May in Georgia History

A number of significant historical events have occurred in Georgia during the month of May.


The first Europeans known to set foot on Georgia soil arrived with Spaniard Pedro de Quejos, who landed two ships at the mouth of the Savannah River on an exploratory expedition.


During the Civil War, Union general William T. Sherman began his Atlanta Campaign on May 5 by marching 100,000 soldiers into Georgia from Tennessee. The campaign included the Battle of Resaca in Gordon and Whitfield counties on May 14-15, and the Battle of Pickett's Mill in Paulding County on May 27.

Confederate president Jefferson Davis was captured by Union forces in Irwinville (Irwin County).

The first Coca-Cola fountain drink was sold in Jacobs Pharmacy in Atlanta. Twenty-one days later, the first Coca-Cola advertisement appeared in the Atlanta Journal.


Aviator Amelia Earhart and educator Martha Berry were among a group of women granted honorary degrees by Oglethorpe University.

The Crypt of Civilization, a multimillennial time capsule, was sealed at Oglethorpe University's campus.


The Atlanta Public Library integrated when the mother of Maynard Jackson, a future Atlanta mayor, became the first African American to receive a library card.

The first group of Freedom Riders, traveling from Washington, D.C., to the Deep South in protest of segregation, passed through Georgia on May 12-13. They received a warm welcome in Atlanta, where they dined with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who warned them of the danger awaiting them in Alabama.

Hank Aaron became the first major league baseball player to make 3,000 career hits and 500 home runs.

After a seventeen-game losing streak, Atlanta Braves' owner Ted Turner decided to personally manage the team. Wearing a Braves uniform, Turner spent only one day as manager. The team lost.

The  40 Watt Club, a prominent music venue in Athens, officially opened for business. The 40 Watt helped to launch the careers of many Georgia musicians, including the B-52's, R.E.M., Vic Chesnutt, and Widespread Panic.


Governor Sonny Perdue authorized the creation of a new state flag for Georgia. It was the third official state flag in twenty-seven months.

May Birthdays

May 8, 1716                 James Wright, governor
May 28, 1764               Elizabeth Lichtenstein Johnston, writer
May 4, 1801                 George W. Towns, governor
May 26, 1835               Edward Porter Alexander, Civil War general
May 7, 1845                 Francis Fontaine, journalist
May 24, 1850               Henry W. Grady, journalist
May 15, 1860               Ellen Axson Wilson, U.S. first lady
May 22, 1875               Lucy May Stanton, artist
May 27, 1879               Nell Choate Jones, artist
May 11, 1882               G. Lloyd Preacher, architect
May 2, 1885                 Emily Woodward, journalist
May 5, 1898                 "Blind Willie" McTell, musician
May 23, 1900               Jasper Guy Woodroof, food science pioneer 
May 1, 1903                 Melvin Thompson, governor
May 7, 1905                 "Bumble Bee Slim" Easton, musician
May 23, 1914               Celestine Sibley, journalist
May 27, 1917               Clifford "Baldy" Baldowski, editorial cartoonist
May 7, 1923                 J. Mack Robinson, business leader
May 15, 1925               Carl Sanders, governor
May 15, 1930               Jasper Johns, artist
[May 3, 1933]               James Brown, musician
May 21, 1941               Bobby Cox, Atlanta Braves manager
May 28, 1944               Gladys Knight, musician
May 15, 1947               Wyatt Prunty, poet


Cite This Article
"May in Georgia History." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 01 June 2015. Web. 07 October 2015.
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