BENJAMIN F. CONLEY, Georgia's 32nd Governor, was born in Newark, New Jersey, on March 1, 1815. After moving to Augusta, Georgia, at the age of 15, Conley worked his way up from store clerk to one of Augusta's most affluent businessmen. Conley entered politics as a member of Augusta's city council, a position he held for 12 years. He also served from 1857 to 1859 as mayor of Augusta. Conley, who was a loyal Unionist, opposed the Civil War, and moved to an Alabama, refusing to fight. After the war he returned to Georgia, where he became a proponent of the Radical Republican reconstruction measures. He served as a delegate to the 1868 Georgia Constitutional Convention and was a member and president of the Georgia Senate. When Governor Rufus Bullock resigned from office on October 23, 1871, Conley, who was president of the senate at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship seven days later. He served in this capacity a little more than two months. During his short tenure, the predominately Democratic legislature nullified the majority of his vetoes. His administration also sold land under the Morrill Act for 90 cents an acre; however, he was openly vilified for this. Conley was unsuccessful in a reelection bid, but received acclaim from his adversaries for the integrity and leadership he exhibited in his brief term. In 1875 President Grant appointed Conley the postmaster of Atlanta, a position he held until 1883. Governor Benjamin F. Conley died on January 10, 1886, and he is buried in Augusta.

Sources:

Georgia Archives (private papers)

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

This Day in Georgia History

Governors' Portraits