1. Did you know that Georgia was the first United States colony to cultivate grapes?
The colonies of Virginia and both Carolinas tried and failed at colonial attempts at wine-making, but Georgia began cultivating grapes in 1735. By the turn of the 20th century, Georgia was a major producer of wines. This is surprising since it was also one of the earliest states to prohibit alcohol, in 1907. Today, Georgia is again a leading producer of wines. Varieties from the Muscadine grape are especially popular.
2. Another fun alcohol fact: Georgia was the first British colony to outlaw the sale of rum, in 1738.
The leaders of the Georgia colony in the 1700s prohibited the import and manufacturing of rum. They feared it would promote idleness, which is an understandable worry. In a time when working literally meant life or death, it's easy to see how this rule came about!
3. The first silk to be sent from the colonies to Britain came from Savannah. It was made into a dress for the queen.
It's not common knowledge, but Georgia was actually one of the first colonies that regularly provided silk for the upper classes of Europe.
4. Georgia was the first state to charter a university, the University of Georgia.
Interestingly enough, the University of Georgia has several famous firsts of its own. Did you know UGA was the first school in the south to open up a school of forestry?
5. The first cotton gin was invented not far from Savannah, by Eli Whitney. It was then put into operation a few hours north near Washington, Georgia.
The cotton gin truly revolutionized the cotton industry, paving way for the South to move into economic powerhouse territory. This invention from Georgia was made in 1793.
6. Wesleyan College in Macon was the first college in the entire world chartered to grant degrees to women.
This private liberal arts college for women was originally named the Georgia Female College when it was chartered in 1836. Wesleyan has the country's oldest alumnae association and also founded some of the earliest sororities in the United States.
7. In 1943, Georgia became the first state to lower the legal voting age from 21 to 18.
"Old enough to fight, old enough to vote" was a rallying cry during World War II. It was one that Georgia heard well, as the state was the first to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. The law wasn't passed nationally until 1971 - the Peach State was way ahead of the curve on this one!
8. Another fun thing from Georgia: John Wesley started the first Protestant Sunday school in America in 1736 in Savannah.
The school was created because Wesley felt there was a need to give children more Christian instruction from a young age.
9. Hernando de Soto became the first European to explore Georgia: back in 1540!
The great state that we now know of as Georgia was discovered by Hernando de Soto. He traveled to the Ocmulgee River in 1540, where he discovered an abandoned village.
10. The largest pig ever found, nicknamed Hogzilla, was found and killed in Alapaha, Georgia.
Hogzilla weighed 1,000 pounds and was 12 feet long! Feral hogs are pigs that escaped from farms many generations ago and now roam freely throughout the South. They can be aggressive and also are damaging to the environment. Hunting them is a popular sport, especially in South Georgia.
11. Here's another important Georgia invention: ours was the first state to give women full property rights, back in 1866.
At a time when human rights were a hotly-debated topic, women in the South fully expected to have rights just like their husbands. In 1866, Georgia passed legislation allowing married women to have property rights.
12. The first newspaper to be written in a Native American language, The Cherokee Phoenix, was founded in Georgia in 1828.
The first Native American newspaper was printed in New Echota, Georgia, the capital of the Cherokee Nation. The newspaper disbanded in 1834. Pictured is the New Echota Historic Site, which stands today where the Cherokee Phoenix was once printed.
13) In 1905, the Georgia Supreme Court was the first in the nation to recognize a constitutional right to privacy.
One of the defining aspects of our country is our privacy rights, and it's pretty cool that Georgia was the first state to realize this.
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