Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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HABERSHAM, James, statesman, born in Beverly, Yorkshire, England, in 1712; died in New Brunswick, New Jersey, 28 August, 1775. Little is known of his parentage, except that it was noble. When he was asked by his sons the meaning of the title "Honorable" prefixed to his name on old letters, he replied that such things were worse than useless in a colony, as they tended to promote pride and unchristian feeling. In company with his friend, George Whitefield, the evangelist, he arrived in Savannah, Georgia, on 7 May, 1738, and opened a school for orphans and destitute children at Bethesda, nine miles from that town, but in 1744 became a merchant. In 1750 he was appointed with Pickering Robinson a commissioner to advance the culture of silk in the colony, and in 1754 became secretary of the province and one of the councillors. In 1767 he was one of the presidents of the upper house of assembly, and in 1769-'72 he officiated as governor during the absence of Sir James Wright. He raised at Bethesda the first cotton in the state, and sent the first few bales that were exported thence to England.--His son, Joseph, statesman, born in Savannah, Georgia, 28 July, 1751; died there, 17 November, 1815, was one of the members of the first commission appointed by the friends of liberty in Georgia in July, 1774, and one of those who on 11 June, 1775, on receiving intelligence of the skirmish at Lexington, seized the powder in the royal magazine in Savannah for the use of the patriots. In June of that year he was appointed a member of the council of safety, and in July commanded a party that captured a government ship with munitions of war, including 15,000 pounds of powder. On 18 January, 1776, while a member of the assembly, he raised a body of volunteers, who took Governor Wright prisoner, and confined him to his house under a guard. He was appointed major of the 1st Georgia battalion, 4 February, 1776, and defended Savannah from a British naval attack early in March. After Savannah was taken in the winter of 1778, he removed his family to Virginia, but on the landing of D'Estaing participated in the disastrous attack on Savannah in 1779. At the close of the war he held the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He was a member of the state assembly and its speaker in 1785 and 1790, and was postmaster general of the United States from 25 February, 1795, to 28 November, 1801. He was president of the branch of the United States bank at Savannah from 1802 until the expiration of its charter.--Another son, John, soldier, born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1754; died near Savannah, 19 November, 1799, received a good English education and engaged in mercantile pursuits. He took an active part in the pre-Revolutionary movements, and was afterward major of the 1st Georgia Continental regiment. He was greatly trusted by the Indians, and after the Revolution Washington appointed him Indian agent. He was a member of the Continental congress from Georgia in 1785-'6, and was collector of customs at Savannah in 1789-'99.--John's son, Joseph Clay, physician, born in Savannah, Georgia, 18 November, 1790; died there, 2 November, 1855, was educated at Princeton and at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was graduated in medicine in 1814. He began practice in Savannah in 1815, continuing there till his death. He was health officer of Savannah, president of the medical society of Georgia, and was noted for his benevolence and for his love of science.--James's grandson, Richard Wylly, congressman, born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1786; died in Clarkesville, Georgia, 2 December, 1842, was graduated at Princeton in 1805, studied law, was admitted to the bar, and began practice in Savannah, where he attained note in his profession. In 1835, becoming interested in the gold-mines of that region, he removed to Clarkesville, Habersham co. He was elected a representative from Georgia in congress and served from 1839 till his death. He was much praised for his resignation of the office of United States district attorney in 1825, when a collision between the administration of John Quincy Adams and Governor George M. Troup was imminent. Mr. Habersham induced the Georgia delegation to vote for the appropriation which, carried by a majority of three, enabled Norse to construct his first telegraph line, from Washington to Baltimore. He was the author of the minority report on the tariff in 1842.--His son, Alexander Wylly, naval officer, born in New York city, 24 March, 1826; died in Baltimore, Maryland, 26 March, 1883, entered the navy as midshipman in 1841, became passed midshipman in 1847, master, 14 September, 1855, and lieutenant on the following day. On 30 May, 1860, he resigned from the service and became a merchant in Japan, being the first to introduce Japanese tea into this country. He returned at the beginning of the civil war, and was for six months a prisoner in Fort McHenry. After the war he engaged in business in Baltimore, which he pursued until his death. Besides numerous articles in periodicals he published "My Last Cruise," an account of the United States North Pacific exploring expedition (2d ed., Philadelphia, 1857).
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