February 09, 1733
1733 In the new colony of Georgia, each able-bodied adult male was issued a musket, bayonet, cartridge box, and belt to defend himself, his family, and the colony. Also on this day, Col. William Bull (who had traveled down from South Carolina with four laborers) helped Oglethorpe lay out the first town square, streets, and forty town lots where the colonists houses would be built. Oglethorpe’s town plan followed a scheme then popular in London of adjacent houses facing a public square. Also on this day, work began on the first clapboard house. [Note: Letters, diaries, and records of this time show dates based on the Julian calendar (referred to as "Old Style") then in effect in Britain and the American colonies. The Gregorian calendar ("New Style") was adopted in 1752. Thus, Feb. 9, 1732/33 (Old Style) represents Feb. 20, 1733 under our calendar now in effect.]
February 09, 1752
1752 Gov. George Handley was born in England. He moved to Georgia in May 1775 and almost immediately became involved in the revolutionary movement. He joined the Continental Army in 1776 and reached the rank of lieutenant before retiring in 1782. Moving to Augusta after the war he became active in local politics, serving as a justice of the peace for four different counties. Moving to the state level, Handley served as secretary of the executive council in 1785 and 1786, before becoming inspector-general of the militia. He was also a delegate to the state convention that unanimously ratified the U.S. Constitution. On Jan. 24, 1788, the Georgia House of Assembly elected Handley governor. During his administration, Georgia wrote a new state constitution, with Handley acting as president of the convention. He was able to convince Creek chief Alexander McGillivray to suspend hostilities pending the creation of the new federal government. After his year as governor, Handley was appointed collector of the Brunswick port by President Washington. He served in this post and as sheriff of Richmond County until his death on September 17, 1793.
February 09, 1819
1819 Politician John Milledge died near Augusta. Born in Savannah in 1757, Milledge was an active participant in the revolutionary movement by age 18, when he stole gunpowder from the royal governor’s magazine in 1775. Milledge was present when both Savannah and Augusta were captured by the British (and when they were recaptured by patriot forces) -- and he fought in virtually all major battles fought in Georgia. After the Revolution, Milledge became involved in politics, serving in the Georgia legislature before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1792. In Congress, his main objective was to secure military protection from the Indians and Spanish along Georgia’s western border. Milledge opposed the Yazoo Land Act, believing western lands should be sold to settlers in order to stabilize the frontier and help erase Georgia’s debt. After serving several terms in Congress, the Georgia General Assembly elected him as governor in 1802. During his administration the land lottery was instituted as a means of distributing frontier lands to settlers. In 1806, Milledge was elected to the United States Senate, where he became president pro tempore in 1809. Because of the illness of his wife in Georgia, Milledge resigned from the Senate and retired from politics. But his contributions to Georgia did not end. Although the University of Georgia had been chartered by the legislature in 1785, little had been done to make it a reality. Milledge served on a committee to find an appropriate site in 1800. Then, when the state did not have the money to purchase the site chosen (a tract along the Oconee River), Milledge bought the site for $4,000 and then donated it to the state. In the University’s early years, Milledge worked closely with president Josiah Meigs, offering both financial and moral encouragement. In his honor, the General Assembly named Georgia’s new state capital Milledgeville in his honor. Later, both Athens and Augusta named major avenues in his honor. Also, the University of Georgia recognized Milledge with a classroom building and an academic chair.
February 09, 1854
1854 Gov. Herschel Johnson signed legislation creating Coffee County as Georgia’s 108th county. Created from portions of Clinch, Irwin, Telfair, and Ware counties, the new county was named for Gen. John Coffee -- who fought in the Creek Indian wars and also represented Georgia in Congress.
February 09, 1861
1861 At the convention of seceded states meeting in Montgomery, Ala., Jefferson Davis was elected provisional president of the new Confederate States of America. His vice president is former U.S. Senator from Georgia, Alexander Stephens.
February 09, 1861
1861 Despite the fact that delegates from seceded states were meeting in Montgomery, Ala. to form the Confederate States of America, Tennessee voted against secession.
February 09, 1868
1868 Historian Lucian Lamar Knight was born in Atlanta. He was a cousin of Henry Grady, who introduced him to the newspaper business when he was young. After graduation from the University of Georgia and a brief time in the field of law, Knight began his career with the Atlanta Constitution in 1892. For ten years, he wrote on a wide variety of topics -- humor, poetry, eulogies, but most importantly history. Knight resigned from the newspaper in 1902, studied theology at Princeton, traveled widely in Europe, before settling in California. Here, while employed by a law firm, he published Reminiscences of Famous Georgians in 1907. A second volume of Reminiscences followed in 1908, before Knight returned to Atlanta to serve as managing editor for a Library of Southern Literature series. In 1913 Knight accepted the post of compiler of state records. He soon noticed the need for better preservation, collection, and housing of historical documents related to Georgia. He campaigned for five years before the General Assembly finally created an official Department of Archives (later renamed the Department of Archives and History). Knight was the first head of this department and served until his retirement in 1925. He oversaw the first printing of the state’s Statistical Register, as well as earlier publication of Georgia’s Colonial Records, Georgia’s Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends, and a six-volume work -- A Standard History of Georgia and Georgians. After his retirement Knight continued to travel and speak and write frequently on Georgia history. He died while visiting Clearwater, Florida on Nov, 19, 1933. His body was returned to Georgia, where he was buried in the historic Christ Church cemetery on St. Simon’s Island.
February 09, 1926
1926 The Atlanta Board of Education voted to prohibit the teaching of evolution in the city’s public schools.
February 09, 1933
1933 Gov. Eugene Talmadge approved a joint resolution in which the General Assembly directed him to arrange to have a floral wreath be placed on the tomb of Georgia founder on Sunday, Feb. 12, 1933 in recognition of the bicentennial of Georgia’s founding. The resolution correctly noted that Oglethorpe was buried in the Cranham church in Essex County, England.
February 09, 1942
1942 Across America, clocks were turned forward one hour as daylight-saving "War Time" went into effect.
February 09, 1944
1944 Poet, novelist, and civil rights activist Alice Walker was born in Eatonton, Georgia. Walker became involved in the civil rights movement while attending Spelman College in Atlanta. In honor of being a participant in the Youth World Peace Festival she was invited to the home of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1962. She participated in the March on Washington the following year and was present when King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. After two years at Spelman, Walker received a scholarship to Sarah Lawrence College in New York. It was here that her talent for writing was nurtured and encouraged. Upon graduating from Sarah Lawrence Walker returned to her native South and resumed her activities in the civil rights movement, while holding a number of teaching positions. She also continued to write, publishing her first volume of poetry -- Once and her first novel -- The Third Life of Grange Copeland. She went on to publish several more volumes of poetry, then her second novel, Meridian, earned her a Guggenheim Fellowship, which allowed her to devote full time to her writing. In 1982, Walker’s landmark work --The Color Purple -- was published. It won a Pulitzer Prize and catapulted Walker into worldwide notoriety. While Walker had an active role in the making of the film version of her book, she did not write the screenplay and was not comfortable with the way her characters appeared on screen, though she expressed admiration for of the powerful performances. The movie debuted in her hometown of Eatonton, where she received a warm welcome and a parade in her honor. Meanwhile she continued to write, publishing essays, poetry, and in 1989 an epic novel -- The Temple of My Familiar. More volumes of poetry followed, along with her fifth novel, Possessing the Secret Joy, in 1991. Throughout her professional life, Walker has also been active in the civil rights and feminist movements. Today, she lives in Mendocino, California.
February 09, 1956
1956 In the Georgia House of Representatives, S.B. 98 (which would change Georgia’s state flag) received its third and final reading. S.B. 98 was then approved by a 107-32 vote, with 66 representatives not voting. Newspaper accounts of the vote indicate that there was little floor debate, and there was no mention of the bill being linked to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. S.B. 98 was then returned to the Senate for enrollment -- a process of authenticating that the bill being sent to the governor for signing is the official version as passed by both houses.
February 09, 1960
1960 Just weeks before her 30th birthday, actress Joanne Woodward, born in Thomasville, Ga., became the first personality honored with a star in the sidewalk along Hollywood Bouvelard that became the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame.