2015 Marks 130 Years Since Tech’s Beginning


Marilyn Somers
Living History Program

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This story is part of a yearlong series marking the 130th anniversary of the beginning of Georgia Tech.


Summary Sentence:

In 1885, a bill was passed in the Georgia legislature and Nathaniel Harris became the “father of Georgia Tech.”

Full Summary:

In 1885, a bill was passed in the Georgia legislature and Nathaniel Harris became the “father of Georgia Tech.”

  • Nathaniel Harris Nathaniel Harris

In 1882, a 36-year-old lawyer and member of the Georgia House of Representatives from Macon, Nathaniel Harris, introduced legislation to build a technical school in Georgia.

Harris introduced the legislation upon the urging of the owner of the Macon newspaper, John Fletcher Hanson.

Harris was a veteran of the Civil War, on the side of the South, having joined the fray when he was just 16 years old. After the war, he entered the University of Georgia. He graduated in 1870 and served an apprenticeship to practice law, a profession he began in 1873 in Macon. 

In those days, the General Assembly met in the Kimball Opera House, having officially moved from Milledgeville to Atlanta in 1870. Harris, newly elected to the House, raised the idea of a state-funded technical school.

A committee to investigate the concept was formed, and Harris was named chair. In 1883, the committee turned in its report, and the bill went up for a vote and failed. In 1884, the vote was closer, but the bill still failed. Harris persevered and, in 1885, the bill finally passed, and Nathaniel Harris became the “father of Georgia Tech.”

Harris would go on to have a brilliant career in Georgia politics and is credited with the following quote: “The founding of the Georgia School of Technology I regard as the most important event of a public nature that occurred in my life.”

Learn more about Georgia Tech’s history at livinghistory.gatech.edu

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  • Created On: Jan 20, 2015 - 10:41am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:17pm