Gov. Ellis Arnold is remembered


Ellis Gibbs Arnall was born in Newnan on March 20, 1907, the son of Joseph Gibbs and Bessie Lena Ellis Arnall. He had one brother, Frank Marion Arnall II.

He attended public school in Newnan, then Mercer University and was graduated from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, graduating in 1928. He promptly entered Law School at the University of Georgia, where he served as president of his class, his legal fraternity, the student body and the Gridiron Club. He was graduated in 1931 and returned home to practice law.

In 1935 he married Mildred Delaney Slemons and they were the parents of two children, Alvan and Alice.

In 1932 voters in Coweta County elected him to the Georgia House of Representatives when he was only 25 years of age. At the age of 31 years he was appointed  as states’ attorney general.

Ten years later he ran for governor of Georgia and won becoming the youngest governor in the United States. He became widely known as the “father of modern Georgia.”

While in office, Gov. Arnall restored Georgia’s institutions of higher learning, reformed the state penal system, repealed the poll tax, lowered the voting age, revised the state constitution, established a teachers’ retirement system  and paid off a long-standing state debt.

Upon leaving the governors office, he founded the law firm of Arnall, Golden and Gregory in Atlanta, and though Gov. Arnall died in 1992 at the age of 85, this firm is still in business.

At the behest of the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society and the Georgia Historical Society a bronze marker in honor of Gov. Arnall was unveiled this past Fall.  Project coordinator for the event was Elizabeth Beers. She was working for the two men from Coweta County who served as state governors, John Yates Atkinson, who served as governor from 1894-1898 and Arnall. The two historical markers are located on the Courthouse Square in Newnan, one facing north and south and one facing east and west.