nineteenth century

December 29, 1835

Treaty of New Echota

It cost three men their lives and provided the legal basis for the Trail of Tears, the forcible removal of the Cherokee Nation from Georgia. The Treaty of New Echota was signed on this day in 1835, ceding Cherokee land to the U.S. in exchange for compensation. The treaty had been negotiated by a Cherokee […]

December 28, 1856

Woodrow Wilson

The first Southerner in the White House after the Civil War grew up in Georgia, and knew the war firsthand. Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in Virginia in 1856. Not long after, his family moved to Augusta, where his father pastored the First Presbyterian Church for 12 years. Young Tommy Wilson grew up in a […]

December 26, 1848

Ellen and William Craft

What better gift than freedom? That’s what William and Ellen Craft gave each other, and celebrated this day in 1848. Their memoir, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, was exactly what they did. The Crafts were slaves in Macon who devised a daring and dangerous plan of escape. Ellen was the daughter of her white […]

December 24, 1814

War of 1812

The War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain officially ended on Christmas Eve, 1814, with the Treaty of Ghent. Georgians were deeply involved in the war on several fronts. General John Floyd led troops against Britain’s Indian allies in Alabama in decisive battles that would eventually open up the region to American […]

December 23, 1836

Wesleyan College

Women’s struggle for equality took a major step forward on this day in 1836. The first college in the world to grant degrees to women was chartered in Macon — an incredibly progressive idea for the times. Now known as Wesleyan College, it began as Georgia Female College after a group of Macon businessmen raised […]

December 22, 1864

Sherman in Savannah

“I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.” Thus did U.S. General William Tecumseh Sherman notify President Lincoln that he had captured Savannah at the end of his March to the Sea. Sherman left Atlanta […]

December 18, 1865

Thirteenth Amendment

The words slavery and slave were never mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, until Georgia ratified the 13th Amendment and officially abolished slavery in the United States. Ironically, an earlier 13th Amendment would have done just the opposite, outlawing amendments ending slavery in an attempt to persuade the Southern states not to leave the Union. The […]

December 13, 1862

Battle of Fredericksburg

The defeat of Robert E. Lee at Antietam in September 1862 was a huge blow to Confederate morale. Confederates badly needed a boost and they got it at Fredericksburg, Virginia thanks to U.S General Ambrose Burnside. Burnside led his 120,000 men across the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg in order to advance on the Confederate capital […]

December 9, 1845

Joel Chandler Harris

Joel Chandler Harris was a New South journalist, a folklorist, and one of Georgia’s most famous authors. He was born in Eatonton in 1845. Like Ben Franklin, Harris learned to write by hand-setting newspaper type, working at Turnwold Plantation for Joseph Addison Turner. After working in Macon and Savannah, Harris went to work for Henry […]

December 12, 1897

Lillian Smith

She was one of the first prominent white Southerners to denounce segregation, and she was a controversial figure all her life. Lillian Smith was born in Florida in 1897 and moved to Georgia as a teenager. After a stint in China, she began to speak out against Jim Crow, calling segregation “spiritual lynching.” From her […]