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1822 Gov. John Clark signed legislation creating DeKalb, Bibb, Pike, and Crawford counties.
DeKalb County, Georgia's 54th, was created from portions of Fayette and Gwinnett counties and named for Baron Johann DeKalb, who served as a major general in the Continental Army and was wounded in the Battle of Camden, South Carolina.
Pike County, Georgia's 56th, was created from portions of Monroe County and named for Zebulon Pike – an explorer (for whom Colorado's Pike's Peak was named) and brigadier general in the War of 1812 killed during the successful assault on British forces at Toronto.
1848 Author Joel Chandler Harris was born in Eatonton, Georgia. Harris lived with his mother, a servant, until age thirteen, when he moved to a plantation named Turnwold and began work as a printer's devil on the Countryman, a weekly published by Joseph Addison Turner. Soon Harris was writing articles for the newspaper.
When the Countryman ceased publication, Harris took a position with the Macon Telegraph, then the Monroe Advertiser, and later the Savannah Morning News. In 1876 an outbreak of yellow favor forced Harris to take his family and temporarily move to Atlanta.
But Atlanta was to become Harris's permanent home. He joined the staff of the Atlanta Constitution, where he worked under Henry Grady. Harris wrote editorials on many subjects, but most popular were his works of fiction based on scenes he had seen and dialects he had heard while growing up in Eatonton and on the Turnwold plantation. Eventually these stories, told by the fictional Uncle Remus, were gathered and published in book form in 1880. Since then numerous editions and compilations of the Uncle Remus stories have been published. While they were always well accepted, the stories' popularity soared with the release of Walt Disney's film version – "Song of the South" – soon after World War II. After 25 years of service, Harris resigned from the Atlanta Constitution in 1900. He became editor of his own Uncle Remus Magazine in 1907.
Harris died at his Atlanta home, known as the Wren's Nest, on July 2, 1908.
In 1923, the Daughters of the American Revolution erected this monument to Harris on the grounds of the Putnam County courthouse in Eatonton, Georgia.
1865 Provisional governor James Johnson signed a joint resolution of the General Assembly ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – one of the conditions of Reconstruction. Three days earlier, the necessary three-fourths of the states had ratified the amendment, though formal proclamation of its adoption did not come from the U.S. Secretary of State until Dec. 18, 1865. In any event, for the first time in history, slavery was abolished throughout the United States.
1867 The convention that would draft Georgia's Constitution of 1868 assembled in Atlanta. Earlier – on Sept. 19, 1867 – Maj. Gen. John Pope (who commanded the Reconstruction military district which included Georgia) had ordered a statewide election on whether Georgia's Constitution of 1865 should be replaced. That election was held Oct. 29-31, and by a narrow margin (106,410 to 102,283) voters approved holding a constitutional convention. At the same election, delegates to the convention were chosen. [One account says there were 166 delegates, 33 of whom were African American, while another lists 37 blacks among the 169 delegates.] Subsequently, on Nov. 19, Gen. Pope ordered that the convention be held in Atlanta on Dec. 9, 1867.
1872 Lawyer and politician Thomas Hardwick was born in Thomasville, Georgia. After graduating from Mercer (1892) and the University of Georgia Law School (1893), Hardwick began the practice of law in Sandersville. After serving as county prosecuting attorney, he won election to the Georgia house of Representatives in 1898. After four years in the state legislature, Hardwick successfully ran for Congress in 1902 on a platform of black disfranchisement. In Congress, he openly called for disfranchisement and even introduced a measure to repeal the 14th and 15th Amendments (which he felt had been adopted in an unconstitutional manner). In 1906, Hardwick was a leading supporter of black disfranchisement in Georgia, and he helped draft the constitutional amendment that established literacy, good character, and citizenship tests for voting in Georgia. In 1914, Hardwick was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served one term but was defeated in his race for reelection.
In 1920, he was elected governor and had a surprisingly progressive term in which he opposed Klan violence and became an advocate for prison reform and the graduated income tax. When Tom Watson died in 1922, Hardwick appointed Rebecca Latimer Felton to Watson's Senate seat allowing her to become the first woman to hold office in the U.S. Senate. Hardwick's political career, however, was over, failing to win reelection as governor, a subsequent race for the U.S. Senate, and a final race for governor in 1932. He subsequently resumed the practice of law until his death Jan. 31, 1944 in Sandersville.
1950 Texas A&M beat Georgia 40-20 in the Presidential Cup Bowl.
1997 Former University of Georgia football coaching great Wally Butts was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in ceremonies in New York City.
Butts, who died in 1973, coached at Georgia from 1939-1960, during which time he had a 140-89-9 record. He was the eighth UGA player or coach inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining Bob McWhorter, Charley Trippi, Frank Sinkwich, Vernon "Catfish" Smith, Bill Hartman, Fran Tarkenton, and Vince Dooley.
2003 The Atlanta Falcons notified head coach Dan Reeves that he would be released at the end of the 2003 season. With one year left in his contract, Reeves then asked to be relieved of his contract immediately – a request that was granted. Born in Rome, Georgia, Reeves became Falcons head coach in 1997. At the time of his release, he was in his 23rd consecutive season as a head coach – the longest tenure of any active coach in the NFL.
Georgia cities and towns incorporated by acts approved on Dec. 9:
1859 Georgetown (Quitman County)
1862 Trion (Chattooga County)
1890 Cecil (Berrien County)
1893 St. Charles (Coweta County)
1898 Edgewood (DeKalb County)
In Their Own Words on This Day . . .
1738 Unhappy Georgia colonists regularly complained to the Trustees over policies prohibiting slaves, female inheritance, and free title to their land grants. Typical was this petition signed by 121 Savannah colonists on this day:
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe's Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. 2, pp. 373-375.
1864 In his memoirs General William T. Sherman recounted the following incident:
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Marching Through Georgia: William T. Sherman's Personal Narrative of His March Through Georgia (New York: Arno Press, 1978), pp. 158-159.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
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