Missouri has Mark Twain. Georgia has Bill Arp, the pen name for Charles Henry Smith.
Born in Lawrenceville in 1826, Smith moved to Rome in 1851 to practice law. After the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, Smith wrote a letter under the pen name “Bill Arp” to President Lincoln in the humorous dialect favored by literary comedians in the 19th century, and it was reprinted all over the South.
During the war, Arp wrote 30 more humorous letters to Southern newspapers, attacking Lincoln and praising the Confederacy, and he became almost as famous as Robert E. Lee. Smith himself served the Confederacy briefly and wrote that he “succeeded in killing about as many of them as they of me.”
The Atlanta Constitution published Arp’s syndicated post-war column, “The Country Philosopher,” for 25 years, securing his fame.
Charles Smith, alias Bill Arp, one of the most beloved humorous writers of the 19th century, was born in Lawrenceville on June 15, 1826, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.