February 27, 1729
1729 James Oglethorpe and the Gaols [Jails] Committee visited Fleet Prison, where they questioned warden Thomas Bambridge. They also examined Sir William Rich, a baronet who had been imprisoned at Fleet and placed in a neck iron. The committee ordered that Bambridge have the 15-pound irons removed from Rich. The warden complied, but as soon as the committee left, he not only had the irons replaced but added two extra sets.
Famous British artist William Hogarth accompanied the Gaols Committee during its Fleet investigation and sketched the committee at work. In his oil on paper rendering, a standing prisoner (possibly Rich) is shown testifying. James Oglethorpe is shown seated at the far left and has turned to question warden Bambridge (standing at the far left). Hogarth subsequently decided to produce an oil on canvas. A number of differences between the initial sketch and subsequent canvas are immediately noticeable. The sketch shows the committee in a well-lit room, while the canvas shows them in bowels of Fleet Prison. It is known that the committee did visit the dungeons of Fleet, but in February it would have been quite cold. Also, as one committee member wrote, the stench was so bad that members had to hold their noses. So, Hogarth apparently used artistic license to portray the Gaols Committee investigation. In any event, his final canvas, which shows Oglethorpe at far left and a prisoner in neck iron on his knees answering committee questions, has become an icon of Georgia history. Later, Hogarth’s painting was engraved for publication.
February 27, 1734
1734 Georgia magistrate Peter Gordon, who had returned to London for surgery, appeared before the Trustees to report on the status of the colony. He brought a plat of Savannah, which the Trustees took and had a sketch done, which in turn was used to create the famous "View of Savannah" engraving. Gordon gave an enthusiastic report on the status of Georgia, reporting that as of Nov. 1733 (when he left to return to England):
"That there were about 500 Souls, and of them 100 fighting Men. That 40 houses were already built of Timber & Clap board, with Shingled roofs, but Mr. Oglethorp [sic] Still lay in his Tent. That the town was intended to consist of 6 Wards, each Ward containing 4 Tythings, and each Tything 10 houses, so that the whole number of houses & Lots would be 240. That there is a battery of 12 guns on the River and over them a Guard Room, besides which 2 block houses at the Angles of the town had each 4 guns. That a Town house is erected where Mr. Quincy perform’d divine Service. . . . That the people were orderly and healthy when he came away, and Mr. Oglethorp indefatigable in carrying on the affairs of the Province, conducting the building the Town, Keeping peace, laying out land, Supplying the Stores with provision, encouraging the faint hearted &c."
February 27, 1864
1864 During a Union probe led by Gen. George H. Thomas to test Confederate forces under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, the third of three skirmishes took place at Rocky Face Ridge. The day before, fighting had occurred at Tunnell Hill, and two days before at Buzzard Roost. The casualty count of the three days of skirmishes was 20 killed and 120 wounded for the Confederates, and 17 killed and 272 wounded for the Federals. In May, Confederate and Union forces would tangle again with major battles at these sites.
February 27, 1933
1933 Gov. Eugene Talmadge signed an act allowing the consolidation of Albany and Dougherty County governments subject to approval of Dougherty County voters in a special referendum (which failed).
February 27, 1942
1942 Famous Georgia educator Martha McChesney Berry died in Atlanta, Ga. Born in Rome on Oct. 7, 1866, she became interested in educating the rural children of North Georgia as a result of teaching Sunday school in a log cabin on her family estate. Berry soon saw the need for further commitment to education, leading to the construction of a new school building. She taught there and helped fund the salaries of the other two teachers. From these humble beginnings rose a philanthropic career in education rivaled by few. Berry raised funds for the construction of a Boys Industrial School and the Martha Berry School for Girls. Eventually her efforts led to the founding of Berry Academy and Berry College, providing education from pre-school through graduate school on a beautiful 27,000 acre campus. Altogether Berry raised over $25 million for her schools. She was honored for and encouraged in her efforts by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt. Her first large endowment ($50,000) came from Andrew Carnegie, the largest ($4 million) from Henry Ford. But Berry did not rely solely on large investors; much of the money she raised came from small, anonymous donors and from women’s groups. She received numerous honors in her lifetime, including being named "Distinguished Citizen of Georgia" by the General Assembly, the "American who did more than any other for humanity" by Variety Club, and a listing in Good Housekeeping as one of the twelve greatest American women.
February 27, 1942
1942 Charlayne Hunter was born in Due West, South Carolina. Her family later moved to Atlanta, where she graduated from Turner High School in 1959. After she and fellow high school graduate Hamilton Holmes were denied admission to the University of Georgia that fall, she enrolled in Morehouse College. Both Hunter and Holmes continued efforts to enroll at the University of Georgia, and in January 1961 a federal judge ordered their admission. After graduation, she married and as Charlayne Hunter-Gault became a print and television journalist. She would win two Emmies for her work on "The MacNeil/Lehrer News-Hour."
February 27, 1962
1962 In Albany, Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph David Abernathy were tried in recorder’s court in a three-hour trial as a result of their arrest the previous Dec. 16 while demonstrating on the steps of Albany’s city hall. The judge delayed their verdicts until July 10, when he sentenced them to 45 days in jail or a $178 fine.
February 27, 1982
1982 Wayne Williams was convicted of two murders in Atlanta’s notorious missing and murdered children case. Authorities cleared 23 other cases under the assumption that Williams was responsible in those cases as well.