May 17, 1749
1749 In London, Georgia’s Trustees petitioned the British Government to repeal the law prohibiting the importation of black slaves into Georgia.
May 17, 1756
1756 Britain declared war on France, which in America became known as the French and Indian War. Although Georgia escaped most of the fighting, the treaty that would later end the war affected Georgia by making the Mississippi River -- rather than Pacific Ocean -- Georgia’s new western boundary.
May 17, 1758
1758 In London, the Lords of Trade appointed Henry Ellis governor-in-chief of the colony of Georgia. Ellis had been designated Lieutenant Governor of Georgia on Aug. 15, 1756. On Feb. 16, 1757, he became acting governor when Gov. John Reynolds resigned his post in order to return to England to answer charges before the Lords of Trade.
May 17, 1791
1791 Pres. George Washington spent the night in Waynesboro in Burke County on his journey from Savannah to Georgia’s state capital of Augusta.
May 17, 1838
1838 At the Cherokee Agency, Gen. Winfield Scott issued a general order to his troops outlining their expected conduct in rounding up the remaining Cherokees in the East and escorting them West. Included in the order was his directive that: "Every possible kindness, compatible with the necessity of removal, must therefore, be shown by the troops, . . ."
May 17, 1864
1864 Two miles north of Adairsville, a portion of Sherman’s army ran into Confederate infantry. A day of fighting known as the Battle of Adairsville produced heavy Union casualties. Johnston had hoped to find an advantageous location among the hills and valleys for his outnumbered forces to engage Sherman. Finding none, he ordered the Confederates to withdraw southward toward Cassville.
May 17, 1869
1869 Author Cora Mae White Harris was born in Elbert County, Georgia. Harris married a Methodist minister, Lundy Harris, with whom she traveled for years before he began teaching at Oxford College. Her personal life was sorrowful; two children died young, while her husband had severe emotional problems - which ultimately led to his suicide in 1910. Harris wrote prolifically, partly as a way to deal with her family misfortunes. She was first published in 1899, doing an article for the Independent, a journal in New York. After her husband’s suicide, she wrote fourteen novels, the most famous being A Circuit Rider’s Wife. Much of her fiction was published serially in national publications like Saturday Evening Post and Ladies Home Journal. She also did a regular column for the Atlanta Journal. Cora Harris died in Atlanta Feb. 7, 1935. Her papers and manuscripts are on file at the University of Georgia’s Hargrett Library.
May 17, 1913
1913 In Atlanta, rumors continued to abound that more arrests were imminent in the Mary Phagan murder case. Also, there were public breaches and conflicts between the detectives on the case and the prosecuting attorney’s staff. Atlanta’s police chief said he had documentary evidence which would convict Mary Phagan’s murderer, but he refused to release it to the public.
May 17, 1933
1933 Charles H. Brand, U.S representative from Georgia’s tenth district since 1917 and ranking Democrat on the House Banking Committee, died at his home in Athens.
May 17, 1954
1954 Although the case involved school segregation in Topeka, Kansas, the decision would soon have a profound on Georgia. It was on this day that the U.S. Supreme Court issued the first of two decisions in the case of Brown v. Board of Education. With Chief Justice Earl Warren writing the unanimous opinion, the court struck down the "separate but equal" doctrine for public schools, stating that separate schools are inherently unequal. Further, the justices ruled that laws that segregate on the basis of race violate the 14th Amendment’s "equal protection" guarantee. Legally, the court’s decision in Brown only affected the Topeka board of education. And even here, the court didn’t rule on how quickly the school system would have to integrate. However, it was clear that the Supreme Court was using this case to set a national precedent. Reaction was swift in Georgia, with Gov. Herman Talmadge and many white politicians denouncing the Supreme Court as having acted unconstitutionally. Their argument was that operating public schools is a power reserved to the states under the U.S. Constitution.