Journalist Henry Grady was born in Athens, Georgia on May 24, 1850. He began his journalistic career in Rome, Georgia, where he eventually purchased his own newspaper and earned a respected reputation as an editor. In 1872 he purchased one-third of the Atlanta Daily Herald, bringing him closer to the world of Georgia politics and business. A political moderate, Grady was an editorialist on the future of the South - envisioning a region with developed industry and more diversified agriculture, united in harmony with the North. In a March 1874 editorial he first used the term “New South” to describe his vision. When his newspaper folded financially, Grady had several brief stints with other newspapers before being hired by the Atlanta Constitution. While it was little noticed at the time, Grady was responsible for the Constitution hiring a shy storyteller from Eatonton, Georgia - Joel Chandler Harris. It was also at the Constitution that Grady became nationally renowned for his coverage of the Tilden-Hayes presidential debates and the growth of southern railroads.
It was Grady’s “New South” speech delivered in New York on December 22, 1886, that catapulted him into the public spotlight to the point where he was actually considered a possible running mate for Grover Cleveland in 1888. But Grady was not interested in holding political office. Back in Atlanta he stayed busy helping the city become the center of his “New South,” organizing expositions, supporting progressive legislation, and calling for ever improving city services. His eloquence made him a popular speaker, both in Georgia and nationally. In December of 1889, Grady spoke on “The Race Problem in the South” at the meeting of the Boston Merchants’ Association. Tragically, he caught pneumonia during the trip and died from complications at his home in Atlanta at the young age of thirty-nine. In 1905, the General Assembly named a new county in recognition of his achievements. In 1921, the University of Georgia’s College of Journalism was named in his honor.