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1732 While James Oglethorpe was at sea sailing to America with the first Georgia colonists, the sale of all of his stock in the Royal African Company (then worth about £1,000) was finalized. Also before embarking, Oglethorpe apparently resigned from the board of governors of the company.
1819 Gov. John Clark signed an act creating Rabun County as Georgia's 47th county. Created from Cherokee lands ceded by the Treaty of Washington of 1819, the county was named for Gov. William Rabun, who died in office two months earlier.
1830 Gov. George Gilmer signed an act claiming for Georgia "all the Territory within the limits of Georgia, and now in the occupancy of the Cherokee tribe of Indians," dividing the territory up into four sections, directing its surveying, and providing for a system of distributing the land by lottery.
1857 Gov. Joseph E. Brown signed an act creating Mitchell County as Georgia's 123rd county. Created from portions of Baker County, the new county was named for Gen. Henry Mitchell, who commanded Georgia troops after the American Revolution.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
1864 In the early morning hours of Dec. 21, a regiment of General William T. Sherman's 20th Corps advanced on the Confederate defensive earthworks around Savannah. Although fires were burning, the Union advance force found no Confederate defenders. As they advanced toward Savannah, by dawn they could see Hardee's rear guard on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River.
On the morning of the 21st, Savannah mayor R. D. Arnold and his staff rode out to offer the formal surrender of the city. They were met by Gen. Geary, who accepted their offer and promised to try to protect Savannah citizens and their property. Geary sent a force to occupy Fort Jackson. By 8 a.m., Savannah was in federal hands.
Sherman's capture of Savannah left the captain and crew of the C.S.S. Savannah trapped in the Savannah River. The sluggish ironclad ram – a converted paddle wheeler – was so slow it couldn't advance upstream against the river current, and downstream were Union gunboats. In one last gesture of defiance, the crew fired on Fort Jackson as Union troops raised the Stars and Stripes. The captain then ordered the crew ashore and had the ship blown up.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
1872 Georgia Congressman-elect and former Confederate major general Ambrose Ransom "Rans" Wright died in Augusta, Georgia. Born April 26, 1826 in Louisville, Georgia, Wright became a lawyer. After the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined the 3rd Georgia, serving as a colonel in campaigns in North Carolina and Georgia. In June 1862, Wright was promoted to brigadier general, and he subsequently commanded brigades at Seven Days, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. In Nov. 1864, Wright was promoted to major general and ordered to return to Georgia.
After the war, he returned to the practice of law, also becoming a newspaper publisher. In 1872, Wright was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives but died before he could take his seat. Following his death, Wright was interred in Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta, Georgia.
1893 Gov. William Northen approved an act proposing a constitutional amendment to change the meeting time of the General Assembly from the fourth Wednesday in October to the same date in July.
1897 Gov. William Y. Atkinson approved an act changing the name of the Georgia Lunatic Asylum in Milledgeville to the Georgia State Sanitarium.
1911 Negro League great (and later Major League Baseball Hall of Famer) Josh Gibson was born in Buena Vista, Georgia. He became one of the greatest power hitters in the history of baseball.
He became of the greatest power hitters in the history of professional baseball. On July 6, 2000, the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp honoring Gibson.
1946 Long-time Georgia politician Eugene Talmadge died in Atlanta. Born on Sept. 23, 1884 in Forsyth, Georgia, he had obtained a law degree from the University of Georgia in 1907. Talmadge practiced law for a year in Atlanta before moving to Montgomery County. He married, moved to Telfair County, bought a farm on Sugar Creek, and practiced law while farming for over a decade. After unsuccessful races for the Georgia House and Senate, he ran for the office of Commissioner of Agriculture in 1926 and won. In 1932, he successfully campaigned for governor -- the first of four times he would be elected to the state's highest office (1932, 1934, 1940, and 1946).
Sometimes referred to as the "Wild Man from Sugar Creek" for his flamboyant style and emotional speeches, Talmadge used the county-unit system (which magnified the voting power of small, rural counties and minimized the effect of urban voters) to his advantage like no other politician. His down-home demeanor appealed to Georgia farmers, many of whom were struggling in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s.One of Talmadge's favorite quotes was "the poor dirt farmer ain't got but three friends on this Earth: God Almighty, Sears Roebuck, and Gene Talmadge."
Talmadge's terms as governor were rife with controversy, usually brought about by his unique style of governing. He disliked Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal immensely and was not ashamed to say so in blunt terminology – referring to the Civilian Conservation Corps as "bums and loafers." When the legislature would not do his bidding, he often tried to rule by executive decree. When the Public Service Commission refused to lower rates, he fired the whole group. When a textile strike broke out in 1934, Talmadge declared martial law, sending troops to small textile towns. Perhaps his most controversial action occurred in 1941, when Talmadge wanted to fire two University System administrators, allegedly for advocating integrated public schools. When the Board of Regents refused, Talmadge dismissed all of them and replaced them with people amenable to his will. This lead to ten Georgia public colleges and universities losing their accreditation. The resulting uproar also was influential in Talmadge losing the ensuing gubernatorial race.
But Talmadge was not to be kept down for long. Returning to run for governor again in 1946, he launched a grueling campaign in which he delivered 272 of his renowned stump speeches. Though he lost the popular vote, he won the election through county-unit votes. But the campaign proved too much for his already poor health, and he died before he could take office. This led to even further controversy, since, it was now uncertain who should assume the office of governor. This lead to the infamous three-governors controversy in which three separate men, including Talmadge's son Herman, claimed to be the rightful executive. The matter was eventually resolved by the Georgia Supreme Court.
1974 Miami of Ohio beat Georgia 21-10 in the Gator Bowl.
1976 The White House announced that following the inauguration of newly elected president Jimmy Carter, Robins AFB would house Air Force One during Carter's trips home to Plains, Georgia.
1991 Ted Turner and fitness guru and actress Jane Fonda were married at his Tallahassee, Florida estate. The marriage, however, would not survive the decade.
Georgia cities and towns first incorporated by acts approved on Dec. 21:
1866 Attapulgus (Decatur County) and Bascom (Screven County)
1886 Harrison (Washington County)
1898 Sylvester (Worth County)
In Their Own Words on This Day . . .
Source: George Fenwick Jones and Renate Wilson, Detailed Reports on the Salzburger Emigrants Who Settled in America . . . Edited by Samuel Urlsperger, Volume Four, 1737 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1976), p. 222.
1864 The morning issue of the Savannah Republican carried this front-page editorial:
1864 Savannah mayor R.D. Arnold surrendered the city to Union forces with the following letter addressed to Gen. Sherman:
Source: U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of \he Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1893, reprinted by The National Historical Society, 1971), Series I, Vol. XLIV, p. 772.
1864 In his memoirs, Gen. Sherman recorded the following:
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Marching Through Georgia: William T. Sherman's Personal Narrative of His March Through Georgia (New York: Arno Press, 1978), pp. 177-178.
1867 For a variety of reasons, many white Georgians viewed with contempt the convention meeting in Atlanta to draft a new state constitution. The election on revising the state constitution had been called by Reconstruction military commander Maj. Gen. Pope; many whites could not vote; and many of the delegates elected to the convention were not sympathetic to the Democratic Party or ante-bellum society. Particularly upsetting to some whites was the fact that blacks – including many former slaves – were allowed to participate, as evidenced by this entry in the journal of Atlanta merchant Samuel P. Richards:
Source: Franklin M. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs:
A Chronicle of its People and Events (Athens: University of Georgia Press,
1969 reprint of 1954 original volume), p. 772.
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