Georgia's Ruling (Henry)

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Georgia's Ruling
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A widowed Commissioner of the Land Office, grieving the loss of his daughter, makes a ruling that protects innocent settlers from land-sharks and ensures a better future for children.

A man named Hollis Summerfield, the Commissioner of the General Land Office, was a widower who had a close relationship with his only child, Georgia.

The Commissioner — widowed Commissioner of the Land Office; reserved, dignified, and devoted to his daughter; tender, gentle.
Georgia — Commissioner's daughter; thoughtful and serious beyond her years; caring, compassionate.

One day, Georgia expressed her desire to do something good for poor children who didn't have homes or love like she did.

Papa, I wish I could do something good for a whole lot of children!

Unfortunately, Georgia passed away soon after, leaving her father heartbroken and more reserved than ever.

Three months after Georgia's death, a land-shark firm called Hamlin and Avery filed papers to claim a piece of land that was already occupied by settlers.

Hamlin and Avery — land-sharks; big, handsome, and genial; confident, shrewd.

The Commissioner had to make a decision on whether to grant the land to the firm or protect the settlers' rights. He received a letter from a woman who was a granddaughter of the original landowner, Elias Denny, pleading for the Commissioner to protect her family and the other settlers from being evicted.

If you let them land-sharks take the roof from over my children and the little from them as they has to live on, whoever again calls this state great or its government just will have a lie in their mouths.

The Commissioner asked a state school-land appraiser, Mr. Ashe, about the land in question. Ashe described it as a beautiful, fertile area with a dozen small houses and many children living there. The Commissioner was moved by the thought of the children and decided to protect the settlers' rights.

He made a ruling that the land survey made by Elias Denny would be considered valid, despite its inaccuracies, and that the land-sharks could not claim the land.

And, furthermore, it may interest you to know that from this time on this office will consider that when a survey of land made by virtue of a certificate granted by this state to the men who wrested it from the wilderness and the savage—made in good faith, settled in good faith, and left in good faith to their children or innocent purchasers—when such a survey, although overrunning its complement, shall call for any natural object visible to the eye of man, to that object it shall hold, and be good and valid. And the children of this state shall lie down to sleep at night, and rumours of disturbers of title shall not disquiet them. For, of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.

This ruling became a precedent that protected many other settlers from losing their homes to land-sharks. The Commissioner believed that this outcome was a fulfillment of Georgia's wish to do something good for children, and it became known as "Georgia's Ruling."