Gwinnett County, Georgia was created on December 15, 1818, one of seven counties created on that date. Hall County, Walton County, and Gwinnett were named in honor of the Georgians who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Gwinnett County is named for Button Gwinnett, who signed the Declaration of Independence, led a expedition to take Spanish Florida during the American Revolution, and served as leader of the executive branch of the state government.
During the War of 1812 the state government built Fort Daniel to protect settlers and put the fort under the command of Tandy Key. Lieutenant George Gilmer led a group of soldiers, including James Montgomery south along a low ridge to Standing Peachtree at the confluence of Peachtree Creek and the Chattahoochee River where they constructed Fort Peachtree. Gilmer built Peachtree Road on his way south to connect Fort Peachtree and Fort Daniel.
Elisha Winn's home served the entire county for elections. The home was built in Jackson County, but became the core of Gwinnett County when formed in 1818. Winn's barn served as the courthouse and another outbuilding served as jail for the first three years of the county's existence.
Plans for a county seat were made in the Winn House and named Lawrenceville for Commander James Lawrence who uttered the words, "Don't give up the ship!" on the deck of the USS Chesapeake shortly before it was boarded by the English navy.
At the center of Lawrenceville the first Gwinnett County courthouse was built sometime after 1821. It burned in 1871. An interim courthouse served the people until a new courthouse was completed in 1885 (now the historic courthouse in downtown Lawrenceville). The clock tower was added in 1908 and the WPA renovated the building in 1935.
While defending the sale of Hustler Magazine on First Amendment grounds Larry Flynt was shot on Pryor St. in downtown Lawrenceville on March_6, 1978 while he was returning to the courthouse from a lunch break.
In the early 1990's the county moved to the Justice Center, off of downtown Lawrenceville and slowly removed all services from the historic courthouse. When the government completed its move the courthouse square was completely renovated.
Crossing the Chattahoochee River, which formed the northern boundary of the county originally with the Cherokee Nation was done at Boseman Ferry (1822), McWright's Ferry (1824), Gate's Ferry (1827) and Pittman's Ferry (1834). The only bridge across the Chattahoochee was McAfee's (1834). In 1821 Terry's Bridge across the Yellow River was built.
When the Georgia government wanted to entend their laws onto the Cherokee Nation, Gwinnett County, along with Hall County, Habersham County, Carroll County, and Dekalb County were designated to hear trials. The most famous of the Cherokee trials actually involved 12 white missionaries who were working with the Cherokee. Governor George Gilmer ordered the Georgia Guard to arrest the missionaries including Samuel Austin Worcester and Elizur Butler. They were charged with violating a law requiring white men to register with the state before working in the Cherokee Nation.
Jurist Augustin Smith Clayton hears the trial for 2 of the missionaries (the other 10 agreed not to return to the Cherokee Nation). Governor Gilmer refused to negotiated with the convicted missionaries, but shortly after becoming governor, Wilson Lumpkin offered to commute their sentances if they left the Cherokee Nation. Both accepted. Clayton's ruling was eventually overturned in Worcester v. Georgia.
In 1870 the construction began on the Atlanta & Richmond Air Line Railway. Owned by the Richmond and Danville Railroad, entered Gwinnett County, and the towns of Norcross, Buford and Suwanee were created along the route of the road. The railroad, completed to Charlotte in 1873 operated a year before being reorganized into the Atlanta and Charlotte Air Line. Today that operates as the Southern Railroad.
The Georgia, Carolina & Northern Railway built a line through the county seat of Lawrenceville in 1890. They added a 10.83-mile spur to Loganville (Lawrenceville and Loganville Railroad) that operated until 1932. In 1901 both railroads became part of the Seaboard Air Line.
Bona Allen Tannery in Buford was the largest tannery in the United States. It is now known as Tannery Row. Cotton mills were the only other major industry in the county at the start of the 20th century.
Agriculture accounted for most of the employment in the county until the 1950's. Popular crops included wheat, cotton, and butter beans.
From 1902 until 1965 the Crackers were Atlanta's baseball team, although not affiliated with a league until after the 1950 season. Technically disbanded after 1965, the team continued on as the Richmond Braves. In 2009 the Atlanta Braves decided to move the team closer to home, to the Gwinnett Arena, about 40 miles from Atlanta.