Augusta is a city located in the state of Georgia. As of 2000, the population is 199,775. In 1996 the governments of the City of Augusta and Richmond County combined to form a single governing body known as Augusta-Richmond County.
Augusta is located on the Georgia-South Carolina border, about 150 miles east of Atlanta. It is the second largest city and second largest metropolitan area in the state. It is the birthplace of the Southern Baptist denomination, and the location of one of the first autonomous black Baptist churches in the nation. The region’s three largest employers include the Savannah River Site (a Department of Energy nuclear facility), the U.S. Army Signal Center and Fort Gordon, and the Medical College of Georgia. The city’s famous golf course (the Augusta National Golf Club) has attracted national media attention for its refusal to allow women membership.
The city was originally named after Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, and was the second state capital of Georgia (alternating for a period with Savannah, the first).
The location of Augusta was first used by Native Americans as a place to cross the Savannah River, because of Augusta's location on the fall line. But the settlement of Augusta didn't yet exist.
In 1735, two years after James Oglethorpe founded Savannah, he sent a detachment of troops on a journey up the Savannah River. He gave them an order to built at the head of the navigable part of the river. The job fell into the hands of Nobel Jones, who created the settlement to provide a first line of defense against the Spanish and the French. Oglethorpe then named the town Augusta, after Princess Augusta, wife of Frederick, Prince of Wales.
The town was laid out on the flat slopes of the Savannah River, just east of the sand hills that would come to be known as "Summerville". The townspeople got along peacefully (most of the time) with the surrounding tribes of Creek and Cherokee Indians.
In 1739, construction began on a road to connect Augusta to Savannah. This made it possible for people to reach Augusta by horse, rather than by boat. Because of this, more people began to migrate inland to Augusta. Later on, in 1750, Augusta's first church, St. Paul's, was built near Fort Augusta. It became the leader of the local parish.
In 1777, under Georgia's new constitution, a new political structure would be laid out and Augusta's parish government would be replaced by a new county government, Richmond County, which was named after the Duke of Richmond.
During the American Revolution, Savannah fell to the British. This left Augusta as the new state capital and a new prime target of the British. By January 31, 1779, Augusta was captured by Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell. But Campbell soon withdrew, as American troops were gathering on the opposite shore of the Savannah River. Augusta again became the state capital, but not for long. Augusta fell into British hands once more before the end of the war.
From then until the American Civil War, with the establishment of the Augusta Canal, Augusta became a leader in the production of textiles, gunpowder, and paper. The Georgia Railroad was built by local contractors Fannin, Grant & Co in 1845 giving Augusta a rail link to Atlanta which connected to the Tennessee River (at Chattanooga, Tennessee) thus providing access to the Mississippi River. The cost-savings of this link from the middle of the country to the Atlantic Ocean via the Savannah River increased trade considerably and it had a population of 12,493 by 1860, being just one of 102 U.S. cities at the time to have a population of over 10,000, and making it the second largest city in Georgia. But then came war.
Originally, Augustans welcomed the idea of war. The new Confederate Powderworks that opened boosted trade and job opportuinities. Many Augustans went away to fight in the war, not knowing the terrors that awaited them. War did not set into the minds of Augustans until the summer of 1863. It was in that year that thousands of refugees from areas threatened by invasion came crowding into Augusta, leading to shortages in housing and provisions. Next came the threatening nearness of General Sherman's advancing army, causing panic in the streets of this once quiet town.
In 1828, the Georgia General Assembly granted a formal charter for the Medical Academy of Georgia and a school began training physicians in two borrowed rooms of the City Hospital. By 1873, an affiliation was made with the University of Georgia and the school became the Medical Department of the University. The School became the Medical College of Georgia in 1956 and forms the anchor of a heavily developed medical sector in the city.
Unlike most Southern cities, Postbellum life for Augusta was very prosperous. By the beginning of the 20th century, Augusta had become one of the largest inland cotton markets in the world. In 1913, the Medical College of Georgia was founded, and in 1914, University Hospital was founded nearby. These two buildings would form the nucleus of a future medical complex. A new military cantonment, named Camp Hancock, opened nearby during World War I.
Prior to World War II, the U.S. Army constructed a new fort near Richmond County that was named Camp Gordon. It was finished just a few days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many new soldiers were brought to this camp to train to go off to war. While they were there, though, the townspeople treated them very nicely, causing many of them to come back to Augusta at the end of the war. But within the few months after WWII, trouble began to set in. Many of the GIs at Camp Gordon had been sent back home, and the importance of the army in the community seemed to almost come to an end. But then Augusta would go through its golden age.
In 1948, new life came to the city when the U.S. Army moved the Signal Training Center and Military Police School to Camp Gordon. Later on, in November of 1948, the Clarks Hill Reservoir was created by a newly constructed dam, which provided the city with a good supply of hydroelectric power. Then, in 1950, plans were announced to build the Savannah River Plant nearby, which would boost the city's population about 50,000. Augusta moved into the second half of the twentieth century on the threshold of becoming an urban industrial center in the South.