May 12, 1740
1740 James Oglethorpe’s invasion force of Spanish Florida attacked Fort Diego. Outnumbered, the garrison’s 48 defenders surrendered.
May 12, 1791
1791 Soon after his inauguration as the nation’s first president in 1789, George Washington decided to visit each of the new states "to become better acquainted with their principal characters and internal circumstances, as well as to be more accessible to numbers of well-informed persons who might give useful information and advice on political subjects." He also wished "to acquire knowledge of the face of the country, the growth and agriculture thereof -- and the temper and disposition of the inhabitants toward the new government." In early May 1791, Washington visited South Carolina. On the morning of May 12, he visited Purrysburg on the Savannah River -- his last visit in South Carolina. There, Georgia officials met Washington to escort him onto a barge-like vessel for the twenty-five mile trip to Savannah. As the river took them past Mulberry Grove plantation, Washington had made plans to stop so he could visit Catharine (Caty) Greene, widow of Revolutionary Gen. Nathanael Greene. Washington spent several hours with his long-time friend and promised to stop by again in four days on his way to Augusta. Arriving in Savannah after sundown, Washington found the city brightly illuminated in celebration of his visit. Thus began four days of ceremonies, receptions, dinners, dances, and other formalities for Savannah’s most important visitor in its 58-year history.
May 12, 1864
1864 As Sherman’s main force hurried southward to outflank Johnston and join McPherson’s army in attacking Resaca, Johnston ordered Confederate troops defending Mills Creek Gap to pull back. From Dalton, they headed south by foot, horse, or rail to prepare for the Union attack on Resaca.
May 12, 1864
1864 Major General John B. Gordon of Georgia led his troops to stem an attack at a break in the Confederate line at Spottsylvania -- an action which may well have saved the life (or least capture) of Robert E. Lee.
May 12, 1913
1913 An Atlanta Constitution reporter in Brooklyn interviewed Mrs. Rudolph Frank, Leo Frank’s mother. She said "My son is entirely innocent, but it is a terrible thing that even a shadow of suspicion should fall upon him. I am sure of his innocence and am confident that he will be proven not guilty of this terrible crime."
May 12, 1930
1930 Savannah-born poet and writer Conrad Aiken won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his 1929 work Selected Poems.
May 12, 1933
1933 Three Georgia cities -- Metter, Milledgeville, and Fitzgerald -- joined a growing list of cities legalizing the sale of beer.
May 12, 1970
1970 Units of the National Guard were mobilized to bring an end to the Augusta race riot that had broken out the night before. On the 12th, there was some sporadic gunfire and a few fires started, but National Guard and local police were able to bring the situation under control. The final tally in casualties from the two-day riot was six blacks killed by police and 60 people (black and white) injured. Also, twenty buildings were destroyed or heavily damaged by fire, and Augusta businesses cited financial loss due to looting and destruction at approximately $1 million.
May 12, 1976
1976 United States Secret Service agents seized approximately $1 million in counterfeit currency and the plates from which it was produced in raids in Cobb and DeKalb counties. Roughly $2000 of the currency was already in circulation.
May 12, 1977
1977 Aides to presidential candidate Jimmy Carter said the campaign had been approached by Soviet Union officials to discuss terms of a strategic arms limitation agreement then being negotiated. The Russians believed President Gerald Ford was delaying negotiations because of campaign attacks on him by Ronald Reagan, and hoped Carter, if elected, would sign the agreement.