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History of Augusta, Georgia

Augusta, the county seat of Richmond County, is located at the head of navigation on the Savannah River, about 160 miles east of Atlanta. The future site of Augusta was laid out in 1735 on the orders of General James Oglethorpe, first governor of Georgia. Fort Augusta was constructed on the site in 1736. The name probably is derived from Princess Augusta, at the time the Princess of Wales and the mother of the future George III. In 1763, four colonial governors met with representatives from five Indian nations to settle boundaries and establish terms for trade. In 1779, the British captured Fort Augusta during the Revolutionary War and renamed it Fort Cornwallis. Control changed hands twice before it was finally recaptured by the patriots in 1781. Even before it was chartered as a city in 1798, Augusta served as the capital of Georgia from 1785 to 1795. The Augusta Convention ratified the U.S. Constitution on January 2, 1788, making Georgia the fourth state overall and first in the Deep South to do so. In the years after 1800, cotton replaced tobacco as the principal commodity in the Augusta area. The first textile mill began operation in 1828, the same year that the Medical College of Georgia was founded as the Medical Academy of Georgia. The year 1845 was significant for Augusta. The first Augusta-to-Savannah train entered service and the Augusta Canal was built to harness the water and power of the Savannah River. Today, it is the nation's only industrial power canal still in use for its original purpose. In January 1861, the U.S. Arsenal in Augusta was seized by the Confederacy without bloodshed. Its surviving buildings are now part of the campus of Augusta State University. During the Civil War, the city was an important railroad junction and also manufactured gun powder for the South. The Confederate Powderworks Monument is in front of Sibley Mill on Goodrich Street. Following the war, Paine College was established to serve black students in 1882. A major Savannah River flood in 1908 led to the construction of levees to protect the city. The city is now protected from floods by the Clark Hill and Hartwell dams on the Savannah. The waters behind Clark Hill Dam have produced Clark Hill Reservoir, considered one of the prime recreation sites in the Augusta area. The Augusta National Golf Club, founded by the famous golfer Bobby Jones, opened in January, 1933. It has been host to the Masters Golf Tournament every year since 1934. The future president Woodrow Wilson grew up in Augusta. His boyhood home is now a museum. Also preserving Augusta history is the Augusta Museum of History. Southern artists are featured at the Morris Museum of Art. The National Science Center operates Fort Discovery in downtown Augusta. Augusta Technical College, serving the needs of five east central Georgia counties, was established in 1961. In addition to ^University Hospital at the medical college, local hospital needs are met by the Georgia Regional Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital^.