|Calhoun Street in the 1850s|
(Credit: 1853 Vincent map)
Other NamesPiedmont Avenue (since 1892)
Name OriginsAccording to Atlanta historian Franklin Garrett, Calhoun Street was named for James Montgomery Calhoun (1811-1875), a four-term mayor of Atlanta who is perhaps best known for surrendering the city to Union Gen. William T. Sherman during the Civil War.
|(Credit: Pioneer Citizens' History of Atlanta)|
The 1830s marked the beginning of the Georgia state government's lengthy efforts to encourage white settlement and relocate Native Americans, such as the Creeks. Violence broke out when speculators sought to defraud the Creeks of their land allotments, and the so-called "Creek War of 1836" was launched. Although Calhoun was a practicing lawyer during this time, for unclear reasons he became involved in the conflict, serving as captain in an army led by Gen. William Scott and distinguishing himself in a battle near Stewart County, Georgia.
Calhoun's success as a military leader seems to have encouraged him to try his hand at politics. In 1837, Calhoun won a seat in the Georgia House, representing DeKalb County, and in 1851, he was elected a state senator. A year later, in December 1852, Calhoun moved to Atlanta, which would be his home for the rest of his life. As a lawyer and state senator, Calhoun was a prominent citizen of Atlanta. When the Civil War broke out and Atlanta was transformed into an engine of the Southern war effort, Calhoun sought an influential role. He was elected mayor in 1862, the first of four consecutive one-year terms. As the war progressed, Calhoun drew upon his military experience and organized a militia to protect the city.
|Sherman and staff after the capture of Atlanta|
(Credit: National Park Service)
After the war, Calhoun practiced law in Atlanta with his son, Lowndes, until his death in 1875. He is buried with his wife in Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery.
Garrett, Franklin M. (1954/2011). Atlanta and Its Environs, Volume I. University of Georgia Press. (p. 300)
Pioneer Citizens' Society of Atlanta, Pioneer Citizens' History of Atlanta, 1833-1902 (pp. 288-291)
Sherman, William T., Letter to James M. Calhoun et al.