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



On January 1 the British House of Commons, at the request of the Trustees, overturned the ban on slavery in the Georgia colony.


During the Revolutionary War, British forces moved warships onto the Savannah River.


On January 31 British troops captured the city of Augusta.


The Georgia legislature became the first in the nation to approve a charter for a state university, which opened in Athens sixteen years later as the University of Georgia.


First  African Baptist Church, one of the oldest African American Baptist churches in North America, was formally established in Savannah.

First African Baptist Church
First African Baptist Church

Photograph by Carl Elmore. Courtesy of Savannah Morning News

Georgia became the fourth state to enter the Union when it ratified the new U.S. Constitution on January 2.


The Yazoo Act (which became known as the Yazoo land fraud) was signed into law.



On the eve of the Civil War, Georgia became the fifth state to secede from the Union on January 19.


As the Civil War drew to a close, Union general William T. Sherman issued his Special Field Order No. 15, which called for the distribution of abandoned southern lands to formerly enslaved African Americans. The order was later revoked by U.S. president Andrew Johnson.


The  Jekyll Island Club, a hunting club for wealthy northern industrialists, opened on Jekyll Island.

Early UGA Football Team
Early UGA Football Team

Courtesy of Georgia Archives.


The University of Georgia played its first football game, against Mercer University.



A deadly tornado tore through Gainesville, killing more than 100 people.


The Court of Appeals of Georgia held its first open session.


The first public  telephone call was made from the Jekyll Island Club.

Theodore Vail
Theodore Vail

Courtesy of Jekyll Island Museum


The Eighth Air Force, known as the “Mighty Eighth,” was formed in Savannah during World War II.



A group of Atlanta ministers organized the Love, Law, and Liberation (Triple L) Movement to desegregate the city’s buses. That same month the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was officially inaugurated in Atlanta.


A federal district court ruled in favor of the Triple L ministers, ending six decades of segregation on Atlanta’s buses.


The  University of Georgia was desegregated with the admission of African American students Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter.

Hunter and Holmes, UGA
Hunter and Holmes, UGA

Courtesy of Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


Andrew Young was elected as Georgia’s first Black congressman since Reconstruction.


Martin  Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday celebrating the legacy of civil rights leader and Atlanta native Martin Luther King Jr., was first observed. Instituted through the efforts of King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, the annual event is held on the third Monday of January.

Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King

Courtesy of Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


During the second observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, members of the Ku Klux Klan in Forsyth County attacked a small group celebrating the event. In response, civil rights leader Hosea Williams and others organized a demonstration the following week that attracted some 20,000 people from around the country.


John  Berendt’s book chronicling a murder in Savannah, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, was published. Since that time “The Book” has been credited with bringing hundreds of thousands of tourists to Savannah.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil


Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Phil Niekro was elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

January Birthdays

January 28, 1671                     William Stephens, Georgia colony president

January 14, 1783                     Wilson Lumpkin, Georgia governor

January 28, 1791                     Mary Telfair, philanthropist

January 17, 1796                     William Washington Gordon, business leader

January 1, 1804                       James Walker Fannin Jr., military leader

January 6, 1805                       Charles Jones Jenkins, Georgia governor

January 20, 1812                     Raphael Moses, peach industry pioneer

January 14, 1814                     Alfred Austell, business leader

January 8, 1821                       James Longstreet, Civil War officer

January 8, 1831                       John Stith Pemberton, Coca-Cola inventor

January 3, 1836                       Young John Allen, Methodist missionary

January 29, 1845                     Charles Crisp, politician

January 21, 1846                     Nathaniel E. Harris, Georgia governor

January 31, 1861                     Julia Flisch, education advocate

January 4, [1872]                     Selena Sloan Butler, education advocate

January 15, 1874                     William O. Golding, artist

January 29, 1878                     Walter F. George, politician

January 13, 1887                     Charles Nabell, musician

January 18, 1892                     Oliver Hardy, actor

January 26, 1900                     Clayton McMichen, musician

January 8, 1904                       “Tampa Red” Whittaker, musician

January [4 or 14], 1905            Sterling Holloway, actor

January 8, 1911                       Butterfly McQueen, actor

January 29, 1912                     Mills B. Lane Jr., business leader

January 7, 1913                       Johnny Mize, baseball player

January 13, 1915                     Raymond G. Davis, military leader

January 14, 1916                     John Oliver Killens, writer

January 31, 1919                     Jackie Robinson, baseball player

January 15, 1920                     Dot Kirby, golfer

January 1, 1923                       W. W. Law, civil rights activist

January 5, 1926                       Hosea Williams, civil rights activist

January 23, 1928                     World Carpets founder Shaheen Azeez Shaheen

January 12, 1929                     Turner Cassity, writer

January 15, 1929                     Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights activist

January 3, 1935                       Millard Fuller, Habitat for Humanity founder

January 9, 1936                       Anne Rivers Siddons, writer

January 20, 1939                     Paul Coverdell, politician

January 14, 1940                     Julian Bond, civil rights activist

January 4, 1942                       Precious Bryant, musician

January 19, 1947                     Paula Deen, restaurateur

January 15, 1955                     Anthony Grooms, writer

January 6, 1957                       Nancy Lopez, golfer

January 4, 1960                       Michael Stipe of R.E.M., musician

January 12, 1960                     Dominique Wilkins, basketball player

January 28, 1960                     Mike Luckovich, cartoonist

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Theodore Vail

Theodore Vail

AT&T president Theodore Vail (with telephone, far right) joined the opening ceremony for the first transcontinental telephone line from his home on Jekyll Island. With Vail are (left to right) architects Welles Bosworth and Samuel Trowbridge, banker J. P. Morgan, and businessman William Rockefeller.

Courtesy of Jekyll Island Museum