May 8, 1738
1738 Just before James Oglethorpe and his new regiment sailed from England for Georgia, King George II instructed Oglethorpe to try to maintain friendship and avoid provoking Spanish forces in Florida.
May 8, 1740
1740 James Oglethorpe’s force of 600 soldiers, rangers, volunteers, and Indians landed on the southern bank of the St. Johns River. There was no turning back as the invasion of Florida was now clearly on Spanish soil. Oglethorpe’s goal was to take the Castillo de San Marcos -- the massive Spanish fortress -- at St. Augustine.
May 8, 1777
1777 Georgia’s first state legislature convened in Savannah and elected John Treutlen as governor. Treutlen was a classic example of an American, rags-to-riches success story. Born in Germany around 1730, his family tried to emigrate to Pennsylvania but were captured and imprisoned by British forces. Treutlen’s father died in captivity, leaving his mother penniless when they were freed. So the entire family was sent to Georgia at the Trustees’ expense to work as indentured servants. Here young John attended the Ebenezer school, learned English, opened his own very successful business, and became a wealthy planter. He joined the patriot cause during the American Revolution and was the first elected governor of Georgia, serving for less than one year -- from May of 1777 until January 1778. During his brief tenure as governor, Treutlen tried to bring differing factions together, ease the state’s dire financial situation, and resist efforts by South Carolina to annex Georgia. When Savannah was captured by the British, Treutlen moved to a plantation he owned in Orangeburg, S.C. Here he was murdered in the spring of 1782. The date of his death and location of his remains is unrecorded. But his contribution to Georgia history was noted when the General Assembly proposed a constitutional amendment to create a new county named in his honor in 1917. The following year, voters approved the amendment, thus creating Treutlen County as Georgia’s 154th county.
May 8, 1798
1798 Fifty-six delegates representing 21 counties convened in Louisville to draft a new state constitution for Georgia following the Yazoo Fraud.
May 8, 1819
1819 President Monroe visited Savannah,Georgia to take part in christening ceremonies for the S.S. Savannah. Monroe’s visit came just two weeks before the ship’s departure for Liverpool, England, becoming the first steamship to cross an ocean. During his visit, Monroe rode the Savannah on a roundtrip visit to Charleston.
May 8, 1836
1836 Confederate general Bryan Morel Thomas was born near Milledgeville, Ga. After graduating from West Point in 1858, Thomas served on the western frontier duty until resigning his commission in April 1861. He joined the 3rd Alabama as a lieutenant under Gen. Jones Withers. After Shiloh, Thomas was promoted to captain and then major under Withers, serving in the Kentucky campaign and at Murfreesboro. He then recruited a cavalry brigade in Alabama, where he was assigned to the defense of Mobile. In Aug. 1864, Thomas was promoted to brigadier general. After the war, he farmed, became a deputy U.S. marshal, and became involved in public schools as a teacher and superintendent. Thomas died on July 16, 1905 in Dalton, Ga.
May 8, 1845
1845 At a three-day convention in Augusta, Ga., 300 delegates from Baptist churches in Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia, formed the Southern Baptist Convention.
May 8, 1864
1864 Sherman’s forces engaged the Confederates at the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge. Rocky Face was a long north-to-south mountain ridge four miles west of Dalton. Johnston’s Confederate forces were dug in on the mountain, in particular protecting Buzzard Roost (also known as Mill Creek) Pass, through which the Western & Atlantic Railroad ran. Though taking a secondary pass known as Dug Gap, Union forces were unable to dislodge the Confederates from the main pass. Meanwhile, Gen. McPherson had taken part of the Union force southward to cross through Snake Creek Gap with a mission of disabling the railroad at Reseca and blocking Johnston’s retreat.
May 8, 1886
1886 The first Coca-Cola fountain drink was sold. The event took place in Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta.
May 8, 1913
1913 In DeKalb County, Oglethorpe University was incorporated by the state of Georgia -- marking the third birth of the institution named for Georgia’s founder. The first Oglethorpe University had been founded in 1836 near Milledgeville, but closed after the Civil War. Oglethorpe University was revived in Atlanta in Oct. 1870, but financial problems forced the school to closed after two years. This time, the university would succeed.
May 8, 1913
1913 A coroner’s jury ordered Newt Lee and Leo Frank to be held under the charge of murder of Mary Phagan. Several women and girls had come forward to say Frank had made improper advances to them in the past. While detectives still expressed confidence in solving the case, they also admitted all the evidence they had up to that point was circumstantial.
May 8, 1915
1915 Religious leader, politician, civil rights activist, and educator Henry McNeal Turner died in Windsor, Ontario.
May 8, 1996
1996 The Atlanta Constitution reported that a "recalculation" of FBI crime statistics showed that Atlanta was not the most violent city in the nation. The news was not all good, however; Atlanta still ranked second to Las Vegas in overall crime and second to Newark , N.J. in violent crime.
May 8, 2003
2003 Gov. Sonny Perdue signed legislation creating a new state flag for Georgia, marking the third official state flag in a period of just 27 months. The new flag, based on the first national flag of the Confederacy, went into effect immediately on the signature of the governor. For more information on the history of Georgia’s state flag, see the Flags That Have Flown Over Georgia website.