On February 17, 1739, Thomas Jones wrote to the Georgia Trustees in London of the appalling conditions in Savannah.
“The profanation of the Lord’s Day. When at church in the time of divine service, can hear continual firing of guns by people that are shooting at some game, others carrying burdens on wheelbarrows by the church door.
“The uncommon lewdness practiced by many and gloried in.
“The negligence of officers in permitting several in this town to retail rum and strong liquors, unlicensed, who have no other visible way of livelihood, where servants resort and are encouraged to rob their masters… .
“I need not mention profane swearing and drunkenness, which are not so common here as in some other places, and few are notorious therein, besides Mr. Baliff Parker, who I have seen wallow in the mire….
The Georgia legislature, on February 17, 1783, passed legislation granting land to veterans of Georgia militia who served during the Revolutionary War.
On February 17, 1784, the Georgia legislature passed a bill to increase an earlier formula for settling the state, allotting 200 acres to each head of a family, plus 50 acres for each family member (including up to 10 slaves) up to a maximum of 1000 acres.
Thomas Jefferson was elected Third President of the United States on February 17, 1801. The election was deadlocked for three months between Jefferson and his running-mate Aaron Burr.
On November 4 , the national election was held. When the electoral votes were counted, the Democratic-Federalists emerged with a decisive victory, with Jefferson and Burr each earning 73 votes to Adams’ 65 votes and Pinckney’s 64 votes. John Jay, the governor of New York, received 1 vote.
Because Jefferson and Burr had tied, the election went to the House of Representatives, which began voting on the issue on February 11, 1801. What at first seemed but an electoral technicality–handing Jefferson victory over his running mate–developed into a major constitutional crisis when Federalists in the lame-duck Congress threw their support behind Burr. Jefferson needed a majority of nine states to win, but in the first ballot had only eight states, with Burr winning six states and Maryland and Virginia. Finally, on February 17, a small group of Federalists reasoned that the peaceful transfer of power required that the majority party have its choice as president and voted in Jefferson’s favor. The 35th ballot gave Jefferson victory with 10 votes. Burr received four votes and two states voted blank.
On February 17, 1820, the United States Senate passed the Missouri Compromise to govern the admission of new states as either slave-holding or not.
On February 17, 1854, Georgia Governor Herschel Johnson signed legislation by the Georgia General Assembly placing on the ballot for the next generation the question of whether to move the state capital from Milledgeville to Atlanta.
Alexander Stephens, who was born in Crawfordville, Taliaferro County, Georgia, was inaugurated as Vice President of the Confederate States of America on February 18, 1861. Stephens graduated from Franklin College, later known as the University of Georgia, and served in the Georgia legislature. Stephens opposed Georgia’s secession. One year later, Georgia’s delegation to the Confederate Congress, numbering ten members, was sworn in.
Ina Dillard was born on February 18, 1868 in Oglethorpe County Georgia. She married Richard Russell, who served on the Georgia Court of Appeals and as Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. Their son, Richard B. Russell, Jr., would be elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, where he served as Speaker and became the youngest Governor of Georgia in the 20th Century. In 1932 he ran for United States Senate and was elected.
In 1936, Russell was elected to his first full term in the Senate over former Governor Eugene Talmadge. In 1952, Russell ran for the Democratic nomination for President and he was an early mentor for Lyndon B. Johnson, who later served as President. Russell served on the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President Kennedy.
Russell served as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee for many years. Russell was an acknowledged leader within the Senate, and especially among Southern members, and he led much of the opposition to civil rights legislation and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
On February 16, 1923, Howard Carter and his archaeology party entered the burial chamber of King Tutankhamen.
The steps led to an ancient sealed doorway bearing the name Tutankhamen. When Carter and Lord Carnarvon entered the tomb’s interior chambers on November 26, they were thrilled to find it virtually intact, with its treasures untouched after more than 3,000 years. The men began exploring the four rooms of the tomb, and on February 16, 1923, under the watchful eyes of a number of important officials, Carter opened the door to the last chamber.
Inside lay a sarcophagus with three coffins nested inside one another. The last coffin, made of solid gold, contained the mummified body of King Tut. Among the riches found in the tomb–golden shrines, jewelry, statues, a chariot, weapons, clothing–the perfectly preserved mummy was the most valuable, as it was the first one ever to be discovered. Despite rumors that a curse would befall anyone who disturbed the tomb, its treasures were carefully catalogued, removed and included in a famous traveling exhibition called the “Treasures of Tutankhamen.”
On February 16, 1948, the United States Air Force renamed Robins Air Field to Robins Air Force Base. Robins AFB and the City of Warner Robins are named for Air Force General Augustine Warner Robins.
On February 19, 1953, Governor Herman Talmadge signed legislation creating the Georgia State Literature Commission to investigate and refer for prosecution anyone selling obscene materials. In 2014, the Washington Post wrote about the State Literature Commission.
Georgia created the nation’s first censorship board.
The vote was unanimous. The Georgia State Assembly approved House Bill 247 on Feb. 19, 1953, with no dissent, establishing the Georgia Literature Commission. Despite being born into controversy, it lived on for 20 years surviving legal and legislative challenges until the administration of then-Gov. Jimmy Carter defanged it, setting off its slow death.
After years of support, then-Gov. Jimmy Carter cut the commission’s annual appropriation by about 20 percent in 1971, while simultaneously fighting a public battle against pornography. His administration then implemented zero-based budgeting, in which each governmental organization had to justify itself, which had become increasingly hard to do for the commission.
Fidel Castro was sworn-in as Prime Minister of Cuba on February 16, 1959.
On February 16, 1968, Speaker of the Alabama House of Representative Rankin Fite placed the first 911 call from Haleyville City Hall to Congressman Tom Bevill at the Haleyville police station.
The first portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to hang in the state capitol was unveiled on March 17, 1974 and was replaced in 2006 by the current portrait.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
President Donald Trump will nominate Monroe County Sheriff John Cary Bittick as the next United States Marshal for the Middle District of Georgia, according to the Macon Telegraph.
Bittick has been sheriff for 35 years following in the footsteps of his father, L.C. Bittick, who was sheriff before him.
Bittick has worked for the Monroe County sheriff’s office since 1972. He was president of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association from 1999 to 2000 and president of the National Sheriff’s Association from 2001 to 2002. Bittick graduated from Mercer University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He also is a graduate of the 130th Session of the FBI National Academy.
David L. Lyons, who recently retired as chief of police for Garden City, near Savannah, will be Trump’s nominee for U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Georgia, the news release said.
Governor Nathan Deal signed an Executive Order to fly the United States and Georgia flags at half-staff on state buildings from Saturday, February 17, 2018 through sunset on Monday, February 19, 2018 in honor of the victims of the Parkland, Florida shootings.
Gov. Deal will also back the addition of PTSD and chronic pain to the conditions for which medical cannabis is permitted in Georgia, according to the AJC.
Deal’s top aide, Chris Riley, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the governor will endorse adding post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain, a condition includes diagnosed migraines, to the list of illnesses covered under the program.
The decision was praised by Republican state Rep. Allen Peake, the author of the state’s medical marijuana program.
“While we still have an access issue, I’m grateful for Gov. Deal’s support on helping more hurting citizens have the legal right to possess potentially life-changing medicine,” the Macon restaurateur said.
The expansion is outlined in House Bill 764, which also calls for new licensing and reporting requirements for medical marijuana providers.
Georgia’s Congressional delegation is seeking more federal funds for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, according to BusinessInSavannah.com.
The Georgia congressional delegation in a joint statement said Monday night that President Trump’s budget “shortchanges” the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.
U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and David Perdue, R-Ga., and U.S. Representative Buddy Carter, R-Ga.-01, made the comments in response to only $49 million being included in the president’s budget request for fiscal year 2019. That amount is about half of what is needed yearly to keep the project on track for time and cost efficiency.
“I appreciate that the Trump administration has committed to emphasize investments in ongoing construction of projects with high economic returns,” said Carter. “With a return on investment of 7.3 to 1, SHEP should absolutely be at the top of the list. With increased infrastructure spending available, the federal government must meet its obligation to fund this project, just as the state of Georgia has already done. I hope President Trump and Vice President Pence will come to the Port of Savannah to see the benefits this top infrastructure project will have on the nation firsthand.”
During a senate budget committee hearing Tuesday evening, Perdue asked Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney about how projects with a high rate of investment return — like SHEP — are prioritized for funding.
“I specifically call out an issue that I believe is caught between current authorizations and future infrastructure investments. In states like Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, these ports are trying to accommodate the new Panamax ships that would dramatically improve our ability to compete around the world,” Perdue said. “I believe those investments are caught up in the Army Corps of Engineers budget being cut but are not being moved over to the infrastructure investments. These port investments actually offer a higher rate of return than some of the infrastructure investments I think we’ve contemplated. Can you address that?”
Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle has placed a $4.4 million dollar multi-platform ad buy, according to the AJC.
Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle shelled out $4.4 million for six weeks of TV ads to boost his campaign for governor, enough cash to flood the airwaves ahead of the crowded GOP primary.
Cagle’s campaign said Friday the ad buys include broadcast TV purchases in markets across the state – Albany, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon and Savannah – as well as radio, cable and satellite spots.
His $3.2 million in broadcast buys feature spots in sports, primetime, local and network news as well as syndicated shows such as Wheel of Fortune and The View.
In all, the campaign’s purchases will deliver more than 6,000 gross ratings points.
The statewide buys include about $175,000 conservative talk radio ads and $465,000 on Fox News. The campaign is shelling out roughly $360,000 in smaller cable buys on ESPN, History Channel and HGTV. Another $215,000 is devoted to targeted buys in Dish and DirecTV households.
The Georgia Senate passed legislation to move school systems away from high stakes standardized tests and toward locally designed assessments Thursday.
Lt. Gov. Cagle’s office proclaimed that “Georgia will stop teaching to the test” after Senate Bill 362 passed. The bill is designed to have 10 school districts around the state serve as pilots for a statewide program that would let districts use local decision-making and formative assessments instead of high-stakes standardized tests.
Cagle said the bill would restore some freedom to classrooms.
“This legislation will make the state of Georgia a national leader in eliminating high-stakes testing, and we will continue to push for greater freedom and flexibility to ensure that our schools prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to be professionally successful,” he said.
Newly-elected State Rep. John LaHood (R-Valdosta) will head to the Capitol next week and will be sworn in on Tuesday, February 20th, according to the Union-Recorder.
LaHood, a registered nurse, is president and chief executive officer of Fellowship Senior Living in Brooks County.
The newly-elected Republican will seek re-election in the May primary and in the November general election.
LaHood, 39, is excited about an opportunity to strengthen the legislative alliance in South Georgia.
“I want to be sure South Georgia is given the same priorities as the rest of the state,” he said, adding that a strong alliance will form an equally strong voice.
South Georgia is “outnumbered” by Atlanta-area state lawmakers, LaHood said.
“It’s important we (local legislators) work together,” he said.
Savannah attorney Roxanne Formey will serve as a part-time Magistrate Judge in Chatham County.
Candidates have announced for the Columbia County Commission District 4 and Richmond County Board of Education Super District 9 seats.
Midtown Medical Center in Columbus has opened a temporary influenza clinic outside the hospital’s emergency department, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.
The hospital says it is treating as many as 100 people a day just for flu-like illness, and saw an all-time high of 9,531 patient encounters in January – more than 300 people every day.
“Over the past month, Midtown Medical Center leadership has reviewed the trends for Influenza-like Illness in Emergency Services and throughout the State of Georgia. We have made the decision to bring in a modular building and begin treating ILI adult and pediatric patients in this separate space to allow for better services to all our patients,” Columbus Regional Health said in a news release.
Columbus Regional said it was treating patients in the portable clinic for three reasons: because the department was becoming flooded with flu patients, because flu patients need to be separated from other patients to prevent dangerous infections, and because treatment can be given more quickly if there is a specific, streamline treatment plan just for flu-like illness.