Yazoo Presages A Modern Body Politic – Georgia

It is instructive to reflect on our history to illuminate current events. Early in its history as a state, Georgia experienced a corrupt coalition of government with business. The result was no different then than today. The open question for the reader is;  where do we stand in the eternal cycle of oligarchic control, recursion to democratic form, and thence to the new cycle.

The online Georgia Encyclopedia provides a brief description of the Yazoo Act and its eventual overturn by a Jeffersonian Republican. Let us hope that our present day Republicans find in their political souls the will to act in the interest of a well-ordered society. To a certainty that day will come of the will of the good people of Georgia. When and with what vigor depends on those who would, or would not, obey the rule of law.

Pressure to act continued to build on legislators until, by mid-November 1794, a majority reportedly favored the sale of the western territory. On January 7, 1795, Georgia governor George Mathews signed the Yazoo Act, which transferred 35 million acres in present-day Alabama and Mississippi to four companies for $500,000. To bring off this speculative coup, the leader of the Yazooists, Georgia’s Federalist U.S. senator James Gunn, had arranged the distribution of money and land to legislators, state officials, newspaper editors, and other influential Georgians. Cries of bribery and corruption accompanied the Yazoo Act as it made its way to final passage. Angry Georgians protested the sale in petitions and street demonstrations. Despite the swelling opposition, the Yazoo companies completed their purchases.

Learning of the circumstances surrounding passage of the Yazoo Act, Georgia’s leading Jeffersonian Republican, U.S. senator James Jackson,
The leading Jeffersonian Republican in post-Revolutionary Georgia, U.S. senator James Jackson resigned his seat and returned to his home state to handle the Yazoo land fraud scandal in 1795.

James Jackson
resigned his seat and returned home, determined to overturn the sale. Making skillful use of county grand juries and newspapers, Jackson and his allies gained control of the legislature. After holding hearings that substantiated the corruption charges, Jackson dictated the terms of the 1796 Rescinding Act, which was signed by Governor Jared Irwin and nullified the Yazoo sale. He also arranged for the destruction of records connected with the sale; ensured that state officials tainted by Yazoo were denied reelection and replaced by his own anti-Yazoo, pro-Jefferson supporters; and in 1798 orchestrated a revision of the state constitution that included the substance of the Rescinding Act.


Lamplugh, George R. “Yazoo Land Fraud.” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 10 May 2013. Web. 01 June 2014.

James Strawn About James Strawn

James is an IT consultant and solutions architect with decades of experience working on various major projects with Fortune 500 companies. He is also an author and editor for DecidingTheVote.com, a blog forum for politically active citizens and professionals.

Speak Your Mind