Here’s what happened.
Most folks in Georgia know (or should know) that three men represented Georgia as Signers of the Declaration of Independence: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton.
But many folks don’t know that Georgia could have had four signers. Another delegate had been sent to represent the colony. His name was Archibald Bulloch. In many ways, his effect on United States and Georgia history is deeper than the legacies of the three men who actually signed the document.
Here’s why it mattered then.
The first Continental Congress was held in the fall of 1774, to discuss the grievances the colonies had with Great Britain, their mother country, over matters of governance. By the time the Second Continental Congress was convened in 1775, the colonies had resorted to arms.
Georgia did not participate in the first Continental Congress, and was the last colony to send delegates to the Second. According to The New Georgia Encyclopedia, “ . . . Bulloch immediately impressed the delegates from the other colonies when he arrived wearing homespun clothes, symbolizing Georgia’s commitment to the embargo on British goods.” As the move toward independence became imminent, Bulloch returned home to help organize Georgia’s war effort.
Here’s why it matters now.
Bulloch served with Colonel Lachlan Macintosh at several key battles and expeditions in Georgia. He also served as the first president, commander-in-chief, and governor of the new independent state. But he died in 1777, barely eight months into his term.
Bulloch’s death led to a particularly ironic and dramatic episode in American history. Lachlan and Gwinnett had designs on becoming Georgia’s next governor. Their political rivalry degenerated into a bitter personal enmity. On May 16, 1777, the two men met in the town of Thunderbolt, a few miles east of Savannah, to defend their honor with pistols at several paces. Gwinnett died three days later.
Here’s the latest update . . .
Each Constitutional Convention delegate from Georgia– Bulloch, Gwinnett, Hall, and Walton– has a state county named in his honor. But Bulloch’s legacy extends even further. Bulloch descendents fought in the War of 1812, helped found the towns of Roswell and Dunwoody, and served as leaders in the Confederacy.
Martha “Mittie” Bulloch was Archibald’s great-great granddaughter. She was also the mother of Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt and the maternal grandmother of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. Through Mittie, Archibald connected directly to a pair of U.S. presidents.
. . . And here’s an interesting fact!
Although frowned upon (and illegal) today, intermarriage within great American families was once commonplace. Before her wedding to Theodore (Thee) Roosevelt Sr., Martha Bulloch was courted by John Elliott, who became a U.S. Senator. He also became the first husband of the maternal grandmother of both Teddy and Eleanor Roosevelt. Moreover, after the death of his first wife Hester Amarintha Elliott, Major James Bulloch, Mittie’s father, married the widow of his first wife’s father, Martha (Stewart) Elliott and had four more children: Mittie and siblings Irvine, Anna, and Charles. Got it?