February 11, 1733
1733 Georgia’s male colonists assembled with their muskets for their first military formation. James Oglethorpe then divided them into four tithings, each consisting of ten men. Nightly guard duty would be rotated among tithings, with an armed colonist stationed at the newly constructed guardhouse near the edge of the bluff. [Note: Letters, diaries, and records of this time show dates based on the Julian calendar (referred to as "Old Style") then in effect in Britain and the American colonies. The Gregorian calendar ("New Style") was adopted in 1752. Thus, Feb. 11, 1732/33 (Old Style) represents Feb. 22, 1733 under our calendar now in effect.]
February 11, 1776
1776 Royal Governor James Wright, who had been under house arrest since the patriots had taken control of Savannah, escaped to British ships in the Savannah River.
February 11, 1796
1796 Gov. Jared Irwin signed legislation creating Jackson County as Georgia’s 22nd county. Created from portions of Franklin County, the county was named for Georgia militia general, U.S. congressman, U.S. senator, and future Georgia governor James Jackson. In 1795, Jackson resigned his seat in the U.S. Senate to return to Georgia to lead an effort to repeal the scandalous Yazoo Act.
February 11, 1812
1812 Politician Alexander Hamilton Stephens was born in Wilkes County, Georgia. One of the great orators of his day, he would play a pivotal role in many of the political crises of his time, including the Civil War. Ironically, while personally opposed to slavery (calling it "that abominable human tragedy"), Stephens was also an ardent supporter of states’ rights -- which led him to defend slavery when other politicians attacked the institution. After graduating from the University of Georgia in 1832, Stephens set up a successful law practice, but soon became interested in politics. In 1836 he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, then to the Georgia Senate in 1842, then to the U.S. Congress in 1843. There, he worked with Henry Clay to fashion compromises as contention grew between slave and free states. Stephens played a key role in passage of the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854. Speaking at Georgia’s secession convention after the election of Abraham Lincoln, Stephens argued vehemently against secession, pointing out that no actual violations of states’ rights had yet occurred. But when it became apparent that Georgia would secede, Stephens joined his colleagues in signing the Ordinance of Secession. Stephens was also chosen a delegate to the convention forming the new Confederate government in Montgomery, Ala. He assisted fellow-Georgian T.R.R. Cobb in drafting the provisional Confederate Constitution, and also was elected Vice-President of the Confederacy. Early in the war, Stephens was an enthusiastic supporter of the new government -- but eventually he became concerned over President Jefferson Davis and the Confederate government’s actions in conscripting troops and declaring martial law. Stephens joined Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown in arguing that such acts violated the very states’ rights that the war was being fought to protect. Near the end of the Civil War, Stephens was arrested and imprisoned for four months (but was never indicted). After the war, Stephens was reelected to Congress -- but in 1866 he and other Georgia members were refused their seats. During his absence from political office, Stephens authored a two volume work -- A Constitutional View of the Late War between the States. In 1872, Stephens ran for the U.S. Senate, but was defeated by ex-Confederate general John B. Gordon. Within a month, he successfully ran for the U.S. House. But, he was now in declining health, confined to crutches or a wheelchair. Unable to tend to much of his congressional responsibilities, Stephens retired from Congress in 1882. Returning to Georgia, he found Georgia Democrats bitterly divided. His party now pleaded with him to be their candidate for governor and help unify the party. Reluctantly, Stephens agreed. He easily won the election, but served for only four months before dying in Atlanta on March 4, 1883. In 1905, the General Assembly created a new county and named it in his memory. Later, legislators selected Stephens (along with Crawford Long) to represent Georgia in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.
February 11, 1882
1882 Former Confederate general William McRae died in Augusta, Ga. Born Sept. 9, 1834 in Wilmington, N.C., he became a civil engineer. Joining the Monroe Light Infantry as a private, McRae became a captain when the unit was merged into the 15th North Carolina. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel and participated at the battles of Seven Days, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, and Fredericksburg. In Feb. 1863, McRae was promoted to colonel and served in the Bristoe campaign and the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. In June 1864, McRae was promoted to brigadier general and commanded his own brigade in the Petersburg campaign and Appomattox. After the Civil War, McRae became a railroad superintendent.
February 11, 1927
1927 Frankin D. Roosevelt arrived in Warm Springs, Ga. for his sixth visit to the state that was becoming his "second home."
February 11, 1936
1936 Actor and director Burt Reynolds was born in Lansing, Mich. After graduating from Florida State University, Reynolds went on to a successful stage acting career, before hitting major stardom in the movies. Two of his best remembered movies -- Deliverence and Smokey and the Bandit -- were filmed in Georgia. Reynolds has been successful both in front of the camera as an actor and behind the camera as a director, producing popular films and television shows.
February 11, 2007
2007 Native Georgians won several awards at the 2007 Grammy Awards: songwriters Johnta Austin and Bryan-Michael Cox, who collaborated with Mary J. Blige on her Best R&B Album; Ludacris won Best Rap Album; Third Day won Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album; duo Gnarls Barkley and T.I won rap awards; former President Jimmy Carter and late actor Ossie Davis won for Best Spoken Album; Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles won for her collaboration with John Bon Jovi; Atlanta Symphony Orchestra director Robert Spano was awarded fore his work on the Best Opera Album. The late James Brown was honored with a tribute by Christina Aguilera.