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1787 On this Monday morning, 41 delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia assembled for the last time.
The engrossed copy of the new constitution, agreed to two days earlier, was read to the delegates. A single amendment was offered – and unanimously approved – to change the provision that there be one Representative for every 40,000 residents to one for every 30,000. Then, delegates – including William Few and Abraham Baldwin on behalf of Georgia – began formal signing of the Constitution. At about 4 p.m., the convention adjourned sine die.
1807 Former Georgia governor Edward Telfair died in Savannah, where he was buried in what would become Bonaventure Cemetery.
Born in Scotland c. 1735, Telfair came to Georgia in 1766. Almost immediately he became a successful businessman in partnership with his brother. He was elected to the Commons House of Assembly in 1768 and also held some local offices in Savannah. As a merchant Telfair was not pleased with the British policies on taxation of the American colonies. He was among those who convened in 1874 to denounce the Intolerable Acts, and was a delegate to both the first and second provincial congresses. He was also among the group of Whigs who seized the ammunition stored in Savannah on May 11, 1775. Telfair remained devoted to the American independence movement even when his brother cast his lot with the Loyalists. Elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress, he was one of the Georgians to sign the Articles of Confederation.
After the Revolutionary War, Telfair was elected to the state legislature, served as a justice, and worked on several committees. In 1786 the legislature elected him governor. He was chosen governor again in 1789 and served until 1793. As governor Telfair was influential in moving the state capital from Savannah to Augusta, worked to resolve the Georgia-South Carolina boundary dispute, and was beset by Creek Indian problems in his last year in office. After 1793, he retired from public life. Upon his death on Sept. 17, 1807, he left a large fortune, which his descendants used to establish the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences.
In Dec. 1807, the Georgia General Assembly created a new Georgia county and named it in his honor.
1825 Lawyer, politician, and U.S. Supreme Court justice Lucius Q.C. Lamar was born in Putnam County, Georgia. He graduated from Emory College in 1845, after which he read law and was admitted to the bar in 1847. Two years later, he moved to Mississippi. In 1849, he became a professor of mathematics at the University of Mississippi, but the next year he resigned and returned to Georgia, where he established a law practice in Covington. In 1853, he was elected from elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, where he served for one term. In 1854, he returned to Mississippi, where he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms.
During the Civil War, Lamar was co-founder and the first lieutenant colonel of the 19th Mississippi Infantry. In 1863, he also was sent by Jefferson Davis on a diplomatic mission to Russia. After the war, he returned to the University of Mississippi, where he served as chairman of the university's law school (1867-70). In 1877, Lamar was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served until 1885, when President Grover Cleveland appointed him to serve as Secretary of the Interior. Three years later, he was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served until his death on January 23, 1893, in Vineland, Georgia.
1827 Former Georgia governor Matthew Talbot died at an unknown place in Georgia. Talbot, president of the Georgia Senate when Gov. William Rabun died on Oct. 24, 1819, assumed the office of governor. The General Assembly subsequently elected John Clark as governor. Clark took the oath of office on Nov. 5, meaning Talbot served as governor for a total of only 11 days. Nevertheless, the legislature honored later honored Talbot when they named a new county for him in 1827.
1862 At the Battle of Antietam in Sharpsburg, MD, a small group of Georgians played a pivotal role. One flank of the Union army attempted to cross a bridge and attack the Confederate right, but a group of 450-500 Georgians, led by Robert Toombs, repeatedly held off the Union attempts to cross the bridge. This allowed Confederate reinforcements the time to arrive on the battlefield and prevented the Confederate army from being routed by far superior Union numbers. The Battle of Antietam remains, to this day, the single bloodiest day in American history.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
1932 Fulton County attorney and Democratic leader Charles B. Shelton was named chairman of the Georgia Division of the Roosevelt Business and Professional League. This group, along with the state Democratic Party, was created to spearhead Roosevelt's campaign for the presidency in Georgia. Also on this day, Georgia Senator Walter F. George confidently predicted an easy win for Roosevelt observing that "with reasonable support of the ticket the election of Governor Roosevelt is a certainty."
George was also highly critical of the Hoover Administration's treatment of the "Bonus Army"– a group of World War I veterans who had marched on Washington demanding benefits promised to them after the war, but not being delivered because of the Depression. The "Bonus Army" had been routed out of Washington by the regular Army, which George characterized as "the best evidence yet of the desperate plight in which the Republicans find themselves."
1939 Albany-born Harry James and his band, joined by a 23-year-old vocalist James had discovered by the name of Frank Sinatra, recorded "All or Nothing at All" for Columbia Records. The recording helped launch Sinatra's career.
1962 For the fourth time, a black church was burned near Dawson, Georgia. Three white men were later apprehended and admitted burning the church, for which they were sentenced to seven-year prison terms.
1976 Jimmy Carter received an endorsement from the National Education Association in Washington D.C., the first time the NEA had endorsed a national ticket. Leaving Washington, Carter carried his campaign to Mississippi and Arkansas "to reestablish my southern credentials." He continued to emphasize his eleven-point plan to combat inflation and balance the federal budget. Late that night, he returned home to Plains, Georgia.
1994 The U.S. Postal Service released a stamp honoring Georgia's "Ma" Rainey in first-day-of-issue ceremonies in Greenville, Mississippi, as part of a series of 8 stamps commemorating great American jazz and blues singers.
Born in Columbus in 1886, Gertrude Malissa Pridgett began singing at the Springer Opera House at age 14. She subsequently joined black vaudeville troupes and minstrel shows touring the south. Performing in tent shows, the groups mainly sang popular music hits. But shortly after she married "Pa" Rainey at age 18, "Ma" Rainey began bringing audience something different. She began to work into her Rabbit Foot Minstrels act plaintive, poignant music she had first overhead a young Missouri woman sing. As the music she dubbed the blues caught on, Rainey's fame grew. She was one of the first female artists to record the blues professionally, and in fact is known as the "Mother of the Blues." In 1934, she retired and purchased two theaters – one in Columbus and one in Rome – which she managed until her death in 1939.
2009 A series of storms continued passing through west and north Georgia, which would eventually drop over ten inches of rain (significantly more in some areas) over much of the state. The result was severe flooding in numerous Georgia counties, some even closing interstate highways. Death tolls from the flooding would reach at least nine people.
In Their Own Words on This Day. . .
1733 Seven months after the founding of Savannah, James Oglethorpe wrote to the Trustees of affairs in the fledging colony of Georgia. His letter also reveals that he did not plan to stay in Georgia but rather would soon be returning to England:
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe's Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. I, pp. 23-25.
1735 In London, Georgia's Trustees took up a number of matters at this day's meeting. Among those was the brief mention of sending two brothers to Georgia. The other matter relates to whether the Trustees had intended Georgia to be a debtors' colony. We know that very few imprisoned debtors were ever sent to Georgia, but there was at least one:
Source: U.K. Historical Manuscripts Commission, Diary of the First Earl of Egmont (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1923), Vol. 2, pp. 194-195.
1739 After spending the night at a Carolina fort on the Savannah River south of Augusta, Patrick Mackay and the remainder of James Oglethorpe's party returning from their trip to the Creek Nation headed down river for Savannah. Soon after departing, the group learned of a slave uprising in Carolina, as Mackay recorded in his journal:
Source: Ed Cashin, Setting Out to Begin a New World: Colonial Georgia (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1995), p. 83.
1864 In her journal entry for today, Richmond County's Gertrude Thomas bemoaned the ongoing Civil War, then expressed her thoughts on slavery. While she was forward thinking for her day, she was not quite ready to acknowledge blacks as equals:
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. 235-236.
For more, see This Week in Georgia Civil War History.
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