Monumental decisions, natural disasters, and several major accomplishments have all occurred in Georgia during the month of January.
On January 1, 1751, the British House of Commons, at the request of the Trustees, overturned the ban on slavery in the Georgia colony. During the Revolutionary War, British forces moved warships onto the Savannah River in 1776, and on January 31, 1779, they captured the city of Augusta.
In 1785 the Georgia legislature became the first in the nation to approve a charter for a state university, which opened in Athens sixteen years later as the University of Georgia. First African Baptist Church, one of the oldest African American Baptist churches in North America, was formally established in Savannah in 1788. The Yazoo Act (which became known as the Yazoo land fraud) was signed in 1795.
Georgia became the fourth state to enter the Union when it ratified the new U.S. Constitution on January 2, 1788. Nearly a century later, on the eve of the Civil War, Georgia became the fifth state to secede from the Union on January 19, 1861.
In 1865, during the Civil War, Union general William T. Sherman issued his Special Field Order No. 15, which called for the distribution of abandoned southern lands to former slaves. The order was later revoked by U.S. president Andrew Johnson.
The Jekyll Island Club, a hunting club for wealthy northern industrialists, opened in January 1888, and it was from there in 1915 that the first public transcontinental telephone call was made. In 1892 the University of Georgia played its first football game, against Mercer University.
A deadly tornado tore through Gainesville in January 1903, and the first open session of the Georgia Court of Appeals took place in 1907.
In 1928 the first commercial airway service to Georgia began with flights connecting New York and Atlanta. The Eighth Air Force, known as the "Mighty Eighth," was formed in Savannah in 1942, during World War II.
In January 1957 a group of Atlanta ministers organized the Love, Law, and Liberation (Triple L) Movement to desegregate the city's buses. That same month the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was officially inaugurated in Atlanta. Two years later, in January 1959, a federal district court ruled in favor of the Triple L ministers, ending six decades of segregation on Atlanta's buses. In 1961 the University of Georgia was desegregated with the admission of African American students Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter.
In 1973 Andrew Young was elected as Georgia's first black congressman since Reconstruction.
In January 1986 Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday celebrating the legacy of civil rights leader and Atlanta native Martin Luther King Jr., was first observed. The annual event, instituted through the efforts of King's widow, Coretta Scott King, is held on the third Monday of January. In 1987, during the second observance of the holiday, members of the Ku Klux Klan in Forsyth County attacked a small group celebrating the event. In response, civil rights leader Hosea Williams and others organized a demonstration the following week that attracted some 20,000 people from around the country.
John Berendt's book chronicling a murder in Savannah, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, was published in January 1994; since that time "The Book" has been credited with bringing hundreds of thousands of tourists to Savannah. Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Phil Niekro was elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.
Each January the legislative session begins at the capitol in Atlanta. Within five days of the session's opening, the governor submits to the legislature a budget proposal for the next fiscal year.
January birthdays include: Georgia colony president William Stephens (1671); philanthropist Mary Telfair (1791); Georgia governors Wilson Lumpkin (1783), Charles Jones Jenkins (1805), and Nathaniel E. Harris (1846); business leaders William Washington Gordon (1796), Alfred Austell (1814), and Mills B. Lane Jr. (1912); military leaders James Walker Fannin Jr. (1804) and Raymond G. Davis (1915); Civil War figures Raphael Moses (1812), James Longstreet (1821), and Charles Crisp (1845); Coca-Cola inventor John Stith Pemberton (1831); Methodist missionary Young John Allen (1836); education advocates Julia Flisch (1861) and Selena Sloan Butler (ca. 1872); artist William O. Golding (1874); politicians Walter F. George (1878) and Paul Coverdell (1939); musicians Charles Nabell (1887), Clayton McMichen (1900), "Tampa Red" Whittaker (1904), Precious Bryant (1942), Michael Stipe of R.E.M. (1960), and Vic Chesnutt (1964); actors Oliver Hardy (1892), Sterling Holloway (1905), and Butterfly McQueen (1911); athletes Johnny Mize (1913), Jackie Robinson (1919), Dot Kirby (1920), Nancy Lopez (1957), and Dominique Wilkins (1960); writers John Oliver Killens (1916), Turner Cassity (1929), Anne Rivers Siddons (1936), and Anthony Grooms (1955); civil rights activists W. W. Law (1923), Hosea Williams (1926), Martin Luther King Jr. (1929), and Julian Bond (1940); World Carpets founder Shaheen Azeez Shaheen (1928); Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller (1935); restaurateur Paula Deen (1947); and cartoonist Mike Luckovich (1960).
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.