June 17, 1703
1703 Methodism founder John Wesley was born today in Epworth, England. In October 1735 he and brother Charles sailed for Georgia as Anglican ministers for the new colony. John’s stay in Georgia would prove unhappy years. First, he had hoped to become a missionary to the Indians, but James Oglethorpe had him serve the colonists instead. Second, he fell in love with Sophy Hopkey and sought her hand in marriage. After she turned him down and married another man, John refused to administer Holy Communion to Sophy, leading her new husband to file charges against John. In December 1737, John Wesley would sail from Georgia for England, where he launched a traveling ministry that developed into a movement that became known as Methodism.
June 17, 1871
1871 African-American lawyer, lyricist, U.S. diplomat, civil rights activist, novelist, poet, and educator James Weldon Johnson was born in Jacksonville, Fla. He attended Atlanta University, where he wrote over 30 poems while a student. At graduation ceremonies in 1894, Johnson gave the senior address for his graduating class. Three years later, Johnson became the first black admitted to the Florida Bar, though he is even better known for composing what many consider the black national anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," in 1899. In the early 1900s, Johnson served as U.S. consul to Venezuela and Nicaragua. In 1920, he served as executive secretary of the NAACP, later becoming a writer. In 1930, he became a professor at Fisk University. On his birthday in 1938, while driving in a thunderstorm to his summer home in Maine, Johnson’s car was hit by a train. He died from the injuries on June 26.
June 17, 1898
1898 The U.S. Post Office Department issued a stamp commemorating John C. Fremont, who was born in Savannah and was the Republican Party’s first presidential candidate in 1856.
June 17, 1929
1929 Delta Air Lines (then based in Louisiana) began passenger service between Atlanta and Dallas.
June 17, 1943
1943 On this day in 1943, Newt Gingrich was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Son of an Army officer, Newt lives in Kansas, France, and Germany before moving to Columbus, Georgia, where he graduated from high school in 1961. After earning a Ph.D. in European History from Tulane in 1971, Gingrich joined the political science faculty of West Georgia College. In November 1978, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where in 1995 and again in 1997, the Republican majority elected him as Speaker of the House.
June 17, 1978
1978 President Jimmy Carter and Panama leader Omar Torrijos completed ratification of the Panama Canal Treaty.
June 17, 1980
1980 Young Harris College graduate Ronnie Milsap reacheed the top of the country-and western chart on this day with his recording of "My Heart."
June 17, 2003
2003 Voters of Chattahoochee County and Cusseta, the county seat and only incorporated municipality in the county, approved a referendum to consolidate into a single government. The unification traced to the fact that much of the county is part of Fort Benning, leaving a small tax base for the county and single city in the county. Cusseta-Chattahoochee County became Georgia’s fourth and the nation’s 34th -- and smallest -- consolidated government