallulah Gorge State Park

Tallulah Gorge | Photo courtesy of Georgia State Parks

Tallulah Gorge State Park – Near Clayton
Tallulah is one of the most spectacular canyons in the Southeast, and you can choose from easy or difficult trails. Hike along the rim to several overlooks with waterfall views, or get a permit from the park office to trek all the way to the bottom.  During November, you can watch expert kayakers as they enjoy the bi-annual “whitewater releases.” Be sure to see the park’s film because it includes heart-racing footage of kayakers and news clips from Wallenda’s famous tightrope walk across the gorge.

Unicoi State Park – Helen
Avoid Oktoberfest crowds in Helen by hiking a pretty 3-mile trail which leads from the park into town. You can enjoy lunch and window shopping before hiking back to the trailhead. Mountain bikers can zip past fall color on the park’s challenging 7.5-mile bike loop. If you’re up for a steep hike, take the 4.8-mile Smith Creek Trail up to Anna Ruby Falls. (To avoid having to hike back, leave a second car at the falls.)

Vogel State Park – Blairsville
The 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail makes a nice day trip for experienced hikers, offering great mountain color and a birds-eye view of the park’s lake. For an easier walk, follow the Lake Loop to a small waterfall. The twisting roads around Vogel, particularly Wolf Pen Gap Road, offer some of north Georgia’s prettiest fall scenery.

Kim Hatcher

Kim Hatcher has handled media relations for Georgia’s State Parks and Historic Sites since 1993. She grew up in Smyrna, Ga., and earned her journalism degree from the University of Georgia. She and her husband enjoy camping, hiking, paddling and exploring the great outdoors. Kim works with reporters and travel writers, manages the park system’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and serves as a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.