Wilkes County, the 8th county formed in Georgia, was created in 1777. Originally including Lincoln, Elbert and parts of Hart, Madison, McDuffie, Oglethorpe, Taliaferro and Warren counties, Wilkes County was named for John Wilkes, a member of the British Parliament who supported the colonies' cause.
Washington is said to be the first community in the nation to be incorporated under the name in honor of George Washington, and has more ante-bellum homes than any other city of its size in the state. The community was originally named Heard's Fort after the family that settled it in 1773. They were neighbors of George Washington in Virginia.
The world's first cotton gin was developed by Eli Whitney on a Wilkes County plantation in 1794. The county is also the site of the first cotton mill in the south.
Washington is the site of the Heard House where Jefferson Davis formally dissolved the Confederacy on May 5, 1865.