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[Note: Letters, diaries, and records of this time show dates based on the Julian calendar (referred to as "Old Style") then in effect in Britain and the American colonies. The Gregorian calendar ("New Style") was adopted in 1752. Thus, Jan. 24, 1732/33 (Old Style) represents Feb. 4 under the calendar now in effect. For a fuller explanation, click here.]
1755 One of the earliest enactments of Georgia's first General Assembly -- an act providing that all males in the colony between the ages of 16 and 60 (with a few exclusions) were to be formed into militia companies and regiments to be organized according to the towns and districts where they lived -- was approved on this day.
1788 The Georgia legislature elected George Handley governor. Born in England, Handley arrived in Georgia in May 1775 and almost immediately became involved in the revolutionary movement. He joined the Continental Army in 1776 and reached the rank of lieutenant before retiring in 1782. After the war, Handley moved to Augusta and became active in local politics, serving as a justice of the peace for four different counties. At the state level, Handley served as secretary of the executive council in 1785 and 1786, before becoming inspector-general of the militia. He was also a delegate to the state convention that unanimously ratified the U. S. Constitution.
Under Handley's administration as governor, Georgia adopted a new state constitution, with Handley acting as president of the convention. He was able to convince Creek chief Alexander McGillivray to suspend hostilities pending the creation of the new federal government. After his one-year term as governor, Handley was appointed collector of the Brunswick port by President Washington. He served in this post and as sheriff of Richmond County until his death on September 17, 1793.
1826 Creeks signed the Treaty of Washington, which voided the 1825 Treaty of Indian Springs and ceded all Creek lands between the Chattahoochee and Flynt rivers, plus an area west of Buzzard's Roost on the Chattahoochee.
1861 The secession convention then meeting in Milledgeville elected ten delegates to represent Georgia at the southern states' conference in Alabama on February 4. The delegates were selected according to Georgia's previous representation in the U.S. Congress. Robert Toombs and Howell Cobb (former Senators) were chosen to represent the state at large. Chosen to represent Georgia's eight districts were:
1st District: Francis Bartow
Having been ordered by Georgia to surrender the U.S. Arsenal at Augusta, Capt. Arnold Elzey received a telegram at 1 a.m. from the U.S. Secretary of War directing: "It is not expected that your defense should be desperate. If forced to surrender by violence or starvation, you will stipulate for honorable terms, and a free passage by water with your company to New York." Later that morning, Capt. Elzey sent a message to Georgia Gov. Joseph E. Brown requesting an honorable surrender. Augusta militia units took possession of the arsenal, along with four cannons, 22,00 muskets and rifles, and supplies of powder and shot. At 4:00 that afternoon, a white flag with a large red star in the center signifying Georgia's sovereignty was raised over the facility.
Capt. Elzey and his garrison subsequently left Georgia. He went to Washington, D.C., where soon after the firing on Fort Sumter, he resigned his commission with the U.S. Army and traveled to Richmond, Virginia. After offering his services to the Confederate Army, he was named colonel of a Maryland unit. After the Battle of First Manassas, he was given a promotion to brigadier general. In 1862, he was promoted to the rank of major general.
For more information, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
1930 Rebecca Latimer Felton, the first female member of the U.S. Senate, died in Atlanta.
1933 Two prominent Georgia state representatives – Roy Harris of Richmond County and J. Wesley Culpepper of Fayette County – advocated a new method for helping fund Georgia's financially strapped school systems and supporting farmers in the midst of the Great Depression. Their new innovative idea was a sales tax.
1939 Singer Ray Ragsdale (professionally known as Ray Stevens) was born in Clarkdale, Georgia.
1977 Horace Ward became the first black superior court judge in Georgia.
1987 An estimated 20,000 civil rights demonstrators marched in Cumming, Ga. – a week after opponents halted a smaller march in the county seat of overwhelmingly white Forsyth County.
2001 A bill to change Georgia's state flag was approved in the Georgia House of Representatives by a 94-82 vote. As originally introduced, it would have restored the pre-1956 state flag. However, behind the scene efforts led to an agreement on a compromise version that would show the state seal in gold on a blue field, with five small flags that have flown over Georgia – including the 1956 state flag that contained a large Confederate battle flag – on a gold banner beneath the seal. For more information on the 2001 state flag, click here.
In Their Own Words on This Day . . .
1735 While James Oglethorpe remained in England, the delegation of Yamacraw Indians that had visited the Trustees in London had returned to Georgia. Accompanying them was John Musgrove, who had served as translator. John and his wife Mary Musgrove operated a trading post for the Yamacraw Indians, but during his absence, Musgrove's partner Joseph Watson had caused considerable problems with the Indians, resulting in the death of Musgrove's young slave named Justice. On this day, Musgrove wrote Oglethorpe about the problems:
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe's Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. I, pp. 115-116.
1863 From Columbus, John Banks wrote in his journal of five of his seven sons who would fight for the Confederacy:
Source: John Banks, Autobiography of John Banks, 1797 - 1870 (Austell, Ga.: privately printed by Elberta Leonard, 1936), pp. 25-26.
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