Revolutionary War and Antebellum Period
During the American Revolution, the British took Savannah in 1778 and held it into 1782. A land-sea force of French and Americans tried to retake the city in 1779, first by siege and then by direct assault, but failed.
After independence was secured, Savannah flourished. Soon, farmers discovered that the soil was rich and the climate favorable for cultivation of cotton and rice. Plantations and slavery became highly profitable systems for whites in the neighboring "Lowcountry" of South Carolina. So Georgia, the free colony, legalized slavery. The trans-Atlantic slave trade brought many African-Americans through the port of Savannah. Many who stayed in the area formed the unique Gullah culture of the coastal communities in Georgia and South Carolina.
With the wealth brought by cotton, residents built lavish homes and churches throughout the city. After the invention of the cotton gin on a plantation outside of Savannah, the city rivaled Charleston as a commercial port. Many of the world's cotton prices were set on the steps of the Savannah Cotton Exchange. The building is still in existence.
But Savannah was not spared from misfortune. Two devastating fires in 1796 and 1820 each left half of Savannah in ashes but residents re-built. The year 1820 saw an outbreak of yellow fever that killed a tenth of its population. Savannah also survived fires, epidemics and hurricanes but always bounced back.