William Rabun 

                                                                                    Biography of William Rabun

William Rabun (April 8, 1771 – October 24, 1819)
was born in Halifax County in the Province of North Carolina. He moved with his parents in 1785
to Hancock County, Georgia (then a part of Greene County). William's home was in Powellton, Ga., which is about ten miles northeast of Sparta.
In 1793 he married Mary Battle, and the couple had one son and six daughters. He was a devout Baptist and a self-educated man.


Political career

William Rabun was a member of both houses of the Georgia General Assembly.  He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives i
n 1805, and in 1810 he was elected to the Georgia Senate, where he served as president of the senate until 1817. He became governor of Georgia on March 4, 1817 when Governor David B. Mitchell
resigned to accept President James Madison's appointment as U.S. agent to the Creek Nation,
replacing Benjamin Hawkins who had recently died. Rabun was elected to a full term as governor with the Democratic-Republican Party.

During the First Seminole War, Governor Rabun called on the Georgia militia, under the command of General Edmund Pendleton Gaines, to respond to raids in south Georgia. Edward F. Tattnall wrote to Governor Rabun about assisting in the raising of a force in the vicinity of the St. Mary's River on March 20, 1817. Rabun ordered two villages to be destroyed for their participation in the raids in south Georgia. By mistake, the Creek village of the Chehaws was burned, and ten Creeks were killed. General Andrew Jackson, future president of the United States, was enraged, and wanted Captain Obed Wright prosecuted for murder. Rabun rejected the authority of the federal government to intervene in the affairs of a state, especially over a state-controlled militia. He famously remarked to Jackson, "When the liberties of the people of Georgia shall have been prostrated at the feet of a military despotism, then, and not till then, will your imperious doctrine be submitted to." Rabun criticized Jackson for failing to protect Georgia from the Seminoles and the Creeks, creating a bitter rift with Jackson, but endearing himself to the state of Georgia and the state legislature.

Rabun was involved in the American Importation Case of 1820 of smuggling slaves into Creek and US territory, in violation of the 1808 law against the American slave trade. John Watson, Deputy Magistrate of Georgia, protested Rabun's interference in the execution of his legal duties in the case of 59 Africans who were allegedly seized under executive orders and later sold. The importation of the Africans and the implication of David Brydie Mitchell caused wide interest in the case. Rabun commented that anti-slave laws were being constantly violated, and that "high and low were engaging in it".

Rabun died at his home in Powellton, Hancock County while home in between legislative sessions. He caught a fever and died unexpectedly on October 24, 1819, and was originally buried in the Martin Family Cemetery; however, his grave was moved to the Powellton Baptist Church in Powellton, Georgia in 1985. Two months after Rabun's death, the General Assembly created Rabun County, ceded from Cherokee territory in northeast Georgia.


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