NATHANIEL EDWIN HARRIS, the last Confederate veteran to serve as Governor of Georgia, was born in Jonesboro, Tennessee, on January 21, 1846. During the Civil War, he served as an officer in the Confederate Army. After his military service, he attended the University of Georgia, graduating at the top of his class in 1870. He then studied law, was admitted to the bar, and established a successful legal career in Macon. Harris entered politics as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, serving from 1882 to 1886. As a representative, he introduced a resolution that was significant in the founding the of the Georgia Institute of Technology. He also served as a one-term member of the Georgia Senate in 1894 and on the bench of the Superior Court for a little less than a year. Harris won the 1914 Democratic gubernatorial nomination and was elected the 49th Governor of Georgia. During his tenure, a state highway commission was established, teachers’ salaries were put on conventional pay schedule, several prohibition laws were enacted, and a compulsory four-month school term was initiated for children between the ages of 8 and 14. Also, mandatory vehicle licensing was instituted, the state-owned railroad was granted a 50-year lease, and Confederate veterans’ pensions were improved. Harris lost his reelection bid and left office on June 30, 1917. He retired from politics, but committed most of his time and service to the advancement of the Georgia Institute of Technology, serving as interim president in 1918. From 1924 to 1925, Harris served as the state pension commissioner. Governor Nathaniel E. Harris died on September 21, 1929, and he is buried at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon.
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.