2007 Past Annual Meeting
September 5-8, 2007
Relevance = The Bottom Line
Like its symbol, the legendary phoenix of Egyptian mythology, Atlanta rose from the ashes following its destruction during the Civil War to become the Mecca of the new South and an exciting international city.
The first residents of Georgia were prehistoric American Indians called Mound Builders. The Cherokee Indians, who settled north and west of the Chattahoochee River, and the Creek, who populated the area south and east of the Chattahoochee, followed them. The state was named after Great Britain’s King George II and was the last of the thirteen original U.S. colonies.
Atlanta began taking substantive shape in 1837 when the Western & Atlantic Railroad selected the site as the southern end of its tracks. The town was called Terminus until 1843 when it was renamed Marthasville after the daughter of Gov. Wilson Lumpkin. In 1847, the city was renamed Atlanta, supposedly a feminine form of “Atlantic.” The city was incorporated in 1847.
By the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Atlanta was a major railroad hub, manufacturing center, and supply depot. But, in 1864, in order to cripple transportation between the South and the North, Union General William T. Sherman’s army burned all of the railroad facilities, almost every business, and more than two-thirds of the city’s homes to the ground during his infamous March to the Sea. Atlanta lay in ruins, the only
major American city ever destroyed by war.
Atlanta’s first resurgence began soon after. Within four years of Sherman’s attack, the Georgia capital was moved from Milledgeville to Atlanta and a drive to attract new business was underway. One man, newspaper editor Henry W. Grady, earned much of the credit for coaxing the “brave and beautiful city,” as he called it, toward a new economic agenda in a new, reconciled South.
By the late 1920s, a downtown business sector, ringed by residential districts, had taken shape giving Atlanta much of the distinct pattern it maintains today. In the late 20th century, Atlanta emerged as a leader in the nation’s business community. Atlanta is the worldwide headquarters of sixteen Fortune 500 companies including The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Airlines, and United Parcel Service (UPS). The Atlanta History Center showcases the development of Atlanta from the beginning through the 20th century in exhibits and with the Tullie Smith Farm (1850s) and the Swan House (1920s).
While the city continued its economic surge, it also became known as the “City Too Busy to Hate.” Atlanta and Georgia pre-empted much of the strife associated with the 1950s and ‘60s by taking the lead in the Southeast in strengthening minority rights. The city’s
strongest identification with the movement was through its native son, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King’s memory looms large in Atlanta with the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, and The King Center where Dr. King and his wife Coretta are buried.
Atlanta is also a city of museums on the move. The Georgia Aquarium (the world’s largest) opened in 2005; following its 2005 expansion, the High Museum of Art began a three-year partnership with the Musée du Louvre in 2006; and the new World of Coca-Cola Atlanta opened in May 2007.
Whether you are looking for traditional southern hospitality or a glimpse of the New South, Atlanta has it. AASLH has chosen this location for its rich history and continued significance to our country. We hope to see all our members in Atlanta this September.