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1772 Lawyer and politician William Harris Crawford was born in Amherst County, Va. He and his family moved to the area north of Augusta in 1783. He was admitted to the bar in 1799 and moved to Oglethorpe County, where he built a plantation just west of Lexington. In 1803, Crawford was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, where he served until the General Assembly elected him to the U.S. Senate in 1807. In 1813, Crawford was named U.S. Ambassador to France, and two years later was appointed U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. By the 1820s, Crawford was believed to be the strongest candidate to succeed James Madison as U.S. president. However, what may have been strokes in 1823 and 1824 seriously hurt his chances, and John Quincy Adams won the 1824 presidential election. Adams subsequently asked Crawford to continue as Treasury Secretary, but Crawford declined and returned to Georgia. In 1827, Crawford was named a superior court judge in Georgia, a post he held until his death in 1834. He died at age 62 near Elberton, Georgia.
1806 Poet and clergyman Samuel Jones Cassels was born in Liberty County, Ga. Cassels felt an early calling to the ministry and studied privately under Moses Waddel while publicly attending the University of Georgia. He was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1829 and assumed the duties of pastor at the Presbyterian church in Macon in 1837. Here he twice suffered tragedy, as both his infant son and wife died within a year. He also wrote poetry - the first known book of poetry published in Georgia was Cassels' Providence and Other Poems. Soon after its publication, he moved to Virginia, then New Jersey, where he led a large religious revival movement. In 1846, with his health was deteriorating, Cassels moved to Savannah. Here he recuperated enough to become principal of Chatham Academy, but primarily he cultivated his poetry. His second volume – America Discovered – was published in 1850 followed the next year by Liberty Poems. Among these poems are works honoring Moses Waddel and James Oglethorpe. But Cassels' health recovery was temporary, as he probably had tuberculosis. By December 1852 he was bedridden. Six months later, Cassels died in Savannah on June 15, 1853.
1824 Confederate general John Crawford Vaughn was born in Roane City, Tenn. He served in the Mexican War, but was a merchant at the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1861, he recruited a regiment in eastern Tennessee and in June was designated a colonel in the 3rd Tennessee, which fought in the Battle of First Manassas. In Sept. 1862, Vaughn was promoted to brigadier general and given command of his own brigade in Smith's Division during the Vicksburg campaign. He later commanded a brigade in Breckenridge's Division during Jubal Early's raid on Washington D.C. After commanding Confederate forces in East Tennessee, Vaughn escorted Pres. Jefferson Davis during his flight from Richmond into Georgia. After the war, Vaughn served as presiding officer of the Tennessee Senate. He died Sept. 10, 1875 near Thomasville, Ga.
1874 Gov. James Smith signed legislation designating April 26 – a date which the act described as "commonly known as Memorial Day" – a state holiday.
April 26 was chosen because this marked the day that Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's surrender to Gen. William T. Sherman in North Carolina became official. At the time, Georgia was under Johnston's command, so his surrender meant the end of the Civil War for Georgia. Click here to read about the history of Confederate Memorial Day in Georgia.
1875 Gov. James Smith signed an act making it unlawful to sell "spirituous liquors" to minors.
1877 Gov. Alfred Colquitt approved legislation making it illegal for any person to operate a lottery in Georgia. Specifically, the law made it unlawful "to turn any lottery wheel, or to draw therefrom any balls, numbers, letters, or other thing indicating the decision of any chance or hazard of the said lottery.
1883 Atlanta lawyer and former state legislator and Speaker of the House Edward F. Hoge published the first issue of the Atlanta Journal as an afternoon newspaper for Georgia's capital city. (See "In Their Own Words" below.)
1932 Georgia politician Zell Miller was born in Young Harris, Georgia. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Miller graduated from the University of Georgia with a Masters degree in history in 1958 – subsequently completing two years of coursework on a PhD. He would teach at the University of Georgia, Young Harris College, DeKalb Community College, and Emory University. Miller also served as mayor of his hometown of Young Harris (1960-63) before being serving as state senator (1961-64).
Miller served as a member of several state boards (1964-66, 1973), executive secretary to the governor (1969-71), executive secretary to the lieutenant governor (1971), and executive director of the Georgia Democratic Party (1971-73). In 1974 Miller was elected lieutenant governor, and in that capacity presided over the Georgia Senate for sixteen years.
In November 1990, Miller was elected governor, taking office the following January.
Miller's administration will probably best be remembered for securing a state lottery program for education – and in particular his lottery-funded HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) scholarship program – which gained national publicity. After his eight years as governor, Miller returned to higher education, teaching first at Emory University and Young Harris College, and then at the University of Georgia. After the death of Georgia Sen. Paul Coverdell in 2000, Gov. Roy Barnes appointed Miller to fill the vacancy until the next general election. In Nov. 2000, Miller was elected to serve the remainder of Sen. Coverdell's term.
Miller served in the U.S. Senate until January 2005, choosing not to run for a full six-year term. After his term ended, Miller returned to Georgia, where he wrote a A Deficit of Decency.
1999 In Atlanta, University of Georgia president Michael Adams announced that former president Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, had been selected as recipients of the University of Georgia's inaugural Delta Prize for Global Understanding.
The award, funded through a $890,000 endowment from Delta Air Lines, provides a $10,000 award and an original sculpture to the nominee who best exhibits "globally significant efforts that provide opportunities for greater understanding among nations and cultures."
1999 One month after his death, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conductor laureate Robert Shaw won Grammy Awards for best classical album and best choral performance. Both awards were for Shaw's last album, "Barber: Prayers of Kierkegaard/Vaughan Williams: Dona Nobis Pacem/Bartok: Cantata Profana," which was recorded with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.
Another Atlanta resident also won a 1999 Grammy – R&B vocalist Monica Arnold. She and fellow-singer Brandy won the award for best R&B performance by a duo for their recording of "The Boy is Mine." The winning song came from their 1998 album by the same name that produced three No. 1 singles.
2010 Bobsledder Elana Meyers, a native of Douglasville, Georgia, won a bronze medal at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.
In Their Own Words on This Day. . .
1777 Joseph Clay, a Savannah merchant turned military leader, wrote of an attack upon southern Georgia which served to rally the people together:
Source: Collections of the Georgia Historical Society, Vol. VIII, Letters of Joseph Clay, Merchant of Savannah, 1776-1793 (Savannah: Georgia Historical Society, 1913), pp. 20-21.
1883 In the inaugural issue of the Atlanta Journal, publisher Edward F. Hoge wrote of his plans for the city's new afternoon newspaper:
Source: Franklin M. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1969 reprint of original 1954 volume), Vol. II, pp. 55-56.
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