Savannah tied to Georgia's Independence Day history

By Tim Guidera - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – There'll be no fireworks, no cookouts. And for most, no appreciation of the significance of Aug. 10 in Georgia's history.

"In some ways,'' says Georgia Southern University Political Science professor Dr. Patrick Novotny, "today really is Georgia's Independence Day. This is the day in 1776 that Georgia learned of the Declaration of Independence and it happened right here in Savannah.''

It signaled change here the same way July 4 had for the nation.

"In one day,'' Novotny said. "Saturday, Aug. 10, Georgia immediately became part of the great events that were to shape history itself with the Declaration of Independence and the War of Independence.''

There was just nothing immediate about how the news was delivered, which was by horseback all the way from Philadelphia.

"You can do the math and figure out that it was a few weeks time for that news, that so important news to travel all the way here to Savannah,'' Novotny said. "Certainly, those events were unfolding, albeit a few weeks and hundreds of miles away. But certainly, it was a tremendously important piece of news for Georgians to receive.

Historical records show, the arrival of the Declaration of Independence was the news of the day in Savannah on this day 225 years ago.

The document was read in public at least four times and some say for the first time in Reynolds Square. Others contend it was in Johnson Square.

But what is known is that reading it multiple times was not only a means of celebration, but also provided an important source of information.

"Having the document read aloud was important,'' Novotny said. "Because different estimates of that era are that somewhere around the area of 50 percent of folks could read.''

But far fewer today seem to have read about what this date means.

"It doesn't get much attention,'' said Novotny. "I think very few Georgians would probably have any knowledge that today has that significance.''

But it does for Novotny. He said for the whole state no matter who knows it.

"To me, it really does drive home the tremendous amount of sacrifice and the tremendous dedication and commitment the move for independence had,'' he says. "Any time we can have days like this when we can have some days like today when we can have some fun, but we can also remind ourselves of the struggle and commitment that came before us. I think it's important.''

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