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1801 Abraham Baldwin was elected President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate. The Georgia General Assembly elected Baldwin to the Senate in 1798, and he served there until his death in Washington, DC on March 4, 1807. In 1803, the General Assembly created a new county from lands ceded by the Creeks and named it in Baldwin's honor.
Hart County, Georgia's 102nd, was created from portions of Elbert County and named for Nancy Hart – a heroine of the American Revolution. When confronted by a band of six Tories who forced their way into her house, Hart managed to shoot two (killing one) and forced the others to surrender. Upon the return of Hart's husband and friends, the captured Tories were immediately hanged. Hart County reputedly was the first county in the U.S. named for a woman.
1860 In light of uncertainty over Georgia's future in the Union, Gov Joseph E. Brown signed a joint resolution of the General Assembly directing him to furnish the officers of the various volunteer companies of the state with side arms and other necessary items.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
1864 Gen. W.P. Howard, of the Georgia State Militia, sent Gov. Joseph E. Brown an eyewitness account on the extent of damage to Atlanta following Sherman's occupation of the city. Howard's report dramatically portrayed a city largely in ruins.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
1881 Banker, financier, and railroad man Alfred Austell died in Atlanta, Georgia. Leaving his home in Tennessee at age seventeen, Austell quickly showed an aptitude for business. After settling in what was then Campbell County, Georgia in 1836, Austell rose rapidly in prominence as a merchant, planter, and militia leader. In 1856, Austell, along with a partner, organized the Bank of Fulton in Atlanta. Austell opposed secession from the Union, but did support his state's cause when secession did occur, even taking up arms in the futile defense of Atlanta as Sherman approached in 1864. His bank and finances were virtually wiped out by the Civil War.
But both Atlanta and Austell rose from the ashes. Indeed the city's recovery from the war's destruction was largely the result of Austell and his work. Refusing an offer to be Georgia's provisional governor from his friend President Andrew Johnson, Austell organized the Atlanta National Bank on September 1, 1865; it was the first national bank in the South. In addition he and his partners established a cotton commission house in New York and a mercantile firm in Atlanta. Realizing the need for improved transportation to move business goods, Austell and his bank were instrumental in much of the post-war railroad construction. He served as president of the board of directors for the Southern Railway, and was a builder and/or director of the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia, and Atlanta and Birmingham railways. In fact the town at the junction of the Atlanta and Birmingham railways was named in his honor.
1941 Japan launched a surprise aerial attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor.
In reaction to the bombing, all Japanese nationals living in Georgia were ordered to stay in their homes. In Atlanta, guards were doubled at the municipal waterworks and defense manufacturing plants. Maj. Gen. John P. Smith, commander of the U.S. Army's Fourth Corps Area (which included Georgia), issued the following warning, that "all manufacturers and industrialists in states of the Fourth Corps Area take every precaution against sabotage in their establishments." Atlanta Mayor Roy LeCraw, who was inactive as a Lt. Col. in the National Guard while he held office, officially requested that he be placed on active duty. Georgia's congressional delegation also had strong reactions.
Sen. Walter George (l), Sen. Richard Russell (c), and Rep. Carl Vinson (r)
U.S. Sen. Walter F. George stated: "Japan's deed is an act of desperation by a war-mad people. The attack on Hawaii is a deliberate act of the Japanese government. I am utterly amazed. It is unthinkable. . . . An open declaration of war will give us greater freedom of action." Noting the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, George optimistically predicted that "it may take two or three years to fight this war to the end." U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell responded to the attack by stating: "Japan has committed national hari-kari. I cannot conceive of any member of Congress voting against a declaration of war in view of the unpardonable, unprovoked attack on us. I am utterly astounded." U.S. Rep. Carl Vinson, chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, added: "Of course we will have to declare war. There is nothing else for Congress to do. This is a concerted action by the Axis Powers, but I am confident our Navy is ready and will render a glorious account of itself. It probably means we will be drawn into the world conflict on both oceans." Vinson turned out to be right on both counts.
1946 A fire at the "fireproof" Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta claimed 119 lives, including hotel founder W. Frank Winecoff and 28 high school students attending a conference, along with an additional 100 people injured. Most of the victims died of suffocation, though 26 fell or leaped to their death because fire trucks did not have ladders tall enough to reach the top floors. The cause of the fire was never officially established, though it is believed the fire started from a cigarette dropped on a mattress stored on the third floor. At the time this fire was the worst hotel fire in the nation's history and inspired new fire codes across the country.
1967 Otis Redding recorded "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay".
1990 Ted Turner and Jane Fonda announced their engagement.
1999 In ceremonies in New York, former University of Georgia running back Herschel Walker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. During his collegiate career, Walker helped lead the Bulldogs to the 1980 national championship and three SEC championships, also winning the 1982 Heisman Trophy.
2002 The Georgia Bulldogs won their first Southeastern Conference Championship in twenty years by defeating the Arkansas Razorbacks 30-3 in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Georgia quarterback David Greene was named the game's Most Valuable Player, while running back Musa Smith ran for over one hundred yards and two touchdowns, and the Georgia defense stifled Arkansas all night long. The victory earned Georgia a spot in the Sugar Bowl New Year's Day, where they would play Florida State, where Bulldog coach Mark Richt was offensive coordinator before taking the head coaching position at Georgia in December of 2000.
Georgia cities and towns incorporated by acts approved on Dec. 7:
1860 Valdosta (Lowndes County)
In Their Own Words on This Day. . .
1739 Although Georgia's Charter of 1732 prohibited any Trustee from personal gain from the new colony, there apparently was no prohibition against a Trustee owning land in another colony. It is clear that Georgia founder James Oglethorpe had no possessions in Georgia nor in any way profited from the colony. However, although a July 9, 1736 entry in the journal of the Earl of Egmont seems to explain the true nature of Oglethorpe's ties to Palachocolas on the South Carolina banks of the Savannah River, there were some who believed that Oglethorpe held a barony at Palachocolas, as evidenced from the following entry in the journal of Salzburger minister Johann Martin Boltzius:
Source: George Fenwick Jones and Renate Wilson (trans. and ed.), Detailed Reports on the Salzburger Emigrants Who Settled in America . . . Edited by Samuel Urlsperger, Volume Six, 1739 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1981), p. 300.
1864 Henry Hitchcock, secretary to Gen. William T. Sherman, wrote in his diary on this day:
Source: M.A. DeWolfe Howe (ed.), Marching with Sherman: Passages from the Letters and Campaign Diaries of Henry Hitchcock, Major and Assistant Adjutant General of Volunteers, November 1864-May 1865 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995), pp. 152-153.
1864 Capt. James Orr of the 42nd Indiana Regiment wrote in his diary:
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