John Forsyth (Georgia)

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John Forsyth
13th United States Secretary of State
In office
July 1, 1834 – March 4, 1841
President Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
Preceded by Louis McLane
Succeeded by Daniel Webster
United States Senator
from Georgia
In office
November 9, 1829 – June 27, 1834
Preceded by John M. Berrien
Succeeded by Alfred Cuthbert
In office
November 23, 1818 – February 17, 1819
Preceded by George Troup
Succeeded by Freeman Walker
33rd Governor of Georgia
In office
November 7, 1827 – November 4, 1829
Preceded by George Troup
Succeeded by George Gilmer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1827 – November 7, 1827
Preceded by Constituency reestablished
Succeeded by Richard Henry Wilde
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1823 – March 3, 1827
Preceded by Robert R. Reid
Succeeded by Districts established
In office
March 4, 1813 – November 23, 1818
Preceded by Seat established
Succeeded by Robert R. Reid
United States Minister to Spain
In office
May 18, 1819 – March 2, 1823
President James Monroe
Preceded by George W. Erving
Succeeded by Hugh Nelson
12th Attorney General of Georgia
In office
Governor Jared Irwin
David Mitchell
Preceded by John Hamil
Succeeded by Alexander Allen
Personal details
Born (1780-10-22)October 22, 1780
Fredericksburg, Virginia, U.S.
Died October 21, 1841(1841-10-21) (aged 60)
Washington D.C., U.S.
Political party Democratic-Republican (Before 1825)
Democratic (1825–1841)
Spouse(s) Clara Meigs
Education Princeton University (BA)

John Forsyth Sr. (October 22, 1780 – October 21, 1841) was a 19th-century American politician from Georgia. He represented Georgia in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Forsyth also served as the 33rd Governor of Georgia. As a strong supporter of the policies of Andrew Jackson, he was appointed Secretary of State by Jackson in 1834, and continued in that role until 1841 during the presidency of Martin Van Buren.

Early life

Forsyth was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia. His father, Robert Forsyth, was the first U.S. Marshal to be killed in the line of duty in 1794.[1] He was an attorney who graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1799. He married Clara Meigs, daughter of Josiah Meigs, in 1801 or 1802. One of his sons, John Forsyth, Jr., later became a newspaper editor.

Political Life

Forsyth served in the United States House of Representatives (1813–1818 and 1823–1827), the United States Senate (1818–1819 and 1829–1834), and as the 33rd Governor of Georgia (1827–1829). He was the United States Secretary of State from 1834 until 1841. In this role he led the government's response to the Amistad case.[2] He was a loyal follower of Andrew Jackson[3] and opposed John C. Calhoun in the issue of nullification. Forsyth was appointed as Secretary of State in reward for his efforts. He led the pro-removal reply to Theodore Frelinghuysen about the Indian Removal Act of 1830.[4][5] He supported slavery and was a slaveholder himself.[6]

Death and legacy

Forsyth died in Washington, D.C., and was buried in Congressional Cemetery. Forsyth County, Georgia,[7] Forsyth, Georgia,[8] and Forsyth Park[9] in Savannah are named for him.[10] He died the day before his 61st birthday.

In popular culture


  1. ^ Brown, Russell K. (Fall 2008). "Killed in the Line of Duty: Marshal Robert Harriss, Jr., of Summerville, Georgia". Georgia Historical Quarterly. 92 (3). Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  2. ^ Unger, Harlow G. (2012). John Quincy Adams. Boston: Da Capo Press. p. 292. ISBN 9780306822650. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  3. ^ Howe, Daniel Walker (2007). What Hath God Wrought : The Transformation of America, 1815-1848. Oxford University Press: New York. p. 346. ISBN 9780195078947. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  4. ^ Cheathem, Mark Renfred (2014). Andrew Jackson, Southerner. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. p. 154. ISBN 978-0807150986. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  5. ^ Morris, Michael (Winter 2007). "Georgia and the Conversation over Indian Removal". Georgia Historical Quarterly. 91 (4). Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  6. ^ Finkelman, Paul; Kennon, Donald R. (2010). In the shadow of freedom : the politics of slavery in the national capital. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-0821419342. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Forsyth County historical marker". Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Forsyth historical marker". Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  9. ^ "Forsyth Park historical marker". Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  10. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 128.
  11. ^ "Amistad (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 13 May 2018.


External links

  • United States Congress. "John Forsyth (id: F000284)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • John Forsyth at Find a Grave
  • Biography at Players in the Amistad Affair
  • Letter, 1825 Mar. 5, Washington, [D.C. to] G[eorge] M. Troup, [Governor of Georgia] / John Forsyth
  • [Letter] 1826 June 15, Sand Hills, [Georgia] / John Forsyth
  • [Letter] 1827 Dec. 12, Milledgeville, Georgia, [to Governor] of Tennessee, Sam[ue]l Houston / John Forsyth, Gov[ernor of Georgia]
  • [Letter] 1830 Jan. 24, Georgetown, District of Columbia [to] George R. Gilmer, Governor of Georgia / John Forsyth
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Hamil
Attorney General of Georgia
Succeeded by
Alexander Allen
U.S. House of Representatives
New seat Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's at-large congressional district

Succeeded by
Robert R. Reid
Preceded by
Robert R. Reid
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's at-large congressional district

Districts established
Preceded by
Jonathan Russell
Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Succeeded by
Edward Everett
Constituency reestablished Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Richard Henry Wilde
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
George Troup
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Georgia
Served alongside: Charles Tait
Succeeded by
Freeman Walker
Preceded by
John M. Berrien
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Georgia
Served alongside: George Troup, John King
Succeeded by
Alfred Cuthbert
Preceded by
Levi Woodbury
Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee
Succeeded by
William R. King
Preceded by
Littleton Tazewell
Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Succeeded by
William Wilkins
Preceded by
Samuel Smith
Chair of the Senate Finance Committee
Succeeded by
Daniel Webster
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
George W. Erving
United States Minister to Spain
Succeeded by
Hugh Nelson
Political offices
Preceded by
George Troup
Governor of Georgia
Succeeded by
George Gilmer
Preceded by
Louis McLane
United States Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Daniel Webster
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