Georgia joined The United States on August 2, 1776, the same day that Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia.
The declaration was approved on July 4, but signed by only one man that day, John Hancock. Fifty other delegates to the 2nd Continental Congress signed on August 2. Later that year, five more brought the total to 56.
Eight of the signers, including Gwinnett, were foreign born. One was Roman Catholic, a handful were deists and the rest were Protestants. They all went on to lives of public service in the republic they founded: there were two future presidents, three vice presidents, two Supreme Court justices, and many congressmen, diplomats, governors, and judges among them.
In 1818, 14 years after Georgia’s last signer died, Georgia named counties in their honor. Charles Carroll of Maryland, the last of all the signers left, died in 1832 at the age of 95, but their revolutionary idea of a self-governing free people lives on.
The experiment they began remains unfinished, as it was on August 2, 1776, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.