• Fraudulent Pine Barrens Deed Signed By Georgia Governor George Mathews in 1794

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    The Yazoo Land Fraud, which began in 1785, involved land that makes up the present-day states of Alabama and Mississippi.  It started with the organization of the Combined Society, a secret society that existed with the purpose of obtaining “from the state of Georgia large grants of land, either for immigration or for sale, in either case for making a large sum of money out of the transaction.”  The Pine Barren Speculation occurred between 1789 and 1796 when Georgia Gov. George Mathews and several other Southern governors made free gifts of three times as much land in Georgia’s then its 24 counties contained.  The law limiting land grants to a maximum of 1,000 acres per person was circumvented by multiple 1,000-acre grants. [Research included]


    MATHEWS (1739-1812) is regarded by some as one of the worst governors in American history. In his role of the Yazoo Land Fraud, he sold off vast tracts of Mississippi wilderness, which he and his cronies had acquired illegally. The 13 x 16 deed offered here directly resulted from the Pine Barrens Speculation, in which Mathews sold worthless land in Georgia, often granting the same vaguely platted lands multiple times. This grant conveys 1000 acres in Washington County, GA on the Ohoopee River to Richmond Dawson, surrounded on two sides by other land granted to Dawson and on the other two sides by “vacant” land.


    Provenance: William Reese Company, catalogue 246:75, circa 2006.

    Folds, toning, light soiling.

    During the American Revolution, Mathews was a Continental Army officer who rose to the rank of brevet brigadier general. He was the 20th and 21st Governor of Georgia, and a U.S. Congressman. He was the leading participant in the Patriot Way of East Florida, an 1810-1812 filibuster expedition to capture Spanish Florida for the United States.  At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Matthews led the 9th Virginia Infantry of the Continental Army to the Battle of Brandywine in September 1777. He and his entire regiment were captured in the Battle of Germantown the following month. He spent the next four years as a prisoner of war and was exchanged on December 5, 1781.


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