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This Day in Georgia History

December 30, 1851

Asa Candler Born

To view an image of Asa Candler, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

Businessman and philanthropist Asa Griggs Candler was born in Villa Rica, Georgia. Candler began his career as a pharmacist, from which he got into the business of buying and developing patent medicines. In 1886 he paid John Pemberton $2300 for the rights and formula of a new “brain tonic” known as Coca-Cola that Pemberton had developed. Candler believed Coca-Cola had a better future as a fountain drink than as a medicine, so he turned his advertising and financial talents to that end. It was largely due to Candler’s innovative advertising and supportive employee relations that Coke became such a remarkable worldwide success. Candler was very generous with his earnings - particularly in giving to the Methodist church and to education. In 1914, he donated one million dollars and seventy-five acres of land to establish a school of higher learning in Atlanta - Emory University. His gifts to Emory ultimately totaled over eight million dollars. When his adopted home of Atlanta suffered a physical and financial decline, Candler responded to the urging of worried business friends and successfully ran for the office of mayor. During his term, Atlanta went from a $150,000 deficit to a surplus of more than $40,000. Candler continued his philanthropic ways by donating land for a park in Atlanta, beginning the forerunner of the chamber of commerce, and supporting a bond issue for sanitary and school improvements. Candler died on March 12, 1929, in Atlanta and was buried in Westview Cemetery.