George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 18 May 1791]

Wednesday 18th. Breakfasted at Fulchers, 15 Miles from Waynesborough; and within 4 Miles of Augusta met the Govr. (Telfair), Judge Walton, the Attorney Genl., & most of the principal Gentlemen of the place; by whom I was escorted into Town, & recd. under a discharge of Artillery. The distance I came to day was about 32 miles. Dined with a large company at the Governors, & drank Tea there with many well dressed Ladies.

The Road from Savanna to Augusta is, for the most part, through Pine barrans; but more uneven than I had been accustomed to since leavg. Petersburgh in Virginia, especially after riding about 30 Miles from the City of that name; here & there indeed, a piece of Oak land is passed on this road, but of small extent & by no means of the first quality.

On coming in sight of the welcoming party from Augusta, Georgia’s temporary capital 1785–95, GW got out of his chariot, mounted a horse, and rode forward to meet Gov. Edward Telfair. After Telfair “congratulated the President on his near approach to the residence of government,” Major Gordon and the Augusta horsemen who had accompanied GW from Savannah joined the distinguished citizens of the town to form the procession that escorted GW to his lodgings on Broad Street. The cannon salute that greeted him was fired by Capt. Howell’s artillery (HENDERSON description begins Archibald Henderson. Washington’s Southern Tour, 1791. Boston and New York, 1923. description ends , 234–38; JONES AND DUTCHER description begins Charles C. Jones, Jr. and Salem Dutcher. Memorial History of Augusta, Georgia . . .. 1890. Reprint. Spartanburg, S.C., 1966. description ends , 141).

Edward Telfair (c.1735–1807), a wealthy merchant and early Revolutionary War leader, served Georgia in the Continental Congress frequently between 1778 and 1782 and was governor of the state 1786–87 and 1789–93. For today’s 4:00 P.M. dinner at his residence, the Grove, Telfair invited “several federal and state Officers,” and as so often before, there were “a number of memorable and patriotic toasts.” The ladies came to the governor’s house this evening for a ball given by his wife, Sally Gibbons Telfair, but GW only “attended for a short time,” apparently just long enough to meet the ladies over tea (Dunlap’s American Daily Adv. [Philadelphia], 16 June 1791).

George Walton (1741–1804), judge of the superior court of Georgia, was, like Telfair, an early supporter of the Patriot cause in Georgia. He attended many sessions of the Continental Congress between 1776 and 1781, was wounded and captured at the seige of Savannah where he fought as a militia colonel, and served as governor of the state 1779–80 and 1789.

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