April 15, 1741
1741 In London, the Georgia Trustees divided the colony into two counties -- Savannah and Frederica. William Stephens, who had served as the Trustees’ secretary in Georgia, was designated president of the county of Savannah, which consisted of all settlements on both banks of the Ogeechee River northward to the Savannah River. Although they may have intended James Oglethorpe to serve this role to the south, the Trustees did not name a president for Frederica, which consisted of all lands south of the county of Savannah. In any event, Oglethorpe was more concerned with the defense of Georgia. The division of Georgia into two counties only lasted a year, as the Trustees made Stephens president of the entire colony in 1742. After turning back the Spanish invasion of St. Simons Island in 1742, Oglethorpe unsuccessfully tried to take St. Augustine in 1743. Afterwards, he returned to England -- never to return again to Georgia.
April 15, 1776
1776 Georgia’s Provincial Congress issued its Rules and Regulations, a provisional constitutional document for Georgia’s new Whig government. The document served as an interim constitution during Georgia’s transition from a colony to a state until adoption of the Constitution of 1777.
April 15, 1821
1821 Georgia politician and Civil War governor Joseph Emerson Brown was born in Long Creek, South Carolina. Brown began his political career with an election to the Georgia Senate in 1849. Despite being popular with voters and his fellow Democrats, he refused to run for a second term. With the Democratic Party deeply divided in 1857, Brown emerged as a compromise candidate for governor. He went on to serve three more terms, including the Civil War years. Brown was wary of the secessionist movement early on, fearing it would do more harm than good, but with the election of Abraham Lincoln he became an ardent supporter of secession. He even took early military action, seizing Fort Pulaski before secession, and the federal arsenal at Augusta soon after. But Brown soon found himself in conflict with Confederate authorities over most legislation, primarily the conscription of soldiers. Brown claimed such dictatorial actions were the reason southern states had originally seceded from the Union. While he continued to care deeply and work tirelessly for Georgia, he was a thorn in the sides of Confederate authorities. Brown was arrested and taken to Washington after the war’s end, but was soon paroled and returned home. His support for Reconstruction (believing it the quickest method to recover from the war’s devastation) earned him a pardon from President Johnson, but brought him enmity at home. Still, Brown remained popular with most Georgians, and was influential in seeing the state through Reconstruction and adoption of a new state constitution. He was appointed chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court in 1868, serving for two years. During the 1870s, he expanded his business interests to include mining, railroads, and real estate. But the taste for politics never fully left him. In 1880, he was appointed to fulfill the U.S. Senate seat of the resigned John B. Gordon. He went on to be elected to two more terms in the Senate. Brown, Gordon, and Alfred H. Colquitt, known as the Bourbon Triumvirate, dominated Georgia politics during the 1880s. Failing health forced Brown to retire in 1890. He returned to his home in Atlanta, where he died on Nov. 30, 1894.
April 15, 1862
1862 Confederate Secretary of War George Randolph telegraphed Gov. Joseph E. Brown notifying Brown that the Confederate Congress had passed a Conscription Act drafting all men between 18 and 35 into Confederate service. The bill then went to Pres. Jefferson Davis for approval.
April 15, 1865
1865 At 7:22 a.m., Pres. Abraham Lincoln died as a result of a mortal wound by assassin John Wilkes Booth the night before.
April 15, 1866
1866 The Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association was formed to help honor living and deceased Confederate veterans.
April 15, 1912
1912 In addition to Maj. Archibald Butt [see April 14 entry], four other Titanic passengers had Georgia ties, three of whom would perish in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912. Wealthy businessman and philanthropist Isidor Straus was born in Bavaria in 1845; his family immigrated to the United States in 1854. They settled in Talbotton, Georgia, where Isidor was educated at the Collingsworth Institute, a private religious school for boys. The Straus family lived in Georgia for almost ten years, moving briefly to Columbus in 1863, when Isidor left for Europe with the intention of purchasing a steamboat for running the Union blockade. This attempt failed, however, and Straus spent the next two years traveling in Europe and learning bookkeeping. When the Civil War ended, Straus met his family in New York, where they opened a crockery business. The family business flourished, soon they had opened silverware, glass, and china departments at Macy’s in New York. In 1888 the Straus family purchased a controlling interest in Macy’s, and Isidor Straus was a Macy’s partner from that time until his death. By 1912, he had amassed a considerable fortune and was well known and respected for his philanthropy. The story of he and his wife aboard the Titanic is well known; she refused to leave his side to board a life boat, saying "No, we are too old; we will die together. We have been living together for many years. Where you go, I go." Both husband and wife perished in the tragedy.
The remaining Titanic passengers with Georgia ties were Mr. and Mrs. Jacques Futrell. Jacques Futrell, a writer, was born in Pike County in 1875. In 1895, he married Atlanta-born May [last name uncertain]. Futrell had worked as a journalist and theatrical manager but was best known for his detective stories, in which he introduced the fictional character Professor S.F.X. Van Dusen, better known as The Thinking Machine. Futrell specialized in writing mysteries involving a "locked room problem," the most famous story being The Problem of Cell 13, in which The Thinking Machine escapes from a death row prison cell. Unfortunately, Futrelle could not escape the Titanic, but he did insist that his wife board a life boat. May Futrelle was the only native Georgian to survive the Titanic disaster. She twice boarded life boats, but disembarked to stay with her husband before he virtually forced her to stay on one. Her last sight of him was standing next to John Jacob Astor smoking a cigarette. May Futrelle provided the world with an authoritative eyewitness account of the sinking with a two-part newspaper series she wrote a mere two weeks afterwards. [Contributed by Professor Eugene Wilkes, University of Georgia School of Law]
April 15, 1943
1943 President Frankin D. Roosevelt arrived in Warm Springs, Ga. for his fortieth visit to his "second home." With World War II raging, the two day visit was kept secret.
April 15, 1943
1943 Robert & Company, the business that managed the construction of the Bell Bomber plant in Marietta, on this day turned the site over to the Army Air Force, under whose supervision at the facility would be operated by the Bell Aircraft Corporation. Bell was officially to take over the plant at 12:01 a.m. that night. L. W. Robert, Jr., the head of the construction company, said that the main building could house the entire cotton crop of the U.S., and sixty-three football games could be played under its roof at the same time. The building was said to have enough railroad tracks for a dozen passenger trains. It measured 1,000 by 2,000 feet and was four and a half stories high. [Contributed by Dr. Tom Scott, Kennesaw State University]
April 15, 1945
1945 Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died at the Little White House in Warm Springs, Ga. on April 12, was buried at the Roosevelt family home in Hyde Park, N.Y.
April 15, 1947
1947 Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play major league baseball. In the game, he went hitless as his Brooklyn Dodgers took on the Boston Braves. Nevertheless, Robinson got on base due to a Braves’ error and scored the winning run in a 5-3 Dodger win.
April 15, 1964
1964 Ground breaking ceremonies were held for construction of the new Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium as home for the new Atlanta Braves franchise.
April 15, 1972
1972 Elvis Presley appeared in his first Georgia concert, performing in the Macon Coliseum.
April 15, 1992
1992 Atlanta-born DeForest Kelley (Dr. Leonard ’Bones’ McCoy) was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
April 15, 1994
1994 Playing at Wrigley Field, the Atlanta Braves set a club record by scoring 19 runs in defeating the Chicago Cubs.
April 15, 1998
1998 Former University of Georgia defensive line standout Bill Stanfill was one of twelve collegiate players selected to the College Football Hall of Fame.