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1732 In London, Georgia's Trustees held their organizational meeting and elected John Percival, Earl of Egmont, as president of the colony.
James Oglethorpe proposed that the Trustees employ "an ingenious person to reside in our colony . . . to search out medicinal plants and roots, and to make experiments of grain to be planted there, and to instruct the colony in agriculture."
1774 Two years before the Declaration of Independence, Georgians were expressing their concern with being taxed by Great Britain without their consent, as evidence by the following notice that appeared in the July 20, 1774, issue of the Georgia Gazette:
1796 Lawyer, patriot, and former Georgia governor John Houstoun died in Savannah. Houstoun was among the group of men who met regularly at Tondee's Tavern in Savannah to plan resistance to the British in the years just prior to the Revolutionary War. He was chosen as a delegate to the First Continental Congress, but none of the Georgia delegates attended. Also elected to the Second Continental Congress, Houstoun did attend but left long before the drafting and signing of the Declaration of Independence, believing his services were needed more at home in Georgia. In January 1778, Houstoun was elected governor. When the British occupied Savannah, he and other state officials moved to Augusta, then to Charleston when the British captured Augusta. He returned to Georgia after the British were forced to abandon Augusta.
After the war, Houstoun was elected to the House of Assembly, then in 1784 he was again elected governor. While his first administration was under duress from the British, in his second he was able to concentrate on land grants, Indian problems , and a border dispute with South Carolina. Houstoun went on to serve in several different capacities after his term as governor, including church vestryman, justice of the peace, and superior court judge. Upon his death, Houstoun was eulogized by historian Charles C. Jones as being "amongst the most zealous advocates of the rights of the colonists." An act of the General Assembly naming a new county in his honor was approved on May 15, 1821.
1864 As the day began, Gen. John Bell Hood had less than 51,000 officers and men capable of fighting against a Union army twice as large. Hood called a council of war with his division commanders. Under pressure from Richmond to stop Sherman's advance, Hood gave the day's objective: no matter what the price eliminate all Union forces south of Peachtree Creek.
An elaborate battle plan was outlined that calls for coordinated thrusts to begin at 1 p.m. However, confusion was the order of the day. Despite brave and fierce charges by Confederates, superior numbers of Union infantry and artillery turned them back. By evening, the Battle of Peachtree Creek was over – but at a terrible price for the South. Confederate casualties totaled 4,796 men (including Gen. Clement H. Stevens, who was fatally wounded in the battle, dying five days later). Union dead and wounded amounted to 1,710. The first of three major battles in and around Atlanta had been a costly loss for Hood.
During the Battle of Peachtree Creek, fighting was also taking place to the east as Federal forces in Decatur began advancing on Atlanta. Confederate forces opened fire, slowing the Union advance. Meanwhile, artillery units in the Union's 20th Corps began the first shelling of Atlanta. The first round struck downtown causing the death of a small child. Shelling would continue for 20 days.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
1976 Playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves great Hank Aaron hit his 755th and final home run.
1979 The disappearance of 14 year old Edward Smith marked the beginning of Atlanta's tragic missing and murdered cases. For more information, see Atlanta Child Murders.
1988 At the Democratic National Convention meeting at the Omni in Atlanta, Arkansas governor Bill Clinton nominated Massachusetts governor Micahel Dukakis as the Democratic candidate for president.
Clinton's rambling 32-minute nomination speech, the longest in modern history, was cheered wildly when he finally said, "And in conclusion, . . . " – a response that led him later to joke, "It wasn't my finest hour. It wasn't even my finest hour and a half."
Even though Dukakis had 70 percent of the convention delegates, he had agreed earlier to allow Jesse Jackson's name also to be placed in nomination for president, thus avoiding a floor revolt by Jackson's supporters.
Georgia's delegation was headed by then-governor Joe Frank Harris and included former president Jimmy Carter and U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. Interestingly, though he cast the delegation's votes for Dukakis, Harris considered Dukakis too liberal and did not publicly support him in the subsequent presidential campaign.
Though he would later lose to George W.H. Bush in November, Dukakis easily won the Democratic Party's presidential nomination on the first ballot with 2,876 votes to Jackson's 1,219.
1996 This marked the second day of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics – and day 1 of Olympic competition. While a number of different sporting events began competition on July 20, the first two gold medals were awarded – men's heavyweight judo and flyweight weightlifting.
Click here for a summary of medals awarded during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Actions affecting Georgia cities and towns approved by the governor on July 20:
1929 The charter of Waresboro (Ware County) was repealed.
In Their Own Words on This Day. . .
1736 John Wesley recorded a conversation he had with several Indian chiefs visiting Savannah:
Source: [no author or editor cited], Our First Visit in America: Early Reports from the Colony of Georgia, 1732-1740 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1974), pp. 207-208.
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