On April 21, 1732, King George II of England signed a charter establishing the trustee colony of Georgia. After twenty years of rule, the Georgia Trustees ceded control of the colony to the British crown on April 23, 1752. Much of Fort Frederica, established by James Oglethorpe on St. Simons Island, burned down in 1758. The first annual conference of Methodists in Georgia was held near Elberton in 1788.
In 1825 Creek leader William McIntosh was killed by fellow Creeks at his plantation Lockchau Talofau, in present-day Carroll County, after signing the Treaty of Indian Springs, which ceded remaining Creek lands to the state of Georgia. The first coins were issued from the Branch Mint at Dahlonega in 1838.
In April 1862, during the Civil War, Fort Pulaski fell to Union forces, and Union spy James Andrews incited a seven-hour locomotive chase, later known as the Andrews Raid. That same month, Susie King Taylor and other African Americans fled to St. Simons Island, which was under the control of Union troops. There she organized the state's first freely operating freedmen's school. In 1863 women in Columbus, desperate for food as a result of wartime shortages, looted several stores. Wilson's Raid, near the end of the war in April 1865, resulted in the surrender of both Columbus and Macon to Union troops, and that same month, a female military unit called the Nancy Harts surrendered LaGrange to Union troops.
In 1881 Spelman College was founded in the basement of Atlanta's Friendship Baptist Church. Decades later, on April 7, 1968, the college hosted a public viewing of the body of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4. King's funeral took place on April 9 at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he had shared the pastorate with his father since 1960.
Leo Frank, born on April 17, 1884, was arrested in Atlanta for the murder of Mary Phagan on April 29, 1913. Frank was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to death, but he was later lynched by a mob after the governor commuted his sentence to life imprisonment.
In 1898 the federal government requested that Georgia supply 3,000 troops for military campaigns during the Spanish-American War. In 1918, during World War I, more than 500 German prisoners of war were interned at camps near Fort McPherson. In 1942, during World War II, the German U-boat U-123 sank three tankers off the Georgia coast. U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt died at the Little White House in Warm Springs on April 12, 1945. In 1959 the second location for the Naval Air Station Atlanta was completed in Marietta.
Georgia native Archibald Butt, a military aide to U.S. president William Howard Taft, died aboard the Titanic in 1912, after delivering a message from the president to Catholic pope Pius X at the Vatican, in Rome, Italy.
The Georgia Old Times Fiddlers' Convention was held in Atlanta each April from 1913 to 1935. In 1926 the country music string band Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers recorded eight songs in Atlanta for Columbia Records. Twelve-year-old Brenda Lee made her debut on the country music charts with the song "One Step at a Time" in 1957, and in 1979 the Georgia legislature declared Ray Charles's version of "Georgia on My Mind" to be the official state song. In 1990 the 40 Watt Club in Athens opened at its current location.
The Masters Tournament, held each April in Augusta, was first played in 1934.
In 1936 one of the most destructive tornadoes in the nation's history hit Gainesville.
In 1937 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an insurrection statute used to convict Angelo Herndon, a member of the Communist Party who was arrested in Fulton County after participating in a labor demonstration. Students at the University of Georgia in 1968 staged a sit-in to protest the dress and curfew rules for women on campus, which were stricter than those for men.
Several memorable baseball firsts occurred in this month for two Georgia natives. In 1947 the Brooklyn Dodgers bought Jackie Robinson's contract, and a few days later Robinson became the first African American to play in a major-league baseball game on April 15, 1947. Hank Aaron, playing for the Milwaukee (later Atlanta) Braves, hit his first major-league home run on April 23, 1954. The Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was completed in 1965, and the Atlanta Braves played their first home game there on April 12, 1966. It was there, in 1974, that Aaron, playing in his final season with the Braves, broke Babe Ruth's home run record.
Noteworthy literary achievements in this month include the 1903 publication of Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois. Ed Dodd's comic strip Mark Trail debuted in 1946. Alice Walker received both the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for her novel The Color Purple in 1983. Alfred Uhry's play Driving Miss Daisy premiered in 1987 at an off-Broadway theater. In 2004 talk-show host Oprah Winfrey selected Carson McCullers's The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940) for her book club, spiking sales of the novel.
In 1989 the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame, located at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, was created. The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame opened in Macon in 1999, and the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame was inaugurated in 2000.
The state legislature declared April 19, 1995, to be "Johnny Mercer Day," in honor of the songwriter from Savannah. The mayor of Savannah named April 26, 1996, as "John Berendt Day," in honor of the author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Events held around the state in April include the Annual Screven County Livestock Festival in Screven County, Day of the Child in Bacon County, Georgia Strawberry Festival in Taylor County, Inman Park Festival and Tour of Homes in the Inman Park neighborhood of Atlanta, National Grits Festival in Worth County, National Mayhaw Fesitval in Colquitt, Pan African Festival of Georgia in Macon, Rose Show and Festival in Thomas County, Shellcracker Fishing Tournament in Seminole County, Springtime Ellaville in Schley County, and the Timberland Jubilee in Clinch County.
Born this month in Georgia history: Georgia signers of the Declaration of Independence Lyman Hall (1724) and Button Gwinnett (1735); botanist and explorer William Bartram (1739); governors William Rabun (1771), George R. Gilmer (1790), Thomas Ruger (1833), and Lamartine Hardman (1856); industrialist Mark Anthony Cooper (1800); politicians Tunis Campbell (1812), Joseph E. Brown (1821), and Richard B. Russell Sr. (1861); Georgia Supreme Court justice Henry L. Benning (1814); Confederate officers Thomas R. R. Cobb (1823), Alfred H. Colquitt (1824), and Ambrose Wright (1826); writer Bill Arp (1826); educator Lucy Craft Laney (1854); pharmacist Henry Rutherford Butler (1862); Progressive reformer Helen Dortch Longstreet (1863); football coach Glenn "Pop" Warner (1871); architects Henrietta Dozier (1872) and A. Thomas Bradbury (1902); civil rights leaders A. T. Walden (1885) and Coretta Scott King (1927); musicians Wallingford Riegger (1885), Gertrude "Ma" Rainey (1886), Robert Shaw (1916), Chuck Leavell (1952), and Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls (1964); religious leaders Louie D. Newton (1892) and William Ragsdale Cannon (1916); military logistics expert Lucius D. Clay (1897); actors Melvyn Douglas (1901) and Jane Withers (1926); artist Andrée Ruellan (1905); newspaper publisher Peyton Anderson (1907); athletes Luke Appling (1907), Beau Jack (1921), Phil Niekro (1939), Mel Blount (1948), Davis Love III (1964), and Cheryl Haworth (1983); aviator Robert Scott (1908); naturalist Jim Fowler (1930); and poets Coleman Barks (1937) and Natasha Trethewey (1966).
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.