Ben Hill Co GAA constitutional amendment to create Ben Hill county from Irwin and Wilcox counties was proposed July 31, 1906 and ratified November 6, 1906. As of 2000, the population was 17,484. The county seat is Fitzgerald. The county is named after Benjamin Harvey Hill, U.S. Senator from Georgia, a Whig leader, and a staunch opponent of Reconstruction.

The county has only one incorporated city, Fitzgerald, which was founded by former Union soldiers on a 50,000 acre tract owned by the non-profit American Tribune Soldiers Colony Company about 30 years after the Civil War. The citizens of Fitzgerald, pledging unity with their former enemies, named streets after leaders of both armies.


Benjamin Harvey Hill

Benjamin Harvey HillBenjamin Harvey Hill was a U.S. Representative, U.S. senator and a Confederate senator from the state of Georgia. Hill was born September 14, 1823 in Hillsboro, Georgia in Jasper County. He was of Welsh and Irish American ancestry.

He attended the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia where he was a member of the Demosthenian Literary Society and graduated in 1844 with first honors. He was then swiftly admitted to the Georgia bar later in 1844. He married Caroline E. Holt in Athens, GA in 1845.

His political life was full, and he ran for office under the aegis of a remarkable number of parties. He was elected to the state legislature of Georgia in 1851 as a member of the Whig Party. He then supported Millard Filmore running on the Know-Nothing ticket in 1856, and was an elector for that party in the Electoral College. In 1857, he ran for governor of Georgia unsuccessfully against successful Democratic nominee Joseph E. Brown. In 1859, he was elected to the state senate as a Unionist. In 1860, he was again an elector, this time for John Bell and the Unionist party.

When the Confederate government was formed, he became a member of the Confederate Provisional Congress and was subsequently elected to the Confederate States Senate, a term which he held throughout its existence. At the end of the Civil War, he was arrested by the Union and confined in Fort Lafayette from May until July in 1865.

Unlike many Confederate politicians, Hill had a long and distinguished career as a "reconstructed" Southerner and U.S. politician. He ultimately became a Democrat after the Civil War ended. In 1875 he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives where he quickly won a reputation as a spokesman for the South. He was elected to the U.S. Senate on January 26, 1877.

He served as a member of the U. S. House of Representatives from May 5, 1875 - March 3, 1877, and then as a member of the U. S. Senate from March 4, 1877, until his death August 16, 1882. His obituary was in the Atlanta Constitution, August 17, 1882, on the front page. He is buried in historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, GA.

   

Benjamin Hill (1823-1882) - Biographical Directory of the United States Congress


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