law

August 31, 1992

Charles Weltner

He was a Georgia congressman who courageously spoke out for racial equality at a time when few white leaders did. Charles Weltner was born in 1927 in Atlanta and graduated from Columbia School of Law before a stint in the U.S. Army. As an Atlanta lawyer, he spoke out against racial violence in the wake […]

August 6, 1887

Woolfolk Murders

Five years before Lizzie Borden and her axe became famous, nine members of the Woolfolk family were killed with an axe at their home near Macon in Georgia’s first mass murder. Richard Woolfolk, his wife Mattie, their six children, and a visiting relative, were all slaughtered as they slept. Suspicion immediately fell on Tom Woolfolk, […]

August 8, 1899

William Yates Atkinson

Not many governors had to prove their courage by facing down a lynch mob. William Yates Atkinson did. The two-term governor was one of Georgia’s most progressive voices in an era known more for racial demagogues. Born in 1854 in Oakland, Ga., Atkinson practiced law in Newnan in 1893, he became one of Georgia’s youngest […]

July 21, 1861

Francis Bartow

Francis Bartow had it all—a law career, a senator for a father-in-law, wealth in plantations and slaves, political rank and military ambitions. But he risked it all on the battlefield and became the first high-ranking Georgian to be killed in the Civil War. Bartow was born in 1816 in Savannah. His marriage to the daughter […]

July 26, 1827

Cherokee Constitution

In the 1820s, the Cherokee nation was carving out a permanent, sovereign home within the United States. Using Sequoyah’s Cherokee syllabary, the tribe could boast almost total literacy. Written laws led to the formation of a Cherokee Supreme Court. New Echota, near present day Calhoun, was established as the authorized capital of the Cherokee nation, […]

July 28, 1913

Leo Frank Trial

Leo Frank went on trial for his life on this day in 1913. Frank, a New York Jew, was manager of the National Pencil Factory in Atlanta, accused of raping and murdering a 13-year-old employee named Mary Phagan. He was the last person to acknowledge having seen Phagan alive, and police arrested him despite strong […]

June 26, 1918

Prohibition – Georgia Ratifies 18th Amendment

Americans may love individual liberties, but there is a social engineering streak in some of us a mile wide—and when reformers can’t persuade, they try to pass laws. Prohibition in the United States goes back to the 1820s and 30s, during the religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening. Evangelical Protestants organized both temperance […]

June 15, 1826

Bill Arp

Missouri has Mark Twain. Georgia has Bill Arp, the pen name for Charles Henry Smith. Born in Lawrenceville in 1826, Smith moved to Rome in 1851 to practice law. After the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, Smith wrote a letter under the pen name “Bill Arp” to President Lincoln in the humorous dialect favored by […]

June 6, 1861

Joseph Terrell

He was known as Georgia’s education governor, though he never attended college himself. Joseph Terrell was born in Meriwether County in 1861 and became a lawyer by studying with a Greenville, Ga., attorney. At 23, he won a seat in the Georgia House and was in the Georgia Senate before he turned 30. Terrell supported […]

May 15, 1925

Carl Sanders

George Wallace he most definitely was not. Carl Sanders was born in 1925 in Augusta. He served in the Air Force in World War II, then returned to the University of Georgia for his law degree. He entered politics on the fast track: elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1954, the state Senate […]