Inaugurations: Preparing for the New Governor

Inaugurations have historically been times of celebration and introduction for a newly elected administration. Georgia's early governors were no exception. Some governors had elaborate parties or "levees" while other governors were very concerned about costs and gave conservative parties. Two of Georgia's more visible and documented governors, Governor Howell Cobb, 1851-1853 and Governor Joseph Brown, 1857-1865 each entered office in very different ways. Cobb reflected his time period and personal social background of the "good" life while Brown demonstrated his conservative religious beliefs emphasized by a time of great upheaval in American and Georgia history.

The following documents will allow students to compare and contrast the personal beliefs and practices of both Governor Cobb and Governor Brown. The documents are interesting comments on the time periods as well as the lifestyles of the individuals.

Activity 1: Bills of Sale 
Upon completion of this activity students should be able to:
  1. Analyze an historic document.
  2. Compare and contrast food costs from the early nineteenth century and modern times.
  3. Demonstrate creative writing skills using historically based information.

QCC Objectives: Grade 4: Skills: A1, A2, A3, A4, A6, A8, B13 Grade 8: Topics/Concepts: D20, Skills: A1, A2, A11, B14, B15, C24, C25, C33, D38, D39

For this lesson you will need the following images: Suggested Lesson:
  1. Make copies of the receipt from December 20, 1851 for each student.
  2. Remind the students that handwriting from this time period is difficult to decipher. However, as a class, allow the students to compile a list of some of the items that are listed. Tobacco, sugar, "Segars" (cigars), apples, pickles, white vinegar, spices, potatoes, fruits, wine and other various forms of alcohol are examples of some of the items listed.
  3. Make copies of the letter from Mr. Lamar to Governor Cobb. These items were also used for the inauguration. Include the food items listed in the letter in list compiled by the class.
  4. Ask the students to list the kinds of food that they might choose to serve at a party in the present. Allow the students to compare their lists to find the similarities and differences between the Cobb party and a modern event.
  5. Using grocery store advertisements from a current newspaper, ask the students to find as many modern prices for the items listed as possible. Ask the students to compare the costs for the items for 1851 and today. What do these amounts tell about the changes in the costs of living?
  6. As an extending assignment, ask the students to write a diary entry or letter describing the "levee" given by Governor Cobb as if they were there. Remind the students to be as descriptive as possible.

Savannah February 2nd 1852.

Hon. Howell Cobb.

Dear Sir: I have neglected to send your amt of your accts as requested as I sent the different Bills to you as they were rendered, except for those articles I sent for the Ball. & I now send those accts by:

P. Wiltheron (for ice & packing) $12.50
Haywood & Finch (for oysters & kegs) 42.52

De Martinís (for oranges, grapes, jellys, ets.) 66.00
The memorandum made by me of the Bills I sent you are as follows Hasbronck and Co. (for Glass etc) 88.00
Collins & Buckley 30.62
McClesky & Norton 100.00 J. W. Worrell & Co. 251.00
J. Rosseau (segars) 39.00 $508.62

The whole amt. of your indebtedness, if the above corresponds with the Bills sent you, is $630.19, which you can remit & I will liquidate immediately upon receipt. We will be ready for you & Cousin Mary Ann anytime after this week, (?) will be at home this week-
Truly (?)
C.A. L. Lamar

Activity 2: A "Levee" for the Governor
Upon completion of this activity, students should be able to:

  1. Compare and contrast the inaugurations of Governor Cobb and Governor Brown.
  2. Create a drawing of the Mansion from written details.
  3. Discuss a relationship between slave and slaveholder.
  4. Demonstrate creative writing skills using historically based information.

QCC Objectives:
Grade 4: Skills: A1, A2, A3, A4, A9, B10, B11, C17, C23
Grade 8: Topics/Concepts: D20, Skills: A1, A2, A4, A6, A8, A10, A11, A12, B12, B15, C20, C22, C24, C25, C27, C33, D34, D35, D38, D39

***Scan in letters from Mrs. Brown, Nov. 8, 1857 and Nov. 29, 1858 

Suggested Lesson:

  1. Make a copy of the letters from Mrs. Brown, wife of Governor Joseph Brown, to her mother dated November 8, 1857 and November 29, 1858 for each student.
  2. Divide the class into groups of four. Provide each group with a large sheet of white paper. Using Mrs. Brown's description of the Mansion, ask the students to attempt to draw the rooms and the grounds of the Mansion as she describes them in her letter dated November 8, 1857. When the students have completed this activity, allow them to present their drawings to the class in order to compare their drawings for accuracy.
  3. Read the November 8, 1857 letter. Ask the students to identify the job they believe that Emma held at the Mansion. (Emma was Mrs. Brown's slave.) What clues are in the letter that provides evidence? (Governor Brown's hiring of extra help is a major clue.) What does this letter tell you about the relationship that existed between Mrs. Brown and Emma?
  4. Ask the students to list some of Mrs. Brown's concerns in her letter of November 8, 1857 and November 29, 1858. Compare and contrast the concerns.
  5. Define "levee."
  6. Read Mrs. Brown's letter dated November 29, 1858. Compare her list of refreshments for the "levee" and the shopping list from Governor Cobb. What similarities and differences are there? (Governor Brown did not serve any alcohol at his functions at the Mansion.)
  7. Who paid for the levees at the Mansion?
  8. Imagine that you have attended a "levee" given by both Governor Cobb and Governor Brown. Write a newspaper article describing the differences and the similarities in these two events. How do the levees reflect the personalities of the hosts? Which of these events were the most exciting and well attended? Be sure to describe the levees in detail including clothing, decorations, the people that you met while there and the refreshments that were served.

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If you have any questions or comments about the Mansion,
please contact Jim Turner either by phone or e-mail-

(478) 445-4545 /

or by mail -

The Old Governor's Mansion
120 South Clarke Street
Milledgeville, GA 31061

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