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Marker honors John M. Slaton

  • By Winston Skinner
  • |
  • Sep. 03, 2016 - 8:10 AM

The Georgia Historical Society has dedicated a new historical marker recognizing Gov. John Marshall Slaton, one of four governors born in Meriwether County.

The marker for Slaton is on the grounds of the Atlanta History Center near the former governor’s residence.

The others born in the county were William Yates Atkinson, William James Samford and Joseph Meriwether Terrell.

Educated at the University of Georgia, Slaton was the 60th governor of Georgia serving two terms – 1911-12 and 1913-15. Prior to his time as governor, Slaton served in the Georgia House and was speaker of the House for four years before being elected to the Georgia state Senate.  

Slaton ascended to the governor’s office following the election of Gov. Hoke Smith to the U.S. Senate.

“Slaton is best remembered for commuting the sentence of Leo Frank from death to life in prison,” according to Patricia Meagher, communications director for the Georgia Historical Society.

“With the dedication of this marker, we commemorate the life and legacy of Gov. John Slaton,” said Dr. W. Todd Groce, president and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society. “Gov. Slaton was a public servant who, in his own words, ‘could endure misconstruction, abuse and condemnation’ but could not stand ‘the constant companionship of an accusing conscience.’”

The marker for Slaton was erected by the Georgia Historical Society, the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation and the Atlanta History Center, Meagher said.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes spoke at the dedication of the marker. Other speakers for the event included Meagher; Assistant Attorney General Van Pearlstein; Supreme Court Justice David E. Nahmias; Sheffield Hale, president and CEO of the Atlanta History Center; Shelley Rose, senior associate regional director, Anti-Defamation League; Rabbi Steven Lebow, Temple Kol Emeth; and Jerry Klinger, president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation.

Slaton married a socially prominent widow, Sarah Frances Grant Jackson. They lived on property adjacent to the current Atlanta History Center. Slaton Drive, nearby is named in the governor’s memory.

Atkinson, born at Oakland plantation near Gay, moved to Newnan before launching his political career. He was governor from 1894-1898. Terrell lived in Greenville and served from 1902-1911.

Samford was governor of Alabama in 1900-1901