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1804 The Georgia Medical Society was incorporated in Savannah.
1806 Stand Watie was born in the Cherokee Nation in northwest Georgia near present-day Rome. He became a successful planter but incurred the wrath of many fellow Cherokees when he signed the Treaty of New Echota, which forced the Cherokees to give up their lands in Georgia and move west to the Indian Territory (in what is present-day Oklahoma). In 1861, he persuaded many Cherokees to join him in siding with the Confederacy. He raised the Cherokee Mounted Rifles and served as their colonel. In 1864, he was promoted to brigadier general. In June 1865, Watie became the last Confederate general to surrender his command. He died on Sept. 9, 1871 in Delaware City, Oklahoma.
On June 29, 1995, the U.S. Postal Service issued a Stand Watie commemorative stamp.
1825 Gov. George Troup signed an act creating Baker County as Georgia's 66th county.
1829 Gov. George Gilmer signed an act making it illegal to teach a slave or free black to read or write. The penalty for a slave or free black violating this law was a fine and/or whipping at the discretion of the court. For a white person, the penalty was a fine up to $500 and imprisonment in jail at the discretion of the court.
1866 Gov. Charles J. Jenkins signed legislation to create a "general system of Georgia Schools." The act provided for a common school system, a state school superintendent appointed by the governor, and a school commissioner for each county appointed by the grand jury. The law further directed that every white resident in each county between the ages of 16 and 21 (or under 30 years of age if a disabled or indigent ex-soldier) was entitled to a free public education. The law's effective date was Jan. 1, 1868 – but by then Reconstruction was underway, and the law was never implemented.
1889 In Boston, Henry Grady delivered his speech on the topic, "The Race Problem in the South". In his speech to the Boston Merchants Association, Grady asked the North for patience, confidence, sympathy, and a "loyalty to the Republic." In asking for national patriotism rather than sectionalism, Grady appealed for a loyalty "that knows no south, no north, no east, no west, but endears with equal and patriotic love every foot or our soil, every State in our Union."
1897 Author and civil rights advocate Lillian Smith was born in Jasper, Florida. When she was 17, her family moved to Clayton, Georgia. Raised in a typical southern household, Smith seems an unlikely candidate for civil rights activity. But in the early 1920s she spent three years teaching music at a missionary school in China, where she faced the realities of racism. Upon returning home to Georgia, she began a long, productive career in writing and advocating for civil rights. She studied intermittently at several schools, but family duties prevented her from receiving a formal degree, yet her natural curiosity led her to become a student of history, anthropology, philosophy, religion, and literature. While her social and intellectual ideas had already begun to form much earlier, they took on a clearer expression in 1936 with the publication of Pseudopodia, a small magazine she edited with her companion Paula Snelling. This magazine, under various titles, was published until 1945, and served as a vehicle for expression for those who wanted social change in the South, and was the only regional journal to publish and review the work of black writers.
In 1944 Smith published her first, and most noted, novel – Strange Fruit, a searing account of the South's racist and sexist traditions as she viewed them. Similar themes were explored in her autobiographical work Killers of the Dream, published in 1949. These books made her a popular figure on the lecture circuit, particularly during the 1960s amid the civil rights movement. She received the Georgia Writer's Association Award in 1954 for her nonfiction piece The Journey. Her second novel, One Hour (1959), was a literary indictment of the hysteria generated in the McCarthy era. Least controversial of her works was Memory of a Large Christmas (1962), which lovingly told of her memories of the large family gatherings of her youth. Smith remained a part of the civil rights movement, even though she suffered from a long bout with cancer the last thirteen years of her life. Ever believing in non-violent social change, she sent a telegram from her death bed resigning from the Congress of Racial Equality when they decided to take a more militant stand. Smith's last book, Our Faces, Our Words (1964), was a pictorial work about southerners amidst the civil rights movement. Smith died in Atlanta on September 28, 1966.
1912 Railroad workers discovered six skeletons in shallow graves near the former site of Nancy Hart's cabin, lending credence to her story of having shot two Tories (one of whom was killed) and holding four others under guard until her husband and friends came to her rescue (and subsequently hanged the remaining Tories).
1912 Renown jazz and blues vocalist Joe Williams was born in Cordele, Georgia as Joseph Goreed. After his father left, his mother moved to Chicago to find work to support her family. At age four, Goreed and his grandmother and aunt moved to Chicago to join his mother. Here, he experienced the excitement of Chicago's black music scene, which led him to learn to sing and play the piano. By his teens, he was performing as solo vocalist with local bands – a fact that led him to drop out of school and to adopt the stage name of Joe Williams. During the 1930s, he performed with various bands – but his first big break came in 1942, when Lionel Hampton hired him. Later, with the Count Basie Band, Williams developed into one of this country's greatest male jazz vocalists.
1943 Former Allman Brothers Band lead guitarist Forrest Richard "Dicky" Betts was born in West Palm Beach, Florida.
1961 In Albany, 300 black students marched on city hall on the day the trial of the 11 freedom riders ban. 267 students were arrested.
1965 The U.S. Supreme Court
refused to hear the state of Wisconsin's final appeals to keep the Braves
from moving from Milwaukee to Atlanta.
1974 Jimmy Carter announced that would seek the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States.
Georgia cities and towns first incorporated by acts approved on Dec. 12:
1866 Senoia (Coweta County)
1894 Oakland City (Fulton County)
In Their Own Words on This Day . . .
1801 Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins, along with fellow agent Andrew Pickins and Brigadier General James Wilkinson, met the chiefs of the Choctaw Nation for a conference at Fort Adams. Hawkins wrote the following in his notes:
Source: Collections of the Georgia Historical Society, Vol. IX, Letters of Benjamin Hawkins, 1796-1806 (Savannah: Georgia Historical Society, 1916), p. 397.
1864 From General Sherman's memoirs for this day:
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Marching Through Georgia: William T. Sherman's Personal Narrative of His March Through Georgia (New York: Arno Press, 1978), p. 160.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
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