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A constitutional amendment to create Ben Hill county from Irwin and Wilcox counties was proposed July 31, 1906 and ratified November 6, 1906. As of 2000, the population was 17,484. The county seat is Fitzgerald. The county is named after Benjamin Harvey Hill, U.S. Senator from Georgia, a Whig leader, and a staunch opponent of Reconstruction.
The county has only one incorporated city, Fitzgerald, which was founded by former Union soldiers on a 50,000 acre tract owned by the non-profit American Tribune Soldiers Colony Company about 30 years after the Civil War. The citizens of Fitzgerald, pledging unity with their former enemies, named streets after leaders of both armies.