|Coordinates: 33°16′N 83°00′W / 33.27°N 83°W|
|Founded||December 17, 1793|
|Named for||John Hancock|
|• Total||479 sq mi (1,240 km2)|
|• Land||472 sq mi (1,220 km2)|
|• Water||6.8 sq mi (18 km2) 1.4%%|
|• Density||19/sq mi (7/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Hancock County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2020 census, the population was 8,735. The county seat is Sparta. The county was created on December 17, 1793, and named for John Hancock, a Founding Father of the American Revolution.
Hancock County is included in the Milledgeville, Georgia Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Before the Civil War, Hancock County was developed for cotton plantations, as international demand was high for the commodity. The land was developed and the cotton cultivated and processed by thousands of enslaved African Americans. This area is classified as part of the Black Belt of the United States, primarily due to its fertile soil. It was later also associated with the slave society. Enslaved persons made up 61% of the total county population in the 1850 Census. Unusually for such a plantation-dominated society, the county's representatives at the Georgia Secession Convention, who were overwhelmingly white and Democratic, voted against secession in 1861.
But the secession conventions were dominated by men who voted for separation, and Georgia soon seceded and entered the war.
After the war, the freed black population predominated by number in the county for decades. After emancipation and granting of citizenship and the franchise, most freedmen joined the Republican Party, which they credited with gaining their freedom. Conservative white Democrats resisted political domination by blacks, although they were outnumbered. In the later years of Reconstruction, whites used violence, intimidation and fraud to suppress black voting. In 1908 the white-dominated legislature passed an amendment that effectively disenfranchised most black voters and many poor whites ones.
According to the 2010 census estimate, the racial makeup of the county seat of Sparta was 84% African American, 15% White, 0.50% from two or more races, 0.30% Asian, and 0.10% Native American. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.70% of the population.
Since the late 20th century, most African Americans support the Democratic Party and conservative whites support the Republican Party.
In August 2015, the majority-white Hancock County Board of Elections initiated an effort to purge voters from the rolls. They directed deputy sheriffs to the homes of more than 180 black people residing in Sparta (these constituted some 20% of the city's total registered voters) to inform them they would lose their voting rights unless they appeared in court to prove their residency. A total of 53 voters were removed the voting rolls, but a federal judge overturned the Board's actions. It was asserted that these actions were racially based.
In 2021, the African-American elections superintendent for the City of Sparta was referred to the Georgia Secretary of State's Office for prosecution for allegedly imposing illegal requirements for candidates in the 2017 municipal election.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 479 square miles (1,240 km2), of which 472 square miles (1,220 km2) is land and 6.8 square miles (18 km2) (1.4%) is water.
The western portion of Hancock County, which is defined by a line running southeast from White Plains to the intersection of State Route 22 and Springfield Road, then running southwest along State Route 22, is located in the Upper Oconee River sub-basin of the Altamaha River basin. The southern portion of the county, defined by a triangle made of State Route 22 and State Route 15, with Sparta at its apex, is located in the Lower Oconee River sub-basin of the same Altamaha River basin. The northeastern portion of Hancock County is located in the Upper Ogeechee River sub-basin of the Ogeechee River basin.
No Interstate Highway
|U.S. Decennial Census|
The county population is less than half its peak in 1910, a result of the migration of both blacks and whites from rural areas, especially during and after the Great Depression. Plantations and family farms have largely been replaced by industrial-scale farming, which required much less labor. Residents have struggled to make a living.
At the 2000 census there were 10,076 people, 3,237 households, and 2,311 families living in the county. The population density was 21 people per square mile (8/km2). There were 4,287 housing units at an average density of 9 per square mile (4/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 77.76% Black or African American, 21.46% White, 0.16% Native American, 0.11% Asian, 0.14% from other races, and 0.38% from two or more races. 0.54%. were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Of the 3,237 households 31.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.00% were married couples living together, 28.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.60% were non-families. 26.10% of households were one person and 10.80% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.22.
The age distribution was 24.10% under the age of 18, 9.90% from 18 to 24, 31.00% from 25 to 44, 23.00% from 45 to 64, and 12.00% 65 or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 114.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 118.20 males.
The median household income was $22,003 and the median family income was $27,232. Males had a median income of $26,062 versus $19,328 for females. The per capita income for the county was $10,916. About 26.10% of families and 29.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 45.40% of those under age 18 and 25.30% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 9,429 people, 3,341 households, and 2,183 families living in the county. The population density was 20.0 inhabitants per square mile (7.7/km2). There were 5,360 housing units at an average density of 11.4 per square mile (4.4/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 74.1% black or African American, 24.4% white, 0.5% Asian, 0.4% American Indian, 0.1% from other races, and 0.6% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry, and 25.1% were American.
Of the 3,341 households, 28.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.8% were married couples living together, 23.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 34.7% were non-families, and 31.3% of households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.98. The median age was 43.0 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $22,283 and the median family income was $27,168. Males had a median income of $26,837 versus $21,223 for females. The per capita income for the county was $10,925. About 26.7% of families and 26.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 37.3% of those under age 18 and 21.7% of those age 65 or over.
|Black or African American (non-Hispanic)||6,025||68.98%|
|Hispanic or Latino||63||0.72%|
As of the 2020 United States census, there were 8,735 people, 2,974 households, and 1,755 families residing in the county.
Hancock County has been one of the most consistently Democratic counties in the entire nation since the Civil War. But the composition of the party voters and policies they support have undergone major changes since the late twentieth century, switching from whites to African Americans.
The majority of county voters have voted for the Democratic presidential nominee in every election since 1852 except that of 1972, when George McGovern lost every county in Georgia. McGovern did perform better here than elsewhere in the state, losing by only 93 votes. Apart from Richard Nixon in that election, Barry Goldwater in 1964 was the only Republican since at least 1912 to gain 30 percent of the county's vote. That year, most of the county's African-American majority was still largely disenfranchised and could not vote at all. The conservative white minority favored Goldwater because its traditional Democratic loyalties had frayed.
In 1980 Hancock County gave its "favorite son" candidate Jimmy Carter his second best county in the nation. In 1984 it supported Walter Mondale, who won more than 76.6 percent of Hancock County ballots, making it his fourth-best county outside the District of Columbia. He was otherwise within 3,819 votes of losing all fifty states.