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1494 Spain and Portugal signed the Treaty of Tordesillas giving each country exclusive areas in the New World to claim and colonize, with an assurance that the other country would not challenge those claims.
Spain was the big winner in the treaty, gaining Portugal's permission to colonize all of North and South America, with the exception of Brazil.
Neither Spain or Portugal had any idea of what lay between Europe and the Far East, except that Columbus had found previously unknown islands in his 1492 voyage of exploration. The treaty was a way of avoiding rivalry and possible war as each nation prepared to send ships of exploration.
Spain's initial claim to the New World (including what would become Georgia) was based on Columbus's 1492 voyage, during which he became the first European to explore the Americas since Leif Ericson led a brief settlement in Newfoundland around 1000. Although Columbus never set foot on the North American continent, he did discover and briefly explore islands in the West Indies (see Oct. 12, 1492 entry). Sensing the possibility of rivalry and conflict between Spain and Portugal (both Catholic nations), Pope Alexander VI issued a papal decree in 1493 dividing rights to the New World between the two countries (see May 4, 1493 entry). The formula used in Alexander's decree unknowingly omitted Portugal from any claims to the New World (except for the eastern-most tip of the South American continent). This led Portugal to call on Spain for a more equitable division of New World claims, resulting in the two nations signing the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494. The agreement assigned a line of demarcation 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. As it turned out, Portugal only received rights to one area of the New World – a land it would later name Brazil. With respect to Georgia history, the Treaty of Tordesillas became the third – and most authoritative – basis for Spain's claim to the New World.
However, the rest of Europe was not willing to give the New World to Spain and Portugal based on Columbus's 1492 and subsequent voyages of discovery, Pope Alexander's 1493 decree, or the Treaty of Tordesillas. European nations accepted the principle of first discovery in theory but could not agree on how it worked. For example, how much land could be claimed based on a single exploration, and for how long was the claim valid? England would soon propose a new standard: first discovery claims had to be backed by actual occupation. Thus, within four years of Columbus's discovery of land, England prepared to explore and colonize the New World. France followed with its own plans. This forced Spain to quickly prepare for an additional defense of its New World claims – actual occupation through settlements, forts, and missions.
1744 In London, a court martial trial was held to examine allegations that Lt. Col. William Cook, a dissident officer in James Oglethorpe's regiment, had leveled against the general. These charges included a general complaint against Oglethorpe's system of discipline within the regiment and that Cook had "suffered great indignities and unjust Impositions and Deductions of his Pay, together with an Ill State of Health . . . ." Additionally, Cook cited 19 specific complaints against the general. The court martial threw out every charge, charging them to be "frivolous, vexations, or malicious, and without foundation" and recommended that Cook be dismissed from service. Georgia's founder was completely vindicated by the decision.
1776 Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution calling for a declaration of independence at the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia. Georgia's delegates – Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton – would support measure when the vote was taken four weeks later.
1862 James Andrews, leader of Andrews' Raiders of "The Great Locomotive Chase" fame, was hanged in Atlanta as a spy. Andrews was executed at the present-day location of the intersection of Juniper and Third Streets, two blocks from the Fox Theatre. On June 18, 1862, seven of his raiders were hanged just south of the Atlanta City Cemetery (later renamed Oakland Cemetery) and buried in the cemetery. In 1887, Andrews' remains were removed and reinterred in the National Cemetery in Chattanooga. There he joined the seven raiders who had been reinterred in 1866.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
1864 At the Republican Party's national convention in Baltimore, Md., Abraham Lincoln won the party's nomination for a second term as president.
1913 Lucille Frank renewed her charges that prosecutor Hugh Dorsey was using third degree questioning tactics to gain false evidence against her husband in the murder of Mary Phagan. Mrs. Frank said their cook, Minola McKnight, had been arrested illegally because she was not a suspect in any crime. The Atlanta Journal also reported that no indictment would be sought against Jim Conley until Frank's trial was over. If Frank was found guilty, then Conley might escape prosecution [he eventually received a one-year sentence]; if Frank were acquitted, then first degree murder charges would be filed against Conley. Investigators on the case had discovered several cases of violence in Conley's background, including shooting at his wife and threatening a former employer with a gun. Click here for a detailed accounting of the case.
1941 Over 600 delegates from 38 states attended a Ku Klux Klan convention in Atlanta. They overwhelmingly voted against a motion to restore use of hoods to hide their faces. After voting to raise $1 million in 1942 to promote "Americanism," they adjourned and reassembled at Stone Mountain to burn a cross.
1976 After much debate, the Atlanta City Council voted 11-6 to require all police officers and fire fighters to live within the city within six months of employment. This action resulted after learning that 74% of Atlanta police lived outside the city.
In Their Own Words on This Day. . .
1742 Tension between the Britain and Spain was building over Georgia settlements and forts on St. Simons Island and other areas of Georgia claimed by Spain. In Savannah, William Stephens wrote of this tension in his journal:
Source: E. Merton Coulter (ed.), The Journal of William Stephens, 1741-1743 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1959), pp. 90-91.
1742 From Frederica, James Oglethorpe wrote the Earl of Wilmington in London:
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe's Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. II, p. 614.
1862 In his diary, Samuel P. Richards of Atlanta wrote of the execution of James Andrews:
Source: Franklin M. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1954), Vol. I, p. 524.
1862 The Southern Confederacy, an Atlanta newspaper, re-printed a notice from Macon - morbid but necessary in war time - on the transportation of dead bodies.
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