February 1, 1733
1733 After spending the previous night at a temporary encampment on Trench’s Island off the South Carolina coast, James Oglethorpe and the first Georgia colonists boarded a sloop and five smaller boats. The small flotilla then proceeded down the inland waterway to the mouth of the Savannah River. Waiting for an incoming tide, they rode the tide upriver for about twelve miles to Yamacraw Bluff -- the site on the south bank that Oglethorpe had selected on his advance visit a week earlier. On that visit, Capt. Francis Scott and a small force of rangers had accompanied Oglethorpe and had stayed behind to build a stairway up the forty-foot high sandy embankment. Now, as the colonists finally arrived, Scott and his men fired a musket salute from the bluff. Those with weapons in the boats below returned the salute. Landing on the river bank, Georgia’s first colonists eagerly climbed the stairs to view their new home. Arriving at the top, they saw a clear area along the edge of the bluff backed by a forest of tall pine trees. After looking around, the men began unloading what they would need to spend their first night. The Trustees had purchased four large tents, so these and bedding were carried to the top of the bluff. As the colonists began setting up their communal tents, Oglethorpe set up a small personal tent. Within an hour of their arrival, a group of Yamacraw Indians -- including chief Tomochichi and his wife Senauki -- walked down from their nearby village upriver to greet the colonists. With them was John Musgrove, who with wife Mary operated a trading post near the Yamacraw village. The Indians were dressed in their finest outfits, and one among them danced around with a huge feather fan that had rattles and bells. For over fifteen minutes, this Yamacraw danced performing "Antick Postures" and waving his fan over Oglethorpe and touching him on all sides. After the dance, Oglethorpe invited the Indians into his tent. With Musgrove translating, they exchanged pleasantries for another fifteen minutes. Afterwards, the Yamacraws returned to their village, and the colonists continued work on setting up their tents. That night, all apparently went well for the colonists -- except for one who sneaked off to the Musgroves’ trading post and had too much to drink and had to be forcibly carried back to the camp. [Note: Today, we celebrate Feb. 12, 1733 as the anniversary of the founding of Georgia. However, all letters, diaries, and records of the time indicate that the colonists arrived on Feb. 1, 1732/33. Feb. 1 (Old Style) represents the same date as Feb. 12, 1733 (New Style).]
February 1, 1788
1788 The Georgia legislature awarded Augusta inventor William Longstreet and his associate Isaac Brigs a patent for a steam engine. In 1807, their engine was used to power a boat on a five-mile journey against the current on the Savannah River. Unfortunately, only days before, Robert Fulton had successfully sailed his new steamboat -- the Clermont -- from New York City up the Hudson River to Albany.
February 1, 1834
1834 Black religious leader, educator, and politician Henry McNeal Turner was born in Newberry, South Carolina. Born to free parents, he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in his teens and was ordained to preach at age 19. In the 1850s, Turner held numerous revivals for blacks in southern states before moving to St. Louis and joining the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. He attended Trinity College (1860-62) and was assigned to a Washington D.C. congregation. In 1863, Turner became the first African-American chaplain in U.S. history when he volunteered to become chaplain of the First Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops.At the end of the Civil War, he became a Freedman’s Bureau agent in Georgia -- but he resigned after a year and began trying to build the AME church in Georgia. In 1867, Turner became involved in attempting to organize black voters for the National Republican Party. Four million copies of a pamphlet he wrote were distributed across the South. Later that year, Turner was selected as a member of Georgia’s constitutional convention. In 1868, he was elected to Georgia state house of representatives, and reelected in 1870. In 1880, Turner became an AME bishop, with responsibility for Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. He also became chancellor of Morris Brown College in Atlanta. From the 1870s to the early 1900s, Turner became an advocate for black immigration to Africa and for expansion of the AME church there. He died May 8, 1915 in Windsor, Ontario.
February 1, 1850
Georgia cities and towns first incorporated by acts approved by the governor on this day: 1850 Cartersville (then Cass now Bartow County)
February 1, 1861
1861 A special convention in Texas voted to secede, subject to ratification in a popular election to be held on Feb. 23. Texas’ secession would mean that seven adjacent states from South Carolina to the eastern boundary of New Mexico now formed over 2,000 miles of contiguous territory governed by states that had withdrawn from the Union. Whatever other southern states did, there was now the potential for a viable southern confederacy, and delegates from seceded states readed to assemble in Montgomery, Ala. to form a new government.
February 1, 1871
1871 Jefferson Franklin Long of Macon became the first black congressman in U.S. history to officially address fellow legislators in the chambers of the U.S. House of Representatives. Long spoke in opposition to repealing federal legislation prohibiting former Confederate officials and military officers from holding public office.
February 1, 1956
1956 In the Georgia Senate, S.B. 98 (which would change Georgia’s state flag) had its third reading. The floor was then open to debate. Ernest Vandiver, then President of the Senate, would later recall that all comments during floor debate were about the historical relevance of the Confederate battle flag, with no remarks linking the bill to the Brown v. Board of Education decisions. After a brief debate, the full Senate approved S.B. 98 by a vote of 41-3. The bill was then sent to the House of Representatives.
February 1, 1965
1965 Participating in a civil rights demonstration in Selma, Ala., Martin Luther King Jr and a number of fellow protesters were arrested by city police.
February 1, 1983
1983 Lockheed-Georgia received a $258 million contract from the Air Force to continue the wing modification of the giant C-5A Galaxy aircraft.