George Troup served as a state representative, U.S. congressman, U.S. senator, and Georgia governor during the course of a lifelong political career. His two terms as Georgia’s thirtieth governor (1823-27) were marked by his successful efforts to ensure the removal of the Creek Indians from the state. During the ensuing negotiations with the federal government over the Creek removal, Troup was a staunch advocate for state’s rights. A Democratic Republican and later a Jacksonian, Troup was known for recalcitrance and a willingness to spite the federal government when he disagreed with its policies.
George Michael Troup was born to Catherine McIntosh and George Troup on September 8, 1780, at McIntosh Bluff on the Tombigbee River, an area that belonged to colonial Georgia but today is part of Alabama. Two years after graduating from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in 1797, he moved to Savannah to establish a law practice. In 1801 Georgians elected Troup state representative. He served in the legislature for three one-year terms before running successfully for the U.S. House of Representatives. From 1807 until 1815 Troup held one of Georgia’s congressional seats. He then ran successfully as a Democratic Republican for the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1816 to 1818. When he resigned his Senate seat, Troup was chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs, a position that provided important preparation for his subsequent political career as Georgia’s governor.
In 1819 the powerful and influential Georgia statesman William Harris Crawford urged Troup to run for governor. Troup lost the election, however, to John Clark. Supporters of the two candidates were split into distinct factions—the Troupites and the Clarkites—a heated rivalry that dated back to before the turn of the century. While the Troupites consisted of aristocratic plantation owners, the Clarkites had the support of the common farmers and frontier settlers. Both parties adamantly supported the removal of the Creek Indians from Georgia.
In 1823 Clark did not run for governor, and Troup won the election. Troup also won the first popular election of a Georgia governor, beating Clark by a slim margin in 1825. This victory empowered Troup, and as a result he initiated an aggressive policy to remove Native Americans from Georgia. The federal government assured Georgia officials that it would soon remove the Creek Indians from Georgia through peaceful negotiations. Troup, however, refused to wait for such terms, and in 1825 he threatened violence against the Creek Nation if it refused to give in to his demands.
In 1825 Troup negotiated the Treaty of Indian Springs with his cousin, William McIntosh, the son of a Creek Indian and a Scottish trader. In signing the treaty, McIntosh authorized the sale of all of the remaining Creek lands (primarily in southwest Georgia) to the United States. Although he acted as principal chief of Coweta, McIntosh represented only a small faction of the Lower Creek tribe, and his authority to sell the land was questionable. He and several other chiefs who signed the controversial treaty were murdered by angry members of the tribe who felt that the chiefs had betrayed the interests of their people.
U.S. president John Quincy Adams withdrew the Indian Springs Treaty and negotiated a federal treaty that would have given the Creek Indians slightly more land. Troup refused to recognize the new treaty and began removing the tribe with state militia forces. When Adams threatened to send in federal troops to enforce the federal treaty, Troup began organizing the state militia force, preparing to fight the U.S. Army in the name of state’s rights. Adams, however, was not willing to go to war over the fate of the Creek Indians and allowed Troup to have his way.
By 1827 many Creek Indians had been removed from Georgia to the Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma, although some Creeks would not leave the state until 1836-37. Following the removal of the Creeks, Georgia officials used a lottery system to redistribute the former Creek lands to white Georgians.
After his second term as governor Troup returned to the Senate in 1829, this time as a Jacksonian, where he served as the chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs. He retired from politics in 1833, before the end of his term in 1834, and returned to Georgia to manage his plantations in Laurens and Montgomery counties. Troup died at one of his Montgomery County plantations on April 26, 1856, at the age of seventy-six; he is interred at Rosemont Plantation in that county. Troup County, located in west Georgia, is named for him.