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).

Capture of Jefferson Davis
Capture of Jefferson Davis

Photograph from Wikimedia


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.

Crypt of Civilization
Crypt of Civilization

Courtesy of Oglethorpe University Archives


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.

Freedom Rides Map
Freedom Rides Map

Map by Associated Press Newsfeatures


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.


40 Watt Club
40 Watt Club

Courtesy of Explore Georgia.

The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History opened in Atlanta.



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 E. 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

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Crypt of Civilization

Crypt of Civilization

The interior of the swimming pool-sized time capsule is filled with contents intended to represent an encyclopedic record of life and customs up until 1940, when the crypt was sealed. The crypt's interior resembles a pyramid chamber, and pictographs decorate the walls.

Courtesy of Oglethorpe University Archives