James C. Cobb is one of the best American historians in Georgia. Cobb has presented a number of books on history of the American South and received numerous Awards including Albert Christ-Janer Award from UGA Research Foundation, Parks-Heggoy teaching Award from History Graduate Students Association, Mc Clemore Prize form Mississippi Historical Society, and two Green-Ramsdell Awards from Journal of Southern History. He was the President of the Southern Historical Association and now he is a popular speaker and writer for magazines and newspapers.
In many aspects, the history of Georgia is closely related to that of the American South and the nation in the whole. Georgia was the last thirteenth British colony it was founded in 1732 in Savannah fifty years after the twelfth British colony, Pennsylvania (1981).The colony was founded on the initiative from James Oglethorpe as a refuge for the English debtors and the ‘shield’ for the southern colonies against Spanish invasions from Florida. Georgia was the only colony where the slavery was banned until 1751, when the prohibition was lifted the plantation economy was established there.
During the Revolutionary War Georgia mostly remained on the periphery of the war actions, as it was the youngest and least developed colony. Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton represented Georgia on the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1776.
At the beginning of the Civil War Georgia was the second largest state in the Deep South after Virginia and was increasingly industrialized. Georgia was the fifth to separate from the Union. It played the most prominent role in the formation of Confederacy and the new government during the Civil War. The Union general William T. Sherman’s military campaign in the Deep South was the most crucial and devastating for Georgia and finished with the occupation of Savannah.
The period of reconstruction was marked by political tensions, resistance to federal occupation and racial violence and Freedmen’s Bureau and Ku-Klux Klan played an important role in the state. After the exile in 1868 of twenty-seven black legislators from the Republican Party, the military rule ‘closed the door’ to the Congress for the representatives from Georgia. Georgia was the last of the states of former Confederation to return to the Union and in 1870, the congressmen from the state finally joined the Congress. In 1871, Democrats regained the control over the state later their rule was called ‘The Redemption Era’.
The new government put accent on industrialization of Georgia and it lead to substantial decline in the rural sector of the economy. Thomas E. Watson the leader of the Populist Party encouraged the black farmers to join the populist movement and white Georgian politicians saw a danger in this racial inclusiveness. Jim Crow Era was marked with the policy of diminishing of political rights of the black Americans which lead to the social segregation and lynchings of the black population of Georgia.
During the Great Depression beside the burgeoning industrial progress the agricultural sector was in a most miserable state as black residents fled to other parts of the country and the farmers abandoned their fields. The World War II brought the Depression to a end and the agricultural production increased together with war industry.
In the Civil Rights Era the segregation of black Americans decreased and they acquired the right to public education and electoral rights and the number of black American officials rose dramatically.
In the end of twentieth century Atlanta became ‘the heart’ of the Sunbelt – the overall revival of the economy and demography of the American South. In 1996, Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympic Games. The industry and agriculture continued the development and achieved the national prominence.
In the twenty-first century, the economy of Georgia had several shifts, both rises and declines. Despite all the challenges Georgia continues its economic development and remains one of the most attractive places for the employment.
All books by J. Cobb touch upon the economy, history and culture of his native state. Georgia Odyssey is not an exception, in this book the author overviews the history of Georgia from the appearance as a European colony to its actual status of the international business center, from the Jim Crow era of self-isolation to the moment it became the host of the Olympic Games in 1996, and from the Democratic rule to the dominance of the Republican Party nowadays. This book is a lively and interesting overview of the historical development of Georgia. Georgia Odyssey was written in the engaging dynamic style this book gives a deep understanding of history of the state, as it is not full of dry historical facts and dates. This book is a marvelous presentation of the history, which helps to understand better the present time and future.
Cobb, James. Georgia Odyssey. Athens, Georgia, University of Georgia Press, 2008. Print.