GEORGE MATHEWS, Georgia’s third governor, was born in Augusta County, Virginia, on August 30, 1739. He was a self-taught man with a long and distinguished career in the military. At the age of 22, he led a volunteer company against the Indians, and participated on October 10, 1774, in the battle of Point Pleasant. He also fought in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, was wounded, captured, and held in a prison ship in New York harbor until December 1781, when he was released in a prisoner exchange. He went on to command the 3rd Virginia Regiment. After his military duty, Mathews moved his family to Georgia, and entered a career in politics. He served as Governor of Georgia from January 9, 1787, to January 26, 1778. During his first term he resolved the boundary dispute with South Carolina and strengthened the militia. He was a delegate to the convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787 and an Indian commissioner in 1788 and 1789. He served as a member of the First Congress from 1789 to 1791 and the constitutional convention of 1789. He served as Justice of the Inferior Court for Wilkes County from December 20, 1792 to November 1793. In 1793 the state legislature elected Mathews Governor of Georgia, and on November 7, 1793 he was sworn into office. His second term was marred by problems relating to large grants of land he made to speculators. His reputation was further damaged by signing the Yazoo Act that granted 30 million acres of land to four companies for $500,000. After finishing his term on January 15, 1796, Mathews was nominated to be the first governor of the Mississippi Territory in 1798, but his name was withdrawn by John Adams. He became a brigadier general of the Georgia militia, and in 1811 he commanded a mission to secure West Florida. Governor George Mathews died in Augusta, Georgia, on August 30, 1812 and is buried in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Cemetery in Augusta.
Cook, James F. Governors of Georgia, 1754-2004. 3d ed. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2005.
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.