Many notable events have occurred this month in Georgia history. Savannah fell to British troops in December 1778, during the Revolutionary War. The Georgia Penitentiary in Milledgeville, one of the first facilities of its kind in the South, was completed in 1816. In 1817 renowned architect William Jay arrived in Savannah, where he designed public buildings and private homes.
In December 1835 Elias Boudinot, along with Major Ridge and his son John Ridge, signed the Treaty of New Echota, which ceded all Cherokee lands east of the Mississippi River to the United States. That same month construction began on the railroad that would become the Central of Georgia Railway. In December 1836 the state legislature chartered Wesleyan College in Macon, the first degree-granting women's college in the world, and in 1839 it chartered the Georgia Historical Society, headquartered in Savannah.
Several milestones of Atlanta history occurred in December: in 1843 the frontier railroad town of Marthasville was incorporated, and in 1847 the town's name was changed to Atlanta. On December 5, 1877, Georgia voters elected to keep Atlanta as the state's capital rather than have it return to Milledgeville, which had been the seat of government prior to the Civil War.
Enslaved African Americans Ellen and William Craft staged their daring escape from Macon in December 1848. On December 20, 1864, during the Civil War, the ironclad Savannah became the last Confederate ship to fight in Georgia waters. Two days later Union general William T. Sherman offered the city of Savannah to U.S. president Abraham Lincoln as a Christmas gift. In early December 1865 the Georgia General Assembly ratified the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which ended slavery.
In December 1870 Jefferson Franklin Long became the first African American congressman from Georgia elected to the U.S. Congress.
The Georgia Ornithological Society was founded in 1936 to promote the interest in and appreciation of birds throughout the state.
The stage version of Erskine Caldwell's novel Tobacco Road opened in New York City in December 1933. The premiere of the film Gone With the Wind, based on Margaret Mitchell's best-selling novel, was held in Atlanta in 1939. In 1959 Saul Levitt's two-act play The Andersonville Trial, which chronicles the trial of Henry Wirz, the commander of Andersonville Prison during the Civil War, opened on Broadway. The film adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple was released in December 1985, and a Broadway musical adaptation followed in 2005.
The Bell Bomber plant in Marietta delivered its first two Boeing-designed B-29s before the end of December 1943. The death of governor-elect Eugene Talmadge on December 21, 1946, resulted in a political battle known as the "three governors controversy."
Throughout December 1961, during the Albany Movement, hundreds of protesters, including Martin Luther King Jr., were arrested and jailed in Albany. The next year in Albany a group of four musicians organized the Freedom Singers. The group performed around the country to raise both awareness of civil rights issues and funds for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
In December 1963 Vince Dooley became the head football coach at the University of Georgia.
In 1981 Turner Broadcasting System launched Headline News, the first major spin-off from CNN. The Atlanta Falcons football team played its last game in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in 1991, before moving to the Georgia Dome.
In December 2006 BellSouth remerged with its former parent company, AT&T.
December birthdays include: Georgia founder James Edward Oglethorpe (1696); religious figures Johann Martin Boltzius (1703), Charles Wesley (1707), George Whitefield (1714), Jesse Mercer (1769), Lottie Moon (1840), and Arthur J. Moore (1888); Revolutionary War veterans Mordecai Sheftall (1735) and Daniel Stewart (1761); political figures William Schley (1786), George W. Crawford (1798), Eugenius A. Nisbet (1803), Joseph M. Brown (1851), J. J. Brown (1865), John M. Slaton (1866), Thomas Hardwick (1872), E. D. Rivers (1895), W. J. Usery Jr. (1923), Bill Lee (1925), Charles Weltner (1927), and Sonny Perdue (1946); artists Thomas Addison Richards (1820), Emma Cheves Wilkins (1870), and Christopher Murphy Jr. (1902); writers Joel Chandler Harris (1845), Jean Toomer (1894), Nunnally Johnson (1897), Lillian Smith (1897), Erskine Caldwell (1903), Calder Willingham (1922), Claude Sitton (1925), Alfred Uhry (1936), Pearl Cleage (1948), and Melissa Fay Greene (1952); scientists Henry Clay White (1848) and Charles Herty (1867); business leaders John Bulow Campbell (1870), Robert Woodruff (1889), Anne Cox Chambers (1919), and Herman J. Russell (1930); athletes Ty Cobb (1886), Young Stribling (1904), Bryan "Bitsy" Grant (1910), Charley Trippi (1920), and Bobby Ross (1936); sociologist Katharine Du Pre Lumpkin (1897); musicians Fletcher Henderson (1897), Joe Williams (1918), "Little Richard" Penniman (1932), and Brenda Lee (1944); actors Ossie Davis (1917), Jane Fonda (1937), and Kim Basinger (1953); civil rights leaders Donald Hollowell (1917) and William G. Anderson (1927); architect John Portman (1924); and cook Nathalie Dupree (1939).
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.