nineteenth century

March 6, 1857

Dred Scott Decision

Dred Scott v Sanford was one of the most controversial cases in history, with a Georgian sitting on the Supreme Court that decided it. Dred Scott was a Missouri slave who sued for freedom after his master took him to the free territories of Illinois and Wisconsin. The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Roger […]

March 1, 1890

William B. Hartsfield

When you help guide a city through a depression and then, later, guide it through the civil rights era…when you are responsible for Atlanta’s becoming the aviation capital that it is…then it’s fair to say you’ve had an impact. William Hartsfield was mayor of Atlanta longer than any other person. He was born in Atlanta […]

February 25, 1864

First POWs at Andersonville Prison

One of the most notorious sites in American history, Andersonville Prison in southwest Georgia, accepted the first U.S. prisoners of war on this day in 1864. Andersonville — built to hold 10,000 prisoners — ended up holding three times that thanks to the halt of prisoner exchanges during Grant’s campaign in Virginia. Conditions were bad […]

February 24, 1883

Atlanta Journal First Published

It was Atlanta’s most popular newspaper for almost 100 years. The Atlanta Journal published its first edition in 1883 and the afternoon paper quickly challenged the Constitution, its more established morning rival. E.F. Hoge founded the Journal, then sold it in 1887 to a young lawyer named Hoke Smith for $10,000. President Grover Cleveland appointed […]

February 23, 1868

W.E.B. Du Bois

He was one of the most influential black leaders of the 20th century, and he taught in Atlanta for almost 25 years. W.E.B. Du Bois was born in Massachusetts in 1868 and received a PhD. from Harvard in 1895—the same year Booker T. Washington made his famous “Atlanta Compromise” speech, calling for accommodation rather than […]

February 22, 1862

Alexander Stephens

A vice presidency can be thankless at best. But when you don’t want the job, and you don’t get along with your president, it’s even worse. Georgia’s Alexander Stephens reluctantly supported secession in 1861. To his horror, he was elected Confederate vice president by the Provisional Congress, which hoped his election would persuade other Southern […]

February 20, 1888

Ben Epps

Just four years after the Wright brothers, he was the first person to build and fly an airplane in Georgia. Ben Epps was born in Oconee County in 1888. The idea of flying fascinated the gifted mechanic. In 1907, at age 19, he opened the first car repair garage in Athens, where he built and […]

February 18, 1868

Ina Dillard Russell

She was known as “Mother Russell,” the wife of the state’s chief justice and the mother of a U.S. Senator. Ina Dillard was born in Oglethorpe County in 1868. After attending the Lucy Cobb Institute in Athens, she married a young Athens lawyer named Richard Russell. He became one of the first judges to serve […]

February 15, 1877

Thornwell Jacobs

General James Oglethorpe founded the colony of Georgia, but his grave had been lost in England until it was found by the man who also re-founded Oglethorpe University. Thornwell Jacobs was born in South Carolina in 1877. His grandfather served on the faculty of the original Oglethorpe, founded in 1835 and out of business since […]

February 1, 1898

Leila Denmark

She lived by two rules: love what you do and eat right. It clearly worked for Leila Denmark. At the age of 103, she was the oldest practicing pediatrician in the country when she retired in 2001. Born in Bulloch County in 1898, Denmark made a bold choice for a woman at that time – […]