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Walton's vision for Augusta shaped what city is today

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George Walton's name graces one of Augusta's most prominent streets, a Georgia county and numerous other institutions because he signed that name on the Declaration of Independence in 1776 -- the youngest man to do so.

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Walton's home, Meadow Garden, is Augusta’s oldest building.

His home, Meadow Garden, is Augusta's oldest building.

Walton's influence on his state and his adopted hometown continued long after the war.

A Virginia native, the young Walton served in the Georgia militia.

He was wounded when a bullet broke his thigh, giving him a limp for the rest of his life.

Afterward, he headed to Augusta, a town little more than a back-country outpost, and helped set up a constitutional government. The new Georgia Assembly chose him governor in late 1779.

Walton hoped to transform Augusta. Inspired perhaps by his visit to Philadelphia and Gen. James Oglethorpe's design for Savannah, he pushed for Augusta to adopt a checkerboard pattern, straightening streets and adding two blocks of lots to both sides of the original 40, according to historian Edward Cashin's The Story of Augusta.

He encouraged construction of a courthouse, a jail and a school, and he outlined other essentials a proper city should have, including a marketplace, public wells, a powder magazine and a fire engine.

Walton's interest in education led to more than the founding of Richmond Academy. It included a vision.

A key figure in development of the Hill area above Augusta, Walton called for establishment of a college on the 250-acre tract that he called College Hill.

The state, however, chose Athens as the site for Franklin College -- now the University of Georgia. The College Hill site is now occupied by Augusta State University.

The Chronicle reported Walton's death Feb. 2, 1804. Forty-four years later, his remains were moved and buried beneath the Signers' Monument on Greene Street.


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