John Forsyth
John Forsyth US Secretary of State.jpg
13th United States Secretary of State
In office
July 1, 1834 – March 4, 1841
PresidentAndrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
Preceded byLouis McLane
Succeeded byDaniel Webster
United States Senator
from Georgia
In office
November 9, 1829 – June 27, 1834
Preceded byJohn M. Berrien
Succeeded byAlfred Cuthbert
In office
November 23, 1818 – February 17, 1819
Preceded byGeorge Troup
Succeeded byFreeman Walker
33rd Governor of Georgia
In office
November 7, 1827 – November 4, 1829
Preceded byGeorge Troup
Succeeded byGeorge Gilmer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1827 – November 7, 1827
Preceded byConstituency reestablished
Succeeded byRichard Henry Wilde
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1823 – March 3, 1827
Preceded byRobert R. Reid
Succeeded byDistricts established
In office
March 4, 1813 – November 23, 1818
Preceded bySeat established
Succeeded byRobert R. Reid
United States Minister to Spain
In office
May 18, 1819 – March 2, 1823
PresidentJames Monroe
Preceded byGeorge W. Erving
Succeeded byHugh Nelson
12th Attorney General of Georgia
In office
GovernorJared Irwin
David Mitchell
Preceded byJohn Hamil
Succeeded byAlexander Allen
Personal details
Born(1780-10-22)October 22, 1780
Fredericksburg, Virginia, U.S.
DiedOctober 21, 1841(1841-10-21) (aged 60)
Washington D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic-Republican (before 1825)
Democratic (1825–1841)
EducationCollege of New Jersey (BA)
(renamed Princeton)

John Forsyth Sr. (October 22, 1780 – October 21, 1841) was a 19th-century American politician from Georgia. He represented the state in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and also served as the 33rd Governor of Georgia. As a supporter of the policies of President Andrew Jackson, Forsyth was appointed secretary of state by Jackson in 1834, and continued in that role until 1841 during the presidency of Martin Van Buren.

Early life

Forsyth was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia. His father, Robert Forsyth, a Scottish immigrant, was the first U.S. Marshal to be killed in the line of duty in 1794.[1][2] He was an attorney who graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1799. He married Clara Meigs, daughter of Josiah Meigs, in 1801 or 1802. One of his sons, John Forsyth, Jr., later became a newspaper editor.

Political life

Forsyth served in the United States House of Representatives (1813–1818 and 1823–1827), the United States Senate (1818–1819 and 1829–1834), and as the 33rd Governor of Georgia (1827–1829). He was the United States Secretary of State from 1834 until 1841. In this role he led the government's response to the Amistad case.[3] He was a loyal follower of Andrew Jackson[4] and opposed John C. Calhoun in the issue of nullification. Forsyth was appointed as Secretary of State in reward for his efforts. He led the pro-removal reply to Theodore Frelinghuysen about the Indian Removal Act of 1830.[5][6] He supported slavery and was a slaveholder himself.[7]

Death and legacy

Forsyth died in Washington, D.C., and was buried in Congressional Cemetery. Forsyth County, Georgia,[8] Forsyth, Georgia,[9] and Forsyth Park[10] in Savannah are named for him.[11] He died the day before his 61st birthday.

In popular culture


  1. ^ Brown, Russell K. (Fall 2008). "Killed in the Line of Duty: Marshal Robert Harriss, Jr., of Summerville, Georgia". Georgia Historical Quarterly. 92 (3). Retrieved October 25, 2016.
  2. ^ Whitmire, Kelly (January 25, 2019). "What's in a name? Historian talks about where road, area names originated in Cumming, Forsyth County". Forsyth News. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  3. ^ Unger, Harlow G. (2012). John Quincy Adams. Boston: Da Capo Press. p. 292. ISBN 9780306822650. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  4. ^ Howe, Daniel Walker (2007). What Hath God Wrought : The Transformation of America, 1815–1848. Oxford University Press: New York. p. 346. ISBN 9780195078947. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  5. ^ Cheathem, Mark Renfred (2014). Andrew Jackson, Southerner. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. p. 154. ISBN 978-0807150986.
  6. ^ Morris, Michael (Winter 2007). "Georgia and the Conversation over Indian Removal". Georgia Historical Quarterly. 91 (4). Retrieved October 25, 2016.
  7. ^ Finkelman, Paul; Kennon, Donald R. (2010). In the shadow of freedom : the politics of slavery in the national capital. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-0821419342.
  8. ^ "Forsyth County historical marker". Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  9. ^ "Forsyth historical marker". Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  10. ^ "Forsyth Park historical marker". Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  11. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. pp. 128.
  12. ^ "Amistad (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 13, 2018.


Legal offices Preceded byJohn Hamil Attorney General of Georgia 1808–1811 Succeeded byAlexander Allen U.S. House of Representatives New seat Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom Georgia's at-large congressional district 1813–1818 Succeeded byRobert R. Reid Preceded byRobert R. Reid Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom Georgia's at-large congressional district 1823–1827 Districts established Preceded byJonathan Russell Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee 1823–1827 Succeeded byEdward Everett Constituency reestablished Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom Georgia's 2nd congressional district 1827 Succeeded byRichard Henry Wilde U.S. Senate Preceded byGeorge Troup U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Georgia 1818–1819 Served alongside: Charles Tait Succeeded byFreeman Walker Preceded byJohn M. Berrien U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Georgia 1829–1834 Served alongside: George Troup, John King Succeeded byAlfred Cuthbert Preceded byLevi Woodbury Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee 1831–1832 Succeeded byWilliam R. King Preceded byLittleton Tazewell Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 1832–1833 Succeeded byWilliam Wilkins Preceded bySamuel Smith Chair of the Senate Finance Committee 1832–1833 Succeeded byDaniel Webster Diplomatic posts Preceded byGeorge W. Erving United States Minister to Spain 1819–1823 Succeeded byHugh Nelson Political offices Preceded byGeorge Troup Governor of Georgia 1827–1829 Succeeded byGeorge Gilmer Preceded byLouis McLane United States Secretary of State 1834–1841 Succeeded byDaniel Webster