Dr. John Derden, member of the Wiregrass Chapter of the Georgia Society – Sons of the American Revolution, traveled to Fernando’s Restaurant in Thomson on Thursday, July 15, to speak to the Little River Chapter about a former U.S. president’s trip through the Peach State.
The meeting began at 7 p.m., and Dr. Derden went before the crowd of 22 attendees and delivered an address about George Washington’s travels through Georgia in 1791.
According to Dr. Derden, Washington had planned to visit every state in the country at the time in order to become better acquainted with their principle characters and internal circumstances.
Washington’s southern trip began April 9, 1791 and took him through Virginia as well as three other states he had never been to before: North Carolina, South Carolina, and, of course, Georgia.
With a carefully devised march line and accompanied only by his senior secretary, Maj. William Jackson, and a handful of servants, Washington left Mount Vernon to investigate conditions in the most southern states. He traveled in a lightweight carriage—a wagon, the only other vehicle in his simple entourage, followed with his luggage. A total of eight men and 11 horses, Dr. Derden explained, made the bulk of the Southern Tour.
Washington’s carriage was pulled by four brown horses, and the baggage wagon was pulled by two horses. Five extra saddle horses were brought along, including the president’s tall, white charger named Prescott. The group often departed between 4 and 6 a.m., halting for breakfast for their first stop and traveling around 25 to 40 miles in a day.
The president, well aware of imagery, often mounted Prescott to enter a town. At well over 6’ tall, George Washington rode high in the saddle.
In Georgia, Washington’s tour took him into Savannah, then up the Savannah/Augusta road across Brier Creek into Waynesboro and into Augusta. When Washington left Augusta, he crossed a bridge over the Savannah River and journeyed to Columbia, South Carolina.
President Bill Tankersley opened the meeting with a prayer and led the Pledge of Allegiance as well as the SAR Pledge. He ended the meeting with the SAR recessional and another prayer.