The origins of Macon can be traced to the site of Ocmulgee Old Fields. The Mississippian culture, their ancestors, established a stable chiefdom that is primarily based on agriculture. They built earthwork mounds that they used mostly for religious activities as well as burials. Indigenous people settled along the rivers in the Southeast prior to the European’s arrival.
Macon was founded at Fort Benjamin Hawkins in 1809 along the Ocmulgee River to secure the inhabitants and stabilize its trade with the Native Americans. The fort was to commemorate the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southeast region, Benjamin Hawkins. He lived in the area for 20 years and married a Creek woman. The Creek were coerced by President Thomas Jefferson to surrender the lands and instituted the construction of the fort.
Lower Creek Pathway, an extensive American Indian network, was protected by Fort Hawkins. After some time, the network was developed by the U.S. to become the Federal Road that expands from Washington D.C. to New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama. The fort was a significant center for trades as well as a major military distribution area in the War of 1812. Following the war, the fort served as a trading post for several more years until 1821. It was later on burned to ashes after it was decommissioned sometime in 1828. In 1938, a replica of the blockhouse was constructed and is still functional in the present. Reconstruction of the historical site was initiated in the 21st century.
Fort Hawkins was later renamed to “Newton” after Europeans began to relocate to the region. In 1823, it became the county seat and officially called Macon. The name was to honor Nathaniel Macon, a North Carolina state figure. A large percentage of the early inhabitants of Georgia initially came from North Carolina. The city had spacious parks and streets because the plan is to make it a “city within a park.” There were also several city ordinances requiring residents to plant trees in their residences.
Due to the city’s strategic location on the Ocmulgee River that allowed easy shipping to markets, the town flourished. During the city’s early economy, cotton was one of the leading products it offered. Cotton was the most common crop in the Black Belt of Georgia, where Macon was located. The city’s economy continued to thrive because of the railroad that was laid in 1843. The Wesleyan College was established in Macon by the Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1836. Macon was unable to win the vote as the capital city of Georgia in 1855.
Macon had a significant role in the American Civil War for the Confederacy. It manufactured friction primers, percussion cups, and pressed bullets for the Confederacy.
In 1864, Macon City Hall became a temporary state capitol. Later on, it served as a hospital for hurt Confederate soldiers. General William Tecumseh Sherman attacked the state capital of Milledgeville but spared Macon, which is just near the area. On April 20, 1865, Macon was struck by the Union forces.
Macon developed as a transportation hub for the state of Georgia in the 20th century. In 1916, the Terminal Station was founded.