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1736 James Oglethorpe directed Trustees' surveyor Noble Jones to draw up a plan for a new town at the head of navigation of the Savannah River, though it would be twelve months before Jones actually visited the site to begin surveying the town plan. The new settlement was to be named Augusta in honor of Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, who Frederick had married on April 26, 1736. Frederick, the son of King George II and Prince of Wales, would also be honored by a new town and forts named for him on St. Simons Island in 1736.
According to the journal of Trustee proceedings maintained by the Earl of Egmont the new town was created "for the convenience principally of the Indian Traders." Actually, the purpose of the fort was to regulate the Indian trade in Georgia. Abuses by white traders – in particular cheating the Indians and supplying them with rum – led Oglethorpe and the Trustees to determine that peace with the Indians depended on stopping the abuses. From now on, white traders working in Georgia would be required to first obtain a license in order to "trade, frequent, haunt, traffic or barter" with any Indian in the boundaries of Georgia. To enforce this, Oglethorpe directed that a fort be built and a town laid out at the Fall Line on the Savannah River. The Fall Line is a geographic feature that stretches across the Southeast and marks the head of navigation on rivers as they cross from the Piedmont to Coast Plain physiographic regions. North of the Fall Line, rivers are shallow and faster-flowing, with rocky bottoms – making them difficult for boats to navigate. As a result, white traders who worked the backcountry had used the Fall Line as the most northerly site inland to ship their deer skins and furs down river to Savannah and on to Charleston.
Although 1736 is considered the year of Augusta's founding, actual settlement would take a while. The first order of business was to build a fort. Ranger captain Roger Lacy, who was in charge of the fort's construction, did not begin work until May 1737. Eleven months later, Fort Augusta was finally completed.
As for the town of Augusta, according to the Earl of Egmont's journal:
The plan for Augusta laid out 40 town lots roughly parallel to the Savannah River. The lots were organized into eight blocks of five lots each. Each block was separated by a street, with a wide street laid out through the middle of town.
1777 Georgia patriots got a new national flag on this day as the Continental Congress adopted the first U.S. National Flag (soon known as the "Stars and Stripes") to replace the Grand Union Flag.
Click here to read the story about the first U.S. flag.
The popular general was killed instantly when a Union cannon projectile struck him directly.
Also an Episcopal bishop, Polk was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on April 10, 1806.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
1923 Ralph Peer of Okeh Records recorded Georgia's Fiddlin' John Carson playing "The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane" – which was released as the first country music record.
1934 Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation creating the Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Georgia – the third national monument created by Congress.
Beginning in 1933, the Works Progress Administration funded an archaeological investigation of the complex of Mississippian Indian mounds near the eastern banks of the Ocmulgee River. Archaeologists and 800 Civilian Conservation Corps workers participated in the excavation.
Click here for photographs from the Ocmulgee National Monument.
1943 Martin Luther King, Sr. chaired a meeting of the Atlanta Citizens' Committee on the Equalization of Teachers' Salaries.
1952 Boston Braves scout Dewey Griggs signed 18-year-old Hank Aaron to a contract for $350 a month. At the time, Aaron was playing for the Negro League's Indianapolis Clowns for $200 a month.
Watching Aaron play as a Clowns shortstop, Griggs signed him the middle of the game. Aaron would play two years in the minor leagues before getting to play major league baseball. By this time, the Braves had moved to Milwaukee. In spring training for the 1954 season, Braves outfielder Bobby Thomson broke his ankle and on March 14, Hank Aaron replaced Thomson as a starting outfielder and went on to history.
The victory moved Cox into a tie with Frank Selee for most wins by a Braves manager in franchise history. Selee coached the Boston Beaneaters – one of the early names used by the Braves – for twelve seasons (1890-1901).
In Their Own Words on This Day. . .
1744 Being a buffer colony, Georgia was constantly on the lookout for danger, as William Stephens recorded in his journal:
Source: E. Merton Coulter (ed.), The Journal of William Stephens, 1743-1745 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1959), pp. 113-114.
1864 Illustrating that the newspapers of the Civil War era sometime reported what their editors wanted to believe more so than the facts, The Southern Recorder of Milledgeville printed an appraisal of the Union army in Georgia that was far from actuality, particularly in regards to the number of troops both sides had available.
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