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1831 Gov. Wilson Lumpkin signed legislation creating Cherokee and Sumter counties.
Cherokee County, Georgia's 79th, was created, though the county today is far different in terms of boundaries and size.
The Dec. 26, 1831 legislation creating Cherokee County provided that it consist of the entire Cherokee Nation then existing in Georgia – an area of 6,900 square miles in Northwest Georgia.
The action was an attempt to force the removal of the Cherokees from Georgia, but no action was taken to take control of what for the time being was a paper county. In the fall of 1832, Georgia held two land lotteries to give away the land in Cherokee County to fortunate drawers. However, the legislature prohibited whites from taking possession of lands still occupied by the Cherokee. On Dec. 3, 1832, new legislation was approved adding portions of Habersham and Hall counties to Cherokee County, and then dividing the entire area into eight new counties, plus a much smaller Cherokee County.
1835 Gov. William Schley signed an act prohibiting the employment of any slave or free black in any apothecary shop or drug store involved in the mixing and dispensing of any drug or medicine. The penalty was a $100 fine for the first conviction and $500 for any subsequent convictions, with half of the fine to go to the informer.
1848 Having applied for a Christmas pass to visit her sick aunt, slave Ellen Craft– daughter of her original white master – and her slave husband – William Craft – began a dramatic slave escape from Georgia by sailing from Savannah. Ellen was light enough to pass for white, so she dressed up as a male slave holder, while her husband – who was much darker – posed as her servant. During their three-day escape, she pretended to be traveling to Philadelphia to see a medical specialist and stayed in the best hotels, while husband William stayed in stables. [For the full account of their escape and subsequent life, see Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom.]
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
1892 Thirty-four black editors and publishers representing twelve newspapers met in Augusta and formed the Negro Press Association of Georgia. The meeting came about as a result of Augusta Sentinel editor Silas X. Floyd's initiative. One of the resolutions adopted by the editors called for capitalizing the word "Negro" and refraining from using the word "Colored."
1894 Writer Jean (Eugene) Toomer was born in Washington, D.C., son of an allegedly white man and a mulatto woman. Toomer was raised primarily by a domineering grandfather after his father abandoned the family. Toomer's future was largely focused on his struggle with the authoritarianism of his grandfather and the ambiguity of his race. While he was light-skinned enough to pass for white, he felt kinship with blacks.
After studying at several places in the North, he came to Georgia in 1921 as a temporary superintendent of a school – where he was able to observe the lives of rural blacks and explore his own ethnic background. Resulting from this was Cane, published in 1923 and Toomer's only work that is remembered. Cane was an autobiographical work – but not openly so. Written in a unique style, it is composed of poems, short stories, and a play with subtle interrelating themes. After its publication, Toomer became involved in mysticism and veered away from his interesting his heritage. While none of his other writings were notable, Cane remains a classic, if difficult to understand, work of American literature. Toomer died in Doylestown, Pa. on March 30, 1967.
1895 Each day of Atlanta's Cotton States and International Exposition had a special theme. Today was "Negro Day."
1948 Former Atlanta Braves first baseman Chris Chambliss was born in Dayton, Ohio.
1964 Georgia beat Texas Tech 7-0 in the Sun Bowl.
1999 Singer and composer Curtis Mayfield died in his adopted home of Atlanta.
2000 The University of Georgia signed Florida State offensive coordinator Mark Richt to a five-year contract as new head coach of the Bulldog football program. The 40-year-old Richt has been at Florida State for the past 15 years and agreed to come to Georgia immediately after Florida State's Jan. 3 appearance in the Orange Bowl.
Georgia cities and towns first incorporated by acts approved on Dec. 26:
1888 Sparks (Berrien County)
1890 Ashburn (Worth County), Bishop (Oconee County), and Roberta (Crawford County)
Other acts affecting cities and towns approved on Dec. 26:
1845 The name of Marthasville (then DeKalb now Fulton County) was changed to Atlanta.
1845 The charter of Davisville (Pike County) was repealed.
1888 The name of Ocean City (Chatham County) was changed to Tybee.
In Their Own Words on This Day . . .
1735 Early colonist Benjamin Ingham kept a journal of his voyage to Georgia. After enduring some stormy weather early in the voyage, he recorded a welcome change:
Source: [no author or editor cited], Our First Visit in America: Early Reports from the Colony of Georgia, 1732-1740 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1974), p. 172.
1864 In Savannah, Maj. Fredrick Winkler of the 26th Wisconsin Volunteers wrote in his diary :
1864 From Washington, D.C., Pres. Abraham Lincoln wrote Gen. Sherman in Savannah in response to Sherman's Dec. 22 letter presenting Savannah to the president as a Christmas gift:
Source: U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the 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. 809.
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