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1776 The Second Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence. The document, however, was only signed by John Hancock and Charles Thomson, president and secretary. Most other members signed the declaration on August 2 – but because of the outbreak of hostilities, a few signed later.
1864 As Union forces advanced on Atlanta, Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston continued to order Confederate forces to fall back towards the Chattahoochee River. There were various skirmishes, and southwest of Smyrna Gen. Veatch's 4th Division of the 16th Corps engaged Confederates in the Battle of Ruff's Mill. Union Gen. William T. Sherman considered a frontal assault but determined that Confederate infantry and artillery would extract a heavy toll so instead he sent Union cavalry upstream and downstream to look for bridges and ferries across the Chattahoochee.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
1868 The newly elected Georgia General Assembly held its first meeting under the new Constitution of 1868. Joining the 186 white members and 36 black legislators – the first in Georgia history. The legislative session convened in the Atlanta City Hall/Fulton County Courthouse, which Atlanta has offered as a temporary state capitol. (This building would be torn down 16 years later to make way for construction of Georgia's current state capitol.)
Newly elected legislators were given the oath of office and presiding officers for each house elected. However, a large crowd – including many former slaves – had gathered on the grounds of the capitol to celebrate. Crowd noise and a brass band forced legislators to adjourn until Monday, July 6.
1877 Future lawyer and Georgia governor Clifford Walker was born in Monroe, Georgia. Walker attended the University of Georgia, where he established The Georgian, a literary magazine. After graduation from the UGA law school, he was elected mayor of Monroe and circuit solicitor general. In 1915, Walker was elected state attorney general, serving until 1920, when he resigned to run for governor. He lost the election to Thomas Hardwick, but returned to defeat Hardwick in the 1922 gubernatorial race. Walker openly solicited Klan support, which led to his being exposed as a Klan member in 1924. Nevertheless, Georgia voters returned him to office for a second term.
During Walker's administrations, the auditing and revenue departments were created, as well as the State Forestry Commission. He entered private law practice in 1928 and founded the Woodrow Wilson College of Law in 1933. From 1937-1952, Walker served as counsel for the Georgia Department of Labor. He died November 9, 1954.
1889 Georgia's new state capitol was formally dedicated, with the Capitol Commission presenting the new domed building to Governor John B. Gordon. Commissioners had another present. Having been authorized $1,000,000 to build the capitol, they reported that construction came in under budget, so they returned $118.43 to the state treasury. The new capitol was so large that there was room for all three branches of state government, with empty rooms left over.
1911 Georgian Ty Cobb went 0 for 4 at the plate ending a 40-game hitting streak.
1959 A new 49-star U.S. flag was raised across Georgia to mark Alaska's joining the Union.
1960 A new 50-star U.S. flag flew today in Georgia marking the addition of Hawaii to the Union.
1976 The year 1776 is a major year in American history. It marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the outbreak of the American Revolution, and the transition of British colonies to American states. To many Americans, 1776 marks the birth of the United States. To plan for the national celebration of the nation's bicentennial, Congress in 1966 created the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. The Commission subsequently invited each state to create a commission to cooperate with national and local groups to plan for the commemoration of the nation's bicentennial. In 1969, the Georgia General Assembly created the Georgia Commission for the National Bicentennial Celebration. That body planned and coordinated numerous events across the state to mark the nation's bicentennial. Many parades, festivals, and other commemorations were held on July 4, 1976.
Georgia Commission for the National Bicentennial Celebration Log
1982 Young Harris graduate Ronnie Milsap made the top of the country-and-record charts today with his hit, "Any Day Now."
1989 State officials celebrated the centennial of the dedication of Georgia's state capitol with a big birthday party, festivities, educational materials, and various commemorative items.
WSB-TV diverted the route of its annual Salute to America parade so that it passed in front of the main entrance of the state capitol. Hosting the parade were WSB television personalities Monica Kaufman and Chuck Dowdle.
To mark the capitol's centennial, the U.S. Postal Service prepared a special pictorial cancellation.
In Their Own Words on This Day. . .
1743 Eighteenth-century Indian justice could be quite different from that of white colonists, as evidenced by this graphic example recorded by William Stephens in his journal:
Source: E. Merton Coulter (ed.), The Journal of William Stephens, 1741-1743 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1959), p.223.
1862 Atlanta merchant Samuel P. Richards recorded in his diary how Atlanta celebrated the 4th of July holiday:
Source: Franklin M. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1954), Vol. I, p. 542.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
1864 In a letter to his wife, Maj. Fredrick Winkler of the 26th Wisconsin Infantry wrote about he spent the fourth of July in the midst of the Atlanta Campaign:
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