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July 31, 1879: A Milestone for Georgia Military College

July 31, 1879: A Milestone for Georgia Military College On this day in history, a bill to establish Middle Georgia Military and Agricultural College was approved by the Georgia House of Representatives. This was a momentous event in the life of what is now Georgia Military College. In December 1804, the Georgia General Assembly, meeting in Louisville, declared that Milledgeville was to be the permanent capital of Georgia, but in 1868, in spite of the “permanent” designation, and over the protests of the citizens of Milledgeville, the Georgia capital relocated to Atlanta and the statehouse building in Milledgeville was abandoned. Two developments in education led to the eventual establishment of what would become in 1900 Georgia Military College (GMC). Prior to July 1879, there had been attempts by the Georgia legislature to establish colleges in Milledgeville, while at the same time, there was an ongoing legislative battle to prevent the establishment of an agricultural college in Athens, a college that would require a grant of 270,000 acres of land and expenditure of more than half a million dollars. In the face of these developments, Milledgeville could point to a vacant state-owned building worth over a million dollars as being the most economical route for establishing the needed agricultural college. At the opening session of 1878 Georgia General Assembly, Governor Alfred Colquitt addressed the Assembly and supported the use of the buildings at Milledgeville for educational purposes. On November 9, 1878, the representative from Fulton County introduced a bill to organize Middle Georgia Military and Agricultural College (MGM&AC) in the state-owned buildings at Milledgeville. On December 3rd, the House met to discuss the proposal, but the day ended with a decision to table the bill. Early in the 1879 General Assembly session, the order of the day for July 11, 1879 was again a discussion of the bill to organize MGM&AC. On the 16th of July, the bill was read in the House for the third time and sent to Committee. When the bill again came up for discussion on the 24th of July, the issue approving appropriations for the undertaking met with opposition and the discussion was further postponed until July 30th when it would be the Special Order of the Day. On July 30th, discussion of the MCM&AC bill resumed and debate was heated. At the end of the day that Wednesday, the bill was brought up for a vote--and was defeated by 5 votes (77 to 72). The next day, July 31st, supporters, unwilling to accept defeat made a motion in the House to reconsider the MGM&AC Bill. This time--the motion passed by a vote of 106 to 30, and was sent to the Senate. On October 14th the bill was voted on and approved by the General Assembly and Middle Georgia Military College was established in the old Georgia Statehouse Buildings in Milledgeville. Thus was born Georgia Military college.Compiled by: COL Jane Simpson (Ret.), MLIS, Special Collections Librarian/Archivist