Located in central Georgia, Macon County is 130 miles south of Atlanta and covers 403 square miles. The state legislature created Macon County, the ninety-first county in Georgia, in 1837 and named Lanier the first county seat. The earliest inhabitants were the Cherokee; Muskogee, who later became part of the Creek Nation; and Uchee Indians.
Created from parts of Houston and Marion counties, Macon County was named for Nathaniel Macon, a general in the Revolutionary War (1775-83). Macon joined a New Jersey militia company in the summer of 1776. In the fall of 1776 he left the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) and returned to North Carolina. He studied law there until 1780, when he joined a North Carolina company as a private. Elected to the Second U.S. Congress, he served as both the U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate. Macon began his political career as a Democratic Republican but later became a Jeffersonian Republican.
In 1856 the county seat was moved to its current location in the town of Oglethorpe, another former Indian trading post located on the Flint River. Named for James Edward Oglethorpe, the founder of the colony of Georgia, the city sits on land first settled by Barnard before the American Revolution.
In 1936 sociologist Arthur F. Raper published his comparative study of Macon and Greene counties, Preface to Peasantry, which exposed the racial and economic inequalities of Georgia and the South. Raper sought to determine the effects of plantation life in those counties, arguing that slavery and sharecropping had created a culture of dependence. The end of plantation society was thus, according to Raper, a "preface to American peasantry."
Macon County High School is located in Montezuma, one of the largest cities in the county. Named after the famous Aztec leader by soldiers returning from the Mexican War (1846-48), Montezuma is also home to the county's newspaper, the Citizen-Georgian, and has survived several floods,
Tourist attractions abound in Macon County. In addition to Andersonville National Historic Site, there is a historic driving tour of the county. Whitewater Creek Park offers hiking and camping, and tourists may also visit a large Mennonite community that runs Yoder's Deitsch Haus Restaurant, Bakery and Gift Shop. Annual celebrations include the Festival of Camellias, the Crape Myrtle Festival, the Beaver Creek Festival, and the Oglethorpe Fall Festival.
According to the 2000 U.S. census, the population was 14,074, an increase of 7.3 percent from 1990. By 2010 the population had increased slightly to 14,740.
Susan R. Boatright and Douglas C. Bachtel, eds., Georgia County Guide (Athens: Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, University of Georgia, annual).
Louise Frederick Hays, History of Macon County , Georgia (Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Co., 1979).
Arthur F. Raper, Preface to Peasantry: A Tale of Two Black Belt Counties (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1936).
Robert E. Luckett Jr., University of Georgia
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.