Georgia Archives

University System of Georgia

Georgia’s Secretaries of State

Constitutions from 1798-1877 directed that the governor, secretary of state, and treasurer would be elected by the General Assembly. In 1880, Nathan C. Barnett became the first secretary of state elected by Georgia’s voters. Originally a two-year term, the office changed to a four-year term in 1946.

Name Term of Service Notes
John Milton 1777 - 1799
Horatio Marbury 1799 - 1811
Abner Hammond 1811 - 1823
Everard Hamilton 1823 - 1833
William A. Tennille 1833 - 1843
Nathan Crawford Barnett 1843 - 1849
George Washington Harrison 1849 - 1851
Nathan Crawford Barnett 1851 - 1853
Elihu P. Watkins 1853 - 1861
Nathan Crawford Barnett 1861 - 1868
David G. Cotting 1868 - 1873 1st Republican SOS
Nathan Crawford Barnett 1873 - 2/2/1890 Died in office
Philip Cook, Sr. 2/5/1890 – 5/20/1894 Died in office
Allen Daniel Candler 1894 - 1898
William C. Clifton 3/31/1898 –10/28/1898 Elected GA Senate
Philip Cook, Jr. 10/29/1898 - 3/19/1918 Died in office
Henry Bascomb Strange 1918 – 6/28/1919
Samuel Guyton McLendon 1919 – 3/8/1928 Died in office
George Henry Carswell 3/10/1928 – 6/27/1931
John Bryan Wilson 1931 – 2/22/1946 Died in office
Benjamin Wynn “Ben” Fortson, Jr. 2/25/1946 – 5/19/1979 Died in office
David Bryan Poythress 6/4/1979 - 1983
Joseph Maxwell “Max” Cleland 1/1983 – 1/1996 Resigned to run for U.S. Senate
Lewis Abit Massey 1/5/1996 – 1999
Lera Catharine “Cathy” Cox 1999 - 2007 1st woman SOS
Karen C. Handel 1/8/2007 – 12/30/2009 1st Republican woman SOS. Resigned to run for Governor
Brian P. Kemp 1/8/2010 - present