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1737 In England, James Oglethorpe told the Trustees that a commission had been drawn up designating him general-in-chief of the military forces of South Carolina and Georgia, but that he would not accept the commission unless he was given a regiment of 700 men and the rank of colonel. Oglethorpe also showed the Trustees his plan for a new fort – named Fort Frederica – on St. Simons Island.
1834 Diarist and early feminist Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas was born in Augusta, Georgia. She was born into an aristocratic family and seemed destined to live the life of a wealthy white southern woman when she married Princeton graduate Jefferson Thomas in 1852. Financial problems began to plague the Thomas family early. Much of their property was in slaves, and after the Civil War they fell deeply into debt – ultimately losing all their property. Thomas was extremely well read and as a college graduate (Wesleyan Female College in Macon), she helped the family survive by teaching school.
Later in life, Thomas became involved with the Women's Christian Temperance Union. When one of her sons, a successful physician, invited his parents to come live with him, they liquidated all their property to help clear debts, and moved to Atlanta. Here, Thomas became involved with the Georgia Women's Suffrage Association, attended the national convention in 1895, and served as its president in 1899, while corresponding with noted figures Rebecca Latimer Felton and Mary Latimer McClendon. She was a unique thinker and talented writer and kept a journal from 1848-1889 that covers her life from an aristocratic young teen, through her courtship and marriage, the turmoil of the Civil War, and her family's slow descent into poverty after the war. Through the journal one can watch her grow into a pioneer feminist as well as enjoy her commentaries of the momentous events she witnessed. Significant portions of the journal have been published in Virginia Ingraham Burr (ed.), The Secret Eye: The Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990). Ella Thomas died in 1907 and was buried in Augusta's Magnolia Cemetery.
1901 Former Confederate general George Thomas "Tige" Anderson died in Anniston, Alabama.
Born Feb. 3, 1824 in Covington, Ga. Anderson served in the Mexican War and later in the U.S. Army (1855-58). In 1861, he joined the 11th Georgia as a colonel. He commanded a brigade in D R Jones' division during the battles of Seven Days, Second Manassas, and Sharpsburg. In Nov. 1862, he was promoted to brigadier general and commanded his own brigade in Hood's Division at the battles of Fredericksburg, Suffolk, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Knoxville. He also commanded his own brigade in Field's Division at the battles of The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and Appomattox.
Anderson's post-war career included jobs as a freight agent, police chief, and tax collector. See Feb. 3, 1824 entry for more biographical information on Anderson.
1968 Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Memphis to help striking black sanitation workers seeking city recognition of their labor union. While standing on the balony of the Lorraine Motel, the 39-year-old King was shot and killed by a sniper.
In Atlanta, mayor Ivan Allen saw a television news flash telling of King's shooting and called Coretta Scott King to express his sympathy and ask if there was anything he could do. At the time, King was still alive, so she asked Allen to help her get to the airport to catch a plane to Memphis. Allen arranged a police escort and he and his wife accompanied her to the airport. Upon arriving, they received the news that King had just died. Allen and his wife returned home with Mrs. King and family members. There, she received a phone call of condolences from Pres. Lyndon Johnson. Johnson then went on national television to express his sorrow and to appeal for calm: "We have been saddened. I ask every citizen to reject the blind violence that has struck Dr. King, who lived by nonviolence . . . .We can achieve nothing by lawlessness and divisiveness among the American people." Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy said "Rev. King had a life dedicated to peace, justice, compassion, and nonviolence. It is up to us to fulfill his dream." In Georgia, longtime King foe Gov. Lester Maddox had no public comment and refused to take reporters' questions.
Across America, however, reaction was immediate as many blacks expressed grief and outrage over King's assassination. Singer James Brown went on national television to appeal for restraint, but rioting broke out in more than 100 cities across America, resulting in the deaths of 46 people. In Atlanta that night, it was raining heavily, which helped spare the city from the violent demonstrations experienced elsewhere.
Two months after King's assassination, James Earl Ray was captured in London. British officials returned him to Tennessee, where he initially confessed to the crime. Three days later, he took back his confession but then subsequently agreed to a guilty plea in exchange for his life. He was sentenced to prison for 99 years, but he died in 1998 from complications caused by hepatitis.
1974 Atlanta Brave Hank Aaron hit home run number 714 on opening day against Cincinnati at Riverfront Stadium, tying him with Babe Ruth for most career home runs. On his first at-bat of the 1974 season, with the count of 3 balls and 1 strike, Aaron hit a 3-run homer (though the Reds went on to defeat the Braves 7-6 in 11 innings).
Concerned that Aaron might break Ruth's record in Cincinnati rather than in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, the Braves considered benching Aaron for the remainder of the series. However baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn ordered that Aaron had to play in at least two of the 3 remaining games in Cincinnati.
1974 A series of tornadoes ripped through northwest Georgia, killing sixteen people and injuring another 109. Governor Jimmy Carter declared thirteen counties disaster areas.
In Their Own Words on This Day. . .
Source: George Fenwick Jones and Renate Wilson [eds.] Detailed Reports on the Salzburger Emigrants who Settled in America . . . Edited by Samuel Urlsperger, Vol. 6 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1981), p. 60.
1865 From Smithville, Ga., Eliza and Metta Andrews waited to catch a train while visiting their sister near Albany. At the depot, they watched a train go by carrying Union prisoners just released from Andersonville Prison by Confederate authorities:
Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl: 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 131-133.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
Source: Ivan Allen and Paul Hemphill, Mayor: Notes on the Sixties (N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, 1971).
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