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1785 Former royal governor James Wright died in London, England. Born there in 1716, Wright came to American colonies in 1730 when his father was appointed chief justice of South Carolina. Wright followed in his father's footsteps, both in practicing law and amassing plantation lands. In 1757 he was chosen as South Carolina's agent to represent the colony in England. While there, he was appointed lieutenant governor of Georgia in May 1760. Following the resignation of Henry Ellis, Wright was named royal governor of Georgia in April 1761. Wright was the last, and the ablest, of Georgia's three royal governors.
When he took over the reins as Georgia's royal governor, the colony was entering an era of expansion after almost three decades of slow growth and uncertainty. With the French and Spanish no longer a threat after the French and Indian War, Georgia began a policy of actively encouraging Indian land cessions in order to attract new settlers to the colony. At the same time he worked hard for the interests of those already in Georgia, even moving his own financial and land assets from South Carolina to Georgia. Most Georgians were very pleased with Wright's leadership until the Stamp Act of 1765.
Georgia was the youngest and least populated of the thirteen colonies. Many of its elite had strong ties to England, which meant the movement for independence in Georgia trailed the other colonies. Some of this reluctance can be attributed to Wright, whose helpful and fair leadership was respected in the colony. Georgia was the only colony to allow a shipload of stamps to land and be sold. Even with opposition to England's policies rising, Wright still was able to get a large land cession for Georgia approved in London in 1773. But as the independence movement grew stronger, Wright was forced into taking arms against the colonists he had ruled so well. After being placed under house arrest, he escaped to a British ship and eventually convinced the British to provide enough troops to recapture Georgia. This was done in December 1778, making Georgia the only colony to have royal government reinstated. But Wright was never again in full control, as the Patriots established their own government in Augusta. When the British finally evacuated Savannah for good in 1782, Wright returned to London, where he was given a five-hundred pound annual pension as compensation for what he had lost in Georgia. After his death in 1785, Wright was buried in Westminster Abbey.
1817 In retaliation for attacks by white settlers, Seminole war bands crossed over into Georgia leading to the First Seminole War.
1891 Lawyer and former Georgia governor James Johnson died in Chattahoochee County. Born in Robinson County, N.C. on Feb. 12, 1811, he moved to Georgia as a youth and graduated from the University of Georgia in 1832. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1835. With a successful law practice in Columbus, he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1851. Defeated in his bid for reelection, Johnson became an opponent of secession and did not participate in the Civil War.
After the war, Pres. Andrew Johnson named Johnson provisional governor of Georgia on June 17, 1865. After a new constitution was drafted and elections held, Johnson gave up the governor's office to Charles Jenkins on Dec. 19, 1865. Subsequently, Johnson served three years as a U.S. customs collector in Savannah. In 1869, he became a superior court judge in the Chattahoochee circuit. After six years as a judge, Johnson returned to the practice of law in Columbus.
1921 Georgia women's suffrage pioneer Mary Latimer McLendon died.
1946 Singer and guitarist Duanne Allman was born Nov. 20,1946 in Nashville, Tenn. He went on to fame with the Allman Brothers Band of Macon. At age 24, he died of a motorcycle accident in Macon on Oct. 29, 1971.
1965 After losing their first nine games, the new Atlanta Falcons defeated the New York Giants 27-16 for their first victory as a professional football franchise.
1980 A wildcat strike by bus drivers of the National Transportation Service forced the closing of Fulton County's public schools. More than one-hundred bus drivers picketed outside the company even though superior court judge Luther Alverson had ordered them back to work on the basis of a no-strike clause in the contract between the National Transportation Service and Teamsters Union Local 528. Superintendent of schools Dr. Alonzo Crim closed the schools at 6:45 AM when it became apparent that no more than forty of the district's 232 buses would roll that morning.
1996 House Republicans elected Newt Gingrich Speaker of the House for a second term.
1997 The movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"
had its East Coast world premier in Savannah. Directed by Clint Eastwood,
the film was adapted from John Berendt's best selling book about the murder
trial of a Savannah antiques dealer.
In Their Own Words on This Day. . .
1734 Concerned about South Carolina's policies in regulating the Indian trade, Patrick Mackay, Georgia's agent with the Creeks, wrote the Georgia Trustees from Uchee Town:
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe's Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990).
1864 From her plantation near Covington, Ga., Dolly Lunt Burge wrote in her journal of her distress as Sherman's forces left town on their March to the Sea:
1864 From six miles east of Eatonton, planter Joseph A. Turner recorded the arrival of Yankees in his journal:
Source: Spencer B. King, Jr., Georgia Voices: A Documentary History to 1872 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1966 reprinted 1974), p. 301.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
1864 Sherman's March to the Sea was causing all types of problems – not only to innocent civilians but to the Union Army, as evidenced by General Order 22 issued by Gen. Jefferson C. Davis, commander of Sherman's 14th Corps near Eatonton, Ga.:
Source: U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1893, reprinted by The National Historical Society, 1971), Series I, Vol. XLIV, p.502.
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