President George Washington was already implementing the constitution when the nineteenth century began. He accepted the title “Mr. President,” established the two-term tradition for the presidency, and named a cabinet. Thomas Jefferson was Secretary of State, Alexander Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury, Edmund Randolph was Attorney General, and Henry Knox was Secretary of War.
The population of Georgia at the beginning of the century was about 83,000. But that number increased rapidly as people flocked to the state looking for land. Waves of expansion to the interior of the state had already started. But white settlements in the state were still concentrated along the coast and the rivers.
Some plantation owners who left Liberty County during the Revolutionary War returned to find their plantations so deteriorated that they migrated elsewhere to start all over again. Their plantations became the property of others. Those people who remained in the county during the war were left with little except their property when the British evacuated Georgia.
A new breed of people replaced the colonial aristocrats of Liberty County. By 1800 they had rebuilt old plantations along the coast and established farms in the interior. They did it with the help of factors and brokers and a lot of hard work.
By 1800 the county government was established and was functioning well. Leadership in the county was now centered in the county seat at Riceboro rather than in Midway Church as it was before the Revolutionary War. Newcomers who became county officials in many cases had no connection with Midway Church.
The port at Sunbury declined in maritime importance. Its facilities by now were inferior to those at Savannah, Georgia. Newer trading vessels were being built which required a deeper port than that at Sunbury. There was, however, still shipping in and out of Sunbury and officials to regulate the port.
Savannah, Georgia, grew in size and its citizens in importance. Sunbury declined in size, and some of its most prominent citizens went elsewhere to reside. Savannah, Georgia was destined for greatness. Sunbury was destined for oblivion.
What was produced in Liberty County, more and more by 1800, was being transported overland to the port at Savannah, Georgia. Trade with the interior of the state was now possible by use of the Ogeechee and Altamaha rivers, or the Sunbury and Hencart roads. The latter supposedly got its name because so many farmers used the road to transport chickens in two-wheeled carts to coastal markets.