At Bow Tie Tours, we pride ourselves on being able to talk about the obvious stuff (yes, Benjamin Franklin did fly that kite and, no, talking about Franklin and his deeds never gets boring) but also some of the lesser known facts and personalities. People often stop at the plaque of Button Gwinnett, simply because of the name. Gwinnett (pronounced Gwin-NETT) spent most of his time getting into debt and coming up with schemes to get out of debt. The schemes usually required more debt.
What Gwinnett was clearly good at was talking – how else can you explain his ability to keep convincing people to lend him money? – and he was a natural politician. At first he opposed independence, claiming that he was particularly vulnerable to British retribution since he owned an island off of the Georgia coast. Ultimately he was chosen to take part in the 2nd Continental Congress and he voted for independence and signed the Declaration. He then wrote the constitution for his home state of Georgia before becoming both the governor and the head of the Georgian contingent of the Continental Army. it was felt that he should not hold both positions and the soldiers were placed under the command of Colonel Lachlan Macintosh.
Button was never able to get over this and considered MacIntosh an enemy. In return, Macintosh called Gwinnett a “scoundrel and a lying rascal.” Gwinnett challenged MacIntosh to a duel. Each of them was able to wound the other, but only Gwinnett’s injury was mortal – he died from gangrene in his festering leg a few days later at the age of forty-two.
Gwinnett is remembered in Georgia by those who attend the elementary school named in his honor.