Within the borders of Baldwin County in central Georgia are some of the region's most important historical landmarks. In 1807, just four years after the county was formed, Milledgeville, the county's largest trading center, became the state's new "frontier" capital. Since then, Baldwin County has continued to play an important role in the annals of Georgia history.
Created out of the land lottery of 1803, Baldwin County is named for Abraham Baldwin, an early and influential U.S. senator from Georgia. Georgia's legislators acquired the land for Baldwin, Wayne, and Wilkinson counties through a treaty established with the Creek Indians. Today, Baldwin County occupies 258 square miles and borders five other counties: Hancock, Jones, Putnam, Washington, and Wilkinson. Almost immediately after the county's formation, Georgia's legislators chose it as the location of a new capital city to be known as Milledgeville, named after Georgia governor John Milledge.
Because of its central location within the state and its abundant supply of water, Milledgeville grew rapidly into a bustling frontier settlement.
When the state of Georgia seceded from the Union in January 1861 during a legislative session held in Milledgeville, Baldwin County became a target for Union forces. In Union general William T. Sherman's devastating march to the sea, his troops occupied Georgia's capital city in November 1864. Sherman and his Union armies burned the state penitentiary, vandalized the city, and even held a mock session of the legislature in the statehouse to repeal the state's ordinance of secession. In 1868, after the Civil War (1861-65), Georgia's capital was moved from Milledgeville to its present location in Atlanta.
Many of Georgia's most notable residents have called Milledgeville home. U.S. representative Carl Vinson,
In addition to the Old Capitol and Governor's Mansion, visitors to Baldwin County can explore Andalusia, O'Connor's family farm; Milledgeville's historic district; and the Lockerly Arboretum, a botanical garden and nature education center that hosts the Lockerly Heritage Festival each fall.
According to the 2010 U.S. census, Baldwin County's population is 45,720, an increase from the 2000 population of 44,700.
Leola Selman Beeson, History Stories of Milledgeville and Baldwin County (Macon, Ga.: J. W. Burke, 1943).
James C. Bonner, Milledgeville: Georgia's Antebellum Capital (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1978).
Anna Maria Green Cook, History of Baldwin County, Georgia (1925; reprint, Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Co., 1992).
Jesse M. Bowen, Georgia College and State University
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