George Michael Troup

Born in present-day Alabama, George Troup (1780-1856) served Georgia as a state representative, U.S. congressman, and U.S. senator before being elected governor, serving two terms from 1823-27. Troup’s political career in Alabama is most notable for his role in promoting the fraudulent 1825 Treaty of Indian Springs, which aimed to forcibly remove Native Americans from Georgia and cede three million acres of Creek land in Alabama. Troup County, Georgia, is named in his honor.

George Michael Troup was born September 8, 1780, at McIntosh’s Bluff on the Tombigbee River in present-day Washington County (then part of the Georgia Colony or Province of Georgia), to George Troup and Catherine McIntosh. He had two siblings. Troup’s father was born and educated in England and later became a plantation owner, whereas his mother was born in Inverness, Scotland, the daughter of Capt. John McIntosh for whom the bluff and McIntosh, Washington County, is named. Catherine’s brother William McIntosh was father to Creek leader William McIntosh, also known as Tustunnuggee Hutkee. Although his birth name was George Michael Troup, he was called George McIntosh Troup.

Troup received his early education at home and later in Savannah, Georgia. He then attended the College of New Jersey (present-day Princeton University), where he graduated with distinction. After being admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1800, he pursued a law career in Savannah. Also that year, Troup was elected as a representative to the Georgia General Assembly and was reelected in 1802 and 1803. He married Ann St. Clare McCormick on October 30, 1803, and she died on September 30, 1804; the couple had no children. He later married Ann Carter, with whom he would have six children (three of whom died in childhood).

On October 26, 1807, George Troup was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as the Democratic-Republican candidate to the Tenth Congress, beginning his term on March 4, 1807. Troup retained the seat in the next three Congresses. In 1816, he was elected to the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. William Wyatt Bibb. Troup served on the Committee on Foreign Relations and was chairman of the Military Committee and was elected to a full term but resigned in 1818 to run for governor. Troup was encouraged by his friend and colleague, William Harris Crawford, who had served in the Georgia House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, as the Secretary of War, and as the Secretary of the Treasury. Troup, representing aristocratic plantation owners, lost to incumbent governor and Revolutionary War veteran John Clark, who was supported by frontier settlers and farmers. Clark’s popularity made him a difficult opponent, and Troup lost to him again in 1821. In 1823, in his third attempt to become governor, Troup defeated Matthew Talbot. 

Impatient with the slow pace of federal Indian removal from Georgia, Troup, a firm supporter of removal, conspired with first cousin William McIntosh to arrange the sale of the remainder of the Creek lands in Georgia as well as three million acres in Alabama, to the United States. With the support of U.S. treaty commissioners Duncan Campbell and James Meriwether, Troup persuaded McIntosh and some other Creek leaders to sign the 1825 Treaty of Indian Springs. But he was unable to convince more important Creek chiefs, most notably Tustanagee Thlucoo (Big Warrior) and Tastanaki Hopayi (Little Prince), to agree to the treaty. Pres. John Quincy Adams, however considered the treaty illegal and introduced a new treaty more favorable to the Creeks that Troup vehemently opposed. Adams, unwilling to force the issue, relented, and Troup continued with his initial plan of using a lottery system to redistribute Creek lands.

After the remainder of the Creek leaders learned that McIntosh had ceded their tribal lands without gaining their approval, they ordered the execution of McIntosh and other leaders who acted with him.  On May 1, 1825, Creek warriors set fire to McIntosh’s home. When he fled outside to escape the flames, he was shot and then fatally stabbed. The treaty was later nullified and replaced with the 1826 Treaty of Washington, which ceded Creek land in Georgia but not in Alabama. In 1832, the Creeks would cede all their remaining land in Alabama in the Treaty of Cusseta.

In October 1825, Troup defeated his longtime political rival Clark by a slim margin and became Georgia’s first popularly elected governor. In 1828, he was once again elected U.S. senator, but he retired in 1833 because of health issues. A wealthy owner of several plantations in Laurens and Montgomery Counties, Georgia, and at least several hundred enslaved people, Troup devoted his remaining years to agriculture production until his death on April 26, 1856.

Further Reading

  • Cook, James F. Governors of Georgia, 1754-2004. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2005.
  • Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978. Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978.

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George Troup

Photo courtesy of the Georgia State Capitol Archives
George Troup