Savannah


Savannah
/seuh van"euh/, n.
1. a seaport in E Georgia, near the mouth of the Savannah River. 141,634.
2. a river flowing SE from E Georgia along most of the boundary between Georgia and South Carolina and into the Atlantic. 314 mi. (505 km) long.

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City (pop., 2000: 131,510), southeastern Georgia, U.S. Located at the mouth of the Savannah River, it is the oldest city in Georgia and its principal seaport.

It was established in 1733 by James Oglethorpe and was the birthplace of the Georgia colony, the seat of the colonial government, and capital of the state until 1786. A major Confederate supply port during the American Civil War, the city was the objective of Union Gen. William T. Sherman's march to the sea in 1864. Noted for its beautiful historic buildings built around a system of small parks, it is a leading tourist centre. It is the site of several institutions of higher learning.

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▪ American steam ship
      either of two historic U.S. ships, each representing a landmark in navigation. In 1819 the first Savannah, named for its home port in Georgia (although built in New York) became the first ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean employing steam power. Its small steam engine and pinewood fuel supply were good for only a part of the 24-day crossing. For most of the voyage the Savannah relied on a full spread of sail, but the voyage demonstrated the practicability of steam navigation on the ocean. The sight of the 300-ton vessel off the Irish coast brought a cutter hastening to the ship's assistance, because its plume of black smoke had been mistaken for evidence of a fire on board.

      The second Savannah, launched at Camden, N.J., in 1959, was the world's first nuclear-powered (nuclear energy) cargo ship, built experimentally by the U.S. government to demonstrate the potential of nuclear power for nonmilitary shipping. Displacing 22,000 tons, the Savannah was 181.5 m (595.5 feet) long and had accommodations for 60 passengers as well as 9,400 tons of cargo. Its cruising speed was about 20 knots, and in the 1960s it carried out a large number of demonstration cruises in the Atlantic and elsewhere. Despite its success, high costs discouraged early imitation by commercial shippers.

      industrial seaport city, seat (1777) of Chatham county, southeastern Georgia, U.S., at the mouth of the Savannah River. Savannah was established in 1733 by James Edward Oglethorpe (Oglethorpe, James Edward), the founder of Georgia, who named it for the river. The city was planned around a system of squares, which have been made into small parks and planted with semitropical flora; these are surrounded with buildings in a variety of architectural styles (notably Georgian Colonial and Greek Revival), and hundreds have been restored. Savannah exceeds all other Georgia cities in historic interest and is a leading tourist centre.

      The birthplace of the Georgia colony, Savannah was the seat of colonial government and was the capital of the state until 1786. Methodist (Methodism) founders John (Wesley, John) and Charles Wesley (Wesley, Charles) arrived in 1736 to preach to the colonists and the Native Americans. Evangelist George Whitefield (Whitefield, George) joined the Wesleys in 1738 and two years later founded Bethesda, one of the first orphanages in America. During most of the American Revolution the town was occupied by loyalist forces; it was the focus of a failed French-American attack (October 9, 1779), during which colonial army officer Kazimierz Pulaski (Pułaski, Kazimierz) was mortally wounded.

      Port traffic, begun in 1744, increased steadily as Georgia's plantation (tobacco and cotton) economy grew and transportation infrastructure was developed in the hinterland. The Savannah, the first steamboat to cross the Atlantic Ocean, sailed from there to Liverpool, England, in 1819. During the American Civil War, Savannah was an important supply point for the Confederacy until Fort Pulaski (on Cockspur Island 15 miles [25 km] east, now a national monument) fell to Union troops in April 1862. Commerce suffered because of the Union blockade, but the city—the objective of General William Tecumseh Sherman (Sherman, William Tecumseh)'s march to the sea—was not captured until December 21, 1864. It recovered fairly rapidly despite a yellow-fever epidemic in 1876.

      Savannah's history since 1900 has revolved largely around its industrialization and growth as a maritime centre. It is a leading port in the southeastern United States for manufactured goods; major industries include shipbuilding and the production of paper, food, chemicals, and aircraft. Army installations (Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield) are in the vicinity. The city is the seat of Savannah State (1890) and Armstrong Atlantic State (1935) universities. Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is 10 miles (16 km) upriver, and Tybee and Wassaw national wildlife refuges are located along the Atlantic coast adjacent to the city. Notable Savannah natives include Juliette Low (Low, Juliette Gordon), founder of the Girl Scouts of America, writers Conrad Aiken (Aiken, Conrad) and James Alan McPherson (McPherson, James Alan), lyricist and composer Johnny Mercer (Mercer, Johnny), and explorer John C. Frémont (Frémont, John C). Inc. 1789. Pop. (1990) city, 137,560; Savannah MSA, 258,060; (2000) city, 131,510; Savannah MSA, 293,000.

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Universalium. 2010.

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