Back to former Georgia governors
Josiah Tattnall

Gov. Josiah Tattnall

  • November 7, 1801 - November 4, 1802
  • Democratic-Republican
  • January 1, 1762
  • June 6, 1803
  • South Carolina
  • Eton College (England)
  • Married Harriet Fenwick; three children survived childhood
  • Resigned
  • Senator


JOSIAH TATTNALL was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, circa 1762. He grew up on Bonaventure Plantation on St. Augustine Creek near Savannah. At the start of the Revolutionary War, he went with his father to England, avoiding the war and enrolling in Eton College. He returned to Georgia and purchased his family’s old plantation from John Habersham in 1785. He was a major in the Chatham County regiment of militia in 1790 and in 1801 was commissioned a brigadier general. Tattnall entered politics as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives. He also served in the U.S. Senate from 1796 to 1799, in the vacancy created when Senator James Jackson resigned. The state legislature elected Tattnall Governor of Georgia, and on November 7, 1801, he was sworn into office. During his tenure, he dealt with the ongoing resentment that had developed over the Yazoo land controversy. Due to his declining health, Tattnall resigned from the governorship on November 4, 1802, and traveled to Nassau in an effort to regain his strength. Governor Josiah Tattnall, who was recognized with initiating the importation of island cotton from the Bahamas into Georgia, died on June 6, 1803, in Nassau. He is buried in the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. Tattnall County in Southeast Georgia was named in his honor.


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.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Armstrong Atlantic State University

Recent Georgia Governors