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1752 This was the last day the Julian calendar was officially observed in Britain and its colonies, as the Gregorian calendar was adopted effective Sept. 3. Because of errors in the Julian calendar, eleven days were skipped, meaning the day after Sept. 2, 1752 was Sept. 14. The beginning of a new year was also changed from March 25 to January 1. This explains why letters from James Oglethorpe indicated the date of arrival of the first colonists as "1 February 1732/33." Because much of the rest of Europe was already using the Gregorian calendar, dates from January 1 to March 25 frequently showed both the Julian and Gregorian year. Often, dates will indicate "O.S." for "Old Style" (i.e., Julian) or "N.S." for "New Style" (i.e., Gregorian). Thus, 1 February 1732/33 O.S. is the same as 12 February 1733 N.S.
1855 Future Georgia governor Hoke Smith was born in Newton, North Carolina. After the Civil War, Smith's family moved to Atlanta. Here, he studied law and was admitted to practice at age 17. In the following years, he invested wisely and became quite wealthy. In the late 1800s, he became active in Democratic politics, and for his support of Grover Cleveland in the 1892 presidential campaign, he was named U.S. Secretary of Interior. He resigned the cabinet post in 1896 and returned to the practice of law. In 1905, he decided to seek the office of Georgia governor, and in 1906 won overwhelmingly.
While Hoke Smith was a progressive, he was perhaps most notorious for campaigning in 1906 for black disenfranchisement and was responsible for the 1908 amendment to the Georgia constitution which required additional tests for voting (though whites were exempted by virtue of the famous "grandfather clause"). Smith lost to Joseph M. Brown in 1908, but two years later regained the office of chief executive. After the death of U.S. Senator Alexander Clay in 1910, the General Assembly elected Smith to fill Clay's remaining term. In the Senate, Smith is best remembered for his support of agriculture and vocational education. The two most notable pieces of legislation associated with him were the Smith-Lever Act, which authorized agricultural extension programs, and the Smith-Hughes Act, which provided for pre-college vocational education in the areas of agriculture, industrial arts, and homemaking skills. Smith died in Atlanta on November 27, 1931.
1864 With the arrival of the first minutes of September 2, all Confederate troops had been pulled out of Atlanta – that is, all but a few cavalry with a special mission. Gen. Hood had no intention of leaving the Union Army anything of military value, so the few Confederate left behind began destroying everything they could not carry.
Those Atlanta residents who still remained were awakened by terrible explosions as the seven locomotives and 81 loaded cars that made up Hood's ammunition train was blown up in a scene of Atlanta burning immortalized many years later in the movie Gone With the Wind. The demolition continued for five hours. By dawn, their work was done, and the small contingent rode out of town to join Hood's forces retreating to Lovejoy's Station.
On the morning of September 2, Atlanta was silent. Residents and city officials had expected the Union Army to ride in to capture its prize. Seeing no one, mayor James Calhoun and a small delegation rode out with a white flag to surrender Atlanta. They met a contingent of the 20th Corps and Calhoun was instructed to submit in writing his desire to surrender. Calhoun's two-sentence letter, directed to Brig.-Gen. William Ward stated: "Sir: The fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands. As mayor of the city I ask protection of non-combatants and private property."
By early afternoon, Union troops were streaming into Atlanta. The Second Massachusetts Regiment was the first unit to reach downtown. They occupied Atlanta's city hall and raised the U.S. flag. Atlanta was now in federal hands.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
1885 On the site of the old Atlanta City Hall-Fulton County Courthouse, 10,000 Georgians attended public ceremonies for the laying of the marble cornerstone of the new Georgia state capitol building. Construction of the statehouse would take almost four years.
1976 Ronnie Milsap's "(I'm A) Stand by My Woman Man" was on top of the country music charts. Milsap attended Young Harris College and has been a friend of Georgia Gov. Zell Miller, also a Young Harris grad.
In Their Own Words on This Day. . .
1864 In Atlanta, merchant Samuel P. Richards finally witnessed what he never thought would see – Union troops in Atlanta – as recorded in his diary:
Source: Franklin M. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1954), Vol. I, p. 637.
1864 Col. Fredrick Winkler of the 26th Wisconsin Infantry wrote his wife with news of victory in the Atlanta Campaign, although he seemed more concern with politics:
1880 In Richmond County, the financial woes of Gertrude Thomas (or more accurately those of her husband) continued well past Reconstruction. Eventually, she opened a school to supplement their meager income. On this day, as she was searching for strength to get back to work, marital problems also are evident in this day's journal entry:
Source: Virginia Ingraham Burr (ed.), The Secret Eye: The Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), pp. 408-409.
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